Jessica has inspired thousands of people as she chases her dream of completing her first marathon. What set’s Jess part from the rest of the field however, is her sheer passion, determination and resolve to make a difference. Check out her incredible story below.

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 35, married, 2 children and I’m morbidly obese. However I refuse to let my weight define me so at the start of 2017, something had to seriously change. Instead of going on a ‘diet’, I shifted my goals to wanting to become a marathon runner (no easy feat at a starting weight of 198kgs). Why? I wanted to set a goal that wasn’t necessarily weight loss orientated (obviously losing weight is a bonus). I wanted a goal that I could put out there and start working away at it and feel like I’m making progress. I’m proud that my children will get to witness Mummy achieving a goal she worked so hard for. People of all abilities and all sizes should feel proud to get out and make themselves feel better. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

 

  1. How and when did you first become involved in running?

I started with parkrun in January 2017, I didn’t tell anyone I was going in case I backed out or left the course before finishing the full 5km. That first parkrun was mentally and physically hard. I was so lucky to have so much encouragement from all the regular parkrunners at Highlands parkrun. I’ve now completed 40 parkrun’s, completed the ‘For Fitness Sake’ challenge which was 50kms in 10 days and I’ve completed seven 10km events, a handful of fun runs and was part of a marathon relay team. All while also entertaining my big dreams of one day completing a full marathon.

 

  1. What is the most enjoyable aspect of running?

The sense of achievement is unlike anything I’ve experienced. It’s you versus you every time. Whether it’s trying to go a further distance, getting a personal best or finishing something you thought was impossible. All intertwined with the amazing running community that has embraced me, continuously cheer me up and support me to reach my goals.

 

  1. What would you say has been your biggest running/coaching achievement to date? 

For me it’s simply that I’m still doing it. That I continue to show up. Always setting myself new goals. The first 10km event was a pretty sweet feeling though.

 

Also, the fact that I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities and have been asked to be an ambassador for running events has made me incredibly proud. Having the chance to show people that the running world can be all inclusive, we are all welcome to have a go and give it our best.

 

  1. What is your next noted running challenge you’ve got on your mind? 

The one that is always in the forefront of my mind is getting a sub 60 at parkrun. I also have a 10km event at Shepparton Running Festival coming up and I would love to achieve a new 10km PB.

 

  1. I understand you are a part of Running Mums Australia. How has being a part of such a supportive running/ training group influenced your running experience to date? 

Very early on in my journey I reached out to Running Mums Australia. I nervously proclaimed my marathon aspirations and not one person questioned it. I was met with so much encouragement. Sometime after, I had completed a few more Parkruns, Nicole Bunyon the founder of Running Mums Australia actually surprised me with a package including some much sort after Running Mums Australia merchandise and a note saying “Sometimes being surrounded and supported is all you need. Keep going.” From that moment I knew within myself I could do this. The RMA community has my back and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it.

 

  1. What would be one piece of advice you would give to anyone looking to get involved in running? 

To anyone wanting to get out there but are too scared to- I know how hard it is to get out there and try better yourself, I know that the prying eyes of all those watching is overwhelming and I know how much the (intentional/unintentional) remarks can make us never want to go out and try again.

It’s easier just to stay home and avoid it all. BUT my advice is to ignore that one person that may give you a horrible look in public because believe me, you’re being watched silently by many others and they admire your bravery. They admire that you’re doing something to better your health. Your dedication to not give up has triggered their thought process, ‘if they can do it. I can do it’.

 

That’s what I hope I’m doing, paving the way for those too nervous to try. Just try and keep trying.

Yes it’s hard, it most certainly hurts at times but I would rather be in pain from trying to be active then be in pain from just sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

 

Showing up is keeping me motivated, it’s giving me hope and it’s saving my life. So don’t wait for it all to feel right before you show up. Show up until it DOES feel right and then show up again with a new goal. You picking up what I’m putting down?

 

Jessica Hay