Safety is sexy, but some drivers are trolls

Trolls are no longer confined to bridges

No matter how careful you are – as a runner or a cyclist – when you are out on the road, you are literally at the mercy of others.  Safety is always at the front of my mind; I am careful about picking the safest routes available to me.  I consider the area of town, visibility (of myself and other cars/people), the amount of traffic, the time of day and, yes, dogs.  I wear bright clothing, reflective gear in poor lighting and get as close to the edge of the pavement as possible when cars are passing.  I don’t listen to music which helps me stay alert.  But sometimes, it doesn’t matter what I do.  Some people will always be hazardous to others when they are behind the wheel.

Last Tuesday, just after starting my run, I was at an intersection.  Because this tends to be a busy intersection and I was also turning right, I was on the right hand side of the street.  It seems easier to try to cross there, because when cars turn I can stay out of their way better.  With one foot on the pavement and one in the grass, I looked back to make sure traffic was clear.  As I turned back around, a car literally came within 6″ of hitting me.  This person cut the corner so much that she was completely in the other lane of traffic (thank goodness there wasn’t a car rolling into the Stop sign) and obviously very close to not even being on the road at all.  I threw my hands up to get my arms out of the way and watched her speed off as if nothing had happened.  Several friends later asked why I didn’t bang on the hood….I was too busy trying not to die!

Of course I would use the LOTR troll! What else would I use?

Of course I would use the LOTR troll! What else would I use?

I.  WAS.  SO.  PISSED.  I wasn’t angry about the possibility of being killed as much as I was angry that she could have taken me out of running for quite a while…or forever.  Many may feel that my anger was misplaced and that I should have been more concerned about my mortality.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year out of the game due to injury.  And I just returned to running on August 4.  And I have several races coming up.  All I could think about was not being well enough to run those races….or run ever!  (OK….I already spend a lot of time thinking about not running these races because of the Year of Injury, but that was all MY doing.)  I spent the entire run trying to keep my emotions in check because it was supposed to be an “easy” run, and a flaming pace would not have qualified.  Somehow I managed to run the slower than turtle pace so I ended up winning. 🙂

My sister seemed a little concerned that she had come so close to getting the “next-of-kin” call had I been hurt.  Thank goodness I finally remembered to tell her a couple months ago that she was a contact on my RoadID and please answer her cell if strange numbers called.

Moo-ving on to greener pastures

The jury is still out on the Newton Gravity III.  I’ve been out in them twice and each time my calves were screaming after the first mile.  Both times I stopped to walk it out.  And both times my calves calmed down after the walk break.  However, the shoe is a lower drop than my Newton  Fate and considering the trouble I had with the heel fracture, I am not sure if moving into this shoe is in my best interest right now.  I may give them one more try, just to see if there has been an improvement.  I know I’m not willing to risk my upcoming races in order to work my way into them. IMG_5109

Soooooo I ran a 7 mile long run this weekend.  Truth be told, my ankles began to get fatigued around mile 6.  Instead of panicking, I tried thinking logically for once.  (Hopefully this won’t be my next downfall.)  I reminded myself that in building mileage there will be aches and pains as my body adjusts, especially after a stress fracture.  I realized that my ankles weren’t feeling painful, but just felt tired.  I decided to stop if the feeling worsened….but it never did.  🙂  I was more stiff than usual – probably because I didn’t have time to properly stretch between my run and church, HOWEVER I spent some QT with my foam roller later in the day and that stiffness went away!

The amazing thing is what I’ve accomplished in less than a month. I returned to running on 8/3 with a 30 min run consisting of slow 2:1 run/walk intervals. I can’t believe that I started with that little interval run then progressed to 7 miles in less than 30 days and I managed to somehow get almost 60 miles this month. I truly feel blessed!

Family stuff is fun!

