Jennifer Brase trains with the Rogue Sole Survivors coached by Bobby Garcia. She is our featured Rogue for June. Here is a quick intro from her coach on her running journey and why she is an inspiration to us all:
“Jennifer has been with Rogue and on my team for two years and she is exceptional. Smart. Very smart. Dedicated and focused. Hard working. She has run the Austin and Portland marathons and will be running
Chicago this year. She ran a little over a 4:00 marathon in Portland and wants to (and will) run a sub 4:00 this year.
What impresses me so much is her discipline and commitment in working towards a goal. She recently passed her Professional Engineering exam which is a very difficult exam. Last fall she took a four week pre-exam course that conflicted with our very important 20+ mile LONG RUNS. Before she signed up for the course, she and I talked about balancing training for a marathon with studying for her exam as she was unsure about the exam. She was very concerned about missing four weeks of long runs at an important point in the program.
I told her that if she decided to sign up for the pre-exam course and it conflicted with our long runs that I would meet her as early as she needed to start so she could run her miles. So, we met a little before 3:00 a.m. at Rogue for two straight Saturday mornings and she did her long run. 20+ miles both times. She ran the streets and hills of Austin including the Run from Hell on one of those Saturdays. I provided her water support and other food items. She wanted to both complete her pre-exam course AND also complete the required 20+ LONG RUNS that were called for in the program. And, she did it with no shortcuts. I am very proud of her, personally and professionally.”
Q&A with Jennifer:
When and why did you start running?
I cannot stress enough that I was the furthest thing from a marathon runner for the first 23 years of my life. I did not play sports, I did not particularly enjoy breaking a sweat nor being outside (unless it was poolside), and I was not confident in my body’s ability to achieve anything athletically. I did not develop a desire to run, or at least train for a race, until the summer after I graduated college. To be quite honest, I was struggling through a recent breakup, and I was on a run one afternoon when it occurred to me that it was having a therapeutic effect- I felt strength in my steps that I had not felt in months and a re-centering of my spirit. I decided that day to train for a half marathon.
From that moment, running for me has been about confidence, purpose, rejoicing in the legs that I have and their ability to accomplish great distance with small, repetitive steps. Running has been about the ability to connect with the neighborhoods, trails and the outdoors in a way that I miss when I am trapped inside a vehicle or sitting on a couch. It is to be cognizant of weather patterns, sunrise and sunset, temperature, and to be more in-tune with the world around me. The transformation in my outlook and character over the last 3 years as a result of running astounds me. Even though I still consider myself in many ways an amateur marathoner, I have had to in many ways redefine what I believe that I am capable of.
Describe your first marathon race experience.
My first marathon was Austin in spring of 2016. I am confident that even through training 20+ mile long runs, there is just no way to be fully prepared for your first marathon. There is a big black hole in my memory between miles 16-23, perhaps stress-induced amnesia? I remember finishing and swearing to myself I would not subject myself to that, ever again. And then I did, 8 months later.
What has been your biggest running-related challenge and how did you overcome it?
To know me is to know that I’m an overcommitter- I often think I am invincible and subject myself to as much as I can handle, and then some.
Last fall, training for my second marathon coincided with a career goal as I began to study for my Professional Engineering licensing exam. I was committed to a prep class for my test which would swallow my weekends, but I also needed to get my long runs in, and I was in the peak of training where I would be running 20mi+ long runs on the weekends. Both were imperative to my success and I felt strongly that neither could be sacrificed or cheapened as a result of the other. After talking it over with my coach, he and I moved the long run start times up to 3am for those weeks (when you’re waking up at 5am on a Saturday, what’s another couple hours of lost sleep, right?). My coach, Bobby Garcia, woke up with me (multiple times) and followed me along the route in his truck, providing water support, oranges, and encouragement. Anyone who knows Bobby knows that he coaches with his whole heart, and I would have never been able to accomplish these things- a successful race day, to pass my exam- without his selflessness and unending support.
What has been your biggest running achievement, or defining moment?
Aside from the race highs, my defining running moment was a trip that I went on last year. Shameless plug- I was so fortunate to go to Patagonia, Chile with Rogue Expeditions, which had been a long, long dream of mine to travel to this part of the world. The last day in Torres Del Paine National Park, after the reality of where we were had finally caught up with me, I was flying down a mountain trail with pure adrenaline spurred on by the beauty around me. The liveliness I felt in that moment was truly remarkable, keeping pace with other runners much better than myself. Whoever thought that a running vacation could be one of the most rewarding endeavors? Sightseeing on your feet is the way to go.
I will be running my third marathon in Chicago this fall, training with Rogue Sole Survivors through the Texas summer. Stay thirsty, my friends.