Humbled, Honored, and a little… Bummed

This process of training and fundraising has really had a profound effect on me. As I’ve started my taper, I’ve been reflecting on this a lot. And things continue to happen that make me feel really humbled an honored.

A lot of this experience has really been outside my comfort zone. I’m not a big fundraiser, I’m not very good a tooting my own horn, and I really don’t like asking people for money. It’s hard to tell someone what an IRONMAN is and what the training is like without them thinking that you’re crazy or super human (I’m not, see this earlier post!).

So, I’m eternally grateful for everyone who has donated to my cause. We reached the goal of $2109 on 7/26 and donations have continued to come in.

Also, over the course of the last week or so, I was invited to be a part of an athlete panel for the Ironman Foundation at Ironman Louisville to sit and talk with 4-5 other fundraising athletes about our journeys and causes. This was also very outside my comfort zone, but I jumped on board because as Eminem says “This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” I spent a few days pulling together a brief bio (with Jason’s help… like I said, I don’t like to toot my own horn) and picture only to find out they decided to cancel the panel in Louisville… totally bummed!

Even though the panel is a no go, I thought I’d share my little bio on here. Why? I think it’s pretty much next to impossible to tell my entire Ironman story in one post, or in one place… but each time I write about it, it comes from a slightly different angle and I hope that through all of these “explanations” you all have a better understanding of what this event ultimately means to me!

Hokie PicAt 26 years old, Jenn Feltis is already known as many things: loving wife, loyal friend, mom to two pups and a cat, Research Manager, triathlete, and many more. But the one title she holds especially dear is the one she earned from her Alma Mater, Virginia Tech. She’s a Hokie.

Just over six years ago, Jenn was a sophomore at Virginia Tech where on April 16, 2007 a gunman killed 32 of her fellow Hokies. The motivation to compete in her first IRONMAN in Louisville stems partially from a resolve to honor these 32 lives, which led to launching a “Your Journey, Your Cause” IRONMAN Foundation fundraiser for the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

At the time of the shooting, Jenn was no athlete. Her life up until that point had revolved around music and marching band with a little summer swim team on the side. Jenn had just taken up running as a hobby with her future husband, Jason, and it was all she could do to make it a mile. But once she got going, the milestones came quickly. She ran her first 5k in October 2007, and her first 10K the following April. Running wasn’t just something she did to stay in shape, it was something she enjoyed.

Shortly after their marriage in July 2010, Jenn and Jason joined Smiley Fitness, a local gym run by IRONMAN finisher Richard Smiley. She began taking spin classes and soon took an interest in triathlons. Resolved to reach new heights, she completed her first sprint tri and half-marathon in 2011.

Always seeking a new challenge, her race goals continued to get longer, leading to an international distance tri and the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012. Most recently, Jenn completed IRONMAN Raleigh 70.3 this past June.

At the beginning of this year, Jenn had no intention of entering a full IRONMAN event, but with coaxing from Jason and Richard (both of whom have provided significant support and coaching along the way) and a considerable amount of internal contemplation, she registered for IRONMAN Louisville in February 2013. Prior to registering, she asked herself:

Do I really want to be an IRONMAN? – Yes!  Of Course! (Every time she sees someone with an M-dot tattoo, she immediately idolizes them!)

Can I really do it? – Not sure, but there’s no time like the present!

What if I fail? – You can’t fail if you give it everything you’ve got.

How can I make this about more than just me?…

That’s where the fundraising idea entered her mind. Jenn had recently read Jacques Steinberg’s You are an Ironman, where she was introduced to the IRONMAN Foundation.

Jenn feels increasingly impacted by the events of April 16, 2007 as time passes. “It’s hard to comprehend death, especially of young people, when you are a young person yourself.” Jenn says, “But with each passing year, I’m increasingly aware of all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had – experiences the 32 didn’t get a chance to have. I’ve pondered what each of them would have accomplished in the past 6 years – amazing things, I can only imagine.” Completing this IRONMAN and fundraising for the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention is just one small way that Jenn is Living for 32.

Donate Now!
To my Ironman Louisville Race for a Cause to benefit the
Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention
to honor the 32 Hokies who lost their lives on April 16, 2007.
Learn more here!

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