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Digital Running Club » Catching Up » Catching Up With Jessica Crate

Catching Up With Jessica Crate

Jessica Crate
The Basics: 26-year-old Healthcare Representative and Fitness Coach in Satellite Beach, FL.

When/How did you start running?
I got started running at around the age of 6 when we lived in Buffalo, NY. My Dad would have us run around the corner to my Grandparent’s house, where we would race each other in a 50 yard dash through the park behind the subdivision before we ran back. We could never do just one race though as I was quite competitive back then. Apparently I never wanted a head start because I wanted to beat him fair and square, so I’d end up running about 10 races, which is probably how I ended up as a distance runner.

Around the age of 10, I was heavily into soccer, swimming, basketball, and every other sport except solely running. It wasn’t until the 6th grade that I even thought about running as a “sport”. I was new to the school when our Cross Country coach at the time asked if I could fill in on the team for a race that weekend. I thought it was absurd to just run through the woods, but I was used to running up and down the soccer field and with my Dad, so I figured I’d give it a try. I placed 2nd in my first Cross-country meet ever, and of course the Coach insisted I stay with it. I’m glad he did!

I still stuck with the various other sports I was in: swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball throughout middle school. It wasn’t until 7th grade that I joined the Sarnia Athletics Southwest Track club, since several of the girls I competed with at X.C. meets were on the team. The first few practices we learned new drills, which felt more like dance class and why it was important to warm-up, which shocked me as I didn’t understand why “we had to run before the actual run?!” For me, running came naturally and I loved the feeling afterwards. We had a tremendous team and started winning races together. So, for me, I feel as though I’ve been running as long as I can remember, but I just say I started when I was six.

Why do you run?
I absolutely LOVE it! There are so many reasons why I love it, but the biggest thing for me is definitely the ability to compete, to challenge myself to new levels, and inspire others to do the same. I love the feeling of pushing myself in a race as hard as I can and crossing the finish line, knowing that I have left nothing on the course. Or even those days when I can just lace up my shoes and head out on an easy run to clear my mind. For me running is a freeing sport; convenient and easy, yet one of the most challenging and complicated sports all at the same time. Running not only builds character, it reveals it. They say Florida is the Sunshine State, and that is exactly how running makes me feel; positive and uplifting!

When do you prefer to run?
I love running in the mornings to jump-start my day. Even if it’s just a quick 2-4 mile shake-out run that I squeeze in before a meeting, I love putting the miles in before my day starts. However, I typically train in the mid-late afternoon with a few different groups and one that I coach. But the best thing about running is that, because you can, I’ll run anytime and anywhere!

What is your proudest moment in running?
Definitely, without a doubt, the ING NYC Marathon, Nov. 7th, 2011.

2011 was a big year for me as my goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the Marathon. In January, I won the Walt Disney World Marathon and then came back and won the Gasparilla Half Marathon in February. Both of these were crowning moments and incredible experiences. However, in April, I ran a disappointing marathon, but one that has really changed my outlook, my goals and the way I approach life. At the Boston Marathon, I went out with my Coach on goal pace (2:44) and we were all feeling good. However, at about 8 miles my foot started to hurt and then at mile 14, I grabbed some water, side-stepped around another runner, landed on the side and felt my foot ‘pop’. Pain radiated all the way up to my neck, but with adrenaline pumping, I shook it off and pushed through the pain to finish the race and still re-qualify for Boston 2012. It was definitely a defining moment for me as there were several times I wanted to jump in an available ambulance and seek help. Then I would remind myself of all of the people that never quit, WHY we run the marathon, and all of my heroes, the people I look up to, and our friends back home cheering us on to the finish. The mind is an incredible and powerful thing, and although that day was full of disappointment; I had missed my goal and now I was injured, I learned a lot. I know God has a plan and a purpose, so it took me a few weeks to rebound, but I started transitioning to biking, swimming, yoga and weight lifting.

