Janna Levy is an accomplished, speedy Master’s runner from Austin who has been on the Texas Beef Team for four years. A self-described “endurance junkie,” she enjoys the challenge and grind of longer distances, such as the “fun fastness” of a half marathon or the “humbling” nature of a full marathon.
To date, Jana has run 11 in-person marathons and four virtual marathons, plus more half-marathons and shorter distances than she can count. In addition, Janna has dabbled in ultra-running by pacing sun up to sun down in the Leadville 100 miler in Colorado and long segments in the Bandera 100k in Texas. She is considering doing more of these long events when road races have “run their course” for her.
Currently, road racing is priority number one and, at age 41, Janna is still pursuing her goal to better an already impressive 3:19:32 PR in the 2022 Houston Marathon. The next big races she has set her sights on for 2023 are the Boston Marathon in April and the Berlin Marathon in September.
With all this natural ability and passion (and who calls her 18- to 24-mile long run ‘the highlight of my week’), you’d assume that Janna has been a runner since childhood. But she actually didn’t start running until 2011, inspired to take up the sport to honor her sister, Christina.
“Christina was two years older than me and my best friend and biggest cheerleader,” explains Janna. “She lived an active, full life and loved running cross country in high school. At age 25 she was killed in a car accident. While grieving, I came to realize that life is too short and I was living it inactive, overweight and unhappy.”
“So, I decided to change my lifestyle and began running because Christina loved it so much. Over time I also came to love it and today I’m 60 pounds lighter and embrace an active, healthy and happy life without reservation. When I have a tough workout, get discouraged by setbacks, and stand at the start line for a race, I focus on doing this for Christina – to give her a second chance at living a full life.”
Every year, Janna likes to run a race in honor of her sister’s birthday weekend, which falls around the first weekend of November. This has typically been the Run for the Water 10-miler in Austin or the New York City Marathon.
Janna grew up in Washington state, out in the country in a small mill and farming town named Camas. The family property, shared with her grandparents, was home, a spot to grow fruits and vegetables, and place to raise a few cows for their own use (not commercial sale).
“I love the taste of hand raised beef and how prevalent it was in our diets,” explains Janna. “My mom cooked most everything from scratch and taught our family to appreciate quality, nutritious food. She’s a great cook and taught me so many great beef recipes!”
“As my exercise load increases during race training cycles, I eat more beef,” reports Jana. “More beef to satisfy my increased energy expenditures and also for the nutrients so important for my body to repair itself – especially iron, zinc, and magnesium.”
Beef Stroganoff is Janna’s favorite beef recipe and she also looks forward to grabbing a cheeseburger for lunch after a high-mileage run. At home, Ground Beef (for burgers and meat sauce) and Chuck Roast (for InstantPot, sous vide or smoking) are her two most frequented cuts.
Read on to learn more about his super cool runner we are proud to have on the Texas Beef Team.
My Jobs: My “career job” is a Learning Manager at Deloitte and my “hobby job” is a Car Racing Official (F1, WEC, IMSA).
Other Active Hobbies and Volunteerism: Yoga, strength-training, swimming, nature preservation, and volunteer run coaching.
Beef Team Memories: Great memories of running the New York Marathon and hearing hundreds of “Go Beef” cheers along the course encouraging me onward and also bumping into other team members at out of state races.
Beef Team Memories: I enjoyed geocaching with my Beef Buddy, George Adame. We ran together several days a week before the pandemic, which sadly put an end to that. Geocaching together reunited us and we had a lot of fun with that Beef Team challenge!
First Races / Where I Am Now: My very first race was the 2012 3M Half Marathon. Through 2017 I ran casually with groups and set the goal to run my first marathon in 4-hours. In January 2018, I finished the Houston Marathon in 4:00:16 and experienced the runner’s high for the first time. I’ve learned a lot since then, have improved, and am looking to better my 3:19:32 PR.
Training Groups: I lead and coach “No Excuses Except Lightning” and train with several social groups in Austin, including the Wells Branch Run Club, Shoal Creek Striders, and Austin Social Runners Meetup.
Inspiration: Of course, I’m motivated and inspired by my late sister, Christina! Additionally, I’m inspired by Kathrine Switzer, who became the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon despite being attacked by the race director who tried to physically pull her out of the race because she was a woman.
Obstacles and Setbacks: I travel about 50% for work, but still make time for fitness. My daily workouts are non-negotiable. However, the hardest setback I’ve ever had was breaking my foot in an accident in December 2020. It happened during the pandemic when I doubled down on running for a sense of routine, control, and goals. One bad step on a rock and my 277-day running streak came to a dead stop. When the doctor told me, I cried without control. But once home, I set a new goal of being smart and careful with my return to running. The next day I was in a kitchen chair starting my 3-month daily routine of chair cardio. Three months later, I took my first cautious steps. For months, I balanced 2 hours daily of physical therapy, walk/jog intervals, chair cardio, and weight training. A little over one year later, I achieved my marathon PR!
Reward for a Great Race: Instead of a tangible reward, I like to reflect on how happy it makes me feel.
Race Mantras: I Can Do Hard Things and Dig Deep. Both help me focus on what I am capable of and not on the pain in the moment.
Favorite Quote: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the team. – Eluid Kipchoge. Kipchoge is the most accomplished and fastest marathon runner in history and views his ability as a team effort. Running is often viewed as an individual sport. The support and encouragement of the running community is how we achieve more than we could on our own.
Pre-run Meal: Sourdough toast with fresh peanut butter and a cup of coffee
Best Advice: Listen to your body. I’m a self-taught runner and was late to embrace a running watch. While I’ve had a watch for years, I still run by how I feel (heart rate, breathing, amount of sweet, level of thirst, body temp, aches, and pains) and not by what my watch tells me. I check my watch after my run.
Favorite Gear: Saucony Endorphin shoes are my perfect fit