By Agapito Gaytan
We finally caught up with Tornado member Jen Brown after she returned from her long trip to Europe and we stapled her running shoe laces to the floor to ask her a few questions. Jen has been a Tornado for 3 years. She was awarded the “Tornado New Comer of the Year” in 2004. Jen is full of life and by the looks of her answers on her profile questions she’s definitely not letting anything stop her from achieving her goals.
How young are you?
31…AAAGGGHHH…I’m not used to writing that yet!
Running Related Stuff
To Run or Not to Run…that is the question – so why do you run?
I run because it makes me feel good. I stay in shape, I work through problems and think about things, and I accomplish goals. I also run for the camaraderie…it’s nice to be around like minded people pursuing similar interests and to see the light in their eyes…it only helps to light my own.
Tell us your story about how you became a Tornado?
I met Jack at Paige’s party and he pumped me up about the speed sessions they were having at the time…which fit perfectly with my 1/2 iron man training…and he told me there was this really fast chica, Alex…who used to run for RICE. He enticed me to come out and once I met everyone, there was no hesitation…I knew this was a great environment for me!
Tell us a little about your training, (how do you train)?
I train at Memorial Park on Tuesday/Thursday for speed/tempo work and then sometimes on Saturdays for pace runs….and of course Sundays for the group long runs.
On Mon/Wed, I usually run near my house and try to go to the gym…I like to add stairs/hills to my off days to help build strength as well as some overall toning. I don’t have any unique training style…I just try to push myself as hard as I can…but if I need a break, I try to listen to my body. I just know mentally I feel better when I’m active! I also don’t have “typical” miles per week…but even when I’m not on a schedule, I workout 5-6 days/wk. Right now, I’ve just returned from Europe…and I’m jumping on the marathon training wagon. It’s hard to “come back”…I feel a bit out of it. I’m using a mix of Hal Higdon’s Advanced training program…and the words, wisdom, and practices of some of my very own Tornados buddies…ie, Leno & Jack.
What’s your favorite running event/distance?
WELL…I’d like to say the mile because it’s pretty short and sweet, but it really hurts. 5Ks are fun too…and marathons feel like SUCH an accomplishment…but I think my favorite events are trail runs because I focus so much on watching my step and pushing through the ups and downs….while the beauty of everything just makes me kind of forget the pains. Ya know?
Truly…each different type of run brings me a different satisfaction and sense of achievement…so it’s hard to say I truly have a FAVE.
What’s your favorite running shoe?
ASICS…DS Trainer, DS Racer, 2120. Cool slogan…nice fit…and I’ve scored some PRs with those on my feet
What’s the best running advice you can offer?
Train hard…don’t be afraid to hurt…it’s only temporary…BUT, listen to your body…AND take care of it by getting enough water, eating right, and getting enough rest to fuel your enthusiasm! OH…and TRAIN with people who will push you.
Which one of your PR times are you most proud of?
YAY! My 18:46 5K in Deer Park in June 07. Last year I struggled and worked so hard to lower my 5K time. I was doing all I could to break 19:30 and finally could do that pretty consistently. So this year I was amazed when I busted out my first 5K race of the season in under that and quickly realized a sub 19 was in my future. Once I had my new PR of 18:55, I couldn’t wait to try to beat it…and it was just such a great feeling because the race was so SMOOTH…it felt good…and all the timing was there for a great race!
Which has been your most memorable race or race where you had the most fun in?
I had the most fun at my first BOSTON MARATHON in 2001. I had worked really hard to qualify…I didn’t train with a group…I just wanted to go…and put in the miles to run the Houston Marathon…my 2nd. At the time I lived with a roommate in the same apartments as my little group of friends…kind of like that show, Melrose Place. When I qualified…they were so excited for me they pooled money and sponsored me to go through their work and donations…air-miles for the flight, hotel, food…everything! AND 5 of them journeyed with me to cheer me on. We went a few days early and saw some sites…and upon my return I had flowers and a banner and a fan club waiting for me at the airport. It was a truly memorable experience and I was very fortunate to have people care that much!
What’s your secret weapon training technique that has worked for you?
No secret…it’s mostly time and dedication to follow the program…OH, and keeping my eye on the cute boys in front of me…and trying to catch them…they’re good “carrots”!!! hee hee
Any short term or long term running goals?
My short term goal is to run a sub 3:10 in the Tucson Marathon…I would be SO ecstatic! Long term…I’d like to do more endurance runs and possibly an Iron Man.
OK, so here comes the…
Where are you originally from?
What brought you here to Texas?
Student teaching promised me a job when I finished…and the salary was better than Iowa.
What is your occupation now and when you were growing up what did you really want to be?
When I was growing up, I always played “school” and graded papers and wanted to be a teacher (my mom was a preschool teacher). HOWEVER, many people told me not to do that because there was no respect or money in the profession…so I hesitated and floundered a bit in college…but once the switch was made to education…I realized I was in an area that interested me. I came to Houston and taught for 4 years before going back to attain my masters in Counseling…and now I’m an elementary school counselor in Aldine ISD.
