Despite her last name, Jennifer Small, a 37-year-old mom of a toddler girl, weighed in at 250 pounds just two years ago. But this resident of Biddeford, Maine, has cleaned up her eating, dropped more than 100 pounds, and become a speedy runner. Last summer she even morphed into a triathlete. Watch her go!
Best recent run: Has to be the 6-mile run on New Year’s Day with my training partner, Dawn. It was in the 50's (a rare thing in Maine in January!), I was sporting new running gear, I was with one of my dearest friends, and I wasn’t concerned with pace or heart rate. It was just about being out and running.
Knee, jerk: While the New Year’s run was a pleasure, the next day the exact opposite. It was a 10-mile hill run and at mile 7.35, while heading up, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee cap. I walked it off, stretched, and all seemed okay. Then again at mile 9, another long hill stopped me in my tracks. Walked it off and finished the run strong. Physical therapist later confirmed what I suspected: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome from improper tracking. We changed my stride and cadence (up to 185/min), and I am happy to report I am running pain free. I’m doing three to four miles per day and feeling good.
Lost, not the TV show: I started gaining weight when I moved back to Maine from Boston in 2000. I was not active, and I was eating and drinking too much. Six years later, I was easily 250 pounds, and I wanted better for me. I quit smoking, quit drinking, quit eating garbage, and
started moving. Then I got pregnant. I had my daughter in October 2008; by January 2009, I was in the gym and eating as clean as I could. Over the next 14 months, I lost 97 pounds and hit my first goal weight. Once I started weight training, the fat just melted off. To date, I have lost 107 pounds, and I am stronger than I ever have been.
Eat like a caveman: The whole Paleo eating style is pretty new to me. I am a huge advocate of eating clean foods and banishing processed junk, which is a big part of Paleo--lots of good-quality proteins, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, and berries. Things our bodies are supposed to be eating. In December, I attended a Joe Friel workshop, and he talked about Paleo, but he has made modifications for endurance athletes, like eating grains at certain times during a training schedule. I picked up his book The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and I like a lot of the principles of the plan. After only a couple weeks, I dropped fat. Ideally, I would like to lose another 8 to 10 pounds for racing season to improve my speed. One extra pound of fat can slow you down by two to three seconds per mile.
Tri as I might: Last year, I had so much fun running road races but I was ready for the next challenge. I was inspired by a friend’s adventures as a newbie triathlete—it sounded like so much fun! I had planned to do my first tri in 2011 but found a sprint triathlon that fit into my racing schedule so I decided to go for it. I placed 2nd in my age group at that first tri, and I was hooked on the variety, the people, the challenge of three disciplines, the rush of racing! Two years ago I would have laughed at the idea of me becoming a triathlete, yet now it’s such a big part of me.
Cold as a: Yes, Maine can be cold, but I can’t let the weather stop me. I just prep for the conditions by dressing in layers with the right fabrics. I actually love running in snowstorms! There is something so serene about running past a violent ocean with quiet snow falling from the sky. I only wish I could bike outdoors more during the winter! This winter is proving to be a real challenge.
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