MY Y STORY - JANINE
SHE STARTED RUNNING AT AGE 50 AND COMPLETED A HALF MARATHON in June 2019
In 2014, Janine began working at Middlesex Hospital, and shortly after in
2015, she started coming to the Middlesex YMCA. When Janine was 48,
she developed the idea that she should be able to run by the time she
turned 50, an ambitious goal. Janine had always been active but had never
dedicated herself to her exercise. For 20-30 years, her kids were the
priority. In fact, Janine used to smoke, eat midnight Milky Ways,
and drink soda. In 2014, Janine got off the couch and completed a 5K race
in Old Saybrook with her whole family. The event was her first race without
stopping and very much enjoyed the social and familial aspects of the day.
Following the 5K race, Janine felt accomplished, so much so that she ran
much less and did not participate in any other races for the rest
of the calendar year.
In Janine’s work at Middlesex Health, many of her colleagues discussed running and as a result, she felt increasingly motivated. Janine thought to herself that she always wanted to run a sprint triathlon, but knew deep down that the event was way out of her league. Inspired by her colleagues, Janine pursued a mini triathlon in Westbrook in February 2015, an event that required lots of strenuous preparation. Janine completed the event with her brother, and after the race, choose to fully dedicate herself to her exercise. Immediately after the race, she became a member of the Middlesex YMCA. Janine would force her brother to swim with her in the Y pool and then try and run afterwards. She proclaims that the running was a “hideous” sight. Janine states “it took 30 minutes to swim six lengths of the pool and [that] she was completely nauseous at the end.” The next year consisted of lots of intermittent exercise for Janine and both her motivation and routine suffered.
In 2016-2017, her kids became increasingly dedicated to their physical health. Janine would offer lots of encouragement to her children as a spectator. Suddenly, driven by her children, she chose to transition from a behind the scenes cheerleader to a driven athlete. Five days a week, Janine and her son would go swimming and then run in the afternoon. At the start of the routine, her son dragged her along the way, but as time progressed Janine became increasingly comfortable with distance running and swimming. Next, Janine completed a 10K.
Shortly after the feat, Janine’s son joined the Air Force, more specifically the special forces. He worked extremely hard and was well prepared because of the time he spent at the YMCA. He did all of his preparatory swimming here. He surprised Janine by returning home for the half marathon, running with the flag he held with him during bootcamp, assessment and selection,
pre-dive, dive and airborne. The flag has been with him underwater, through the air and jumping out of planes.
Following Janine’s son return to the special forces, she stated that “she was truly on [her] own.” The dynamic reversed. Before her family and friends were dragging her to compete and train, but now she forced her family to accompany her. After taking a suggestion from her colleagues, Janine now completes a morning workout, 6 - 7 am here at the Y. After some time, Janine found a routine, got in her groove, and eventually discovered a solid group of women: Jen, Lisa, and Yvonne. With the arrival of winter, also came a decrease in Janine’s motivation, discipline, and focus. Nonetheless, with the help of her support group, Janine buckled down and ran outside all winter! Through this wild experience, she became unbelievably close to another woman in the group: Sherri. Sherri was in unbelievable shape and practically took Janine under her wing. Janine remarked that might not have persevered through the brutal winter months “if it were not for the feeling of Sherri’s accountability.” One day, it was 19 degrees and Janine arrived at the Y for her usual workout with her group, but wholeheartedly expected not to run because of the dangerously low temperatures. When she arrived, Janine saw Sherri and the others ready to go.
Throughout time with Sherri, Janine began to notice that the start time became earlier and earlier, meaning that the length of the run was steadily increasing. Additionally, Janine implemented a separate swim and run each week to complement her exercise with Sherri, so she would not “suck wind” when with the group. Janine did not want to be the reason why the others were walking.
One day, Janine alerted Sherri of her goal: to run a half marathon. Consequently, Sherri, per usual, upped the training. The end goal was the Essex Train Half Marathon in fall of 2019.
In May 2019, Janine stated, “I kind of wish there was a half marathon earlier than October” Sherri then found Independence Road Race in Bristol Rhode Island, another half marathon, almost immediately. Euphoria was beginning to set in. To further prepare for the race, Janine decided to run longer on Fridays.
Through her training, Janine would alternate between light days and difficult ones. In her mind, a rest day would be 3-4 miles, but Sherri on the other hand, decided that a light day would be an 8 mile run. Although Janine and Sherri’s ideology conflicted, Janine adhered to Sherri’s, and looking back, she is happy she did.
For some extra inspiration, Janine decided to wear one of her son’s military shirts and made plans to call him during the race. The Wednesday before the big day, Janine’s son surprised Janine and came home to run with her!
The big day had finally come. It was race day. Reflecting back, Janine says that “the first six miles were euphoric.” All her kids joined her and Janine was on top of the world. As the race progressed and her family shuffled back into the crowd, the euphoria began to fade away. Throughout miles 6, 7, and 8, Janine continuously muttered “Oh my God. Why did I do this. What the heck am I doing. I’m sure I’m gonna die. This is not good. This isn’t good. Oh this is NOT good.” At mile 7, during a phase of walking, Sherri noticed that the 2:45 pacer was approaching. Saying nothing, Sherri waited for Janine’s reaction. Looking over her shoulder, Janine saw the pacer approaching, dug deeper and picked up the pace of her run. After she conquered the rough stretch, her dialogue changed to “Oh, we got this.”
Shortly after, Janine decided she wanted to run another half marathon. Unhappy about her walking phase in the middle, Janine needed another shot. Almost immediately, Sherri said, “We’re signed up for October 27th Half Marathon.”
Currently, Janine runs, swims, and rides horses. To complement her active lifestyle, Janine feels she needs to “[learn] how to fuel as an older athlete.” Now more than ever, both Janine and Sherri believe hydration and nutrition are huge factors and are directly proportional with success.
Looking back, Sherri says “This was her race. I was just going to be there for her. If she needed to walk, we’d walk.” Janine replied by saying, “She was always right behind me every step of the way.” Not only did this experience improve Janine’s physical condition, but also brought her family closer, fostered new relationships, and built an immense amount of character. Janine remarks, “It’s the training that I love. That whole piece of it is enjoyable. It’s a social thing. It’s a training thing. The race is just the icing on the cake.”