Saturday Spotlight- Jennifer McCourt

Name: Jennifer McCourt
Age: 41
Occupation: United HealthCare TOPS Analyst (aka coding nerd)
Residence: Babylon
Family: Husband John, Son Tate

I was never a runner; hardly athletic. I had gone to a private grade school that only offered basketball, and by the time I got to public High School I was too embarrassed to try out for any sport because I had no idea how to play any of them. My sister Michelle ran cross country, but I just had no interest.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s. I started (briefly) dating a guy who was a big gym rat, and he encouraged me to start going to the gym and taught me the basics about fitness. After that fizzled, I continued going to (a different) gym, and enjoyed it. I would walk on the treadmill, but never even thought about running.

In 2007 I married my husband John and in 2009 I had my son Tate. Tate was a rough infant. He cried for pretty much the first year of his life. I used to think he hated me, but it turns out he just had a weak flap valve in his stomach which made him very uncomfortable.

In 2010 my sister called me and said she really wanted to run a charity 5K in her hometown for a child that had suddenly and tragically died while running the bases at the baseball field with his father. She hadn’t run in a very long time, and didn’t want to do it alone. I remember I said to her, “I don’t think I can do that.”. She insisted if I started training, that I could run it. I hate letting my sister down, so I reluctantly registered and started “training”. (I put “training” in quotes because I had no idea at the time what real training was.)

I remember the first few times out I could barely get around the block. I was 36 years old with an infant…how was I going to do this? I thought about telling Michelle to forget it, but I was already signed up for it, so I had to follow through. I went out a few times a week for about a month until I could get up to 3 miles (which we drove by car to map it out). I found it quite therapeutic; I was ably to de-stress. As most parents know, the sound of a crying baby for hours can really grate on your nerves. Running helped..…a lot.

As the weekend was quickly approaching, the weather wasn’t looking good. I ran around like a crazy person the night before looking for some sort of “rain gear” that my sister and I could wear so we wouldn’t get soaked. The only thing I could find were 2 hot pink light jackets. Better than a Mickey Mouse poncho, right Brandon?

So the day was here…4/25/10…Robbie’s Run…and wouldn’t you know – it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring! Really? My first 5K and it had to be in the rain? Well I was determined to finish this thing, even if I was last. I don’t remember much about the race other than I couldn’t believe I was actually running it. We finished in 33:51. Not the best, but we did it (and it wasn’t so bad either). Dare I say I enjoyed the experience?!

Once my son hit the age of one, he stopped crying. It was like a switch was flipped. Now he was this happy child; always smiling. Although the stress level went down, I actually found something that I could do for myself (running). That was my “me” time which I enjoyed. I wanted to be a better runner and started going out more regularly. Later that year I ran my first half marathon, and in 2011 ran my first marathon.

Not sure who found it first, but in 2012 my sister (or myself) found this run called “Conquer the Hills” 5K. I remember telling my husband the location of the Hills, and knowing the area, told me, “you can’t possibly run those.”. Well, I hate when people tell me what I can’t do; so I had to prove him wrong and run them. I will never say it was easy, but I ran them and so did my sister.

Brandon was the one who told me about this group of people who ran a 10K course of those same Hills, and encouraged me to come down and run with everyone (also 2012). (Sidebar: In case anyone is wondering, Brandon and I work for the same company; we used to work in the same unit. When he worked in the office, we sat in the same row together so that’s how we became friends.) Again, my husband said, “OK so you ran a 5K on them; there is no possible way you can run double that…” so I did.

I don’t get out to the Hills as often as I should, (I try for 2x a month) but I love the challenge and wonder if the day will ever come when I think they are “easy”. I have met so many great people within the group, most of whom are encouraging and nonjudgemental. I will never be the fastest, but I certain have a lot of heart!

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