As much as I miss officiating, I am so glad that I made the decision to take the season off.  I was absolutely exhausted and didn’t realize how much until I had a break from it.  I haven’t stayed caught up on household tasks since I started reffing.  I still can’t believe that I have the time to do what needs to be done!  Scheduling runs and workouts is easy – I can’t believe I don’t have to move mountains to get it all done!  But the BEST part is the time I am able to spend with my family.  Alli loves it.  She did not like me being gone to spend time watching other people’s kids play volleyball.  Logan and I have been to the movies several times and I have enjoyed spending time with him more than I can describe!  I think Bobby likes me being home, too, since I am more likely to cook a decent meal if I am physically present in the house. 🙂

This weekend, the family (minus Alli) went to see Straight Outta Compton.  What an amazing movie!  I can’t say enough good things about it, but the thing I can’t get out of my head is – Ice Cube’s son looks JUST LIKE HIM!!  And I still wonder if the mother of the 8-year-old in the theater even cared what she brought her son to see?  Great movie, but NOT for young children.

Ohhhhhhh! Alli got a Guinea Pig. At first, she named it University of Texas until I explained that maybe Bevo would be a better name, since that is UT’s mascot. She and Bobby have sworn on everything that they have that I will not be taking care of this animal, because, let me tell you – I WILL NOT be taking care of this animal!  IMG_5190

On Sunday, we took Alli’s friend Sarah to Painting with a Twist for her birthday.  We really didn’t have any idea what to give Sarah for her birthday, so I suggested we give her memories instead of “stuff”.  It was a lot of fun and the class was small enough that they got a lot of attention from the instructor! IMG_5180

Living vicariously through my niece

My niece, Laura, is off on her next adventure.  She was an exchange student in college, spending a semester in Spain.  A few years ago, she spent a year in Guatemala working with the organization, Common Hope, modeling US reading strategies to teachers there in order to boost their education system.  I’m pretty sure our family was the ONLY reason she came back.  She and her boyfriend, Michael, took off last week to spend 3ish months in Vietnam and Malaysia.  She sent her first weekly update, with pictures, and OH MY GOSH!!!  I am so jealous.  What a wonderful experience! I’ve always admired Laura’s adventurous spirit, and I think that I may have raised an adventurous spirit of my own in Taylor.   I just hope Taylor will drag me along on some of her adventures. 🙂

Monkey Island....I'm in love! I want to go NOW!

They spent their first night on Monkey Island….I’m in love! I want to go NOW!

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Is it a bad sign when your alarm goes off on Tuesday, yet you’re confused because you think it’s Saturday? Nah…

Happy Tuesday!

Jen

 

Everything is connected and change is difficult

Of course, the running updates are first and foremost.

Running is going REALLY well.  This past week I have moved from the interval stage of recovery to running without breaks.  Even though that sounds like the most exciting news ever, even more exciting is that my ankles are giving me less and less trouble after each run.  I’ve known for some time that I needed to address strength and mobility issues in my ankles, I just didn’t know exactly what to do.  A couple weeks ago, I read an article that suggested one-legged calf raises while holding a hand weight.  I screen shotted the exercise instructions as I had EVERY intention of going home and doing them that evening.  Except several days passed before I actually did the exercise.  After the not-so-stellar post run stiffness (and soreness) in my ankles continued, I bit the bullet last Monday and started them.

The exercise is so simple that one wouldn’t expect it to do much at all (or at least me, anyway).  Basically, you hold a hand weight in one hand and hold the other hand against a wall for balance.  Then raise up as high on the balls/toes of your feet as high you can and lower slowly down only on the leg (same side as weight).  Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg and you’re done!  The weight should be just enough to cause some fatigue by the end of each set.

OH.  MY.  GOSH.  I began feeling the difference almost immediately!  The normal post-run stiffness from Tuesday’s run was at least 50% less than “normal”.  I barely even noticed any stiffness after my Thursday run.  Saturday I ran 6 miles – the longest since my injury – and I had ZERO post-run issues!!

During marathon training, I experienced these same issues with my calves and Achilles, so the feeling wasn’t new to me.  It’s just that my ITB was a bigger problem at the time.  I think that after strengthening my hips, the next weak body part in line was destined to fail and that is how I ended up in a boot in July!  I never cease to be amazed at how everything in your body is connected, especially parts that you wouldn’t expect to have anything to do with each other!  This reminded me of my friend Jane and one of her posts earlier this year.  She actually fixed a hip issue by rolling her foot on a therapy ball!

