Saturday Spotlight- Jess Kim

Name: Jess (not actually Jay!) Kim Age: 26 (birthday soon 😈 …unrelatedly, I’m a size 8D in Brooks Adrenaline 😉)Occupation: Grad Student 5ever Education: BA in Sociology, BA in Political Science (SUNY Geneseo), MA in Sociology (Stony Brook), PhD in Sociology (in progress)Marital status: unwed but happily relationshiped Children: Two dog children and the true loves of my life, Leila (cattle dog mix) and Luna (chiweenie). Human children are not for me Hometown: Buffalo, NY Current: Centereach, NY Hobbies: Running, CrossFit, cooking/baking, traveling My Running Story™️: Thanks Lou for inviting me to formally pester you all with the intricacies of my boring life.

First: I grew up in Buffalo after my mom moved back home from Hawaii (yeah, I know. she done fucked up) after she retired from the military. We lived with my grandma until I was about 12 and she played a huge part in raising me and I’m so grateful for that. As an only child whose grandma spent most of her time watching soap operas, I loved to quietly entertain myself and spent most of my free time crafting in my bedroom or playing library with my extensive book collection (yes, really).Second: my entry into sports comprised a bunch of “frilly” activities – gymnastics, dance, and ice skating. I ultimately stuck with dancing competitively for 13 yrs from age 3-16, despite the (then unrealized) fact that I haaaated it. I actually enjoyed the DANCING part of it, but everything else was a crock of shit. Too catty, competitive, political, and crippling for young girls’ body image. I strongly advise against dance as a children’s hobby. ANYWAY.I always wanted to do sports as a kid but I just kind of *thought* it and wondered why it never happened. Whoops. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere but I digress. I spent my summers at our family’s summer cottage where my family lovingly called me the “fish” cuz I loved swimming so so so much. As a surprise to nobody, I joined the swim team in middle school and swam Varsity in HS (freestyle sprint and relays, IM, breast stroke), and was pretty damn good, until I injured my shoulder and it was bye bye swimming career. It really broke my heart, as swimming was the one sport I really loved and was naturally good at. I also played lacrosse but I wasn’t super great, so I quit that too and ended up pouring a lot of my efforts into art.I went to college and my friend bullied me into coming to a rugby practice… and the rest is history. I LOVED rugby. I played all four years, and we went to Nationals where we ended up placing 8th. Not too shabby.Third: It was THEN, in my junior year of college, that I finally started flirting with running. I’d always been speedy (LOL not anymore), but had no endurance whatsoever. So to keep my starting position in rugby and be fit for games, I started running over the summers. I ran my first 5k with my rugby team circa 2012 and I didn’t hate it. I continued to run occasionally by myself for fun throughout college and into grad school – probably never running more than 10 miles at once and never racing. Then one of my grad professors convinced me to sign up for a full after I expressed to her that I wanted to do one eventually. Suffice it to say that that race did not pan out, but more on this later in the week. After that, I ran a half marathon in 2018 in 2:14 but still felt I was struggling with staying motivated and training properly.Fourth: I joined a CrossFit gym on a whim in September 2018 where I met Nancy Walker Anderson 💜. At this time, I was on the hunt for my next half to Do It Right This Time and found out that Nancy was a Hillbilly upon running the Terryville Race for a Claus 5k through our gym. She and a small hills army showed up wearing their infamous red gear. I was intrigued as I had heard of the Hills before and wanted to join but thought it was some elite group that I would get laughed out of and get left in the dust if I showed up and tried to run with “Real Runners.” Well Nancy assured me I would be perfectly fine (I did not believe her), and promised to bring me on a run soon.Finally: On January 13, 2019 (less than a year ago!!!!), I ran my first hills run. I did better than I thought but walked away thinking those hills are no joke! I was astonished at how many people of all paces showed up, and were talking (???????) while running. I specifically remember meeting one of my now-favorite running partners Michael Oliveri on this day because he was the Surprisingly Fast Talkative Old Man 😝😘 I kept wondering (honestly still do..) how he was talking so effortlessly while running up a f*cking mountain.Well, that was it. I kept showing up. I found my place in the SILG group. I started running the hills by myself! I ran during the winter (I previously vowed to NEVER do this). I ran a 1:56 half in April and completed my first full in October. I’m currently training for a sub-1:45 half. I picked up a couple awards along the way – something I thought would literally never happen. But more importantly, I gained an insanely supporting community of running friends. I would not believe you if you told me a year ago that I’d be placing in my age group and getting up early on Sundays to run with a bunch of old biddies (JaMe Pi I’m looking at you 😜). Sometimes I get down on myself about a crappy run or not being faster, but then I step back and realize how far I’ve come in less than a year, and I owe nearly ALL of that to you amazing jerks. What I love most about the Hills is that we are all here to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and lift one another up. Anyway, that’s it for today. Thanks everyone for reading!!!!