Jill “Nixon” Baranowski at LRC’s Run of the Dead race
You know what I love? Runners that don’t take themselves too seriously. There are myriad reasons why each of us run but ultimately, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Jill conveys that message in a very comical way in her Another Run of the Jill blog – a lighthearted narrative of her running thoughts and adventures as she trains for her first marathon, The Flying Pig Marathon, this May. With these monthly features, I usually ask a series of questions then edit and sculpt them into the article you read. However with Jill, her stream of consciousness is what makes her blog so enjoyable and accordingly, I’ll present to you her responses to my questions with very little editing. It’s longer than usual, but it’s good! Enjoy!
- When and why did you started running?
I began my running journey in October 2012. I was in the second year of grad school and finally realized how fat I really had gotten. 5+ years of school had put a lot of weight on me. The scale was nearing 200 lbs, and I had told myself growing up I would never let it hit that number. A girl in my grad program was running a bunch and the two of us signed up for the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K through Seneca Falls, NY. I got fitted and bought shoes at Fleet Feet and signed up for the Schaumburg Turkey Trot as well. I ran that with a friend from kindergarten and barely survived that 5K in 35 minutes. After the Seneca Falls 5K, a group of 4 of us decided we would sign up for the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester that Spring. It was really a way for us to keep our sanity knowing we had Orals and final practicums coming up. I ran the Flower City Half Marathon in 2:12. Since I started running, I’ve lost approximately 30 lbs and have kept it off ever since!
Jill’s first 5K – the 2012 Schaumburg Turkey Trot
- How did you stumble into the LRC?
After moving back in with my parents in August 2013, I was running by myself through Mundelein and Long Grove. After being there almost a year and having few friends and no one to motivate me to run, I googled “running near me”. I went to The Runner’s Edge and they had a flyer for the LRC. They were meeting at Downing’s Tavern that evening and doing a Wednesday Night Fun Run. I awkwardly emailed you like 3 times as I was driving to the run trying to figure out where Downing’s was and how I would know who was a part of LRC. I’ll never forget that first run. We did 6 miles on the bike path and I ran with the amazing Laura Wood, trying to keep up with Derek O’Sullivan and Doug. Post run beers made me a repeat member.
- What brought you to decide to run a marathon this year?
I thought, “why the hell not?” Honestly, it was Halloween and Susan Geidner had signed up. I had a few drinks and Lauren Delfeld signed up right then. I figured I could survive it. I told myself in the past I’d never run a marathon, but here I am with 2, possibly 3 on my calendar for 2016. I thought I should do it once. Peer pressure usually works pretty easily on me. It would also give me something to do and plan for. Plus, I might have a shot at running the Revel Rockies full marathon in Colorado for the LRC return trip this year if I get on the marathon buses instead of the half marathon buses… Too soon?
- Give us your reason for starting a running blog and tell us what to expect in it.
I need ways to keep me accountable. If I don’t have external rewards, I’m 100% less likely to do things I don’t want to do. I struggle with intrinsic motivation. If I had to write about the fact I was training or people expected things from me, I knew I would be more likely to do it. Runners are notorious for talking about running. I also talk a lot, but I know my family and my roommates get tired of me complaining and talking about the same couple things. If I’m writing it and don’t care so much about who is reading it, it’s a way to get things off my chest without pissing anyone off.
You should expect A LOT of stream of consciousness writing. I don’t really edit it. I kind of just go with what I’m thinking and hope it turns out semi-coherent. I plan on not only documenting my training, but also things going on in my life. I want to get back to the part of my life that wasn’t all about running. I want to try new things and do more and be more active, so what a great way to document those things and share. I like shopping so if I get running gear and tell people it’s awesome and then they get it and love it, I’ve done some good and boosted the local economy.
So what to expect: pictures of Stella (my dog), questions I have about running/exercise, LOTS of talk about poop, food/nutrition questions, my family life, hilarious anecdotes of my school life/students. And recaps of what I’m Netflixing.
- One of your recent blog entries talks about the dinosaur tattoo you got for your brother (to go along with the tattoos you have for your mom and dad). Share with us the meaning behind those tattoos. Now which LRC “family member” would you get a tattoo for and what would it be?
Oh the dinosaur. He is on my arm for my brosef. I have the most wonderful older brother who used to be my sister. Brandon used to be Jenna and he is transgender and came out almost 3 years ago. He actually came out not long after I got my wrist tattoos. I got the t-rex because he is a freak for T-Rex Tuesday…. It’s a meme thing. Also, there is a quote I stumbled on once saying “LGBT: The T isn’t silent, it is loud like a dinosaur.” And I find that so true. Just not for individuals who are transgender and their allies, but for everyone. Be loud and proud! Stand up tall and find your voice.
