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Follow This Mother!

Jill and kiddos in her favorite post-race photo yet

Mom of two Jill Poon of Holly Springs, Georgia, doesn’t let much get in her way: She’s done an Ironman-distance triathlon the past two years, despite her younger son being just three years old. Then there’s the fact this 37-year-old was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was in high school. We stand in awe.

Best recent run: I love to run the Kennesaw Mountain trail system. Lately I’ve been going there with a good friend and running for hours. It’s better than a girl’s night out!

Revved up: I’d wanted to do a full-distance triathlon [2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run] for many years but fitting the training into our lives was a challenge. My husband pointed out our lives were not going to get any less challenging, so why not just go for it. I picked the Rev3 FullRev for several reasons: 1) the Rev3 organization puts on an amazing race, so I knew it would be well run. 2) It was located in Cedar Point amusement park – if you are going to ask your family to hang out at a race all day, having it in an amusement park makes that a much easier endeavor! 3) Being in Ohio, the race was only a few hours’ drive for my extended family; it was really important to me to have my parents there for my first 140.6 finish.

Seizures: I was diagnosed with petit mal seizureswhen I was a high school freshman. Once I knew what was happening, I realized I’d actually had it from a very young age. My epilepsy is made more prominent when I am tired, pushing too hard, and not getting enough sleep. As a high school freshman, I was running varsity cross country; the increase in running caused me to get run down, and the seizures emerged. I am very lucky to have a mom that didn’t let the diagnosis make me quit the things I loved, namely running. I also continued swimming, skiing, playing tennis. Thankfully, my first medication protocol worked flawlessly. As an adult, I am no longer on medication. I do pay attention to my nutrition and try not to have too many late work nights. I can tell when I’m over doing it, and I know when I need to back off and let my body recover and rest.

"How I tend to look at the end of race - but only for about 5 min."

For me, the most important thing with epilepsy is it doesn’t mean you have to give up sports. Depending on the severity of your condition and how well you respond to your medication, you can continue to enjoy an active lifestyle. I am shocked at how many people I talk to who have a son or daughter and the school has recommended that they refrain from all sports, especially swimming. This is something to be discussed with your doctor, ask them for advice on what steps you need to take to minimize risk and maximize fun.

Feels like the first time: I had grown up thinking that running a Boston-qualifying marathon was out of my reach. However, as I trained for the FullRev, my long run times kept improving, so I used my fitness from 140.6 training to race a marathon and attempt to qualify. My first marathon was the Marshall University Marathon. I started the day feeling very good, maybe a little too good: I made a rookie mistake and went out a little too hard. By the time I made it to Mile 22, I didn’t have much left in me, but I was able to hold on and qualify in 3:32:04. It was the hardest I’d ever pushed myself in a race. The race was in November 2010, and the 2011 Boston Marathon registration had already filled up, so I’m running Boston this year. It’s a lifelong dream come true.

Long and short of it: As a college girl (and athlete), I didn’t pay much attention to my hair, and before I knew it, my hair had grown very long. A friend suggested I donate it to Locks of Love. I did and thus began a pattern to be repeated about every four years or so. The last three donations have been very special to me as it was hair that had been with me during very poignant times in my life. As a baby, my older son always pulled on my long hair, so I decided it was time to donate it; that hair was with me for my first pregnancy. Just before the birth of my second son, I donated again, and that hair that had been with me during the crazy “new mommy” period and my second pregnancy. This most recent donation was hair that had been through my first season back to triathlon after pregnancy, juggling being a mom to two little boys, work and training for (and completing!) two 140.6 triathlons.

Before the L4L haircut

Nothin’ new: The idea for Project ReUseIt came to me last year after I finished IM Louisville. Training for full distance triathlon, you use A LOT of stuff. I realized I had a problem with what I call the “Target Black Hole.” I would go in to Target to get a birthday gift for a child’s party and walk out with a T-shirt for the boys, a new hat for myself, and other stuff we didn’t need. So I’ve vowed to not buy anything new for the first half of this year. There are some exceptions (food, underwear, for example), but for the most part we’ve been able to stick to it, especially by borrowing things from other families who are happy to get unused stuff out of their house. One exception is workout clothes, but the caveat is only if you really need the item, like a faded, see-though swimsuit or threadbare tights. I passed up on a fabulous shirt at the Disney Marathon Expo that said, “This isn’t sweat, it’s liquid AWESOME,” so that I could stick to the rules.

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8 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. A big thank you to anothermotherrunner for the article! I’m honored to be I included with such amazing women! Thanks to all for the lovely comments!

    Erin and Anna, I’m so glad my story reached you both, it warms my heart! Much luck and strength to both of you as you navigate the course with them!!

    Diane – way to go girl!!! What a great goal you’ve set for yourself!! Good luck with your 5k, that’s fabulous!!!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My 2.5 year old son was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 15 months and began having grand mal seizures. Although his epilepsy is pretty well controlled now, I do sometimes think/worry about the future. Reading this gives me such hope and a renewed confidence that his epilepsy will never hold him back.

  3. My seven year-old daughter has epilepsy, and I am sharing this post with her. We also have not had to cut any of her activities. Her meds work well, she only has a seizure if she outgrows the dose, so we are pretty good about keeping ahead of that. What a great story! Thank you for sharing and for inspiring my baby.

  4. Yea, Jill you are a true inspiration over coming your diagnosis! That is awesome. I had no idea how long your hair was when we met at Disney! Your and inspiration!

  5. Love this mother runner! I started a project this year (called The Stripper Project) in an attempt to “strip” away all the excesses in my life. I have 3 main goals: to reduce the contents of my house by 75%, to buy nothing new for a year, and to finish losing my excess weight and get back in tip top shape without the use of anything “extra”. And that means, I am RUNNING! My first goal is to run a 5km, then a 10km, and ultimately a triathlon (but I don’t think that far ahead because it’s overwhelming!). I love, love, love reading stories of other mom’s who are doing what I am doing – it is so inspiring!

  6. What a great and inspiring post! You set an amazing example in so many ways. Glad to read all about it. Will check out Project ReUse, as well.

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