Jane-Jane Ong: Running in the family

Jane, Andrew and Nica at the Big Sur Marathon

Leona Cakes and Pastries entrepreneur Jane-Jane Ong started running three years ago. “At that time I was doing a lot of cardio in the gym (treadmill, elliptical machine),” she said, “and was curious to see how I would fare in a fun run. Once I started, there was no stopping… I was challenged to do a PR every time I ran a 10K.”

Since that 2007 start, Jane-Jane has thinned dozens of thick-padded shoes, traversed thousands of miles, sweated buckets-full and completed three 42-km. races: In 2008, the Singapore Marathon; in 2009, the Amsterdam Marathon, and, last April, the Big Sur 42K in California, U.S.A.

Jane-Jane enjoys running. That’s obvious. To understand why, in an exchange of emails last week she explains nine reasons for her love of this sport that has enamored her fellow Cebuanos.

“Running is good for one’s health,” said Jane.

“Training for a marathon has also made me more disciplined,” she says in Reason No. 2. “I eat healthier, sleep earlier, so I can wake up early for work-outs and long runs.”

Three: “More than the physical endurance in a marathon,” she adds, “it has built up my mental endurance. Running a marathon is a mind game, when you condition your mind that you can do it, then naturally your body follows…”

“Since I’m a type A, running suits my personality,” says Jane. “It pushes me to be better, whether to have a better running form or to strive to do a PR, be it a 10K, 21K or a full marathon.”

Reason No. 5 is common denominator to us all: Running is my ‘ME time’ – a good way to de-stress.

“On the spiritual side,” she says, “it has made my faith stronger in the Lord, especially during the Singapore and Amsterdam marathon when my Iliotibial Band (ITB) injury was really painful, I was praying all the way to the finish line.”

True. That’s what running does–especially long-distances; it draws us to a power above, helping us overcome the knee and heart pains and the challenges in crossing that Finish Line, 42.195 kms after the gun start.

“And, of course, through running, I got to meet a lot of new friends! I love the camaraderie with other runners during long runs and run events.”

Jane-Jane, a member of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), I’ve ran alongside with on dozens of occasions. What she says is correct. Running is the perfect excuse to hangout with friends and family.

Of the family, what’s unique with Jane is she’s not alone: her brother Andrew and sister Veronica she’s convinced to run.

“Andrew joined me in fun runs three years ago but never followed through,” she said. “Then he got serious when training for Amsterdam. Initially, he was planning to run only 7.5K.” But then Andrew, whose physique–tall and lean–is perfect for running, progressed fast and has now, like Veronica, finished two 42Ks: Amsterdam and Big Sur.

With ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes in Big Sur

“Veronica started by walking the dogs when she accompanied me during my training for the Singapore marathon two years ago,” said Jane. “I still remember those times when she would have me and Mendel (Lopez) each run a dog. Slowly, walking the dogs became running the dogs. She became serious when training for Amsterdam.”

For Reason No. 8, it’s Andrew who supplied the answer: “I love running because I like to see the physical and mental progress I’ve made with the effort I’ve put in.”

Finally, says Jane, “Running together is a good bonding time for us siblings. Nica and Andrew train together so they get to spend more time with each other but the three of us do our long runs together. Plus, we get to travel together more not only internationally but also within the country.”

The siblings (they’ve got one more sister, Nathalie, whom they’re still trying to coerce) have a major goal to accomplish before yearend. “We applied online last December,” said Jane, “and were surprised that all three of us made it on our first try.”

That target? Come Nov. 7, the Ong family will hold hands at the start, pray, warm-up, then run beside 45,000 fanatics in the world’s biggest footrace, the New York City Marathon.

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