President Libby Jones in Her Own Words
She’s not the first female President of the former Cross Country Club of Dallas in the club’s 40 year history. After Jean Millet (1987-1989) and Cricket Griffin (1995-1996), she’s the third. But, “I might be the youngest, though.”
LIBBY JONES will, however, be the first female President of the Dallas Running Club, the new name of the former CCCD.
Prior to the sudden name change the club recently went through, Libby was a board member before considering the Presidential post, trying to make the point the club didn’t need a name change to gain membership. Libby increased membership by 400 just by marketing the club more aggressively than had been done in the past, according to the previous membership chairman, STEVE MARSDEN. Some have questioned whether the issue of having a legacy played into the name change. With her computer skills, Libby has re-vamped the club’s web site using the color green with prominence. The new logo is also used in full view, a runner inside a star.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Libby moved with her family to the Dallas area when she was two. After meeting her future husband in a computer science class they had together, Libby married her McKinney high school sweetheart, STEVE JONES, in May 2000. She graduated college with a degree in mathematics with an emphasis in statistics. Not easy stuff.
Professionally speaking, for the past two years, Libby has been an actuary for “Swiss Re Life & Health America”, serving as a director. She became fully credentialed as a Fellow in four years, four less than the average.
Beyond the Dallas Running Club, the self-described “corporate gal” stays busy as her neighborhood association’s web master and newsletter editor. She also serves on the City of Allen Parks & Recreation Board. And, she also likes to learn languages. As a result, she’s well-traveled. In 2005, she went to Paris twice. In 2006, she traveled abroad to the Azores, and domestically to Las Vegas, New York City twice, and Boston. “I speak basic Spanish and French, and for the Azores trip, I learned ‘phrasebook Portuguese.’” Libby says she enjoys video games “and can be a bit of a TV junkie.”
Steve is a video game programmer with a company responsible for some top-selling computer video games over the last seven years, such as PlayStation systems, Xbox systems, etc. Together, they share their life with Cinna and Cassia, both Yorkshire Terriers.
Below is Libby in her own words (unedited and uncensored at her request, a first for The Phast Times News), on how she got started, her first race, The CCCD, running in Dallas, The Dallas Running Club, and her own future athletic goals. Due to her schedule, we were unable to get our own photos for this story.
Getting Libby Started
Growing up, I was not what most runners would refer to when they say an “athlete.” From the time of was three through high school, I was a dancer – ballet, jazz, and tap. Mikhail Baryshnikov was my hero, not Grete Waitz. Starting from when I was about 13 and getting worse as I entered college, I began to suffer from chronic back pain. I was on high doses of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, and painkillers. I had cortisone shots semi-regularly into my back muscles. Different doctors threw around terms that possibly explained the pain: lumbar facet syndrome, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis through my whole body.
Around the age of 20, I took some short term disability leave for the condition. The doctors did not want me active and didn’t want impact on my joints, so I was confined to sitting or laying down and doctors began mentioning cortisone shots directly into bone or surgery to fuse vertebrae together. I hated the idea of surgery, and all the doctors and their words of future doom for me were making me miserable.
So in September 2000, I went off the drugs and stopped seeing the doctors (which for liability reasons, I am not endorsing others to do). I started doing yoga and pilates regularly. I discovered that I needed a full eight hours of sleep and monitor my stress level to feel my best. As I grew stronger, I was weight training two times a week and doing pilates multiple times a week. Life became about defying the doctors and their negativity. This does not mean that I’m better. Just that each day, I am the one that chooses my level of activity and my attitude towards the pain and I decide whether it will control my life.
Jones’ First Place
In 2003, a friend approached me two weeks before the St. Paddy’s Dash Down Greenville 5K and wanted me to run it with her. I had never run a day in my life. And I had gone through years of negativity from doctors about getting active, including one who told me I would never run in this lifetime and feared I would not walk past age 35. I had a lot of fun at that 5K. I loved the excitement of the event and the pride at running non-stop for 3.1 miles. Over the next year or so, I joined in 5Ks here and there, just for fun. I was busy completing my professional certifications so I was too busy with my career to run regularly.
In late 2004, I signed up for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Three Day Walk, a 60 mile walk over three days, which I completed in June 2005, in addition to raising $4,000 for charity. In April 2005, I completed my first half-marathon. I started running regularly after the Three Day Walk. But I had suffered trauma to my feet during those 60 miles which only got worse as my mileage got higher. Hitting close to 20 mile runs in my training, I found myself completely sidelined by injury. I had and am still recovering from plantar fasciitis in both feet which at times has spread into Achilles tendonitis, and I had muscle tissue rupture in the ball of one foot.
A Love of Running
I’m a competitive Type A. There, I’ve admitted it. So running is several things to me: 1) It’s defying those who said I’d never be able to. 2) Running is one of those healthy competitions against yourself, where you are just trying to get better each day, always reaching for the next PR. It’s not about winning trophies and beating others at this game, it’s about beating yourself! 3) I love the mental challenge of distance running and walking, when your body is saying “why are we still doing this?” and proving that mind can win out over the body, within reason.
In late 2005, I got involved with the board of the CCCD; I saw a place where maybe my organizational and technological skills could benefit them. I joined the board in January 2006 and was elected President-Elect in June 2006. I didn’t actually come looking to be president. The current President of the club, Glenn Carter, came to me wanting to nominate me, and the Nominating Committee, full of past presidents, interviewed me and then recommended me to the board. During this year, I’ve worn several hats. I’ve supervised registration at the monthly races, I’ve been the webmaster to the new website our members love, I’ve sold merchandise at races, I’ve served as a Volunteer Coordinator for the 2006 Half, and I’ve pushed to heavily market the club this year around their signature race, The Half.
Running in Dallas
I am very excited with the state of running in Dallas right now. I think more and more people are starting to get active. There are individuals involved who have the energy to increase awareness of the sport, like those involved in the marathon and the numerous area clubs. In our club, I’ve been pushing to bring in more new runners and more walkers. The club has a strong competitive group of runners, but it can seem a little intimidating to the average recreational runner or walker, and this is where we will gain our future members. Many of our club members indicate that when they mark on their membership application they are interested in meeting other runners and walkers.
We have offered the summer picnic and holiday party for years; but a new feature is listing area group runs on our website and then sponsoring some of those by buying them post-run coffees or bagels. It encourages our members to stay active, keep up the running habit, make some new friends, get training advice, or whatever they need to get out of a group run.
The Future: The Dallas Running Club
I’m hoping for the following during my two year term (term limit of 1 term for Presidents): increased membership growth AND membership retention. Find items of value to our members and do those! Don’t reinvent the wheel – improve the process and then spend your energy on new ventures.
We’re doing research right now on merchandise that will feature the new club name “Dallas Running Club”, that will be merchandised, that will let our proud members advertise us and be items they will enjoy wearing. We have a new signature race we will be introducing in 2007. We hired on a race director for May 2007’s White Rock N Roll Five Mile several months ago, so that we can increase the size and value to the runner of this race. We will be looking to improve all of our races, both the free member monthly races and the signature ones. We’ve just hired a company to provide timing and results services for our monthly member races, in efforts to continue to provide timely and accurate results to our members.
Future Athletic Goals
After my injuries, I’m afraid short distance running is probably where I’m meant to stay. As I recover, I want to stick with 5K and 5 mile races and punctuate occasionally with a half-marathon. No marathon training at this point. Definitely no triathlon training in my future. I think it seems like it would be fun, however, I can’t swim at all! My parents were always signing me up for lessons as a kid, but I just couldn’t catch on.