Jessica Hofheimer tackled her first marathon 12 years ago, finishing in 5:21:20. This year, the 36-year-old mom of three from Reston, Va. realized a long-held dream of qualifying for Boston with a time of 3:34:46. When she's not working on increasing her speed, she's coaching fellow runners, teaching Pilates, and doling out inspiration over at her blog Pace of Me. Follow her on Twitter here.
Best recent run: My 14-mile run on Saturday was an awesome run. Everything just clicked and I felt strong from start to finish. It was my last day of vacation in Virginia Beach and I ran along my favorite route there - seven miles with ocean views and seven miles of trail running through the most beautiful state park. I paced myself perfectly and finished the last two miles faster than my goal race pace and had more in my tank when I was done.
Picking up the pace: what's helped you get faster?So many things! It took me a long time (10 years and 6 marathons) to realize what I was doing wrong as far as training and racing went (which was practically everything), and I am still a work-in-progress (and always will be!). The biggest things I changed that I think have helped were adding speed work 1-2 times a week, honoring a purpose for every run, listening to my body even when it was telling me something I didn’t want to hear, figuring out what nutrition and hydration plans work for me, being consistent about my core strengthening and flexibility work, not giving up when I really, really wanted to, and just BELIEVING in myself--going after my dreams and not being afraid to fail!
Just call her “Coach”: Becoming a running coach and Pilates teacher has absolutely been one of the most amazing and fulfilling things in my life. The coaching class opened my eyes to all of the (many) things I was doing wrong as a runner and I was so excited to apply what I learned because I believed I was capable of so much more than I was accomplishing at the time (and I was right!). Pilates has taught me a greater sense of self-awareness and has helped a great deal with my running. I used to have no intention with the way I moved and held my body and as a result I was frequently plagued with lower back pain and muscle imbalances that led to overuse injuries. I’ve met the most incredible and inspiring people through coaching and teaching, and I am just so grateful to be sharing my passion with others. I am constantly amazed by my students and clients.
Sweet success: Having a creative outlet is just as important to my life’s balance and my sanity as running is. For all of my life I have had a need to be busy with my hands, whether drawing or sewing or glittering or painting - I just love to get into a project (or 10!). It was always a dream of mine to make an ice cream cone growth chart for my kids and a few years ago I finally did it. Friends and family members loved my creation and encouraged me to make more and sell them. It was scary, but so exciting. I asked one of my best friends to be my business partner and Sugar Cone was born! Now we are in a few retail stores and have our own web site and it is just so wonderful! As far as time management tips go - I take it one day at a time, honestly, and I have got to prioritize. I’m a total list maker and am constantly fiddling with and tweaking my schedule. I try not to stress over it - and trust that it will all get done! I’m so grateful to be filling my life with my passions and always remind myself of that when I feel overwhelmed.
Can’t run without ____: Toilet paper! I know this is terrible and may be TMI, but I am prone to stomach issues and though I plan my routes where I know there will be places to stop in case of emergency, I can’t always count on there being toilet paper available. I’m always trying to find ways to solve this problem of mine, but in the meantime I run with a few sheets of T.P. in my pocket just in case. Almost nothing is worse than having to stop and not being able to feel comfortable afterwards! I really hate that.
Boston-bound (and beyond): I have some of the best running buddies on the planet. We call ourselves “Team Honey Badger” and get together no matter what the weather is (freezing cold, hotter than hot, raining, snowing...) most mornings before the sun is up. I don’t know what my specific training plan or goal will be at this point [for the Boston Marathon], but I do know for sure that I will be running a lot of the miles with my honey badgers! We support one another through it all and even if we are running different paces we are all at the track or on the trail together doing our thing. As far as my other running dreams - the list goes on and on! I am fulfilling a big one next month when I run my first relay - Hood to Coast with Nuun! I am so excited about that and really can’t believe it is happening. Truly though, my biggest running dream is to be running for all of my life. No matter the pace or the distance, I want always be moving my body.