If you’ve participated in the Galloway Missoula Marathon or Half Marathon training over the last five years, you’ve certainly met Jennifer Blood. Passionate about Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run method of running, Jen has provided encouragement and inspiration to fellow runners of all abilities and age. A dedicated RWM volunteer, she’s also served as the Galloway program’s Co-Director, Pace Group Leader, and participant.
When did you start run/walk/running and why?
I had always been an active person (hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing) but after a number of bad ankle sprains in 2007-2009 I became a totally sedentary person. After hearing Jeff Galloway talk in the winter of 2012, I recommitted myself to an active lifestyle and joined the Galloway Training Program for the 2012 Missoula Marathon. I have been running ever since!
I enjoy the camaraderie. There was a sign at one of the Missoula Marathons that said “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other…but to be with each other.” That has always really stuck with me. I am so inspired by the running community. There are runners who are older and younger, faster and slower and each of them work so hard. And the BOP (Back of the Pack) and Galloway communities are especially welcoming. They have become a giant extended family.
You’ve been both a leader and participant in the Galloway Marathon training program and community for a number of years. How would you describe it to someone new?
The Galloway training program is for ALL people. We have had runners from 12-74 years old in all shapes, sizes and ability levels. The Galloway program is built on the idea of going slow to build endurance and prevent “weak links” and injuries. Each runner is in a pace based group with other runners, and we challenge each other to go slow, keep with it and finish strong, upright and without pain or puking.
How often do you run/walk/run (# of days/week)?
I do two short runs per week and long runs on Sundays.
Average miles per week?
This year I am training to run a half marathon distance so I do about three miles on short run days and 4-14 on long run days.
My favorite running memory was coming across the finish line at the Missoula Marathon in 2013. I just wanted to get across the finish line before the course was taken down. I wanted to cross “under the balloon arch” before they were all popped. When I got to the far side of Bonner Park, I asked a volunteer what time it was and how far to the finish line. I did the math and realized that I would be getting to the finish line with LOTS of time to spare. I started balling…like…whole body crying because I was so happy and excited that I was ACTUALLY going to make it! I kept crying like that all the way until Hellgate High School where I finally I regained my composure. When I crested the Higgins Bridge, I saw that the timing company was pulling in one of the timing mats. Although I later learned that they just didn’t need all the mats at that point in the day, I thought they were closing the course early. I don’t remember much of what happened next but apparently, I let my inner Hulk rage monster out and started hollering, “HEY!!! I STILL HAVE TIME!!! THOSE ARE MY MATS!!!! YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM!!!!” The video shows me getting a total burst of gamma fueled rage speed and I got across the finish line remarkably fast for a person who just ran 26.2 miles. I heard the announcer call my name and tell the crowd that I was a first time MARATHONER! I was met at the finish line by the incredible Back of the Pack cheer squad and have never felt so proud or accomplished!
What goes through your mind at the starting line?
Honestly…how much I love living in Montana. I know it sounds cheesy, but those early morning races in beautiful places reminds me what a wonderful world we live in. From the Back of the Pack, I get to enjoy stuff like visiting with nice race volunteers, gorgeous vistas and seeing all the runners ahead of me running towards their own accomplishments, successes and personal records.
Do you have a pre-race meal, and/or ritual?
The night before a long run, I eat a tiny portion of pasta salad and salmon from the Good Food Store. On the morning of, I always have peanut butter and jam on a bagel with a tiny bit of juice or coffee. I learned the hard way that I absolutely cannot drink too much liquid on a long run morning. I have ended up with pit stops in some pretty awkward places.
How about a post-race indulgence?
Always coffee and beer! I also really love breakfast at the Shack, with a side of their amazing black beans.
I discovered that Saucony Triumphs keep Plantar Fasciitis at bay, so I don’t wear anything else!
Go-to energy snacks (e.g. fuel)?
I love Honey Stinger brand and I typically eat their Energy Chews and their Honey Waffles. I also like pretzel sticks and Red Vines.
Must have when running?
Water and chapstick. I also ALWAYS put “2Toms sport shield” between my toes. I started using it in 2013 and I haven’t had a single blister since!
Have you ever run a race in costume?
I usually run races in costume! Even if it’s just a funny hat or headband, I know that I probably won’t win a race, but I have a pretty good chance of winning the costume contest!
Finish sentence: If I didn’t run, I’d… be grumpy and fidgety!
Words to live by, or favorite quote?
“You are made from love, to be love, to spread love. Love is always louder. No matter what. Even if hate has a blow horn. Love is louder. So let your life be loud! – Kid President
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
If you could meet anyone (past or present, runner or not), who would it be and why?
Ugh! I don’t think I can answer this one. I love meeting people who have overcome obstacles, met goals or achieved great things. There are just too many incredible people to pick just one!
Jen and her husband Giovanni (Gio) live in Missoula and will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary this May. Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Jen moved to Missoula in 2004 to attend the University of Montana. Active in her church community (Christ the King), she also volunteers her time as a labor companion, while professionally, she works as a Senior Claim Processor at NAU Country (crop insurance company). Parents to a sweet senior aged pup named Meara, Jen notes that she’s not a runner, but “she is a great napper!”