Interview with Jen Drynan – friend, mom, pharmacist, and 2:49 debut-marathoner

Sometimes I find I need a little inspiration in life and running. I need to be reminded that I should not make excuses for reasons that I can’t do something – I should adopt a positive attitude and try my hardest. One of my great sources of inspiration in many areas is my friend Jen Drynan. Jen is a pharmacist, mom of twins, rock-steady friend, and amazing runner who seems to be getting faster every year, always with a smile and usually while dropping off baked goods for someone in need. To highlight the amazing runner point, Jen just ran her first marathon in Niagara in a spectacular time of 2:49! I caught up with Jen so she could give me the low-down on how she manages to do it all.

1. I first met you on the x-country team at Queen’s University in 1994. You were a top runner on the team then. How long had you been running competitively before that?
• I started running in Grade11 at Unionville High School. Thanks to two dedicated coaches, Dave Stanley and Keith Hotrum, I made it to OFSAA in Cross Country and/or Track yearly from 1989-1992. I thought that would be it for running. But at graduation, Mr. Hotrum took me aside and said “I know you don’t think you are talented enough to run varsity at Queen’s but you go out there and do it!” Without that encouragement, I would have hung up my spikes.

2. You remained a competitive runner on the road scene after university. Then in 2007 you became a mom to twin boys! Tell me about the role running played in your life in the early days of new motherhood.
• Getting back into running after kids was a mental health choice. Going for a even a quick run helped me get out of the house. Running was also became a form of weight and resistance training. Pushing a double Chariot out of Sunnybrook Park made me feel physically and mentally tough!

How I picture Jen running

How I picture Jen running

3. In the past few years you’ve posted some very fast times (in 2012 Jen ran 1:19 for a half marathon, 35:48 for 10K and 18:04 for 5K) along with an amazing marathon debut of 2:49! When did you decide to make the transition back to competitive running?

• I really didn’t consciously decide to get back into competitive running. But, I did commit to running the Sporting Life 10K when the boys were just over a year old. I was pleasantly surprised by my result and realized that there might still be hope of running decent times post kids.

4. You have a busy life with a job as a pharmacist, a busy husband and two kids. How do you create the balance and fit in your training?
• I end up running in the wee hours of the morning or running home from work. Multi-tasking is key. When I squeeze my run in before the day starts, I find I can focus better on the rest of “the list”.

Jen, happily juggling it all

Jen, happily juggling it all

5. Your husband coached you for your recent marathon. This can be tricky territory for many people. How did the dynamic work for you?
• Mark has coached me in the past and knows me, my body and my schedule better than anyone else. I trust his knowledge and knew that he would adjust my training plan based on the feedback I gave him. I would say it was truly a team effort.

Jen and Mark - great teamwork!

Jen and Mark – great teamwork!

6. What is your favourite workout?
• Kilometre repeats.

7. What is your least-favourite workout?

• Ascending distance repeats. Or anything that involves a 500 m repeat – that distance always kills me!

8. What is your favourite indulgence?
• Chocolate.

9. You are a great inspiration to many working parents who are still trying to perform at their best. What/who is your greatest source of inspiration?
• I am so fortunate to have many role models and sources of inspiration. In terms of running a marathon, watching my sister Ali run her first was extremely motivating. Nicole Stevenson, a great friend, mentor, and coach is of course an inspiration; as are the Angels, her talented group of runners.
• In terms of perseverance and commitment, kids are my inspiration. My own because anytime I feel like giving up, I think of what I want to model for them. I want them to see that if you work hard at something you enjoy, there are benefits. In this case, both physical and mental. And, working at Sick Kids, the patients and their families are inspiring. The mental and physical strain of running pales in comparison to what they endure.

Jen in her role at work

Jen in her role at work

10. Any final words of wisdom?

• My Dad always said “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well” and my Mom always told me “Just do your best and have fun!” If you can strike a balance between these two sentiments and commit to and enjoy hitting the pavement, you will find you are “running well!”

Thanks Jen! Good luck in your next races, and I hope to get out to train with you more often in the future!