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Digital Running Club » Catching Up » Catching Up with Jesica D’Avanza

Catching Up with Jesica D’Avanza

JD-120627-0636-2_crpThe basics: Jesica is a 31 year old Senior Director of strategic communications for the American Cancer Society at their national Headquarters in Atlanta. She’s also the blogger behind, where she writes about uncensored and often un-ladylike adventures of marathon and triathlon training. She grew up in Palm Harbor, Florida, about 40 minutes from Digital Running headquarters.

When/How did you start running?

Running has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It was passed down like a family tradition from my dad who was an elite track and field athlete. Growing up, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that running wasn’t an option. It was never forced upon me or expected. I just always saw it as a part of life. I remember being 7 or 8 years old watching college cross country meets that my dad was coaching and thinking how cool all his runners were. I spent the better part of my adolescent and teenage years trying to follow in his footsteps as a sprinter on my middle and high school track teams.

Although I’ve always run, it wasn’t until 2009 that I began training for endurance events. I finished my first half marathon in 2009, my first marathon in 2010 and the rest was history. I was hooked. I’ve since completed 5 half marathons, 5 marathons and a Half Ironman. Hopefully the best is still yet to come.

Why do you run?

There are two reasons why I run and think running is so special.

  1. I love to push myself to be the best version of me I can be. I’ve always been someone who takes the road less traveled … To see what I’m capable of. To do what the average person thinks is too hard or too time consuming. To prove that I can do anything I am willing to work hard for. It’s not about being fast or the best. It’s about doing something that makes me feel empowered. Strong. Extraordinary. It’s about crossing the finish line and enjoying the journey.
  2. The second reason why I love running is the incredible running community. Both the people I run with in my city as well as the many awe-inspiring runners I’ve meet on Twitter and through the blogosphere are the coolest people around. I’ve never met a group of individuals who are more encouraging, motivating and helpful. People I’ve never even met share their stories of triumph, tips for success and kind words to keep me going. The friends I’ve met through running are people who will forever impact my life. I am truly honored to be among this special community of individuals. I get just as much joy out of hearing about their victories as I do from achieving my own.

When do you prefer to run?

I prefer to run in the morning, because there is no better way to start your day, but the truth is that I get most of my weekday runs in during the evenings after work.  I fit it in where I can and where life will allow me to.

When/Where was your best run ever?

One of my favorite runs that comes to mind was a solo 8-mile run along the Westside Highway in New York City last year. I was there for work and decided to go for a run before dinner. I started running and I don’t know what came over me, but I had speed and strength that you can only hope for every time you lace up your shoes. It was such a powerful run, and the scenery of the New York City skyline and the Hudson River is such a treat.

27 RunningWhat is your proudest moment in running?

My proudest running moment to date was finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2011 and completely crushing my goal time and PR (shown at left). It was a magical day where everything just felt right. I never felt like I was struggling, and I had a sense of confidence that kept powering me through. My mom made the trip to New Orleans with me, and it was so special to get to see her along the course and celebrate after the race. I also ran the race for the American Cancer Society, raising about $2,000 to support the fight to end cancer as a charity runner. So that made it even more special.

What is your biggest running disaster/embarrassing moment?

My most embarrassing running moment actually happened this month during the Mississippi Trail Race 20K. Two miles into the race, my stomach started feeling really upset. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it very much further without going to the bathroom, and I also knew there were no porta potties on the course. So at the 4.4-mile mark, I hid behind some trees and had diarrhea in the woods. Yep, that happened. Thankfully I was carrying a wet wipe with me, so it could have been a lot worse. Not sure if it is super embarrassing or a badge of honor. I’ll let you be the judge.

What are your running goals?

I have 8 running goals for 2013, which you can read here. Most notably, I’d like to hit a 1:45 half marathon time and break 5:45 in the half Ironman distance this year.

dinnerWhat is a typical dinner for you?

My husband and I cook a lot. I am always trying new recipes, so we never have the same exact dinner very often. We also try to eat a mostly paleo diet, consisting of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like avocado, nuts and olive or coconut oil. One of my favorite dinners to make is seared sea scallops with mashed cauliflower and garlicky green beans. I have some favorite chicken-based soups in the crockpot we enjoy. But when it comes down to it, we have a protein, a vegetable and a starchy vegetable like winter squash or sweet potatoes. I also love to have something sweet at the end of my meal, so we always have frozen fruit in the house, like cherries, blueberries, strawberries or bananas.

What do you bring to every race?

My Nathan Hydration hand-held water bottle, Honey Stinger gold gels, Nuun or electrolyte pills, a Headsweats visor, a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence, Lululemon Run Short Shorts (now vintage) if it is warm, my iPod, my Garmin 910, Aquaphor and a whole bunch of other stuff so that I can be prepared for anything.

One of your 26.2 mantras is “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” from Beverly Sills. Can you tell us what this means to you?

This means that accomplishing your goals takes hard work. Nothing truly meaningful and rewarding comes easy. Success comes when you set your mind to something; you stay disciplined and focused to achieve it and you do the work that is required to prepare you for it. Having big dreams means you must also have big plans for achieving them and the commitment to seeing them through.

What do you listen to when you run?

I listen to a lot of different music while I run – everything from rap to country. Some of my favorite songs that give me some extra pep in my step right now are: “In Da Club,” “Call Me Maybe,” “Rock Superstar, ” “The Fall,” “I Just Wanna Run,” “This is Why I’m Hot,” “Strawberry”… Honestly, there are way too many to even begin to mention.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a reality TV junkie. I also live across the street from a reality TV personality too.

Learn more about running like a lady from Jesica D’Avanza at

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