All About Jamila: The All American Woman

Team Red White and Blue

United States Army

Loves to Run:  5k to Ultra-Marathon

How did you start running?

When I joined the military, there were some standards to meet.  It was difficult to keep up with everyone.  After failing the fitness tests I was told if I failed again, I would be kicked out. 

That is when I started Zumba!

I was not quite ready to run, yet.  While I did command of soldiers, during a running drill I dropped out. The Sargent gave me a good talking to, then actually helped improve my running.  I started to do some 5k's, and surprisingly enjoyed the experiences!

December 2012, I decided to try a half-marathon, but then chickened out and ran the 5k.  I felt so guilty afterwards, that I ran a half-marathon that January.  I became addicted, and ran a half-marathon every month following!


What inspired you to run a marathon?

Boston inspired me to run a marathon.  In June of 2013, I ran the San Diego Marathon.  I was so nervous to run the full, and almost went for the half.  My Boston Qualifying friend, encouraged and convinced me to stay committed to the full-marathon.  I finished my 26.2!


Did you enjoy running San Diego for your first marathon?

I picked the right race.  My time goal was 5 hours, and I felt happy about it.  The marathon was fun, but I went back to half-marathons for a while. 


What are some of your favorite marathons?

I love the Bataan Memorial Death March, Marine Corps Marathon, Saint Jude Marathon, and Disney Marathon. 

During Disney, I took pictures with all of the characters!

In the Bataan Memorial Death March, you are running with 90 year old survivors and Wounded Warriors.  


Do you have any marathons in mind for the future?

I am hoping to do marathons all over the world.  The world is bonded by the marathon, I always meet people from everywhere.  I would love to run and travel. 

While I was in the military, I traveled to 31 countries!  All throughout Europe, they sent me to Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea, Japan, and Thailand.  I did some hiking out there! 


Who is your running buddy?

My dog Sprinkles, she is a Russel Terrier.  If I am racing without the American Flag, I have Sprinkles. Right now, we are training for a half-marathon.  Sprinkles has lots of energy!


How does it feel to run while holding the American Flag?  

During a race last year, a friend let me hold his flag.  I thought, “I can do this!”

I joined Team Red White and Blue.  We do a lot of volunteering for veterans.  It feels great to be on a team.  We completed our first 5k together last January, Martin Luther King Weekend.

My first full-marathon I ran with the flag, a friend and I switched every 4 miles.  The support you get is amazing, it is hard to feel failed.  I feel naked running without my flag. 

I would love to go run overseas and bring the flag with me, to show extra pride for my country.  People from other countries do it in races here, too!


Do you enjoy ultra-marathons?

On Memorial Day Weekend, I finished a 100 mile race in Riverside California.  There were so many people there to cheer runners on.  However, it can be very scary running by yourself through the trails at night. 

I enjoy fifteen-hour races, it is a fun distance. 32-milers are very similar to marathons.  5k’s still make me feel amazing.

In Colorado, I competed in a marathon that goes up to 14,000 feet!  You are basically climbing up a mountain.  I still remember that feeling of amazement reaching the top, completely bad-ass.

I love going through things, feeling so miserable during a race and unsure if finishing will be a possibility.  At mile 43 and on I feel like I am fighting, but pushing past barriers feels amazing.  It is something that brings tears to your eyes, it is a resilience.


Where are some of your favorite trails?

I run a lot of trails in Arizona, but my favorite trail is the Pinhoti Trail in Georgia.  Pinhoti, is so beautiful but very hard. 


What keeps you motivated?

I think back to when I could not run a mile, and I feel blessed being able to run the way I have.  We all have a journey.  I am accomplishing feats, I never before thought possible.


How do you fuel on the run?

I am not a huge fan of gue or gels.  I love real food such as oranges, Oreos, watermelon, twizzles, pretzels, anything salty, chips.   

The night before a race I stick to foods I know, absolutely nothing new.  I usually go to an Italian restaurant, and eat pasta.  Sometimes, I have a glass of wine the night before!


Do you listen to music running?

If I am running outside, I do not have music because I just want to hear nature!


How do you cross-train?

Zumba!  I have my certification and love all different styles. 


What do you like to wear running?  

I love the grey shirt, I wore in my first-marathon.  Recently, I wore my first tutu in a marathon.  I am dressing up as Dorothy for an upcoming Wizard of Oz race!


Do you have advice for other runners?

Be grateful.  Running is the biggest gift in life, be grateful for every step. 




Follow Jamila's running journey on social media! 







Photography, courtesy of Jamila.


That Pretty Runner