What do you like most about your job?
I know I make a difference everyday. I influence kids to do and be their best…and I help them try to cope and work through this thing we call life…and I try to make them smile.
So what’s your favorite food?
MMM…Mexican…chips/salsa/margaritas… OR granny smith apples, IOWA corn on the cob… hmmm…it’s hard to choose just ONE!!! My moods require different tastes!
What’s your favorite kind of music?
AAAGGHHH…there’s not a fave…I appreciate all types…but right now I’m really KEEN on SALSA and Latin beats. I love listening to music in Spanish even though I can’t always translate and understand it all.
What other hobbies do you have besides running?
Biking, swimming, most any sport…travel…trying to read more…
What’s your favorite movie?
Freedom Writers because it’s an awesome inspirational movie about making a difference and how the good deeds of one can inspire many! AND I have many other movies that make me “think”…those are my fave types…feel goods.
If you could meet someone famous, who would it be? (Victor doesn’t count)
??? There are so many influential people, interesting people, AMAZING people…the pressure of a name. I could say I’d like to meet Hugh Hefner and try on a bunny suit for him…hmmm…just kidding.
Actually, it’d be cool to meet David Letterman or Jay Leno…they CRACK me up…and I LOVE to laugh…and I’m sure they’d come up with plenty of one liners for me. I think it’d also be cool to meet someone like Jimmy Carter or Buzz Aldrin…someone who truly stands out in time…
What’s your favorite destination for vacation?
Iowa for family and nostalgia…Colorado for my sis and the scenery…and then…WELL…just about ANYWHERE because I LOVE TO TRAVEL!!!
If you could meet someone in heaven (or hell), who would it be?
My mom’s parents and my dad’s father…they all passed before I was born or before I could KNOW them…
Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments.
There are probably too many to count or even think about…and they seemed DEVASTATING at the time. BUT to name ONE as a MOST embarrassing??? NAH…PLUS, it obviously didn’t KILL me sooo…it couldn’t have been THAT bad!!!
I think Jr. High signifies the most torturous years of embarrassment…like the moment I learned that Milli Vanilli had been lip synching all those years…and I actually went to the concert, screamed my little heart out, and danced on a chair…??? Some things in life are inexplicable.
OR the time the boy I really liked and had been writing a “code” name for…found out it was him…and so did EVERYONE else!
OR the time in Jr. High when I was the first one to fall asleep and my little bra got soaked and frozen in the freezer and my underwear got thrown WAY HIGH in a tree outside for the whole world to see…OH…and they did…and I heard about it… Kids are MEAN!!!
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
??? I’d just like more money for what I do now…
When you were growing up, what did your friends used to call you?
Brownie, JAB, RocketArm, Rumhead because obviously I’m so SWEET, Anne is my middle name, I had a wicked serve in volleyball, and Wednesday night MUG NIGHT at the Dean’s List always packed a good punch and a good time when my mug was filled with rum and coke! (Thursday morning 8AM class -MATH METHODS…was NOT FUN after those nights out)
Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about you.
My dad made me 7 pancakes on my 7th birthday when we were camping in Colorado…it was my birthday cake!
After an interview panel and essay I was voted as Cardinal Relays Queen my senior year in high school. (A county-wide track meet we competed in every year…Jasper County Iowa…Newton held the Relays and COLFAX still gets to have the COUNTY FAIR!!! WHICH leads to the STATE FAIR and YES…if you saw the news this week and heard the clip about the IOWA STATE FAIR…the outhouse competition DOES exist…I just asked my mom about it…crazy corn fed Iowans…designing outhouses…then racing with them, smearing chocolate sauce off the seat, bobbing for corn in a mucky muddy mess…then running back to the other side??? WHO comes up with this stuff??? I’m just sorry I missed it!
Any closing words of wisdom?
Yes, READ THE BOOK, 212 Degrees by S.L. Parker:
“It’s your life. You are responsible for your results. It’s time to turn up the heat.”
Any more words of wisdom?
Yes, (In 1925) Margaret Thatcher said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
Any more …
Hall of Famer and record holder for most World Series played and won (1925), Yogi Berra, gives this advice, “You give 100% in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough, in the second half you give what’s left.”
OK, so there we have it. Jen is a crazy corn fed Iowan that can best be described as a rum spiked brownie with a little Tobasco sauce on top. She’s dedicated to her job in education, but watch out when she goes on her lunch break, she might be caught eating chips, salsa and corn on the cob and listening to Ramon Ayala accordion music on her MP3 player. We’ll have to talk to Joe Oviedo about getting IHOP to make her a stack of 32 pancakes for her next birthday.
There’s also something going on with the corn they grow in Iowa. We need to get these Texas gals to start eating some Iowan corn!
Thanks to Brownie for being such a good sport while we pried into her personal life for this member profile.