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July 23, 2010

Jonathan Penn - August Runner of the Month

Written by Dena Evans
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Jonathan Penn Ironman Vineman

Jonathan Penn

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957, Jon attended Long Island’s Massapequa High before graduating from SUNY Albany and University of Michigan’s law school.  After a sojourn to Boulder during the mid-eighties, Jon returned to New York, and eventually came to California in 1989 at which point he immediately decided he would never want to live anywhere else.  A self –described “patent geek,” Jon has been practicing intellectual property law for 25 years.

A veteran of many marathons and a long time FNF’er (read on below), Jon is competing in the Full Vineman Triathlon (his first Ironman) on Saturday, July 31, in an effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Jon has definitely brought a unique element of creativity to the familiar endurance event fundraising efforts (in which many FNF’ers have participated through the years), and with a week out, is $600 shy of his ultimate goal of $10,000 raised.   His Team in Training page is found here. 



Coach: How did you start running?

JP: I had one season of track -  I was trying to be a pole-vaulter, which is a bad idea if you are not coordinated and have little upper body strength!  That ended with a fractured shoulder.  I ran off an on in college, but got serious about it in law school.  I ran my first marathon in 1980, and since then it works out to about an average of one a year, including the old New Orleans / Mardi Gras marathon, New York, Marine Corps, L.A., Detroit, Big Sur, Boston, Napa, and Pikes Peak.  That one was interesting.

Coach: Who is your running role model?

JP:  When I was starting, we were all watching [Frank] Shorter and Bill Rodgers.  They were just lighting it up and I was amazed at what they could do.  I couldn’t do it myself, but I was impressed and motivated by it.  I am also a big fan of people on Focus-N-Fly, people like Steve Burns and Shaluinn Fullove.  It is pretty amazing to get to run with them.

Coach: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

JP:   Years and years ago I accidentally took first place in my age group in the Buena Vista Colorado Fall Color Half Marathon, and I promised I would never again threaten my amateur status.   For the longest time I had the t-shirt, but then it finally fell apart.

Coach: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

JP:  Obviously the camaraderie [Jon participates with our Palo Alto based group].  I love the rough and ready feel to the group.  I also love the structure in the training.  It works.  You just follow the plan, and it gets you to race day in good shape.  Not every race has been a PR, but I feel like I have gotten as much out of this “carcass” as I can.  Tom is a great coach.  He doesn’t baby you, but he definitely knows when to push you and when to back off.

Coach: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

JP:  I wear glasses, so it is absolutely key to get my glasses strap exactly right.   I am always dorking around with that.  Everything else I am pretty easy going about, but that strap has to be just right.

Coach: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

JP: I love to run up windy hill [Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley, California] with my dog.  I can let him off leash there. He has a great time, I have a great time, and he gets to chase the rabbits. It is a beautiful view at the top.

Coach: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

JP: My goal is to pace myself well and just finish [the Vineman]. I hopefully won’t walk much during the marathon.  I have been raising money for the Leukiemia and Lymphoma Society.  My minumum goal was $5800 and my stretch goal was $10,000.  I am only about 600 from it!  I just hope to run a strong Ironman, not damage anything major, and be back to running with my dog soon.  I did the half last year, but I figure half measures are no good.  So, I am going for it!

Last modified on October 18, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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