Recovery is important, too.

I worry about calories.  I know I shouldn’t, but I started this whole running gig to help with weight loss.  While I wasn’t that overweight, I weighed more than I should have and I DO NOT want to go back there.  So sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I don’t want to drink my recovery drink because it seems like a lot of calories to me.  I know that I am eating to run and need to change my mindset accordingly.  I have known this a LONG time, but actually changing my mindset is harder than one would think!  I realize that I wasn’t fueling properly post-run and I know that contributed to my stress fracture.  I won’t be skipping recovery fuel any more, even though I wince at the calories!  These are good calories and I must remember that!

No, it isn't ice cream. It's my recovery drink.

No, it isn’t ice cream. It’s my recovery drink.

Cycling is a close second.

Something exciting happened yesterday morning.  I saw a REAL cyclist on the way to church, and it wasn’t me!! (OK….I’m not saying I qualify as a *real* cyclist.)  In any case, I was so excited that I had Alli snap a pic!  IMG_5083

BTW, I think that the novelty cyclist and I have the same shoes!

BTW, I think that the novelty cyclist and I have the same ugly cycling shoes!

After a mad dash to get Logan a pair of athletic shoes, I went out for a ride myself.  I checked the weather beforehand and learned that I would be facing a 15 mph headwind for the last half of the ride.  That was SO exciting to me….NOT!  Of course, the first half was a breeze – literally.  The last half was a battle between my will power and the wind, but I WON!!

Aaaaaand….I didn’t fall off my bike!  #winning

Change is difficult.

Many of you know that Alli has played for MadFrog Volleyball since she was in 2nd grade.  That is going to change this season, as she will be making a move to Skyline Juniors, another club in our region.

I wanted Alli to play for our high school coach, who also coaches 11s at Skyline, but wasn’t willing to rock the boat with Madfrog for one year with him.  When it became clear that MadFrog might not be the best place for Alli this season, I contacted Coach McKinney immediately.

I’m so thankful that he felt she could contribute to his team!  He is an AMAZING coach and I was terribly sad that Alli wouldn’t get the experience of playing for him this year.  Alli was apprehensive at first….it is so difficult to leave a place so comfortable and familiar and one that feels like home.  It was difficult for her to leave her teammates whom she had grown to love.  However, she is growing to love her new home at Skyline.  She absolutely loves Coach McKinney and his assistant and she has realized that there are good friends to be made wherever she goes!  I can’t wait to see how she grows and matures as a player throughout this upcoming club season!

Callie and Blair - Alli's most treasured teammates ever!

Callie and Blair – Alli’s most treasured teammates ever!

 

It’s marathon season, baby!

I’ve been sucking it up at blogging lately.  I envisioned more discretionary time when I decided to take the season off from officiating.  That HAS NOT been the case.  This is the busiest time of the year as far as work is concerned, however, the non-working hours are flying by!  Of course, I’ll blame this on Coach McKinney for twisting my arm into keeping score for our home games this past week. 😉

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!

What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

The time not spent in the gym officiating has been a blessing, though!  I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with the kids, for which I am very thankful.  Bobby and I even twisted Logan’s arm into seeing Mission Impossible with us on Sunday afternoon.  I was more excited about Logan coming along than I was about the movie!

The weekend was packed!  Cycling, running, movie, pool party and birthday dinner for Bobby just to name a few.

 

Marathon Training <GULP>

I realized yesterday that it is time to think about marathon training.  I will be running Dallas Marathon on December 13.  I considered running a different marathon (for about a nanosecond), but I STILL have unfinished business out on THAT course.

This time around, I’ll be taking a more laid-back approach.  I think that knowing I completed my first marathon under hellish body conditions has given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.  Before, I thought I could finish a marathon, but now I know I can finish a marathon.  The not-knowing-for-sure intensified the obsessive part of my personality (I know – this obsessiveness is news to everyone!) and, as a result, I made marathon training very stressful on myself mentally.  Physically, I made marathon training stressful on my body because I ran all my long runs at race pace. (I literally cringe EVERY time I think about it! SO STUPID!!!)

