Welcome to the official site of Jennifer Harrison
|I started swimming at the early age of 10 as a member of the Schaumburg Barracudas Swim Team. I loved swimming and grew up in the pool. As I got older however, I wanted to play basketball and nothing else. In Junior High I played Basketball and ran Track and Field. When I went to High School all I wanted to do was play Basketball – so I swam (just because I was used to swimming) and played Basketball in the winter and ran Track and Field in the Spring. I just ran and swim to keep in shape for Basketball, really. And, when I say I was in Track & Field, I mean I hurdled and high jumped!!! God forbid I ran longer than the 300 hurdles – I thought I’d die!I went to Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. I decided as a Senior in High School that I should concentrate on my education instead of my athletics (eeks!). I never focused or cared much about the academics part of my high school experience..all my fun memories center around my friends, social life and life as an athlete. So, I hung up my basketball shoes and decided to just focus on academics and having fun.
However, I was lost and bored. I decided to run, play a little basketball and inline skate to keep in shape – and go to the gym – but was just not myself as athletics had always defined me. My sorority was co-sponsoring a Triathlon and I decided to enter with my sister. I ran and she biked. I had so much fun and we ended up winning the entire college division (everyone was still hung over from the night before!). I was hooked. After that race I decided I was going to do Triathlons or Duathlons. The only problem was I didn’t like to bike..thought it was boring!When I graduated from ISU in 1993 I was still running and decided to train for a marathon. I wasn’t sure what I was doing and just ran the same distance/pace all the time – but was getting stronger (not necessarily faster!) and just really enjoyed running in its purest form. In 1995 I ran my first Chicago Marathon and coincidentally met my husband, Jerome.Jerome was (still is) an excellent Triathlete and was in the midst of training for the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Cancun that fall in 95. I thought he was nuts but he told me that I was ‘wasting my time’ just doing all this running and with my swimming background, I really should try this Duathlon & Triathlon thing.In 1996 I entered and raced in my first ever Duathlon: The Saturn Duathlon in Ohio. This just happened to be an ITU Duathlon World Championship qualifier for the 1996 Duathlon Team USA in Italy. Well, I suffered badly at this race but ended up earning 2nd in my Age group (20-24!!) and qualified for Team USA. I decided (why not?) to take the slot and compete at the World Championships in Italy. I was hooked. I hired a coach, Dave Walters and got serious about Triathlons. Jerome and I raced all over the World from 1996-2001 (when we got pregnant with the twins). We enjoyed living and training Triathlon for those several years! What a great way to see the world! Plus, I met some great friends at my first race that I still talk to, race with and remained friends with for 10 + years.
In 2001 we got pregnant – and guess what? With TWINS! I slowed down and took some significant time off to get pregnant with the twins, was on bed rest for 8 weeks (strictly confined to my couch!) and then delivered the twins on January 19, 2002. After having the babies and getting enough sleep (!) I was SO hungry to get back into racing again. However, when I was on bed rest in 2001 I also got laid off of my current job (right after 9/11) and decided I had to do something with myself, but the idea of going back go work out of the house full-time with baby twins didn’t interest Jerome or I. So, a good friend of mine was starting an online coaching business and I decided to jump on it with him. We worked really hard and thankfully I had some good friends and clients that decided to “go for it” with me…and I started online coaching athletes of all abilities – and loved every minute of it! This was well before Coaching Triathlon was what it is now (that is for sure!).
In October of 2005 I decided I wanted to go off on my own and work for myself..while it is very scary, it is also exciting and invigorating! I absolutely LOVE my job and love giving back to the sport of Triathlon. I LOVE helping first -timers start a training plan, finish it and meet their goals. Getting that phone call from each of my clients telling me that they “finished their race” OR “won their race” is the best feeling in my job !After having the twins I had a new and better understanding of how much work it takes to do triathlons. I think I always took it for granted that ‘anyone’ can train and complete/compete in Triathlons. That is really not true! I worked closely with my coach, Dave Walters and we set out an aggressive plan for my rehab (remember, I didn’t/couldn’t or STAND UP OR SIT UP for 8 weeks)..I had to re-learn walking, standing, etc.so getting back into “RACE SHAPE” was far off the horizon. I took each day at a time and focused on walking/running. By the fall of 2002 I had lost all my baby weight plus more (50+ lbs) and was setting PRs in 5ks, 10ks, etc .. I felt great! The extra time off and slow rehab really helped me out.I was back to full racing in 2003 and haven’t looked back. I have raced over 200 Triathlons since the early days and have raced all over the world in such races at ITU Triathlon World Championships, Duathlon World Championships, Hawaii Ironman, USAT Age Group Nationals Duathlon and Triathlon and much much more. I have been lucky to be an USAT All-American every year since I started racing and am just lucky to share this hobby with Jerome too! Even now, as I turned 40 in 2011, I look forward to continuing my competitions as a Masters athlete.I have been so lucky to have a great support system in my inner circle: my family (both real and virtual, lol), Jerome, my friends, my neighbors, Dave and my triathlon friends! I have enjoyed great success and look forward many more great things as a Triathlete and Triathlon coach!