Jen Casey, a northern Michigan runner, triathlete and mom of two young children, discovered a love of road biking and running in New York City. She was there on 9/11, a profound experience that years later would lead her to become a race director of a local charity race honoring first responders. “I needed to find a way to heal from that. And I think a lot of other people did, too,” Jen says of the 9/11 Honor Run 5K that is in its third year and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Traverse City. “My heart just goes out to the people who help us every day. I wanted to be able to put on a race that is dedicated to this and to honor the people that passed that day. I don’t want to ever forget that day.”

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Jen talks about how she became a triathlete while living in Chicago – watching athletes swim in Lake Michigan along the Windy City’s lakefront inspired her to join a local triathlon club and start racing herself. After moving back to northern Michigan about five years ago and starting a family, she continued her athletic journey. “I never thought I’d say this, but I have turned into a morning person. It’s the only time. I always secretly wanted to be a morning person, but I never had a reason to until I had kids and a full time job. If I was going to do this, it was going to be the only time. I get up at 4:30 in the morning on the days that I train.”

She also decided to join Tri Again Fitness, a northern Michigan triathlon club, to prepare herself for IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City this August. She credits the coaches and fellow club members with helping her feel strong and ready for the Aug. 25 event. Working with founders Tony and Rebecca Venticinque also helped her crush an Olympic distance triathlon earlier this summer — she snagged a 17-minute PR!

Jen (right) made the podium at last weekend’s first-ever MRG Trail 10K & 5K in Lake Leelanau.

“I know that [the IRONMAN] is going to be tough, mentally and physically. It’s more than I have done in a really, really long time. But I know I have been educated enough and I trained enough. They have done an amazing job of preparing us for this race. I know I am going to get it done. I am going to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.”

“The journey is hard … It’s that decision that you make. I can easily stay in the bed, or I can get up and not regret it all day. If I get up and do it, I am going to be feel better about myself … It’s a good journey.”

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show.

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