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JesterJogs is racing to the Boston Marathon finish line

UMass+Boston+students+Esther+Ahn+and+Jamie+Brenner+gear+up+to+take+on+the+Boston+Marathon+on+April+17.+Photo+provided+by+Eshter+Ahn+and+Jamie+Brenner.

UMass Boston students Esther Ahn and Jamie Brenner gear up to take on the Boston Marathon on April 17. Photo provided by Eshter Ahn and Jamie Brenner.

There are a couple of students from Beaconville participating in the Boston Marathon on April 17, and they have been documenting their progress thus far with the help of social media. The tandem of nursing students Jamie Brenner and Esther Ahn have been training for the annual Patriots’ Day event, and through their TikTok account “jesterjogs,” they have had some fun recording their race to the finish line. Since creating their account, the duo has garnered support from many, and I was able to catch up with them for an interview as they start booking it to Boylston St.

NC: Could you tell me a little bit about JesterJogs and the backstory behind it?

JB: Well, it kind of was a joke at the beginning *laughs*. We started running only back in September, just for fun; we just started running one day. Our goal was a half marathon in November, and then, we kind of had the idea of running the marathon in the back of our heads. I guess as a joke, one day we started filming our runs. There was no reason behind it—we just saw other people filming theirs, so we thought it would be funny to film ours.

EA: Our friends loved it and started sharing it with everyone, so we just decided to do it for the marathon.

NC: Were you two ever involved in high school sports, like track and field, that involved a lot of running and endurance?

JB: I swam in high school, so absolutely no running.

EA: I played field hockey and lacrosse, so I guess that’s kind of running, but after high school I didn’t really do much until September.

NC: Was it hard to get your endurance back when you started running in September?

EA: Not really, because our plan was very gradual. We started our first week with three-mile runs, but I guess toward the middle and end it got tiring.

JB: Our first five-mile run was treacherous. That was our long run at the time, and we could barely finish it. And now, we run five miles a couple times a week. It was hard in the beginning I would say, but once we got up to seven, eight miles it has been kind of a breeze ever since.

NC: You’re running through Boston too, I assume, so I bet it’s a lot of uphill and downhill running. That will definitely help you with “heartbreak hill,” I’m sure. What’s your mindset going into the marathon? It’s 26.2 miles after all; what’s the furthest you’ve ran as of now, and how are you preparing yourselves mentally with the marathon coming up in a couple weeks?

EA: The furthest we’ve ran is 16 miles, and that was last week, but I very much feel like taking it mile by mile is key.

JB: We’re running for a charity, Project HOPE, so we have a coach affiliated with them who is giving us a training plan for tips on running and nutrition. Since our goal is to just complete the marathon rather than run for a time, he told us that if we run about 16 or 17 miles as our longest runs, then we’ll be able to run the whole thing. We kind of took that in stride.

NC: Could you tell me a little bit more about Project HOPE?

JB: Yeah! So, Project HOPE is a local charity in Roxbury, and their goal is to help women and children out of homelessness and improve schooling and housing system stability; they basically move them off the streets and into sustainable housing. I guess I can tell the story of how we got into Project HOPE. This is a cool story.

NC: Please do!

JB: We were training for the half marathon, which was our original goal, and it was kind of in our heads to run the marathon, but it was kind of unattainable at the time—

EA: We were like, “There’s no way to obtain the money, it’s too soon. We can’t train for a marathon” […] but if it was handed to us, we’d do it.

JB: We were running our longest run before our half marathon, and we were at a crosswalk in front of South Station […] and this guy was like, “What are you guys running for?!” We told him, “Oh, we’re training for a half marathon, we have two more miles left in our run,” and he asked us […] “Aren’t you gonna run the whole thing?” We replied, “Oh, well we kind of want to, but we’ll see.” He said to us, “Well, I’ve run for Project HOPE for the last like ten years, and I’m on the board that chooses the people who run through Project HOPE. What are your names; do you wanna run?” So we went home that day, applied for that, and I think it was the next week that we got a phone call from him. We had to raise $7,500 each, so $15,000, and he said to us, “We’re just worried because you’re kind of young, and we don’t know if you’ll be able to raise the money,” and there were lofty goals.

EA: We were definitely freaking out a little bit!

JB: And then there was some back up in getting the numbers from the Mayor because we were accepted into the charity, but they didn’t have the physical bibs from the Mayor yet, so they couldn’t give us the numbers. We didn’t actually get our numbers, and didn’t know we were running until February, so we didn’t really run for about a month *laughs* […] Ever since then we’ve been running a very strict schedule. We had a fundraiser back in my hometown a couple weeks ago, and we’ve reached our goals.

NC: That’s awesome! It is really neat that it was kind of a spur of the moment and “right place, right time” type of encounter.

EA: I was telling Jamie, “There’s no way we just met him at a crosswalk!” To this day, he’ll email us and say, “I was just at that crosswalk coming back from lunch, and I was thinking about when I met you girls.”

NC: It really does boil down to an amazing story. Now that you have your numbers, how often do you run per week?

JB: I’d say about three or four times. We usually try to do two or three shorter runs, like four or five miles, and then we do one strength run at the gym and one longer run on the weekends.

NC: That’s cool, it’s a great buildup to the end of the week.

JB: We’re in the nursing program, so we have clinicals twice a week and class and everything—we may not always get the runs in.

NC: What do you think is the biggest hardship you’ve faced overall in preparation for the marathon?

JB: I would say staying consistent and forcing yourself. Everyone says, “it’s completely mental.” People would tell us, “You’re hitting the runners high, you can just keep going,” and we thought, “That’s fake.” But now, we think it really is mental, after five or six miles, if you tell yourself you can do it, and have it in your mindset that you’re gonna run 15, 16, 17 miles—you can do it.

EA: Sometimes, those longer runs are easier than the shorter, three mile runs.

NC: Runner’s high is kind of like this zen, right? Where you don’t realize how far you’ve ran because you’re caught up in this sort of trance?

EA: It’s like you’re on autopilot

JB: Yeah, it’s like your legs just keep moving, and sometimes we stop to eat a snack or go drink some water, but it’s never the mindset that we can’t keep going. We just have in our minds that we’re running 15 miles, so we think to ourselves, “We only have three left” or “We only have four left.” We’ve learned that it’s more important to hydrate the day before than to drink water in the morning.

EA: I feel like after a certain point of miles your body will ask you, “Why are you still running?!?!” *laughs*. Your ankles will hurt, your knees will ache, but stretching after really helps. If you stretch, then you’ll be fine.

NC: Are you two planning on running another strength run?

JB: That run will definitely be our longest. We’re only a couple weeks out, so we’re in our taper weeks for the marathon, so we’ll probably be running about eight miles this week.

EA: Next week, we’ll probably have a schedule of running two miles one day, then three miles, another three miles and then stretch.

The dynamic duo of Jamie and Esther are running for a terrific cause, and they’re having a lot of fun doing so. If you would like to cheer them on in their admirable run to the marathon finish line, you can catch them running alongside one another April 17, with Jamie wearing number 29855 and Esther wearing 29854. It’s always a great time and feeling to watch the runners accomplish their goals when they conquer the daunting task of running 26.2 miles, and this year will be extra special since you have the opportunity to support fellow UMass Boston students. Best of luck to Jamie and Esther in the Boston Marathon, you will make your fellow students, as well as your peers at Project HOPE, proud!

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor