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Meet Jonel and Jenna

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Jenna is a music teacher in Northern Maine. Her main instrument is the saxophone. Many evenings and weekends are spent balancing getting outside to walk and getting together with other musicians to play in a variety of different bands.

Jonel is a wife, mother, aunt, empty nester, and tandem rider determined to be healthier in her 60s (right around the corner!) than she was in her 50s!

What are your favorite outdoor sports? 

Jenna -I love to hike and camp but also enjoys snowshoeing, biking and kayaking.

Jonel – Walking,  tandem riding and golf. I have never really considered myself to be an “outdoors person” but I am finding that, in this stressful time, I am craving the fresh air and exercise.

What’s your favorite outdoor memory?

Jenna– My favorite outdoor memories are camping with family as a child and hiking Mt. Katahdin as an adult.

Jonel – A recent one was the first trail ride on our tandem. It was outside my comfort zone and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. Also, our first “thighs before pies” Thanksgiving morning 5k in the bitter cold is a fun memory.

Do you have a “disaster” story? 

Jenna – My disaster story happened when I was 7 years old camping on the coast of Maine. My mother left the campground for the day to go pick up my brother who was working at a nearby Boy Scout Camp. My Dad and I decided to pass the time by going out into the bay in our boat. A very thick fog rolled in very suddenly and Dad became worried because it was a fairly heavily trafficked bay. His worry was that since we had a fairly small boat for the ocean, other boats wouldn’t be able to see us. The tide was low so Dad pulled up to an island just off the shore and instructed me to hop out and follow the shoreline to make it back to the campground. He didn’t want to risk an accident with me in the boat but was confident in my abilities to go back to the campsite safely. I did just as he said and waited just as happy as a clam until everyone else returned! 

Jonel – Many many years ago, my husband convinced me to go for a walk in the woods by myself while he went for a ride on his mountain bike with friends. He gave me a rough map that wasn’t very detailed, and I got lost in the woods for several hours. This was before cell phones were popular and my husband called the police. I found a road and ended up getting picked up by a patrol car. I was pregnant with our son to make matters worse. The lesson I learned was to make sure I know where I am going at all times! In my defense, I took the first left hand turn as directed. That was a trail they never rode on and he forgot it was there!

What have you always wanted to try?

Jenna – Backpacking! I really want to hike in and stay at a remote campsite. We have plenty of opportunity in our state. We have been collecting gear and should be able to make it a reality next summer!

Jonel – there are some more advanced hikes in my area that I want to try.

What are you looking forward to?

Jenna – I am looking forward to crisp fall walks and the opportunity to enjoy the fall foliage.

Jonel – Having this pandemic behind us so I can start traveling more. Short term, I am looking forward to meeting my 365 Mile Challenge goals this year.

Will you share why/ how you decided to join together? 

Jenna – I was invited 3 years ago by a childhood friend who lived on the same street as me growing up. We spent MANY hours playing and exploring the woods around our houses as kids and have a common love for being outside. Aunt Jonel asked the following year if I minded if she joined and I thought it would be wonderful!

Jonel – Jenna joined a year before me and I saw how much fun she was having and asked if she minded if I joined with her. I do better when I have a specific goal to work towards. This is our second year doing it together.

What are the benefits to having an ally join with you?

Jenna – Having someone join with you is an extra level of accountability! I have really made virtual friendships in the group that I cherish, but it is nice to have that ‘real’ person who can tell you to get it in gear and get moving! 

Jonel – It is a huge motivation for me. We both use Map My Walk and I get an alert every time Jenna does an activity. That reminds me to get moving too. Also, during this pandemic, it is a connection between the two of us. We live several hours apart but we usually visit each other 3 or 4 times a year. We haven’t gotten together in person since last Thanksgiving! By having this challenge, I get the alerts, see pictures and we comment on each other’s workouts.

Are there any drawbacks?

Jenna – I see absolutely no drawbacks! The more support you have in your corner the better!

Jonel – Not really. I did get a little into my head last year and there were times that I started thinking of it as a competition and selling my efforts short. This year, I am firmly in the “the only person I am competing against is the old me” camp and use Jenna’s efforts to inspire me.

Are you enjoying the 365 Mile Challenge?

Jenna – Very much so! I especially love seeing pictures from all over our beautiful country (and world). I see posts that are comforting. They remind me that I am not the only one that struggles to get off the couch in the evening! They also remind me that we always feel better when we do (even if it is hard)!

Jonel – Yes! This has been huge for me. My husband and I have started riding a tandem again and we are always on the search for new trails to check out.

You both are a big source of inspiration for the group. What inspires you?

Jenna – I am inspired by how accepting the people of this group are. Some are thru-hiking major trails, others are celebrating making a full mile at a time, yet every situation is recognized and applauded. We are all living very different journeys, yet all journeys are valued in this challenge. It is incredibly refreshing, given the difficult times we are living in.

Jonel – Everyone in the group. Everyone has their own stories and their own challenges and it is fun to go along the journey. Jenna, of course, inspires me too. She lives in a much more weather challenging part of Maine and I am always impressed that she can get in so much outdoor time.

Is there anything that you want us to know about you?

Jenna – I also love to quilt!

Jonel – I got my black belt in karate in my 50s!

Anything that you’d like to add? 

Jonel – While I enjoyed the challenge last year, I did not participate much on the facebook page. I made the commitment this year to be more active and I am getting a lot more out of my membership.

Jenna – I agree with Aunt Jonel, the more you put yourself into this challenge, the more you will get out of it! Also, take time to take pictures to share. Not only does it brighten the Facebook feed, but I find it helps me to focus on finding beauty in what could otherwise feel like just another ‘thing’ on your to-do list.

Thank you, Jonel and Jenna! It was a pleasure to lean more about you!

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