Saturday Spotlight- Leah Jantzen

Name: Leah Jantzen
Age: 43 (Not me!)
Married to: Michael Jantzen
Kids: Phoebe 12, Luke 8, Charlie 6 and Audrey 4
Occupation: Guidance Counselor

First, thank you to Lou LaFleur for letting me be your Warrior of the Week!
Being a member of this group has truly changed my life.
I hope you enjoy my week; I look forward to sharing with you all!

I was born in Queens to Artie and Helen Carrano. My dad was FDNY and my mom stayed home with my younger brother and me until we went to school.
I grew up in a sports dominated house. Everything was a competition. Who could throw their laundry in the basket from the hallway? Who could run the fastest around the block. You get the idea. My neighborhood consisted of all boys and me. I was frequently the quarterback for street football, pitcher for baseball, goalie for hockey, etc. If I wanted to play with the kids on the block I had to play sports. I wasn’t interested in dolls, dress up, or anything girlie. I was a total tomboy! It’s so funny now because I can be such a girlie-girl!

We had one TV in my house and my stubborn Italian father ruled the remote (or for a long time we had no remote!!). He wanted to watch sports on TV so that is what we did. Baseball, golf, hockey, football; you name it we watched it. So I learned a lot about every kind of sport.

My dad was an amazing athlete. He taught himself how to play tennis and golf and is really good. He used to take me to the tennis courts at Sachem North HS and teach me how to play. After we moved to Setauket I started taking tennis lessons. I also played softball when I was 10 or 11 and since I always played baseball with my brother and friends I loved softball.

In junior high I was on the tennis, volleyball, basketball and softball teams for 3 years straight. I never went home right after school. I LOVED playing and would never miss a game. I remember once I had a horrible fever but I still played! My mom was so mad at me!! In 10th grade I played varsity tennis, basketball and volleyball. Senior year I went to states for tennis and was all-county in volleyball. Ironically enough, I never played a single sport where you ran; no fields or tracks for me!

In college I made a huge mistake and didn’t play anything. I was burnt out and wanted a break. I went into depression my freshman year after my father was given 6 months to live (he fought the cancer and is still alive miraculously today). I gained 30 pounds (yes, double the freshman 15!) and was lost. My roommate was trying out for the lacrosse team so one day while having a catch with her she said I was really good and I should try out. Well I did and I made the team. I even wound up starting second half of the season and scored a few goals. It was so fun being on a team again.

After college I would run once in a while if I wanted to lose weight. I never knew how far I was going or how fast, just ran to burn calories. Did the same thing after having my babies. I would run to lose the baby weight but never took it seriously. I also always ran alone. Never thought there were people out there who ran together. What a concept!!

When I turned 40 and my daughter was 1 year old I decided I needed to do something. I joined Crossfit–my husband was already going there and had gotten into amazing shape. I thought I was in decent shape but WOW, this was HARD. I worked really hard and got so into it. I would go 5-6 days a week and my body was transformed. And it got those competitive juices flowing again, as I competed in the Crossfit Open (any athlete can compete) and even did a Crossfit competition on the island. But it wasn’t until I ran The Bench 5K that things changed. I ran a 23:23 and got second place in my age group. I hadn’t been running, just doing Crossfit. But Kenneth Nuss Jr. saw me and said, “You need to run with us!” I blew him off for a while until I decided to do a half marathon. I signed up for the Hamptons Half in September 2014 and my time was 1:43:25. I was SO happy!! Maybe I was good at running…

To make sure it wasn’t a fluke I ran another half the following June–Hope Runs Here. Anyone who ran that race knows what that day was like. HOT HOT HOT. Ken and I started off together and planned to keep a steady pace. I felt good and took off and wound up winning my age group and running another 1:43. On a day like that I was thrilled. Ken said he was going to do a full marathon and I always wanted to do a full too. So we signed up for Suffolk and started training. He kept asking me when I was coming to the hills. I said NO WAY I am getting up at the ass crack of dawn to torture myself on ridiculous hills. You people are NUTS!

Well I think we know what happened next. But I don’t think you realize how much becoming a SHW has changed my life. I have met the most talented, generous, supportive, and encouraging people I have ever met. Since joining the hills I have run 3 marathons including Boston and NYC, (and 3 BQ’s), 2 more Half’s and many other races along the way. Every race included cheers from all my fellow warriors—unconditional support from the best running family ever!

I look forward to many more running years ahead, and hopefully more PRs

Running has taught me so much about myself and what I am capable of. I look forward to sharing more with you all this week.

Have a great day Warriors!!!

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