Website and My blog

Hi Everyone.

Hope you are all well.Recently i realized that my new website and old blog…this one ,were not linked and i have been posting all my new blogs directly to my website only.If you are still interested in following me please take 2 secs to subscribe to my new blog here

http://www.jennachallenor.co.za/wp-login.php?action=register

Look out for some tips, feedback and advice on running as i hope to become more interactive with you all and share more of the running world.

Many thanks

Jen

It’s not how you celebrate the victories but rather how you overcome the disappointments that determines your strength as an athlete.

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These last few months have certainly been a long hard road for me. The disappointment of injuring my knee so badly in Prague Marathon and not being able to run for so long was huge…in the end i was out for 3 months. It was a long dark tunnel. People often asked me how I coped, how I stayed sane. Well you have to learn to cope; I focused on all the other things in my life that define me. I’m not just a runner, I’m a wife, a mother, a photographer and a friend; I took this extra time I now had and ploughed it into other areas of my life and tried to focus on them. I loved the extra energy I had to bounce on the trampoline with my children at the end of a busy day or play hockey or build tents in the lounge, when normally I’m pretty much in an exhausted heap on the kitchen floor hanging on until bedtime haha. I caught up with friends in the evenings and had fun braai’s, which usually doesn’t happen as I’m in bed by 8pm to be able to wake up at 4.30am the next day to train. I spent nights watching movies with my husband and chatting until 10pm, which for me is like midnight, I’m an early to bed early to rise chick.

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I tired to stay positive, to be strong and to enjoy the other parts of my life which were still VERY much ALIVE. It also gave me time to sit back and reflect and realize just how much I LOVE to run and how it really does “set me free”. I don’t run because it’s a career or because i have to, I run because I love it, because it’s my “me time” and because I’ve been blessed with my health and mobility to be able to run. That in itself was enough to keep me fighting through this injury and made my determination to get back on the road even stronger.

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Photo credit to Antony Grote- an awesome moment captured running with my girls.

I won’t lie; I have had my tough days and shed many a tear on my husband as well as my physio’s shoulder. Thank heavens for these two, their patience, understanding and support was endless and for that i will forever be grateful….oh and for Wayne fixing me too of course ;-). I’ve had to repeatedly say to myself “Stay patient and enjoy the journey” and I this encouraged me to soldiered on toward the light.

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Someone said to me that it must be hard as you lose your identity when you injured…yes and no. Yes because you may not be up there racing but no because I have so much more to my life, which does not stop because I can’t run. While I was injured I was asked to be an ambassador of an incredible new German brand of sunglasses called Sziols. Thank you Sziols for your belief in me even when I wasn’t running and for giving me the opportunity to be apart of your incredible brand and family. I cannot wait to fly your flag high and am so proud to be apart of such a loving caring group of people, I’ve been blown away by their close knit “family” bond. Anyone needing new glasses I highly recommend you go have a look at their site, huge thumbs up from me.

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www.sziols.co.za

Another huge surprise which kept me super motivated to make them proud was my partnership with Vida e. If anyone knows anything about me besides running its my love of GOOD coffee and that being said Vidae is and has always been my ALL TIME BEST so that was pretty apt.

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So after 3 months off, no running at all I can very happily say I’m back on the road again and I’m “set free”…I’m running. I have a long road ahead but I’m hungrier than ever for it now. I have my goals and I’m going to do everything in my power to achieve them.

I don’t think many people know what goes into the life of a professional athlete…well it’s HECTIC, to say the least haha. We don’t just run a race and do well, there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the journey. It is no easy job, there are a lot of sacrifices and as Elana Meyer said to me today “The world of sport is so unpredictable! There are no guarantees but there are also huge rewards”, very true and inspiring words from an incredibly talented runner and role model to many.

So here I am…on the road and rearing to go. Let the next chapter of this journey begin.

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“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe”

Life’s better in running shoes

It’s been a different, but fun and challenging 6 weeks post Prague marathon. It’s always good to take a break after running a marathon, one needs a good rest to recharge both physically and mentally after a big block of training. Must admit I certainly did enjoy roaming the streets of Venice with my person and some down time days back home with my mini people.

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Its quiet a weight off my shoulders not having the pressure to run or where to fit in the next session between running from Nix’s gymnastics, to Rylee’s swimming training then back to fetch Nix to take her to running to get back in time to drop Rylee home, finish off homework, start cooking dinner with toddler attached to my leg wanting attention too.…as it goes. The life of a running mom…excuse the pun.

