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.”
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.
“I know that it’s 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.”