My main goal is to remain injury-free.  I haven’t had time to built a good base since my return from the stress fracture two weeks ago.  Even though things are going well, it is more imperative than ever that I address every little ache and pain before it blossoms into a full-blown injury.  I think that not officiating this season will free up enough time for me that I can stay focused on this part of the process.

A nice distraction from the 16 week plan will be the 2 half marathons that I have on the horizon.  Plano Balloon HM is mid-September and I have NO time goal whatsoever for this race.  I want to finish.  It will be hard not to push myself, but I’m not sure that I will be able to push myself too much regardless.  Even though I was able to cycle during my stress fracture, my heart rate during my recent runs is higher than normal.  And chances are it will be as hot as blazes on race day!  Rock n Roll St. Louis is in mid-October.  Hopefully my time will be a bit better by then, but I still don’t expect to post a sub-2 as I had hoped.  Who wants to travel for a race and stress about your time anyway!  LOL

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor's former club coaches. I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11!

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches (it was his FIRST!). I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11 and I realized I could get close!

By focusing on the half marathons, I’ll be half-way through “marathon training” before I give much thought to Dallas.  It may not be the best way to PR, but I figure I could walk it and get a better time than I had last year.  (Let it go, Jen.  Let it go.)  Honestly, I would like to run a 4:00-4:15 marathon.  Not even sure if it will be possible, but I’m not going to spend much time focusing on it.  Plus, if I build my base properly and add in the appropriate speed work, I may just surprise myself!

The bottom line is that I want to run the race healthy, whatever that means for my time.  Last year I needed to know that I could finish.  This year I need to know what it feels like to run a marathon without nagging injuries.  What can I say?  I’ll probably never be satisfied!

Time for Truth Telling

Running is going well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I am still having some issues with ankle stiffness and soreness post-runs.  This was very stressful to me at first, because mentally I feel injured and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, the ankles are less stiff/sore after each run and it is all working out more quickly than before.  As far as any issues during my runs – I am happy to say I have nothing to report!!

I have worked my way up to 20:1 intervals x 3 without having any problems, so my next run will be a continuous 45 min run!  The recovery from that should give me a good gauge of where I stand.  If all goes well, I’ll be running a 6 mile long run this weekend in preparation for Plano Balloon Half Marathon!!

I’ll try not to be the sucky-sometimes-blogger in the weeks to come.  The start of school on Monday will undoubtedly shock me out of summer mode.  I can almost feel my increase in productivity now!

Happy Hump Day AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very special friend, Carmen! IMG_5023

Jen

Rising to the Recovery Challenge and Clip Ins make me clumsy

I’m beginning to think injury suits me.  Generally speaking, I am much more consistent when I know that I am having to fight tooth and nail for every run.  I tend to stretch and foam roll, strength train and cross train more consistently.  I’m not quite sure what this means about my mental state, but I’m sure it has something to do with Crazy Jen.

Running after stress fracture

It is probably a bit early to declare myself fully healed, but I’ve been out for 3 runs since my release on Monday.  The first run was a very cautious 2:1 run/walk interval for only 30 minutes with intervals run at 11:45-12:00 pace.  I could tell my ankle was a bit weak and I had some calf tightness on both legs after the run.

Wednesday’s run was much, much better!  I doubled the interval time to 4:1 for 30 minutes but kept the pace slow at around 12:00.  My ankle felt so much stronger than in Monday’s run.  I was so excited that I barely noticed the heat index of 105!  I do have to admit that I didn’t go until 6 pm and ran at the park so there would be some shade available.

For yesterday’s run, I ran 6:1 intervals for 40 min at an 11:30 pace.  I felt good throughout and somehow managed to settle into the prescribed pace fairly easily, but had some stiff calf issues to deal with post run.  I’m set to repeat this run on my next outing and am planning to run in the Enigmas to see if there is any difference post-run between them and the Newtons.

My friend Jenn told me that this owl represents the wisdom I've gained in dealing with my injury.

My friend Jenn told me that this owl represents the wisdom I’ve gained in dealing with my injury.