This was Tao’s special birthday party we had last week…my baby turns three this weekend…where has the time gone?

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Running and training at the level I do to be able to compete with the best is intense, it certainly isn’t for sissies as runners often say. I’m always exhausted and always juggling which is fine, everyone has their things and different juggles and this is mine. I love it and wouldn’t change it for anything. I couldn’t JUST run solely, id be bored stiff and times like these shows me how lucky I am. When I’m injured I have so much more in life to carry on with and keep me busy and I’m seizing the weeks to enjoy down time with my three beautiful daughters, to bounce on the trampoline, chase them around the house, play dolls, read stories and watch them run and swim train for a change instead of doing my session while they train. I love being a mom and as much as I was born to run I was born to MOM. Hehe

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Believe me I have had bad days, tears and wobbles which my poor husband and Wayne, my physio have had to deal with and pull me back together again BUT im surviving and in the end of the day I have my HEALTH. My knee will heal …life goes on.

Its been wonderful and refreshing.. BUT I’m ready to run now.

LIFE IS BETTER IN RUNNING SHOES.

I am doing a lot of cross training and I’ve really loved it. Think I may take on Chad le Chlo at this rate. Swimming, cycling, gyming but nothing gets me like running… nothing does it for me quiet like a good old run. Its my thing and its times like these that we get to reflect and remember the real LOVE of running and the real reason we do it. Its not to be the champion, its not to win prize money and its not just a career, its for the LOVE of it. I was born to run. Its my thing and I will run forever.

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Running is my sport, my passion and my sanity. I LOVE TO RUN.

 

Thanks to the amazing support team I have at Prime high performance centre in Durban, from my physio Wayne Holroyd who has treated me a million times a week to my bio Den Jackson who is machine at strengthening everything, Dr Craig Roberts and Dr Kevin Subban I can see a light and I’m marching toward it…watch the space, I WILL be back and stronger this time. I’m determined and I WILL.

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LOSERS QUIT WHEN THEY FAIL, WINNERS FAIL UNTIL THEY SUCCEED. 

MY JOURNEY continues… ill never give up.

It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.

HAVE AN AMAZING WEEK, can’t wait to see you all on the road again.

A day in the life of “US” in Venice. Post marathon RnR.

To get a Visa in time for Prague marathon we had to go to Italy, good excuse hey and it was so worth it. The most romantic city, with my man…they call it VENICE. Oh what a treat. After a day of exploring Prague and all its beauty we set off for our little post marathon holiday in Venice. I can’t remember the last time Brett and I had a holiday together without our little girls, it felt like a second honeymoon. At first we were like tweedle dumb and tweedle dee not really knowing where to go or what to do but we soon got into the swing of it and started exploring. Most people do the wine thing we did the coffee thing. Anyone who knows me will know that my weakness is GOOD coffee; I absolutely LOVE good coffee. We got friendly with google and the map and decided to find the best coffee spots and go on a coffee day…buzz whats that… yeah we had the coffee buzz by the end but what fun it was. Our first stop was at place called Brek bar Ristorante which was a local spot. We started the day off with a latte for 1.5 Euros. The latte was ok, nothing I would do flick flacks about but worth the stop. After that we did some cruising around the beautiful streets there and some shopping of course. IMG_7330 IMG_7350 Next stop was a real coffee lovers heaven, a quaint little shop called Torrefazione Canneregio. Now THIS was more like it. NO places to sit so either it was an on the run coffee or stand at the counter which seemed to be quiet the norm in Venice. Here we had a cappacino for 3 Euros and flip was it a GOOD one. They certainly knew their coffees here and served it perfectly. This one definitely got the thumbs up from me. IMG_7333 IMG_7335 A day would just not be complete for Brett Challenor without PIZZA. When in Italy you must eat Pizza of course;-) A little down the way… we had the inevitable pizza stop to fill Brett’s tummy. IMG_7327 IMG_7328 IMG_7348 From there we made our way to San Marco to find a place called Florian. Well one look at this place and we knew we were going to have to get our big wallets out. A cappacino there was 12 Euros, R168. Needless to say we gave that one a skip. IMG_7341 Saving the BEST for last we went on to Caffe’ del Doge. A little coffee shop tucked away in a tiny little alley but boy was this one worth finding. The coffee was incredible, there was a place to sit and enjoy it and wifi to get to send my little ones some love notes. Happy heart, buzzing body, what a fun day. IMG_7202 IMG_7206 IMG_7219 IMG_7222 IMG_7223 Loving our time together in Venice it seemed the inevitable Gondola ride and a huge Gelato was in order. A bit clichéd I thought but afterwards I took it back. It was so stunning, relaxing, peaceful and so worth it. When Mark Wolff my amazing nutritionist says have Gelato …you just have to listen. Hash tag marathon rewards. IMG_7251 IMG_7289 IMG_7290 The PERFECT end of a cracker day in Venice.

