Runner Jaclyn Roberson

When she was a child, Jaclyn Roberson was told that she could not run. “I literally had a medical note from the doctor that said that I was not able to run,”  Jaclyn recalls. She had been diagnosed with a condition called Pulmonary Stenosis. Pulmonary Stenosis is a condition where there is a deformity of the pulmonary valve. This deformity slows blood flow within the heart, so Jaclyn’s doctors believed that it was dangerous for her to run. Several years ago,  Jaclyn took a chance and signed up for a 5k. She discovered that she is actually a very strong runner and she has been running ever since. Now, Jaclyn is getting ready to prove her original doctors wrong  as she prepares to run two marathons this fall.  She will be running the American Discovery Trail Marathon in Colorado Springs in September, and then in October, Jaclyn will be running with the Project Purple team at the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

Jaclyn Roberson running in a local 25K trail race.
Jaclyn Roberson running in a local 25K trail race.

Even though Jaclyn was told that she could not run, she found that she could dance. She danced throughout her childhood and into her adult years. Jaclyn describes her years of ballet dancing as “intense”, but she loved it. She pursued her passion into college, and double majored in biochemisty and dance. Eventually, Jaclyn moved into modern dance when she moved to her current home town of Colorado Springs, CO.

Circumstances bring about change in life and by her early 20s, Jaclyn moved away from the world of dance. She was still very active, though and she became a group fitness and spinning instructor. At her day job as a teacher, some of Jaclyn’s co-workers decided that they would enter a 5k together. Jaclyn knew she was fit and in shape, and thought that maybe she could run the 5k, too. Jaclyn found that not only could she run; she could run pretty darned well.  Within a year, Jaclyn had completed several races, including a high altitude 15 mile trail race called the Pony Express.

Jaclyn Roberson running in the Pony Express trail race.
Jaclyn Roberson running in the Pony Express trail race in 2014

As Jaclyn developed her love for running, she found another love in her life. Jaclyn was introduced to her now-husband Duane Roberson, by a mutual friend. Duane was an avid runner and the couple connected over their shared passions. Duane and Jaclyn enjoyed rafting, and they  worked over their summers off from teaching as rafting guides.

Jaclyn and Duane eventually married and started a family. The couple has two children. Daughter Aspen is 4 and son Rowan is 11 months old.

The Roberson family
The Roberson family

Like many moms, Jaclyn often struggles with balancing her busy work schedule with parenting and her need to maintain her fitness and running routine. By day, Jaclyn teaches AP Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology at Mantiou Springs High School. She coaches Cross Country with her husband Duane during the fall months. She also teaches yoga. Of course, her most important role is that of Mom. She found that after having Aspen, she returned to her former shape fairly quickly. Her races times became faster. She even signed up to compete in her first triathlon.

After Jaclyn gave birth to Rowan, everything just seemed more challenging. It took longer for her body to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Instead of pushing one child in the jogging stroller, she had to push two. That made running outside infinitely more difficult. Jaclyn does what she can to squeeze in her runs these days. She and Duane sometimes switch off their running days or times. She also says that the YMCA has been a life saver for her. There are many days that Jaclyn would not be able to get in a workout at all if it were not for the Y.  Jaclyn knows that as hard as it can to be juggle career, parenthood and marathon training, it is important to her that she set a good example for her children.  She says, “I want to raise kids who are healthy. They see that Mom and Dad both run, and now Aspen runs, too. Running is just a normal thing for us.”

Jaclyn has previously run two marathons: the American Discovery Trail Marathon and the Pikes Peak Marathon.  Since she challenged herself by completing a triathlon after Aspen was born, she needed another challenge after giving birth to Rowan. She decided that she would train for two marathons in the fall of 2015. She is running the American Discovery Trail Marathon in Colorado Springs in September with a goal of training for a fast time. However, Jaclyn also wanted to run a marathon as a means of challenging herself in other ways. She wanted to do something for the greater good with her running. Jaclyn decided that she would join with the Project Purple charity team and run to raise money and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer.  In October, she will be running with the Project Purple Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon team.

Jaclyn’s world was turned upside down in 2014 when her father, Howard, was diagnosed with oral cancer. Jaclyn’s dad had a lump in his mouth, but he did not think it was anything serious. He put off having his mouth checked for almost a year. By the time Howard sought medical care, the cancer had spread, making his treatments extensive and difficult. Jaclyn’s father had to have surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Jaclyn says, “You do not realize how important your tongue is until something like this happens. We wondered if he would be able to speak at all. He made recordings of story books for the grandkids because we did not know if he would be able to talk to them anymore.”

Jaclyn's father with Aspen and Rowan
Jaclyn’s father, Howard, with Aspen and Rowan

There were times during her father’s diagnosis and treatment that Jaclyn really thought she was going to lose him. At every special occasion, she thought, “I might not be able to do this with him next year.” Every second became important to her. Fortunately, her father has pulled through his difficult treatments. He can speak. He is able to swallow and is able to consume a liquid diet. Many aspects of his life have had to change, but he is learning how to make adjustments and live his new life.

Duane, Jaclyn and Howard at the Space Symposium
Duane, Jaclyn and Howard at the Space Symposium

As Jaclyn’s father was facing his cancer treatments, she met a young Pancreatic Cancer survivor. She started thinking about how many young people she knew who had been diagnosed with cancer. She also knew from her experience with her father that many people put off medical appointments for a variety of reasons. Jaclyn felt that it was important to start talking about cancer, and to encourage people to seek medical care if they suspected something was wrong.

Project Purple teammates, Vanessa, Tonia & Jaclyn
Project Purple teammates, Vanessa, Tonia & Jaclyn in the Garden of the Gods

Jaclyn joined the Project Purple Marathon team because she wanted to challenge herself on a variety of levels. Training for and racing a marathon during her busiest time of the school year would be a challenge for the busy mom. She also looked at fundraising as a new challenge. Jaclyn has never raised money for a charity team before and has been thinking of novels ways to hit her fundraising goal. For example, Jaclyn has offered donation-based yoga classes in a local park. She has recently hit her fundraising goal and is positioned to more than surpass it with several months left to go.

As Jaclyn prepares for her upcoming marathons, she reflects on all of the obstacles that this past year has presented her. Jaclyn continuously works towards achieving balance in her life. Jaclyn says, “It has been challenging but I have learned to give myself more leeway. I have had to be more forgiving of myself if I miss a workout. I have had to be more accepting of the fact that life is more unpredictable.”

You can contribute to Jaclyn’s Project Purple fundraiser, by donating at the link below:

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