(This is Part 2 of an interview with inspirational runner Jackie Concaugh Gruendel. If you missed Part 1 of this series, start here!)
Q: What were some of your achievements as an open runner?
Finishing second and running 60:10 at the 19thArmy Ten-Miler (2003), but I would have loved to have broken 60 minutes. My proud moments: George Washington Parkway Classic 5K where I have won it seven times and placed first three times as a mother. I happened to place (I believe) 19th woman at the age of 40 at the 40th Marine Corps Marathon in 2015 (3:08:11), only my second marathon (my previous having been 10 years prior) and it wasn’t a great day. The debut marathon was at Twin Cities (2005) with a time of 2:54:39.
Q: What was the reason for doing the steeplechase?
My coach at the time thought I was tough and didn’t mind the grind so we thought we would give it a try. It was a lot of fun and I am glad I gave it a try.
Q: What are the adjustments with being a mother?
I really had more of an adjustment with Petra; the pregnancy and comeback were not as easy. It has helped that my kids really enjoy running also and now that they are older they can join or bike with me on some days. It means some really early mornings or late nights or runs up and down the driveway or a double stroller, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
Q: How do you manage the balance in your life with work?
Sometimes it’s not easy, but I find when you are motivated and passionate about something you always make the time. There are days now that I take off because I am so tired or worried I might get injured.
Q: How do you manage injuries?
I guess fortunately or unfortunately my injuries have been major so it’s easier to know when to come back and roughly how long it’s going to be, but it’s never easy and some are more difficult than others.
Q: Do you feel that this sport is emotional?
Very, and I think we as runners are very hard on ourselves. I have cried after more than one race, as you know.
Q: Do you have any fears when it comes to the sport?
Failure, don’t we all, and poor racing strategy.
Q: Are you competitive at every race you attend?
I have been racing with my kids some, so unless I am running with them, yes. I was always taught that you step on the starting line to race. As I have gotten older, I have raced when perhaps I wasn’t ready, because I knew I would get more than if I did a workout by myself, but I am still competitive; I really do love to race.
Q: How do you overcome when the results do not match the expectations?
Sometimes it’s not easy; I use it to help match those expectations next time.
Q: What value do you place on speedwork?
A lot, and probably more now on true speedwork than I did when I was younger. I love a good true speed workout and have a new respect for sprinters.
Q: What is that distance at which you do your best?
I feel the mile and the 5K, although I have been told I probably would have been a good 800 girl. And to be honest, I never gave the marathon a chance, but it isn’t my passion.
Q: What is a bad workout?
When I don’t hit my splits and if I run too fast at the beginning and can’t finish a workout.
Q: What words of motivation can you offer to a beginning runner?
You can’t set a PR every race, and every workout can’t be perfect. You need easy days when you don’t worry about pace, you just run.
Q: What goals have you set for yourself?
I would love to set a marathon PR and break 5 minutes in the mile after turning 40, but since having back surgery, the road has been quite bumpy.
Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to the sport?
The objectives are self-development, self-motivation, and learning from setbacks. I find success in learning and improving, and it is not always about winning. Sharing with younger athletes is very rewarding, so they can develop and grow within the sport to know what it is to love the sport.
Jackie will continue to be that moving force on the road and the track going forward.