Friday, April 22, 2011

My Day With Lynn Jennings, Olympic Bronze Medalist 1992

Last week I received word that Lynn Jennings would be visiting the school district I work for on Thursday, April 21, 2011. 

She's here!
  I was beyond thrilled to find out this information.  I immediately found my co-worker, and fellow distance runner, E to get all the details.  Turns out E is the one that arranged for Lynn to come to our school and speak.  See, E and Lynn have become great friends through the yearly running camp she coaches that he attends.  E shared the planned schedule of events with me and then invited me to go out for drinks with them at the conclusion of her final presentation.  I couldn't stop smiling.  It's not everyday that you get invited to have drinks with an Olympic Medalist!  Fast forward to yesterday morning as I am walking down the hallway of my school to ask another co-worker to help me with the flash on my camera and I hear:  "Hey Jodi".  I look up and it's E and I say hello and then a milisecond later I realize Lynn Jennings is standing right in front of me!  E hugged me and introduced me to Lynn and E shared the story of my DNF at last year's Cleveland Marathon with Lynn.  Lynn was very compassionate and asked what happened and what I was going to do this year to avoid a repeat.  I quickly told her that I had been diligently working on my nutrition during my long training runs.  At this point E sees my camera on my arm (which I had completely forgotten about at this point) and asks me if I want a picture with Lynn and I immediately tell him that would be great.  In the next moment, Lynn puts her hand in her pocket and pulls out her bronze medal and promptly places it around my neck.  Amazing start to my work day!  Wearing an olympic medal and getting my picture taken with Lynn Jennings all before 7:30AM!!
Lynn Jennings, Olympic Bronze Medalist and I

After the picture Lynn asked me if she would see me later and I told her that  she would see me several times throughout the rest of the day and that I was looking forward to hearing her speak.  I shook Lynn's hand again and E whisked her away to the middle school to talk to the students.

I went back to work and spent the rest of the day anticipating the staff meeting where I would hear Lynn speak for the first time.  Fast forward to the staff meeting and you could seriously have heard a pin drop.  Everyone was in awe of Lynn's story and amazing public speaking skills. 

Lynn started running in the 9th grade.  She went to a very small high school and the only two choices for sports were girl's field hockey or the boy's cross country team.  She tried field hockey but once she realized she had to wear a skirt and the field hockey stick continuously hit you in the shins she decided to approach the boy's cross country coach and ask to run with them.  The coach was more than happy to have her.  She showed up the first day of practice and was sent out on a distance run that she promptly finished dead last.  The next day she walked the mile home and got her dog, Otis so she would have someone to run with since she couldn't keep up with the boys.  Otis praticed with her every single day of the season.  She went to the meets and finished dead last at every single one.  After the season ended she kept training and came back to the cross country team the next season and again she had to go home and get Otis but this time it was because she was faster than all the boys and she again found herself with no one to run with!   She continued to tell us her story.  There were many highs as well as lows which helped her realize her dream of an Olympic Medal.  If you ever have the chance to listen to her speak, I highly recommend it!  After the staff meeting, I stayed and listened to her talk with the cross country team.  During the two presentations she showed videos of her running.  All I can say is wow does she have an amazing kick and she always ran it through the finish line!  If she hadn't run through the finish in Barcelona in 1992 she wouldn't have made the podium.  Fourth place was less than two seconds behind her!  

After the first two presentations, I left to meet Jenn for dinner.  I had texted her Wednesday to invite her to listen to Lynn speak and I was thrilled that she would be able to make it!  Jenn and I had a great dinner and then headed back to the school for the final presentation of the night.  We walked right up to the front of the auditorium and I happened to sit in the exact seat I had sat in earlier in the day.  Lynn walked in and said hello and introduced herself to Jenn and then pointed out to me that I was in fact sitting in the same spot I had been in earlier.  Lynn Jennings had paid attention to where I was during the presentation.  WOW!!  She gave yet another amazing speech and answered questions and gave advice.  Jenn asked her how you get past the mental part of running because she is currently struggling with that.  Lynn's cut and dry advice...don't "fall asleep" while you are running but "turn your mind off".  Jenn and I waited for a final picture with Lynn.
With Lynn's final speech given, E invited both Jenn and I to join them and a few others at the Wine Bar.  It was amazing.  Sitting at a table with Lynn Jennings just talking like we were old friends!  Yesterday's events can only be summed up as amazing and awe inspiring.  With the marathon less than 25 days away, this opportunity couldn't have come at a better time.

E mentioned Lynn's running camp several times.  It takes place July 10-16th in Vermont.  I may have to look into it.  Afterall, the kids will be with my mom and stepdad that week.  They say everything happens for a reason.  Maybe, just maybe I am supposed to be trained by an Olympic athlete in my quest to get that sub 4 marathon!?!

Keep running, you're simply the best, and there is no doubt about it...Lynn Jennings totally inspired me!!!


  1. How exciting! What a great inspiration :)

  2. Jodi, that is so awesome!!!!

  3. That is seriously awesome! Thanks for sharing with us and I hope those presentations are exactly what you needed to end the training cycle on before heading to taper. Stay focused, run strong, and prepare yourself for redemption!!!!!!