Prague Marathon… does it go right. Does it go left?

Being apart of the elite field in the build up to an international gold label marathon is an experience of a lifetime and one I feel very honored to have been apart of. Its not every day you are treated like royalty and get to be surrounded by some of the worlds best runners, such talent, I was in awe.

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This time was the first time my husband has ever traveled with me to a big race, how blessed I was to have this guy by my side. I’m honestly not sure I would have made it to that start line if it wasn’t for him.

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The 3 May arrived, it was race day, and I was excited but had no idea what lay ahead. I felt ok, emotionally flat but was trying to hang onto any bit of bounce I could muster up because I had decided to run, I was running for my Barbs and I was ready to run my heart out for the hard brave battle she had fought against cancer.

We were transported to the special elite changing area where we were able to relax and warm up as we wished; I was actually surprisingly quiet calm. I was actually calming a Swedish friend I had met who seemed quiet nervous.

As I stood on the start line ready to go, I looked up at the sky and said “THIS ONES FOR YOU BARBS, my angel in heaven”. The atmosphere was insane, the crowds were shouting and I was so happy to be apart of this incredible experience.

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I was calm, I was as ready as I could be and finally we were off! The first 5km came and went by easily, the pace was fine and I was taking it all in. At about 8km we ran over some nasty cobbles stones, something I’m not used to at all and by 9km I felt my knee niggle. I got quiet a fright. So early, how and why but tried to stay calm and roll with it hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. By 21km I was in so much pain and when I looked down at my leg it looked like an elastic band bending out, I was loosing control of it and battling to just run let alone endure the pain but something deep inside me just wouldn’t let me stop. I was running for BARBS. She had suffered so much and this was nothing in comparison. I fell off the group I was with as I just couldn’t control my leg and the pain was so intense that I just tried to keep momentum and keep going. I had never felt pain like that before, I have no words to describe it but all I knew is that I was not giving up.

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When I say my race went LEFT… it went left in every avenue possible. Everything went wrong that day. Stupidly in the rush to get us elites from the change room to the start line I had forgotten to put my 32Gi gels into my top and when I was due to take one and couldn’t find it it sank in. What a stupid thing to do and I didn’t even have them on all my bottles but hey there was no point sweating about it, there was nothing I could do, it was a rookie mistake, one I will never make again. The best way to learn is through mistakes so here’s to a hard lesson there.

I eventually got a gel on one of my bottles; the next bottle wasn’t there, for some unknown reason and the bottle after that I dropped. So things were not panning it quiet like I had expected them to.

I was in such pain; I talked myself through every single kilometer. When I got to 35km I grabbed my bottle and dropped that too, I turned to pick it up off the floor and my knee gave in and I fell to the ground. As I lay there I wondered what to do but something inside me just wouldn’t let me give up, I got back up and soldiered on. I remember hearing the crowd go “yoooooh” as I fell, it was not my most elegant moment I must admit haha.

IMG_7084 (The roads with cobbles that my knee didn’t see eye to eye with)

Those last 7km were the hardest 7km’s I’ve ever run in my life. I’ve never felt pain quiet like that but I was not giving up, not now. Barbs was in my heart and this one was for her.

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I crossed the finish line and collapsed …luckily for me Brett was there and caught me on the way down. Nearly had two collisions with the tarmac. A narrow escape, thanks Challie, good catch.

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I finished 12th in 2.42.24… I had done it, after all I went through just getting to the start line then all that went LEFT during the race…I was proud of myself and so relieved it was over.

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I have absolutely no regrets at all. In the bigger scheme of life and as frustrating as it is my knee will heal, I have my health and I am thankful for it. It was an incredible experience, one not everyone will get to be apart of in his or her lives. You often learn the most from the bad races, I certainly learnt so much about myself and about the marathon. I lived in the moment and embraced everything that was thrown at me and I never gave up and to me that was like winning on that particular day for that particular race, for Barbs.

I’ve learnt that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement; it’s a state of mind. A state of mind that says anything is possible.

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I ran for a woman who meant the world to me and was take from us far too early, I know she would be so proud of me. I gave it my all on the day and I’m proud of myself for that.

