Making the ‘MO’st of it

Big River Running employee and nursing student at SLU, Vanessa Jones can check another marathon off her list. Jones, a former collegiate track and cross country runner for Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, made the transition to longer road races and has run three other marathons post graduation but never found herself in the position she was in Sunday, October 5th. She completed the MO Cowbell Marathon with a time of 3:08:58 and crossed the finish line as the first female. Her race didn’t start off as smoothly as hoped but she overcame an initial mishap. “I actually ended up just missing the start so I ended up playing catch up the whole race.  I try not to think much about what is going on and just run,” said Jones.  “When I try to think about paces, etc I tend to psych myself out.”

Finding the balance between work, school and training can be difficult and Jones admits fitting in all her runs challenged her. “My training went well, all things considered.  My school schedule is a bit crazy so I had to run whenever I had time, but I was able to get all of the important runs in. I picked MO Cowbell because it fit perfectly into my school schedule.  I was sold after hearing that everyone gets a cowbell.”

After a late start to the race, Jones settled in. “In the beginning I had a ton of adrenaline and just tried to make my way near the front.  In the middle I still felt great (especially after hearing some Big River co-workers cheer me on) and I even picked up the pace for a bit.  Around mile 19 I hit the wall pretty hard.  Luckily, it was at the turn around so there were tons of fellow runners cheering me on.  The support from fellow runners was amazing and really kept me going.”

She credits sticking to a plan and tried and true gear to combat injuries and nerves. “I have had a lot of injuries in the past so I always stick to Asics 2000 for any run over 6 miles.  They are my trusted, go-to shoe.  As for nutrition I make an effort to have at least a sip of water or Gatorade at each water station and a few Gu chomps along the way.” When asked about any pre-race rituals or lucky charms, she added “I do always have to have coffee before races and Orbit gum.” And her long run playlist always includes, “some 90s hip hop in the mix.”

While it might seem impossible to imagine how one would feel in the moments before crossing the finish line first in any race, Jones admits an array of emotions, “it was surreal to see the finisher tape and a huge relief to see the finish line.  I have never won a race before so I honestly was not even sure what to do.  It was an amazing feeling and one that I’ll never forget.”