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I do love my Newtons, but I want to make sure that the shoe isn’t aggravating my injury (and rule out that they contributed to it in the first place).  For now, I’m going to continue this rotation and consider adding a third shoe to the mix.

I’m trying to be patient and not get ahead of myself (as per usual, for me), but if things continue to go smoothly, I believe that I will be able to run the Plano Balloon Half Marathon in mid-September.  If I’m able, my time will likely be my slowest to date, but at this point I don’t care.  I am going to do my best not to rush this training.  I need to keep the long term goals in mind (Dallas Marathon in December, Cowtown Ultra in February and Austin Ragnar in April) and avoid the temptation to cut corners in this important base-building phase.  (I’m so SICK of base-building!  I feel it is all I have done all year!  Wait…it IS all that I have done all year!)

Becoming a “Real” Cyclist

I mentioned in a recent post that I had ordered a road bike and was just waiting on it to arrive for pickup.  It arrived and I picked it up Thursday evening.  I was discussing the pros and cons of clip ins with the cycle shop employee (according to him there are NO cons…read the following paragraph to see that there is one) and ended up walking out with cycle shoes (NEVER thought I would own a pair of those) and different pedals on my bike.  He was extremely helpful and we discussed the best way to get used to them.  We all know that experience is the best teacher, and by experience, I mean screw ups.  Early Friday morning, I rode around the yard, practicing getting my shoe in the clips then twisting my foot out….it all seems so easy when that is ALL you are concentrating on! I ended up on the gravel in my driveway, focused on something else, when I found myself stopped and my foot still firmly in the clip.  Over I went.  It wasn’t a bad tumble – just bad for the ego.  I was determined to stay focused on getting my foot out of the pedal and off I went on a quick ride (and had NO troubles whatsoever!).

My beautiful bike on the bike rack that I assembled all on my own!

My beautiful bike on the bike rack that I assembled all on my own!

The bike shoes that I never thought I would own :)

The bike shoes that I never thought I would own 🙂

This morning, I went out early again, hoping to log 25 miles (which I DID and is my longest ride to date).  I stopped a couple times for water and, again, had NO issues whatsoever…..until I was back in my driveway.  In the SAME spot, distracted by my watch and my OCD about stopping on even distances, I just fell over!  This time, it actually hurt and I have a big bruise on my knee.  I am such a clutz.  And a dork.  And too ADHD.  But I’m still laughing about it!!  In any case, I feel like a legit cyclist now, which translates to feeling pretty cool.  I will not feel cool, however, if I fall off my bike again.  That phase is DONE.

I'm glad that I can provide entertainment for the masses.

I’m glad that I can provide entertainment for the masses.

Today’s ride was fairly easy, except for the South 15mph wind.  In the Summer in Texas, the South wind is ALWAYS blowing.  And even though I ride East-West for the majority of my ride, I ALWAYS feel as though I’m riding into a headwind.  I don’t know how that happens, or if I am just mental, but I curse at the wind.  A LOT.  To get home, I ride South-bound on an incline…yay for headwinds and hills (not really).  I haven’t learned to love the hills on a bike like I do on my feet.  I know it is possible, though, because while in the bike shop I mentioned I was from Bonham; they had ALL been to Bonham to ride and they ALL said, immediately, you guys have hills!

Making the hard choices

My word of the year has been “Balance” and I revisit it often.  I became unbalanced in my strength training and stretching and ended up with a stress fracture.  Due to several factors, I made the decision not to officiate volleyball this year, in order to balance out some things in my home life.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made in quite some time.  I absolutely love being out there on the court, but my family time was suffering (as was my ME time).  Today as the season started with scrimmages, I would normally have been in the gym.  This year was different and I spent the day at home and enjoyed the time with my family.  Plus, I got a bunch of stuff accomplished!  Even though I know it was the right decision at the right time, the gym is still tugging at my heart and will continue to do so!  I am hoping that one day soon, my schedule will allow me to do it again!

Before I go, I want to wish my friend Jenn a kick-ass Spartan tomorrow!  My wish for you is that you aren’t required to do ANY burpees!

