She Will Make A Runner Out Of You!

If you live in Pensacola and spend any time outside, particularly if you run, you will have probably come across Jackie Brown. She tells me as long as the sun is up, she is usually up and out. What I didn’t know was that she didn’t run her first race until the age of 40.  In 2004 she lost everything in Hurricane Ivan and found running was a good form of stress relief.  When she started she could barely manage to run around the block but kept adding a little extra distance until she ran her first 5k. She was excited to be placed 2nd in her age group. Her children were surprised to find her race ribbon and bib displayed on the fridge door,  she told them, “Well that’s where I have been putting your stuff for years”.
Shortly afterwards a friend returned from a Galloway training event and was inspired to tell Jackie, “We have to do this.” The Galloway Program, developed by US Olympian Jeff Galloway is a Run –Walk- Run method which opens up running to almost anyone and has an emphasis on running injury-free. The friends carefully followed the Galloway training program and successfully ran their first marathon in early 2005. Realizing they were onto something they quickly decided this was too good to keep to themselves. Jackie became a Galloway Program Director.
She has since inspired over two hundred people to become runners and attempt what they might have previously believed impossible, to complete a full or half marathon. I was one of those people.Nola jackie2
I had never ran much more than 3 miles before my friend told me about the Galloway program. We signed up in 2009 and by 2010  felt  ready to run a half marathon.  We registered for the Pensacola Beach  race, this was not the official program race so not many people from the training group had signed up. My friend was sick on race day and no one else I knew was running, so Jackie agreed to run with me, even though my pace was considerably slower than hers. The rain began pouring early in the day and by the time we lined up at the start we were completely soaked. Jackie stuck with me to the cold, wet and bitter end. I completed my first half, went on to do the New Orleans Half Marathon and the following year I completed a full marathon. Jackie’s patience and sense of humor helped me to do what I would not have thought possible. I continue to run races using the same method.

Jackie and I after the race in New Orleans

Jackie gets inspiration from Jeff Galloway who she describes as ‘always positive’,  but is equally inspired by the people around her. She is modest about her accomplishments , saying, “I know so many people who are much better athletes than me.  They inspire me to try harder and accomplish more, but also to share what I have learned along the way. I love to introduce people to the activities I love. I do the things I do because it is much more fun to be involved, than it is to be on the sidelines.”
She likes to encourage people when they think they can’t do it, she likes to show them what they can accomplish. “ You don’t have to be fast to run a 5K or even a marathon.  You just have to get out there and do it”, she said. Jackie has personally completed 12 marathons and has lost count of the halves.
Jackie has recently been appointed as the President of the Board of Directors for Pensacola Sports, the first woman president in its 62 -year history.  She has been recognized for her achievements in the community,  receiving the Jim Herrington Award and Lou Gregory Award from Pensacola Runners Association and the Volunteer of the Year Award from Pensacola Sports. She has served on the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon Board of Directors and is Registration Director for the two sprint triathlons, which take place on Pensacola Beach. She served on the Board of Directors for Pensacola Runners Association, was Race Director for the Fiesta of Five Flags 10K/5K for 4 years and has volunteered for numerous road races, triathlons, and duathlons.
So what is there left to do? Jackie tells me she would like to qualify for the Boston Marathon do more triathlons, and maybe a half Ironman and she continues to be committed to get more people out exercising and getting healthy.
When I asked Jackie if she had any regrets her answer could be a lesson for any one of us: she wishes she had started sooner.
Oh and if you are not exhausted by all of this activity, did I mention that Jackie Brown also has a day job? She has been a teacher for 26 years and describes it as ‘never a dull moment’! Thank you Jackie for all you do. I know there are many who would never have achieved what they have without you.
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