The ING NYC Marathon was basically the moment I had been looking forward to since April. However, the previous 5 months had been spent solely focused on recovery and triathlon training. I didn’t think I was going to be able to jump from 8 to 26.2 and make a comeback in about a month to do a marathon, but I made the transition much faster than I expected. In August, after earning my spot on the USAT National Team for Worlds in Auckland, NZ 2012, I decided I was ready for a marathon and I was going to use it as a training run and tune-up for the St. Pete Women’s Half on Nov. 20th. In September and October, I had several great triathlon finishes and decided I would slowly increase my mileage and focus on closing out my Tri season with a great finish at the Miami Man on Nov. 13th. After conquering a 24 mile training run, I decided to have fun, enjoy NYC and just shoot to finish in under 3 hours as I had 2 races coming up, and wanted to challenge myself.

It was a beautiful course, full of energy and excitement from the crowds. I achieved my goal of pacing myself to a decent half marathon time and finished with fairly even splits for the remainder of the marathon. I finished in 2:56, so I was happy to have run my longest race and first marathon back since Boston. Although I didn’t make the Olympic Trials qualifier, I was happy to be back in the Marathon groove, learn from this experience and get back on track. I enjoyed every second of this race and it is now one of my top 5 favorites. I finished in 41st overall, 14th USA finisher, and 2nd Canadian female overall out of 47,000+.

What are your thoughts on female-oriented races? Should men be allowed to race in them? Do they promote bonding amongst your female running friends?

For the second year in a row, I competed in the St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon. My first year, in 2010, I started in the back of the pack. It was Corral #7 to be exact. It was my most invigorating and inspiring run to date. All of the women out there were seeking to conquer and achieve their FIRST half together. The sea of pink is an amazing sight to see, and an amazing thing to be a part of! I think it definitely promotes a synergistic bond between women and symbolizes all of the years women were not allowed to run. However, my boyfriend ran and paced with me during that race and it was a dual effort. It was fun to work together as a couple at something that was promoting my gender and he was fully supportive.

I recently had the privilege of meeting a world class running and novel writer, Kathrine Switzer. Talk about inspiration! She is a true mentor as SHE is the woman that revolutionized women’s sports by challenging the “all-male” tradition of the Boston Marathon. I would not be competing and racing if it were not for the sacrifices and dedications of women such as her! So, my answer is YES. I completely agree with having all-women’s races and I also support having men be a part of them.

Who was the first person who recognized your running talent, and did you believe him/her?
My parents really encouraged my talent all through the years, even as a young child and allowed me to experiment and try every sport possible. I grew up with athletic parents and was surrounded by a very athletic family, so it came very naturally. I also had several coaches that said I’d be great at running, so it was a combination of a lot of phenomenal people in my life that helped push me to pursue it as my key sport. I have a lot of people ┬áto thank for instilling the belief in me; such as my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and family that have also inspired and supported me along my journey.

What do you bring to every race?
I always have my competition gear: shorts, sports bra, singlet and racing flats. In addition, I never leave home without my Garmin Forerunner or Bodyglide, both of which I pretty much cannot live without. Packed in my bag are always a pair of compression Recovery Socks, flip flops, lip balm, iPod and my favorite GU or Honey Stinger Chews.

Is an athletic figure a benefit to your up-and-coming modeling career?
I had never really sought out to get involved in modeling, but recently have been approached to do some photoshoots and am enjoying it thus far. Having an athletic figure is DEFINITELY a benefit… I believe that whatever figure, talent, or gift that God has blessed you with should be used and capitalized on in every way, shape and form in order to bring praise to HIS glory. There is no “right” or “perfect” figure and women of all ages should love their bodies and how God created them; unique and special.

How do you balance traveling, modeling and racing?

LIFE in and of itself is a balance… Everything works well when it is in moderation. I am seeking to use both the modeling and racing synergistically with the work I do; in order to encourage, inspire and instill others with the passion, confidence and self-esteem that they should have on a consistent basis!

