IRUNLIKEAGIRL is all about heart. It’s about going after something that makes you feel alive. And then being able to share that moment with someone. For Jen Hellickson, that moment was the completion of her first ultra-marathon. Then, a triathlon. Personally I’m a girl who gets excited to meet others who share in my love for running and fitness (ok- and cupcakes). I’ve always liked connecting with people over the small and seemingly insignificant things in life. I’m so intrigued by someones day to day habits. Maybe because I know that it’s in the quiet of an ordinary day that we show where our hearts lie (mine: vanilla frosting), what we are willing to do and what lengths we are willing to take to prepare for our extraordinary. Fast, slow, middle of the pack, each one of us has a story. Get to know Jen. Get to know a girl who’s getting up and getting after it, day after day, defining her extra in the ordinary.
– How did you get into triathlons and what element, be it biking, swimming or running do you like the most?
Jen: Two of my good friends from high school (we ran track & cross country together) are triathletes – one a pro and the other training for her first Ironman – so I’ve been following along vicariously on their adventures over the years. They both recommended triathlon as excellent cross-training for running (my favorite of the disciplines), which is how I first got involved in a few sprint races – the swimming and biking were great ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness while removing some impact from weekly workouts. But after last fall’s marathon, I wanted to take on a new challenge, so I decided to move up to the Olympic distance and really train for it.
– How did you get into ultra marathoning and what do you like about it most?
Jen: I joke that I have some friends who are a really good “bad” influence! Namely, Jamie Walker (a former co-worker, fellow workout buddy, and now my boss at SweatGuru) and Brian Kelley (a blogger friend, aka Pavement runner, whom I train with). They have both done all kinds of ultra distances, so I started by picking their brains on our runs. It wasn’t something I had considered until more recently, but since I fell in love with trail running during marathon training (and it’s a much more forgiving surface than the roads), I figured I’d give it a shot. I love the unpredictability of it and the fact that it requires a completely different mindset. I’m used to breaking up and quantifying my road runs (hitting a specific pace per mile over an exact distance) and can usually predict my performance to some degree…but with longer distances on the trails, it requires a much more holistic approach.
– Favorite running moment?
Jen: Completing my first marathon back in Chicago in 2002. I was undertrained and had no idea what I was getting into, but being naive allowed me to stay present (instead of focusing on a time goal) and enjoy a lot of moments along the way.
– Favorite place to run, bike, swim?
Jen: Running: Over the Golden Gate Bridge – that view never, ever gets old. Biking: Up Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands – my hubby’s favorite route; we love the views and the challenge of the hills. Swimming: A clean, uncrowded pool! I’m still working on my open-water swimming anxiety 🙂
– Biggest surprise since running an ultra marathon and now a triathlon?
Jen: What the body is capable of – you never know until you try, and in the process you learn a lot about yourself.
– Absolute favorite thing about the ultra-marathon?
Jen: The people! It’s such an awesome culture, and a nice laid-back feel compared to the road races I’m used to.
– And how about the triathlon?
Jen: The fact that the three disciplines are so different. I feel like I learn something new every day, and I love how they complement each other.
– One thing that never gets easier no matter how long or hard I train is:___________
Jen: HILLS. On two feet or on two wheels, they’re always a challenge!
– What is your favorite moment of most days?
Jen: I’ve got two: My morning cup of coffee to help wake me up, and that moment after my workout when I’m riding high on those exercise-induced endorphins and a feeling of accomplishment.
– Fav post race indulgence?
Jen: Immediately after: chocolate milk or a recovery smoothie. Later: Deep-dish Chicago-style pizza or an In ‘n’ Out cheeseburger.
– Early riser or night owl?
Jen: I used to be a night owl, but in order to get in all the training & recovery, I’m now an early bird (well, except for off days where I like to sleep in a bit!). It feels good to get up and get in your groove so you can set a positive tone for the day.
– Guilty pleasure?
Jen: Brunch! It’s not often that we have a leisurely morning, and I love breakfast food.
– Sweet or salty?
Jen: Sweet. With salt on it 🙂
– Advice you’d give your 23 year old self?
Jen: Work hard, be kind to others, focus on what makes you truly happy…and the rest will work itself out.
Jen: Just finished a 50k trail race! Next fall I will go for sub 4 in the Detroit marathon.
Follow Jen’s extraordinary pursuits on her personal blog and pick up a 20% IRUNLIKEAGIRL by stopping by Kinetic Fix
Dream big and dream often,