Former rabbitPRO athlete Jarrett LeBlanc had a breakthrough performance at the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half-Marathon this past weekend, finishing 8th in an international field in 1:04:33. The rabbit family is happy to announce that as of this week we have re-signed him to the rabbitPRO squad! The past two years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for LeBlanc, who recounts the highs and lows of training at the highest level for this rabbit chatter.
My running career has never been that, “new-pair-of-shoes smell” or one that’s earned me a USA title. I have had moments of glory that will last my lifetime, but it’s always been about the grind. Not only pushing tenaciously to fit the lifestyle of a post collegiate runner making it to the big stage, but also making it financially and socially stable.
My story goes back to summer of 2015, the best shape of my life. I had just ran 3:59 for the mile and 1:49 for 800m. Earlier in the year I had also qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials marathon by running 1:04:19 for my debut half marathon. Just 3 months out from the marathon trials I suffered an excruciating stress fracture on a facet of my lower vertebrae. I could barely walk normal much less run. I went from running 75-90 miles a week to averaging a whopping 40 miles a week leading up to the trials. Most of that being a long run of 12-15 miles then 3 days off to follow. I knew I needed to train to compete in Los Angeles, but my body wouldn’t allow it. I finished the trials with a debut marathon of 2:29:30 and a 69th place finish.
After taking some time off I revamped training over that summer with a few races but the pain was still there. This is when I initially joined the rabbitPRO family! Early in the summer of 2016 was a kick off point to my next chapter. I got a job in my career field at a hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Training was going well, but the pains and symptoms remained from my pre-marathon injury.
I raced the USA 10 mile champs in October and knew something was wrong. An MRI later confirmed I had yet another stress fracture - a fracture to the pubic bone on the pelvis. After receiving the results and weighing my options, I called Jill and Monica to say those dreadful words, “Thank y’all so much, but it’s done. I am retiring from running.”
I remember staying up late that night asking if that was the right decision. Remembering the pains and struggles everyday for over a year I knew it was time. I had hit my marks. I was the 443rd American to break the 4 minute mile barrier and I had made it to the marathon trials. I mean, what more could I possibly have done or set my sights on? It was done. My professional career was over.
Six months of not running a single mile can really put you out of shape. I had this “Envie” a Cajun French word for ‘got that good feeling’ to think I could maybe start running a bit to keep the fitness up. I ran a 21:35 3-mile on a Tuesday night with an average heart rate of 175. It was the start of an new, but familiar beginning. Alone, out of shape, unsponsored and a few beers in me I decided to run the infamously competitive BoulderBolder, just four weeks away. That May of 2017, I officially came out of a short lived retirement and ran a 34:34 10k at elevation in Boulder, Colorado.
The next 6-10 months were pretty much as expected; the highs and lows of getting back into shape, but this time it was different. I had no pains anywhere. My love for the sport and the grind itself was actually a growing flame. In the midst of training and working, I was caught off guard by a job opportunity in my hometown. A chance to continue training, move closer to family and friends wasn’t something I couldn’t pass up. More opportunities to keep my jitterbug’n and accordion playing skills up too. I hadn’t lived in Louisiana since June of 2014!
So, I moved home to Louisiana in January of 2018 and started my job in a new clinic. I have been back to training ever since with a 31:00 10k in April, followed by a 1:04:25 half marathon in June and my body and mind just feel at home.
I’ve sacrificed the mountains and cool weather with the occasional weekend trips to Colorado for running company all for mosquito infested, swamp filled, rice field levees, snakes, raccoons by the dozens, humidity and solo training. Smart move? I’ll make that call in 2020 where you’ll find me on the starting line of the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. I will be giving this push everything and more, but this time it’s for the people who gave so much to me in the past. Most importantly proving not only to myself, but everyone in this sport that I can emerge stronger from the lowest of lows. There is no doubt there will be road bumps along the way, but keep a close eye on my story. It may be similar to my past, but it definitely has a new ring to it.