I’m not the best at finding my voice and my confidence. My self confidence is pretty low (this surprises so many people), but I just want to finally take a stand and be opinionated. So I enjoyed that. The stripes are for the transgender part of the story. They are from the transgender flag. I think they look like cotton candy. I know a lot of people who have gotten the stripes as part of a star or heart or ribbon, but I thought a t-rex fit Brandon perfectly.
My wrist tattoos are my mom and dad’s handwriting. Again in grad school (so many poor choices by me), I wasn’t sure where I was going to move when I graduated. Moving back to the suburbs was not even a little bit on my radar. I was so determined (and still am) to move out West and try it on my own out there. My mom and dad might be the most supportive people I’ve ever met on the planet. I know everyone says that but it’s true with The Mary and The Dave. Every choice I’ve made, they’ve backed, even if they thought it was dumb as hell (which they do a lot). I just wanted a piece of them with me wherever I went. I wanted them and their support physically with me no matter where I ended up and what I ended up doing. So I cut up some old birthday cards from them (I hoard them) and picked some of the “I love you” crap from the bottom of the cards and ended up with these bad boys.
Which LRC family member? Maybe the margarita glass on the logo? I think he is so adorable! I like his salted rim. It shows his sweet and salty personality, like me! If I got a human, I already promised your wife I’d get her portrait on my neck. So there’s that. I might actually get some paw prints for all of our puppy LRC members. That LRC dog run in December was seriously the most fun, even though I stepped in dog poop and Stella was a crazy dog. Dogs are so important!!! So, paw prints. My final answer is paw prints.
- You met your roommates in the LRC. Give us a story about each of them – good, bad, or ugly.
No one wants/needs stories about Lauren Delfeld. I will say that she has climbed into bed with both Stacie and myself randomly in the night. I woke up to her once after an evening out snuggled next to me in my bed. I then went back to sleep and didn’t think anything of it. Everyone knows probably everything else about that girl 🙂
Lauren and I also eat about a dozen eggs a week and watch Family Feud almost every night. We try to not miss it, even though we have actual cable now. Oh and I went as her for Halloween to the LRC Halloween run/party. That was one of the weirdest costumes I’ve ever had.
Stacie Otto – So Stacie is pretty much the nicest person ever. For the holidays, she got me all this Star Wars paraphernalia and it was awesome, especially since she hadn’t even seen VII yet! Let’s not talk about that. She is also super fun to watch reality TV with. The three of us got sucked into The Voice this season – even though none of us had ever watched it before – and she had some great commentary.
- What do you think about on a long run?
I think a lot about what else I have to do that day, or how much longer it will be until I’m finished. I also think a lot about food. It drives most of everything I do. Hopefully I’ll be talking to someone on my long run and I’ll be focused on not tripping and falling. There is also “why the hell did I sign up for this?!” but when I get past the halfway point, I think of how close I am to being finished and how much better and happier I’ll be all day!
- Yes or no to music while running?
Running by myself definitely, or else I think too much. I try to use running as my time to not think. If I’m meeting others to run, then no music. I also do music/TV while on the treadmill. If I’m running along in a forest preserve or on the trail, I only ever put in one ear bud though to be safe. I do a lot of rap and hip hop when I run. Eminem, Beastie Boys, and Kanye West get played a lot but so do Britney Spears and Beyonce.
- What’s one thing you love or must have after a long run?
So lame, but a banana. I have extremely horrible GERD, and I suck at fueling on long runs. After Run of the Dead, my acid was all up in my throat and chest; it was kind of agony. I really must have a giant bottle of Mylanta. Also flip flops in the summer and a change of clothes. I love having bare feet after a long run. The Stick is quickly becoming my new best friend after long runs. Sticking my butt and hammies feels so great.
- Finally, what is your favorite LRC shenanigan?
I really enjoyed whitewater rafting in Colorado and that whole LRC Revel Rockies marathon/half marathon trip. It was awesome to get to know LRC people better. Whitewater rafting just brought out everyone’s personalities and I learned and saw way more of people than I ever expected to.
Spectating races this past fall (Twilight Shuffle 5K and Chicago Marathon) became another one of my favorite LRC shenanigans. Such camaraderie and enthusiasm for everyone, no matter how fast or slow their paces were. It is wonderful to see everyone have so much fun and focus their energies on others instead of themselves. At Chicago, the music war with the music school was on point and I’m sure will be even bigger and badder in 2016.
Whitewater rafting (clockwise from top left): Sarah Molsen, Raven Newberry, The Deacon, Joe Szatmary, and Jill Baranowski (oh, then the rafting guide)