Jane Webb Is A Fun-Loving Runner At Heart

She's Found Her Niche In The Chattanooga Track Club

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - by John Hunt

Jane Webb isn’t one of those people who started running when she was a kid, but she loves the benefits since she restarted her running career about four years ago.

She’s all about being active and doing things that are good for you,  but long-distance running never really captured her attention and she’s found that she can receive the same payoff by covering much shorter distances.

Jane is a lifelong Chattanoogan who attended Missionary Ridge Elementary before going to Brainerd Junior High and Brainerd High, where she graduated in 1970.

One of her most significant memories came while she was at Brainerd.  She and a friend were captured by a local television station driving down North Moore Road with a Confederate flag flying out the window. 

All was well until her father saw it on the evening news, but she escaped further trouble when she said that all she was doing was showing her school spirit since the Brainerd nickname was the Rebels back in those days.

Jane wasn’t really a trouble maker growing up, but you can tell that she's quick to partake in devious behavior when the opportunity presents itself.

She may be one of the most fun-loving people around and she creates a happy atmosphere, no matter where she is and what she's doing.

She’s been active in the Chattanooga Track Club for the past four years, but it wasn’t like that when she was a young girl.

Sports just were not her thing growing up, but she did say that she had been a flag girl in the Brainerd marching band in the late 60s.  She says that she used to be shy and quiet, which is really hard to believe, but she loves being around people and she thrives on doing her best to make them happy.

She works for Blue Cross as an Executive Administrative Assistant and has been employed there for the last 18 years, having started there in customer service.

She and her husband Dan have been happily married for the last six years and they have five grown children between them.  Her daughter Christina is the one who got her started running back in the mid 90s.

“We started entering all of these 5Ks back in 1994, but my knees started hurting and I gave it up,” she said while sitting in the lobby of the downtown YMCA Tuesday afternoon following a long day at work.

“That little running experience lasted about a year, but in 2010, I decided to enter the Blue Cross Miracle Mile on Market Street.  I figured it would be easier than a 5K and I worked for Blue Cross, so that made my decision easier.

“That’s where I met Sherilyn Johnson.  She asked if I was a track club member and that’s when I decided to join.  It wasn’t long before she got me to a board meeting and the next thing I know, I was on a committee.  Then I was on the track club board,” she laughed at the memory.

“Sherilyn was the track club president when I joined and I think I’m easily hypnotized.  I need to take a class in how to say no, but the track club lifestyle is in my blood and I’ve made so many great friends as a result,” she said with a serious tone.

Jane apparently doesn’t know what moderation is, so when she got back involved as a runner four years ago, she quickly did too much too soon.

“I ran too much and got too competitive.  I’m in the same age group with Lynda Webber and Susan Gallo, so I was always battling for third place.  These days, I just want to run for the pure enjoyment where I can cross the finish line in a race and be happy,” she admitted.

Jane has done most of her running alone in recent years, but earlier this week, she took part in a group run and had one of the best experiences she’s ever had.

“I’ve always been the lone wolf because I didn’t want to hold people back.  I didn’t want to be the last one finishing, but Monday’s run was so much fun,” she added.

While Jane admits that she has no intention of ever running a marathon, she did enter a half-marathon in Savannah back in 2012 that almost did her in.

“I went out too fast and I hit that wall people had been telling me about.  Those last two or three miles were miserable as I walked a lot, but I forced myself to run the last block.  I finished that run with one of those fake smiles on my face because I knew they’d be taking pictures at the finish line.  It was my own fault that I had such a tough time as I wasn’t properly trained,” she remembered that painful experience.

So what’s next for this bundle of energy?

“Missionary Ridge is just around the corner.  Dan and I live about a mile from Bragg Reservation, so I’m looking forward to that race.  I volunteer at a lot of races, so I’m not planning too far in advance.  Maybe I’ll do another half one of these days, but it’s not on my radar right now,” she nodded.

The track club had an informal picnic on Raccoon Mountain last Sunday and Jane was right in her element as she was the grill master for hot dogs and hamburgers.  She loved being in that role and says that she’s the grill queen at home.

“It was like a family gathering on Sunday as I had such a ball.  I think I could be an event planner as I love organizing parties and helping to get people together.  I just want to be the mother hen where I can take care of everyone, but it’s been a fun, fun ride so far and it’s a long way from over.  I can’t wait to see what’s next,” she said with a smile.

Jane and Dan are active members at First Presbyterian and that’s where they met.

“I met Dan in Sunday School as he was the teacher.  It was a super active class of singles and we were really good friends before we started dating.  We had talked a lot for the first four years, but he went on a mission trip to Kenya and that’s when we really missed each other.

“I think he had to travel 8,000 miles for the light bulb to finally go on, but we got married in 2008 and have been very happy ever since.  He’s been one of the best things to happen in my life and we have a great time together,” she explained.

In addition to reading and photography and getting involved in landscaping projects around their yard, Jane is also involved in a ministry at Moccasin Bend called “The Next Door.”  It’s a one-hour commitment each week where she’s paired with another female resident who’s had a tough road and just needs a friend.

“Just being a friend is the number one goal, but these women need someone who won’t judge them for their past behavior.  It was kind of awkward at first as they found out a little bit about me and I found out a bit about them.

“I don’t think they wanted to associate with a 60-something Christian woman because they were scared I’d preach to them, but they found out I’m not like that at all.  It’s been a wonderful experience,” Jane added.

As you can tell, life is pretty good for Jane and Dan these days. 

Involvement in the Chattanooga Track Club is but a brief part of her activity, but what a great time she’s having.  And if you’re ever having a bad day and need your spirit lifted, Jane is the person to see.

She’s a happy person and wants you to be happy as well. 

And life in this crazy world doesn’t get much better than that.

(This is the 23rd in a series of features on runners in Chattanooga.  If you know of someone who might make a good story, email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


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