Friday FITspiration: The Best Mother Runner of All

May 8, 2015

Here at, Fridays are all about sharing the inspiring stories of fit people who motivate all of us to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday. My Friday FITspiration series profiles runners, triathletes and casual exercisers who are making choices every day to be as healthy as they can be – in both huge ways and through simple, small victories.

“Running makes me feel powerful. If I could run a half marathon, I could do anything with a goal and a plan.” ~Renee, my mom

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I’m featuring my favorite mother runner today: my mom. My mom is one of the most amazing people I know. Although running has been part of her life for a long time, it really wasn’t until 2010 when she discovered her passion for running. In her 50s, she couldn’t run for a minute without stopping. But she kept at it. Since then, she started running consistently and has run five half marathons to date. Find out what Mama rUnladylike (aka Renee) has to say and her advice for runners just starting out.


When did you start running and what inspired you to start?
I feel like I have been running off and on since high school. Your dad was obviously a big inspiration. It was so exciting to watch him compete in the 440 (yes, back then it was a 440). He made running look so easy and effortless! Sometimes we would go to the track and race each other. He would give me a huge head start but very quickly I could hear him catching up to me. I would laugh and scream while I was trying so hard to run as fast as I could. He always went flying by me. I never came close to making it a race. It still makes me smile to think of that memory.

Friday FITspiration with Renee Koenig on
My mom and dad

You really discovered your passion for running later in life after turning 55. What would you say is the most important way running has impacted you?
Running has impacted me in so many positive ways. I became really good friends with my neighbor, Linda, as a result of running. In 2011, I saw an article in our newspaper about the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll half marathon that was going to be in St Petersburg, Florida. As I read the article, I kept thinking about how amazing it would be if I could do that. I remember calling you and telling you I was thinking about it. I knew I didn’t want to undertake this journey alone. I called Linda and told her I wanted “US” to do it. She was all in.

We figured out our plan and never looked back. I was like a little kid. The first time I ran 1 minute without stopping, I texted you! Then 3 minutes and every celebration after that. When we ran our first long run of 6 miles, we took a picture and texted it right to you. When you decided to come to Florida to run the race with us, I was thrilled. Finishing that race was one of the most treasured moments of my life. I was overwhelmed when I crossed that finish line.

15 Mom, dad and Jes at the finish

I had set a goal that was so far outside of the realm of what I thought was possible … and I did it! It took 2 hours and 34 minutes, but I did it. It made me realize how powerful something as simple as lacing up a pair of running shoes could be. All I can say is that running made me feel powerful, and that if I could run a half marathon, I could do anything with a goal and a plan. Since then, I joined a running group and have completed 5 half marathons as well as several 5Ks and 10Ks.

How has being married to an elite runner and coach influenced your perspective on running? What has it taught you about running and/or supporting people you love who run?
Your dad definitely influenced my perspective about running because I knew what he had to do in order to be the best. As a result, I have always had great respect and admiration for runners. I learned very early how important providing support and a listening ear is to a runner. There is so much mental stuff that goes on in your head. I don’t think it matters whether you are the best of the best or just someone like me. Running is hard. It takes guts to get through the pain to eventually find the enjoyment. And, to be honest, sometimes it is all pain. So, having someone to talk to about it all is priceless. Being a spectator is a great role. Seeing someone who supports you when you feel like you don’t have another step in you, makes all the difference in the world.

mom and dad wedding
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There was a time you said you could not run for a full minute without stopping. This past April, you ran your fifth half marathon. What advice would you give to other people out there who feel running or achieving big goals isn’t possible?
It’s true, when I started training for my first half marathon, I couldn’t run a minute without stopping. But what I found was that if I tried it again the next day, and the next day, and the next day, I kept getting stronger. So even going from one minute to three minutes was a huge victory. I found that I couldn’t compare myself to anyone but me. So that is what I did. EVERY celebration was based on  my own improvement. The minute I found myself straying from that, I would try to refocus and concentrate on what was within my power to improve.

Finish this sentence: I run because _______________.    
I run because I can. I try not to take one minute of my life for granted. I know that in the blink of an eye everything can change with your health and ability to run and exercise. For the past 2 months, I have been battling a minor injury that has sidelined me, so there are no guarantees. You have to make the most of every day and live as healthy of a lifestyle as you can so that all the years remaining can be as productive and enjoyable as possible.

Do you have any advice for moms and daughters who want to get healthy and active together?
I love the relationship you and I have and I would recommend the “mother/daughter buddy system” to everyone. We keep each other in check and enjoy talking about running, exercise, nutrition, recipes, healthy habits, etc. It truly is a journey. I don’t know anyone who is perfect so there will always be ups and down when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. But, you can’t give up. You don’t have to wait until Monday, or until tomorrow, or until the new month or the New Year to get back on track. You can do it the next minute. You can’t change the past so forget about it. Give yourself permission to let it go and start over right now. I’m an expert at starting over!


What is the next fitness goal you want to accomplish?
As far as running goes, I am shooting for the Madeira Beach Holiday Half Marathon in December 2015. I ran it last year and really liked it. It starts in Madeira Beach and goes all the way to Taylor Park in Largo, Florida. I definitely want to run the Sarasota Music Half Marathon in February 2016. I think that will be a lot of fun, Most importantly, I want to stay healthy. I learned a tough lesson this year. I was feeling stronger than ever and had a minor Achilles heel issue that I chose to ignore because I didn’t want to take any time off. It not only kept hurting but I ended up causing other issues with my hip and leg. I am hoping to be back running in three weeks.


Do you know someone with an inspiring story that should be featured on Friday FITspiration? If so, email

What mother runner inspires you the most? Do your Mother’s Day plans include a run?


Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

I love this! My mom was always active but she never really pushed out of her comfort zone! How awesome that you get to share something that you both love!


This is great! I can picture her running and laughing around that track with your dad close behind. Running is supposed to be fun!


Great post, Jes! I have running memories with your mom too. The peanut run in Plains, GA. Running the mile track at Fort Benning when we just…kept…going. And getting up at the crack of dawn to spectate at the Peachtree Road Race and swearing that NEXT year we would be running. And we did! All the years at the Turkey Trot including one year in the rain when she wasn’t going to run, changed her mind and did it in a pair of Keds! Great times! Love you both!

Gabrielle from Austria

Oh, so wonderful to read, Jesica!
The part “I run because…” I’m going to write in my diary.
Today I had a joyful run with my daughter. I gave birth to her one day after Mother’s Day twenty years ago.

Sandra Laflamme

You mom is such an inspiration! How great that she has discovered a true love for running! I am totally inspired by all moms who get out there and go for it!