Hopefully I will be able to get back on a regular update schedule!  I feel as though the summer vacation extended to my blog posts!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jen

 

Summer is not endless but neither are stress fractures!

It has been some time since I posted an update.  It’s odd to think that I have been THAT busy this summer, but I have!

Game of Thrones

I’ve been wanting to watch GoT for some time, but couldn’t commit the time.  I’m a little obsessive with things and want to give 100% in everything I do.  (Except housecleaning.  I struggle with that.)  When I was sidelined with the injury, I did not stay off my foot which obviously made things worse.  When I learned I actually had a stress fracture, I decided that there was no time like the present to start the series, and could use it as an excuse to prop up my foot.  I took this job VERY seriously.  I’m a little proud and a little ashamed to admit that I finished all 5 seasons in the span of 2 weeks.  Yup.  Fifty episodes in 14 days.  I still get up in the morning expecting to watch another episode and have to admit I feel a little sadness that it is already over.  All I can say is that I CANNOT wait for Season 6!!IMG_4784-0

 

“The Boot”

Recovery from the stress fracture is gong well.  I spent one week in the boot 24/7.  Since then, I’ve been wearing it only at night, although I have to admit I skipped 3 nights!  (I’m a rebel!!)  The first week I was out of the boot, I had some soreness and aches in that area, but nothing substantial to report since one week ago Thursday.  I went to my follow up appointment yesterday and received the news for which I had hoped!!  I was released to run (@ 25% of the volume I was running before injury).  Of course, I ran last evening!  I ran a slow 30 min run with 2 min run intervals followed by a 1 min recovery walk.  All felt good, although I could tell that my ankle was a little weak.  This morning, things are still feeling good, so I will take that as a very good sign!  Today will be a rest day with some strength work sprinkled in….and foam rolling and stretching.  LOTS of foam rolling and stretching!

Cycling counts

I count myself extremely lucky to have been able to continue my fitness with cycling and have enjoyed every minute!  Cycling is different than running, in that I can feel the strength gained in each subsequent workout.  I hadn’t been cycling often, so I was a bit out of shape where the bike was concerned.  However, it didn’t take long to notice the gains in my fitness.  I started out averaging 11 mph and on a recent “easy” ride, I averaged 13.5 mph…..that was riding 2 gears higher than the first rides!  Thanks to training in the Texas heat, I even maxed out my heart rate last week!  The only problem I have encountered is that my competitive nature makes me want to push myself every time I’m out the door.  It occurred to me that cycling is probably like running, in that most rides should be “easy” and that the harder rides should have a specific focus in mind.

I have no complaints about this hot, Texas sun!  Summer is the best time of the year!

I have no complaints about this hot, Texas sun! Summer is the best time of the year!

When I bought my first bike a year ago, I was advised to get a hybrid.  While I have enjoyed that bike, I have longed for a road bike so that I could be more aggressive with my cycling.  (Remember my obsessive nature.)  The bike shop where I bought the hybrid seemed so expensive.  Honestly, I couldn’t justify spending $1,500 on a road bike.  I just don’t cycle enough to warrant spending that kind of money.  I decided to try some other bike shops to see what was available and found one right away!  The bike I chose was already on sale and I was able to get another 20% off so I ended up with something very affordable.  The only downside is that it had to be ordered but should arrive within the week!!  I’m even considering cycling to work until I start the school taxi service again.

One of my last rides on this bike.  My new one is supposed to arrive in the bike shop today!

One of my last rides on this bike. My new one is supposed to arrive in the bike shop today!

Speaking of work….

Work really is a terrible 4-letter word, is it not??  While I count myself extremely lucky to work in a school district which allows me a 6-week break every summer, I would be lying if I said I was actually ready to go back to work.  The summer has gone by faster than usual, even though I spent 2 weeks of my vacation on my arse watching Game of Thrones!  Today is my last day of summer vacation and I feel as though I’ve accomplished NOTHING!!  I’m in a bit of a panic over this, but part of me is happy to get back into a routine.  I am actually much more productive with a set schedule, so maybe I’ll get some thinks done around the house after all!  In any case, tomorrow will come whether I’m ready or not, so I may as well get prepared!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Jen