My week long hiatus is due to my asthma acting up. Last week, I hacked up a lung, didn’t sleep well, and was completely off-schedule. On Friday, I got an inhaler with steroids, and that improved my condition somewhat; I was able to go to CrossFit today and not die. I’m really happy to be getting back into the swing of things!
Enough of me and my lungs and onwards to Jenny. ;o) She’s an amazing gal whose story I feel very lucky to showcase here at GirlHabits. I found her blog accidentally, and I was extremely inspired by her story. She motivated me to sign up for the London Spartan Sprint, which I will be doing with fellow CrossFitters in July. My primary goal for the race will be to come out intact and with all my bones in place.
I know you’ll be as inspired as I was by Jenny.
GirlHabits: What can’t you live without?
Jenny Willets: I couldn’t live without some sunshine. I am one of those people who really misses the bright sun in the winter. I try to compensate by doing winter sports and going outside despite the cold, but nothing beats a sunny spring or summer day to boost your spirits.
GH: If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
JW: If I could have any super power, I would pick flying. Right now, running is the closest I can get to that feeling of absolute freedom- freedom from your problems, worry, self doubt. How great would it be to just take off and soar?
GH: What’s the weirdest thing that has made you cry?
JW: I can be a pretty emotional person, especially when I’m tired. Given the right set of conditions (i.e. a couple sleepless nights or missing a few meals) and I will tear up at the drop of a dime. I can’t think of anything particularly weird off the top of my head, though, other than crying over movies that aren’t even sad.
GH: How did you let go of your past in an abused relationship? What did that feel like?
JW: I think the two things that played the most vital role in letting go were: 1) really desiring to happy (and being willing to work for it) and 2) TIME. I lost a lot of my identity through the years of abuse, and it wasn’t until I found myself again that I was able to move forward and leave the past behind. At first it was difficult, as I was traumatized, exhausted, and anxious. It was hard to even get out of bed some mornings, but I knew if I wanted to get to a happier existence that I would have to start doing things that made me feel happy, whether I had the energy or not. I started running and working out again and set some small goals. When I accomplished one goal, I immediately set another. Before long I ran my first marathon, and that was emotional because I used it to raise money for other victims of domestic violence.
I also attended the My Avenging Angel Workshops, and that helped tremendously. Meeting so many other women who experienced what I went through helped me feel less isolated; however it was also very sad to realize just how many women and families are affected by abuse. I wanted to do more to help, so I joined the board of the charity (CT-ALIVE) that funded the workshops. It was through the course of ALL of this that I was finally able to rebuild my self-esteem and find my sense of self. It was both a draining and empowering process. Every bad day I reminded myself how far I had come and how much I had already OVERCOME in my journey.
GH: How do you approach relationships in your present?
JW: I simply go with my gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. I would much rather be alone than unhappy in a relationship. I think the one thing that has changed after leaving the abuse is that I am now willing and able to put my own health and happiness first, even if it may potentially hurt the other person. There is nothing noble about sacrificing your own happiness to please someone else. It was a hard lesson to learn, but it has made me a better person. I am an extremely giving and caring person, and I realize now that I deserve to get back what I am putting in.
GH: What’s your favorite food memory?
JW: Not very healthy, but my mother making home made cream puffs for my birthday as a child. I haven’t had one in YEARS, but boy were they tasty!!!!
GH: What do you consider the most important event in your life so far?
JW: I would have to say my wedding day. Although it was terrible and traumatic, it was also the first time I stood up for myself in years. It was the “Ah ha!” moment when I realized that something was terribly off. It was as if someone had pulled a veil from my eyes, and I was finally able to see things for how they were instead of how I believed them to be. Before that day, I truly believed my husband would do anything for me if I had just asked. In reality, he and his family had been walking all over me for years and didn’t care one ounce about my feelings. It was a catalyst for the abuse; however, more importantly, it was the start of me saying “enough!” It didn’t go over well, but there was no turning back. I was NOT going to continue to be a doormat.
GH: How do you squash self-doubt?
JW: By doing things I don’t think I can do- running a marathon, doing a Tough Mudder, starting Insanity… I am constantly challenging my own self limiting beliefs. I have never identified with being an athlete or even a good runner, and I’m not sure I ever will. However, I am not willing to let that stop me from doing my best. The only person I ever compete with is myself. I may not be the fastest, or the strongest, but I do have that drive to push hard and never quit. If I sign up for an event I know I will stay committed, so every time I finish a race I immediately pick another that’s a little (or sometimes a lot) harder.
GH: How did you overcome your last big challenge?
JW:My last big challenge was doing the New England Tough Mudder with an injured shoulder (after not having trained for several weeks). I was fortunate to be doing the event with a bunch of friends from my boot camp class. It was a huge help to have the support of a team, both physically and psychologically. There were several other members of our group with injuries, but we all managed to get through by supporting each other and offering encouragement. Having the opportunity to work with such a close knit group definitely made it a great experience.
GH: How do you show yourself self-love?
JW: I don’t allow myself to indulge in self criticism, and try to take time out for things I enjoy. In the past I was always planning my day around trying to make other people happy, even if I was exhausted. Now, I take care of myself first whether it means hitting the gym or taking time to relax.
GH: Without ____, I would have never succeeded.
JW: Faith. Having faith in myself and having faith that everything will turn out okay. It’s a hard thing to believe after the trauma of abuse, but I am finally getting back there.
GH: What is your next big challenge?
JW:My next big challenge is the Spartan Ultra Beast in September. I have a few scattered races before then, including the Pike’s Peak Ascent the month prior- which will be a challenge in itself. The Ultra Beast has me particularly terrified because it is a marathon length obstacle course at a ski resort with penalties (burpees) for missing obstacles. I have run a marathon in the past and done two Tough Mudders (including one at altitude); however, I have never competed in a Spartan race and am still recovering from a shoulder injury that has temporarily impeded my training. There is also the added challenge of being responsible for your own food and water which means carrying extra weight. I know I can finish, but there’s a good possibility that it is going to make for a very long, miserable day. Of course, the elation and sense of accomplishment at the finish is directly proportional, right?
Visit Jenny at The Running Thriver and be inspired