Profile on Jennifer Williams
How many years have you been running?
I’ve been running, off and on, for about 5 years. I’ve been running more consistently for a little over two years.
Who inspired you?
Well, I have to give the credit to my husband, Andy Williams. When you live with someone that eats, sleeps, and breathes running, after a while you decide to see what all the fuss is about! But he’s great about letting me do my own thing with running, which is a really good thing because we are very different runners.
Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I joined the Lake Run Club two summers ago after I joined the Heat Wave program. It’s such a great group of people and a wonderful running community that I had to join the fun! In addition to Heat Wave, I’ve also done Catch the Wave a couple times and I’ve become involved in Kids Run for Fun. This summer, I’m back at Heat Wave as one of the group leaders. (Shoutout to Group 2! Woohoo!) I love that the Lake Run Club has such a variety of programs and training for all levels. It took me a long time to actually consider myself a runner, but I’m perfectly happy with my 12 minute miles.
Tell me about your first race.
My first race was the Komen 5k in 2011. (I think…but it may have been 2012.) I don’t remember a ton about it to be honest, except that my feet were killing me for several days after the race. I had terrible shoes, but rectified that pretty quickly with a trip to Often Running.
What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I think the Lake Run is probably my favorite race, in large part because it got me to start running more. I ran it for the first time in 2014, kind of on a whim. I hadn’t been running very much at all, but decided that I just needed to go out and do it – a week and a half before the race. And I survived. After that, I joined Heat Wave and that kept me going through the summer. Then, when Catch the Wave came around next winter, I joined that to get ready for the Lake Run. Thank goodness Lake Run Club has all these great training programs and races – that helps keep me going!
What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
Well, I ran my first 10k in April in Champaign. It rained. And rained and rained and rained. Here it was, the longest distance I’d ever raced, the race I’d actually been following a training plan for (a first for me), and it was a soggy mess. I started with my Hefty bag poncho (which I ditched after a mile), and ended with waterlogged shoes. I managed to avoid puddles and soaked shoes until the fifth mile, which was my second greatest achievement of the day. It was really nice to hear my husband shouting encouragement once I got into Memorial Stadium and crossed the finish line. And it was great to finish and know that I could run that distance. I’m perfectly happy with 5k’s and short races. None of this half marathon and marathon nonsense for me! I’m really good at spectating those races, though.
If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I ran Race the Dead last year for the first time. I particularly enjoyed stopping for a shot in the first half mile!
Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a race, but I love volunteering for Kids Run for Fun on Friday nights. Since last summer I’ve been in charge of registration, which involves some time with spreadsheets (my inner nerd is a fan) and being there on Friday nights. I love seeing how excited the kids are to run and that the Lake Run Club provides such a positive running experience to so many kids in our community.
What are you training for right now?
I’m not training for anything in particular. I’m hoping to complete all of the High Five races this year, and I recently finished Park 2 Park. Running doesn’t come easy to me at all, it’s something I always have to work on. So I’m just trying to keep it up. I’ve learned that anyone can be a runner. I love the variety of people that you see at races, the number of people who use running to get or stay healthy, and the outpouring of support you see for everyone who is running. I guess I’m just training to be a runner!