June 2010 Reader Athlete – Jen Frantz

Sky Barsch Gleiner
Posted June 7th, 2010

Age: 36
Residence: Morrisville
Family: Cat, Monster Baby
Occupation: First and second grade teacher
Primary sport: Running
VS: What’s Northern Vermont Ridge Runners you’re a part of?
JF: There used to be a running club in Morrisville named the Northern Vermont Ridge Runners. Several years ago they kind of disbanded, I’m not sure why, maybe the enthusiasm kind of went down. Three summers ago, Mary Churchill and Mark Churchill started up a running group doing Tuesday night track workouts. So we decided to revamp the Northern Vermont Ridge Runners. Ron Ridlon, who used to be the president, is also running with us. It’s hard to stay what stage of a running club we’re in. We’re applying for the USTAF (United States Track and Field) certification. We just want to have a group people who can come have fun, and a place where experienced runners can improve and get faster. We have a Facebook page that I try to post our Tuesday night workouts on. When the trails dry up, we’ll have a trail run. We have anywhere from four to twelve people show up, and in the summer it gets to be a larger group.
VS: What’s your position with NVRR?
JF: I’m considered the coach. I love coaching adults. I have coached high school track, but adults actually realize how much time you’re taking out of your life to coach. I’m not sure teenagers always were aware of that. Adults are so gracious. And, I actually get to do the work out along with them.
VS: Is the club open to everyone?
JF: Absolutely. We’re open to people joining. We meet Tuesdays at 5:15 p.m. at People’s Academy.
VS: Why is fitness important to you?
JF: Fitness and being active make such an impact on the quality of my life, from health, stress management to the social connections you make. I enjoy having the ability to have a perspective of my community at different paces, from my feet, on the bike, in a kayak. You cannot smell that it’s laundry day from your car.
VS: What are your personal running goals—do you race, is it more for fitness, etc.?
JF: I love racing more on a 5K level. I was a sprinter and long jumper in college. The marathon — I don’t think my biomechanics would hold up for that very well. So 5Ks are good. Before I was injured, I was doing alternative triathlons with kayaking. I will maybe not compete this year on a competitive level but I want to do them and try to finish them this year. And then in the fall, if everything’s in place, maybe I can run some 5Ks. I have been doing some 5Ks but as a pace setter, doing a lot of cheerleading.
VS: What’s your injury you’re dealing with?
JF: I have a hamstring pull that I just keep pulling. I’ve had it since college. It’s just a really old injury that has been giving me issues. Two years ago was when I first re-injured it. And now I go through periods of two months where I’m fine, I step it up, and then I re-pull it. I’ve used up all my PT for last year. Now I’m trying acupuncture. It’s pretty chronic right now and I’m trying to get it out of that chronic stage. It’s getting stronger and I’m doing more strengthening exercises. And it’s getting warmer, and it tends to be much more forgiving when there isn’t ice to slip on.
VS: Where do you like to kayak?
JF: Last year over the summer I kayaked pretty much every day. I live right near Lake Elmore so I’ll get out and paddle around Elmore. Or Lake Eden. Green River’s really nice if you have someone to paddle with. Once I’m out an hour, I like to have someone to talk to. I also like to paddle as local as possible so I’m not driving far distances and the impact that causes on the environment.
VS: What do you enjoy about disc golf?
JF: You get to be outside. Being injured last year, I wasn’t able to run as far as I wanted to, so I found disc golf was a great way to be outside, and have a focus for two hours. I don’t enjoy hiking. I don’t like it at all. It’s like, look there’s a tree; there’s another tree. I love trail running but not hiking. Disc golf keeps it interesting. With disc golf, you can birdie one hole and on the next hole, have a five or six.
VS: It sounds like you get bored easily.
JF: I might, that’s why teaching first grade is good for me. The pace is very fast. At the beginning of the year, you can only teach in 20-minute blocks (because of the kids’ attention spans). And you always have to be moving and thinking two blocks ahead, plus be attuned to the curriculum and your students’ needs.
VS: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
JF: My favorite thing about teaching is watching a child’s world expand. When they learn to read they see a new world of letters. Now there are books and signs that have been there all along, but not inclusive in their daily life, and you are helping them find and explore that new place. Plus it can be a lot of fun!
VS: You’re a mosaic artist—can you describe a recent project?
JF: I have produced a very large piece recently, a five- to six-foot long, three-dimensional trout. The form is from a prior project that benefited the Brodhead Watershed in northeastern Pennsylvania. I use stained glass which I hand cut into pieces one-half or one-quarter inch square or smaller. My pieces can be very tiny for small detailed mosaics. I actually prefer the smaller pieces. With the fish, since it is an outdoor project, I am using a two-part epoxy resin, which helps to bind the glass to the fiberglass. The fish is a three-dimensional, free standing, fiberglass form. It is one big brook trout.
VS: If you had endless time and resources, what would you create?
JF: I would love to do a huge mural with life-size or larger trout moving through a stream with other wildlife on the banks. It would look fantastic along a riverbank on a wall or side of a building. It would be interesting to try also as a community project.
VS: You’re a self described “addict” when it comes to audio books. What are you listening to now?
JF: Currently I am listening to: “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Purse” by Alan Bradley. Over the past few weeks I listened to “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan; “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Usually I have one going in the car and one that I’m listening to for when I’m doing things around the house or when I’m mosaicking; and then I’m reading a book. I try to listen to children’s fiction as well as adult fiction so I have something to talk about with the older students.
VS: What’s your all-time favorite?
JF: Any book in the Harry Potter series. Jim Dale is an awesome reader.