I love my home base, and capitalize on my family and friendships while I am local. Thus, when I am travelling or racing, I am able to solely focus on that race or event. Trust me, it’s a balance and it’s a difficult one to manage! However, it is so rewarding and I’m enjoying the challenge of tying in my Healthcare business to both my modeling and racing so far.

My teenage, distance-runner daughter wants to know, “Do you race with makeup on?”

Absolutely! Haha… I always splash on a little bit before my races as I would like to set the precedent that “you can still kick butt and look good”, as one of my girlfriends says. I don’t always wear makeup when I workout, but you’ve got to look good for race photos right?!

What is your biggest running disaster/embarrassing moment?
I have several pairs of racing flats, and for one race I grabbed two and didn’t realize until after the race that I had put on one from each set! So I raced the 5k in two different shoes- a red and a blue flat! Haha… At least I was representing our country, right?!

Biggest disaster was probably the Gasparilla half marathon I ran in February 2010. I made a huge rookie mistake by taking a wrong turn and not paying attention to the signs. I came out of the turn and there was a whole pack of runners in front of me. At first I was frustrated and disappointed as I went from the first overall female to about 10th. However, I turned it around mentally and decided I would target the leader and see how many I could catch. My goal was 1:19 and I finished around 1:20 and in 2nd place overall, even with the extra mileage, so it just proves how powerful the mind is and that you can do anything you put your mind to. In February of this year, I came back and won the Gasparilla half marathon and set a course record. Never give up!

One of my favorite quotes is “It doesn’t matter how many times you get hit. It matters how many time you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Thus, regardless of anything in life, learn how to rise after every fall, take your lesson and implement it next time.

What are your running goals?
For early 2012, I want to run a marathon under 2:47 and qualify for the Olympic Trials. If I accomplish that, I’ll set a new goal for later in the year! I also want to run a half under 1:18.

On my bucket list, I want to shoot for 50 marathons in 50 states, one in each province of my home country, and add a few overseas.

I am focusing my training on my first half Ironman and then the USAT World Championships in Auckland, NZ for Team USA in October 2012.

What is a typical dinner for you?
A typical dinner the night before a race or competition is salmon, asparagus, sweet potato and veggies. My favorite dinner, and the one I could eat every night, is sushi.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Starbucks Soy, SF Peppermint White Chocolate Mochas and their Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies. Delish!

What advice would you give to a beginning runner?
Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Set Goals, stay positive and believe in yourself. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it and just push yourself one step further. I like to tell people that I wasn’t born fast or talented, I just absolutely refuse to quit.

The most important thing is to simply have fun. Enjoy the whole experience, keep challenging yourself, stay motivated and surround yourself with training partners, mentors and people you look up to.

What do you listen to when you run?
I prefer the music of the crowds and bands when I race. However, when I do listen to music, it is usually one of the pump-up mixes my talented younger brother has created for me.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am obsessed with coconut water! I love it and want to hopefully create my own brand someday, combining all of my favorite flavors.

I am also a slight perfectionist, so I generally match and coordinate my entire racing, running or training wardrobe. Naturally, PINK is my favorite color, so I’m still looking for a TRI bike to match… I’ll keep you posted. ;-)

I am also committed to running all of my races to benefit a charity in 2012. I love giving back and inspiring change. A non-profit that I co-founded with a personal friend of mine is entitled Giving Athletics, Inc. Our goal is “inspiring social change through athletic participation.”

Filed under: Catching Up

3 Responses to "Catching Up With Jessica Crate"

  1. Amber says:

    HAHA! Makeup during a race? Really? That’s retarded. Put some meat on those bones before you get into modeling.

  2. Cathy Chapman says:

    Jessica is just as beautiful inside as she is outside! She is an amazing person! Great article. Good Luck, Jessica! We are all cheering for you!

  3. Sharon Larson says:

    You go girl … I am so proud of you! Your dedication and success continue to inspire me to keep pressing forward toward my many goals and dreams. I may not be able to catch you on the course, but I will always be beside you on life’s journey. You are an amazing person and I am blessed by God to be your Mom xo

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