Thanks goes to Endurocad and Elana Meyer for making this experience possible, to my rock star physio Wayne Holroyd and my coach Ernie Gruhn for getting me to the start line, to Mark Wolf for his endless support, encouragement and help and lastly to Brett Challenor for holding me together and being there to “catch me fall”.

One of the most awesome things about racing overseas is making new friends. My new friend, Louise from Sweden and I  having some post marathon fun.

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LIVING MY DREAM

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My blog is written from the heart.. I’m one of the few professional athletes who will tell the world about a bad race and an injury. I don’t think i need to hide it and I’m not ashamed but i do hope by doing so people see that we too are human, we too have ups and downs, its all apart of life and i hope it inspires you in some small way to keep at it and never give up on a dream.

Lastly THANK YOU to my amazing sponsors:

adidas

32Gi

Endurocad

Prime HPI

TomTom

Island Tribe

Den Jackson

Wayne Holroyd

Rolling with the punches and punching back

Marathons certainly aren’t for sissies. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has ever run a marathon let alone an Ultra. Huge respect, pat yourself on the back, its an amazing accomplishment. If it were easy everyone would do it.

Training for a marathon is a tough one, you train for a long block period of around 20- 24 weeks for one specific race, you race shorter races on marathon training…i.e. very tired, heavy legs but are expected to perform well. You set your sights on ONE big race and you put everything into it not knowing what could happen. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from my two marathons I’ve run is that it can go incredibly RIGHT or completely LEFT 😉 Its either your day or its not.

My training leading up to Prague marathon went really well. I won’t lie it was tough, I sacrificed a lot, as we do training for any big event. People asked me “Why Prague?”… why not? What an adventure, how different and i had been told how magically beautiful it is and right they were.

Two weeks before i was set to leave for the Czech Republic i got very sick, my three little girls and husband had been sick on and off passing it around in circles for weeks. I had done absolutely everything to hold it off but obviously as the taper began my immune system just gave in. I ended up in bed for an entire week on anti biotics for a chronic chest and sinus infection. As any mother will know…we don’t “do bed” when we sick…unless we pretty much dying, there is no time for “moms” to be sick. I was a little panicked but was reassured that it was fine, 2 weeks out, the rest would do me good and I would bounce back. Still waiting for that bounce…but feeling so much better I went and did a track session…guess checking I could still “run” and maybe coming off being so sick went a little crazy and flared up an old knee injury. Oh boy Mr Sticky( Wayne Holroyd my amazing physio) had to work his magic ..no running for me.. this wasn’t panning out as planned but I was rolling with the punches because thats life, nothings plain sailing.

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The week before i was due to leave and had just hurt my knee I went to visit my “other” mom, a friend who has been like my other mom for over 10 years now. Barbara Franken was in hospital for the 4th time that month, she was fighting the brutal disease Cancer. What an inspirational woman she has been in my life, seeing her like that was so hard but never ever did i think this was goodbye. She always bounced back. Barbs told me they had stopped Chemo now, she wanted to live, to go to the beach, to have cocktails at the Oyster box with her children. It was a shock but i was happy she wasn’t in the chemo pain anymore.

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The following Tuesday i went to visit her at her home and got the shock of my life, Barbs was hardly talking and battling to breath. As I sat down next to her the tears just flooded down my face. I held her hand and she woke up and looked at me. Her eyes lit up when she saw me, those huge blue warm eyes i loved so much. She said “Race” meaning GO RACE and then went back to sleep. Barbs knew how much I wanted to go and how hard I had trained for this. That was one of the hardest days of my life. I knew that was goodbye. That was the moment i decided to be thankful for my health and mobility and GO RACE FOR HER and all she had been through in this battle against cancer.

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The next day before i was about to board my plan i got a call, Barbs had passed away. I was an emotional wreck, my world came crumbling down. The day I NEVER believed would ever come had arrived. Life can be so cruel. The most amazing woman who touched the lives of so many was taken too early. All I can say is that this was the first time my husband was coming with me to a big race and it was a blessing in disguise. He quiet literally held me together and got me to that start line.

The plane trip was a bit of a teary blur,I cried the whole way, my heart was in pieces. I knew after all this the race was not going to be easy but I was determined to run for my dearest friend and forget the rest. I was emotionally and physically drained and had no idea what I was in for….BUT i was doing it in honor of my BARBS.

