By Jack Kintner
Custer resident Jennifer Stack graduated from Blaine High School in 1989 having run sprints and relays for the girls track team.
After some years of not running, she joined a marathon training program called Bellingham Fit. Next month she will fly to Boston with her running partner, Bellingham Police Detective Gina Crosswhite, to compete in the storied, 111-year-old 26.2 mile Boston Marathon on April 21.
As a tune-up for that event she will be competing in this weekend’s Birch Bay Road Race, set for Saturday, March 29. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. near the Birch Bay Waterslides and racing on two different routes begins at 8:30 a.m. There are 30, 15 and 5 kilometer distances, the first for runners only and the shorter two for both runners and walkers.
Stack trains 25 to 35 miles a week, running with a group of fellow runners on area trails and pavement. The longest training run she’s done for the up-coming marathon was 20 miles but said she’s beginning to taper off to rest her legs in preparation for the Boston race, so on Saturday plans to run the shorter 15 kilometer distance rather than the full 30 K.
“I got back into running because it feels so good to do, to get yourself in such good shape and exercise,” said the 37-year-old, who at 5-feet, three inches has lost 20 pounds over the five years she’s been distance running. She credits the program with helping her train effectively as well as find a group with which to run. “What makes it fun,” she said, “is the people you meet. They become good friends as you go through the training process together.”
Sometimes the changes can be dramatic when someone begins running. The current (April 2008) issue of Runner’s World has a story on Salt Lake City middle school principal Ernie Nix, who weighed almost 400 pounds two years ago. Two years later the 48-year-old six-foot Nix is down to 180 pounds, has a resting pulse of 48 and this next month will compete in the Salt Lake City marathon.
He began his weight loss program with Weight Watchers and began running when his weight dropped below 260.
Instead of prescription medicines he now takes supplements such as glucosamine, fish oil and vitamin C, eats high fiber cereal with soy milk and bananas. Nix runs 45 miles a week.
Though Bellingham Fit’s specific program is geared toward running the Bellingham Bay Marathon in the fall plus a few other area events, “there’s room for everyone,” said local program coordinator Holly Graham-Clevenger. The program is a part of USA Fit, a running program that began almost 20 years ago in Houston.
“The most important piece of equipment you need to have for marathon or half marathon training are the shoes on your feet,” she said. One of their local sponsors is RunningShoes.com where Stack gets her Brooks Adrenalins, her choice of running footwear. Graham-Clevenger said that even though the store has a dot-com name, “there’s also a local store at 1317 North State Street.”
“We’ve got all different levels and fitness abilities, so it’s not just for the marathons in Boston or even Bellingham,” she continued, “but people often discover amazing potential to get up out of their comfort zone and rise to a challenge. Jennifer worked really hard to qualify for the Boston Marathon and turned herself into a good runner.”
Stack qualified for Boston by running a personal best 3 hours and 41 minutes at the Bizz Johnson Marathon in Lassen National Forest outside Susanville, California, last October.
“All seven of us runners and coaches stayed in a house together that weekend,” Stack said, “and we just ran enough to keep loose, just a couple of miles.
“The race itself was hard at first because of the elevation. I was OK until about mile 18, when I began getting fatigue spasms.
“My coach Todd Sewell kept me going and we crossed the finish line together just a few seconds behind Gina.”
Stack said she looks forward to doing the running leg in this year’s Ski to Sea race in May for Samson Rope where she works.
“I really like that leg. I was a little afraid of it at first because so many people said it was such a killer to do all that downhill running on pavement, but I liked it!”
For more information on the Birch Bay Road Race, visit their website at www.birchbay-roadrace.com.
For more information on Bellingham Fit go to www.bellinghamfit.com. Graham-Clevenger said that there is a program orientation on both April 5 and 12 at Lake Padden Park near the softball fields at 8 a.m.
“There’s no sign-up...just come and check us out. Be ready to run or walk. Last year we had several people who lost over 100 pounds,” she said.
For the week of March 28
TRACK & FIELD
3-19 – Boys: Lynden 86, Blaine 59; Sehome 87, Blaine 58; Girls: Blaine 101, Lynden 48; Sehome 88, Blaine 62.
3-21 – Ferndale 14, Blaine 4
3-22 – Bellingham 13, Blaine 7
3-24 – Blaine 7, LC 4
3-19 – Mt. Baker 4, Blaine 1
3-20 – Blaine 19, La Conner 10
3-21 – Blaine 20, Bellingham 5
3-22 – Blaine 6, Squalicum 2
3-24 – Ferndale 5, Blaine 3
3-25 – Ferndale 8, Blaine 4
3-20 – Lynden Christian 2, Blaine 1
3-25 – Blaine 6, Nooksack 0
3-20 – Burlington 395, Bellingham 411, Anacortes 436, Mt. Baker 441, Blaine 475, Ferndale 477, Lynden Christian 503.
3-20 – Bellingham 125, Burlington 120, Anacortes 106, Mt. Baker 82, Ferndale 71, Blaine 55.
3-21 – Sehome 6, Blaine 1
3-24 – Bellingham 7, Blaine 0
3-25 – Squalicum 6, Blaine 1