Jennifer McGranahan won the XTERRA Oak Mountain 20K on May 21st in 1:33:41, which was good enough for 7th place overall. We caught up with Jennifer long enough to hear about her biggest dreams and her favorite trails.
Q. How did you feel during the 20K at XTERRA Oak Mountain?
A. I love this race! I ran it in 2016 and I knew I would be back this year. I felt really good on the first loop but got pretty tired on the second.
I kept using gravity of the downhills to provide natural momentum. That is the beauty of trail running! The constant challenge of navigating the roots and terrain entertains and invigorates your mind and body.
Q. At XTERRA Oak Mountain, did you lead from the beginning?
A. My strategy this year was to conserve more energy in the first loop. So, I got behind a group of runners and just tried to relax. I was the lead woman for most of the race, but I also knew that anything could happen in a 20K, so I couldn't let up.
Q. What are your long-term goals? Are you thinking about the next Olympic Trials?
A. Funny you should ask that. My dream is to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials. I feel like if I had a very smart, consistent training plan with a group to train with, I could accomplish this dream.
Q. How do you find time to train?
A. Until recently, I have been a full-time student studying physical therapy, so I have been only running to feel better and give myself a break from school. I also have a four-year old daughter, so as all moms know, she keeps me busy!
However, I am now at a crossroads in my career and I'm hoping I can spend some time training to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials (the qualifying window opens in September, 2017).
Q. What are your favorite trails?
A. I love running in the Pisgah Forest in Brevard, North Carolina; the Cheyenne Mountain area in Colorado Springs; the University of West Florida running trails; Pandapas Pond in Blacksburg, Virginia; and the trails in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
I realize I have a lot of trails left to explore but these are pretty great.
Q. Why do you run?
A. What I love about trail running is the escape from the usual routine of a typical day. It allows me to fit in an adventure in the middle of normal life.
Trail running awakens my mind and body. It gives me time to reflect and have clarity of mind. I think it is one of the most natural exercises a person can do. It makes my body strong.