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Catching Up With Jessica Crate

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.

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