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Good morning world, it’s a beautiful day, one to celebrate and be happy…. one life, live it to the max

Sorry I’ve been missing in action over the last few weeks, I’ve been all over the show and time just ran away with me but I’m back and I’m bouncing with excitement. Bare with me, this may be a teeny bit longer than normal, feel free to scroll down if you falling asleep which i hope you aren’t.

Ive just been to Cape Town for just short of 3 weeks; nothing beats a visit to the beautiful mother city. I just love Cape Town. First up on my stay in CT was the CT Spar Ladies 10km, the first race of the grand prix series. It was a perfect morning to run, there was an incredible vibe down at Green point stadium and the ladies were ready for action. To be honest I don’t particularly like a 10km race, by the time I get into the race it ends hahaha but gotta do them, they awesome to get your speed up. The race went well, I was happy with a solid run, a top 10 finish and a new personal best time for me 34.13, not a huge PB but a PB is a PB so ill take it.

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One of the most amazing things about sport and running is the new friends you make along the way. “Sometimes you make new friends and you just click, you comfortable with them and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything”

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Here’s to special friends in CT. Thank you to a girl with a heart of gold who made my stay so much easier with all her kindness. People like you are few and far between, thank you Netta.

Next up in CT was Two Oceans Half Marathon, 6 days after Spar Ladies. This is one of my all time best races. The atmosphere, the vibe, the route and of course it is “the worlds most beautiful race” (the part you can actually see when the sun comes up hehe). The 21km run starts 40 minutes earlier than the ultra so it is pitch black and we run pretty much the entire race in the dark until the last few kilometers. That being said, its such an incredible race with such vibe, atmosphere and energy about it.

I was really happy with my race, after tearing my hammie at 17km in this race last year I was stoked with a good solid hard run and a 5th position in a very elite field and in a course PB, 1h15. The highlight of my race was finishing and being congratulated by the greatest distance runner of all time, Haile Gebrsellassie. WOW what an honor and something I will cherish forever. Thanks goes to adidas for bringing Haile to SA, what an inspiration for all runners to be in his presence.

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Something I just cannot not mention is my friend Kim Esterhuizen who ran her first ever 21km in two oceans half marathon. Kim is a mom of 2, wife, works full time and has never run in her life before. Kim took on a challenge, saw it through and is now the proud own of an amazing medal and the best part is she is “hooked”. Kimmi I am so proud of you. Just shows you “where there is a will there is a way”. SUPERMOM of note.

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After oceans I spent a week in Stellenbosch to train there with my coach and to watch my two older daughters take part in their first ever South African Nipper champs for Durban Surf at Strand. It was a very special for my husband and I to watch our daughters exploring a world we grew up in. Both Brett and I competed for Durban Surf life saving club through our lives, both doing nippers and then juniors and seniors for many years. We met through life saving, our love of the ocean and the beach. We actually competed for the same team at world champs in New Zealand in 1998 and that’s when I fell in love with him. At the ripe old age of 16! True love , he wasn’t going to get away hahaha!

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It was a wonderful week watching our girls compete, despite the freezing cold water, which I would never brave, both Nix and Rylee made us so proud. They went through numerous heats and semi finals and made finals for almost all of their events. My heart was bursting with pride. The main thing we wanted the girls to take out of this first experience at SA Champs was a love for it and to just have FUN. We watched our girls make new friends and experience what being away on tour was all about. I’m happy to say “they hooked”, they loved it and are already asking when the next one is haha.

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Things were good, I was training hard, kids were having a blast and it was almost time to go back to Durban town. I had 3 weeks left of training before my “big race” I’ve been training for months for and the wheels fell off. I started to feel like I was fighting something off, put it down to being tired, took 2 days off but it got me on Wednesday and I headed to the dr to be put on bed rest and a really strong anti biotic. I was devastated, my race was in 2 weeks time, why now but that’s sport, that’s how the cookie crumbles and I had no choice but to roll with the punches. It was a rough week in bed, I really was ill but I’m happy to say I have my bounce back and I’m on the road again, yippee. Hoping the rest did this body of mine good.

HUGE shout out goes to Mark Wolff from 32Gi for all his help while i was sick, you are an incredible person Mark, you never stop giving. Thanks for keeping my head strong.

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SO HERE WE GO..we got our visas yesterday and all actions go. Super excited to have my Brett coming with me this time.

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Stay tuned and hold me in your thoughts for this one please

IMG_5972 and thats just what i plan to do, no matter what happens.

“Embrace your biggest disappointments, build on your greatest achievements, keep your head held high and you cannot help move forward”