Jen Merchant Bio

Athlete: Jen Merchant         

Lives City/State: Olympia, WA

Go to Orange Mud Gear: Endurance pack or VP2 and trucker hat when running; my Orange Mud hoodie when I’m chilling

Primary Sport: Ultrarunning on mountain trails

What’s your passion, your joy in life, anything special you’d like to share.

I’ve been running for a long time and racing just as long. Running is so much a part of who I am - I draw intense joy from being out there and following my heart. As I’ve aged I’ve migrated to longer races and learned to be patient. (well, sometimes). I really enjoy 100 mile races in the mountains and the opportunity they give me to push my limits. I am looking forward to my first 200 miler in 2017!

I draw inspiration and joy from people in my life and try to live every day with a full heart. The experiences and adventures of life are truly what motivates me and I love sharing those with my husband and friends.

What sports do you participate in? Trail running, ultrarunning, mountain biking, road biking.

What is your favorite race food? Quesadilla and Avocado are go-to but I almost turned around in a race for more perogies that were the bomb.

What is your go to hydration mix? Good old fashioned water. 

Do you have a major quirk you’d like to share? I horde shoes and hydration packs.

If you were to relate to an animal, what would it be? A firefly. Happiness is like the glow of a firefly, you have to create it from within!

If a newbie to your sport asked for one piece of advice, what would it be? Always make sure you’re having fun. Racing, training, life – it should all be fun.

Do you have any racing pet peeves? (Gel packets, mud, thorns, smelly runners, etc). I don’t like to listen to people complaining.

What do you do for fun? Run! Oh besides that… I love to spend time with my husband and my kids. Go hiking. I also like to chill with my cats and read. 

What is your post race ritual? Guacamole and Sushi.

How long have you been running? Competitively since high school, this will be my 28th year of running.

Why do you enjoy the sport?  I love this sport because you cannot hide who you really are. When the going gets tough in an ultra you find out what you’re made of. I love the person that I am!

What's your favorite trail race? The Hellgate 100k.

What's your favorite local trail? I am lucky to live by some great mountain trails. The High Divide trail in the Olympic mountains is stunning. But my favorite all-round trail is the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. Amazingly beautiful!

What's your go to piece of Orange Mud gear and why? The VP2. It’s lightweight, bottles are easy to access on the run, holds enough food and a water filter for 30 mile runs but is sleek and feels invisible when I’m racing. In short, it’s perfect!

Profession and educational background? I do compliance for a pension fund. Attorney by education, J.D. from The Ohio State University. Undergrad at Kenyon College.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport?  I have never DNF’d a race. I know this is luck in large part but I always stick it out no matter what kind of day I’m having.

Do you have a set training schedule and if so, what's it like? If not, how do you decide what to do?  I draw up a training plan when I have upcoming races and stick to it as much as I can. It helps me plan my rest and not get carried away training too much.

What's your dream race?  I would love to run the Barkley someday, and try to be the first female finisher. A girl must dream!

Favorite book for athletes? I like Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. I love reading stories of human perseverance.

Do you listen to audiobooks or music during exercise? I love to listen to music. Especially during long runs.

 What advice would you give to a new runner coming into the sport?  Always keep it fun. Don’t be afraid to laugh and laugh at yourself.

Where do you draw your inspiration from? I run to be myself. To be free and push my own limits. I am inspired to push my own limits. I am also drawn to mountains and beautiful vistas and am continually amazed by the natural beauty all around us.

Have you struggled with any injuries? How do you manage them?  Injuries are always an issue on and off. They challenge us to be better people and more patient runners. The body will reward you if you take care of yourself.

Anything else you’d like to share?  Nothing comes to mind.

What was the best advice you were ever given?  Always be yourself and do your best, whatever that best may be on a given day. Run for you and be happy as every day is a gift.

What is your favorite local running or biking store? Seattle has some great shops – Seven Hills and Balanced Athlete!

What blogs and social profiles would you like us to feature here? Please list the links.