Over a four day period of competing at the recent 2023 USATF Masters Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, 75 year old Jeannie Rice set three impressive world age group records in the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
Rice ran the 5,000 in 22:41.46, averaging 7:18 per mile pace for the 5K distance. She took more than 12 seconds off the previous world record of 22:53.55, set by Angela Copson of Great Britain last July in Finland.
Two days later, Rice ran the 10,000 meters in 46:53.07, taking 3:07 off the previous record, set by Melitta Czerwenka-Nagel of Germany in 2005. Rice averaged 7:33 per mile pace.
On the next day, Rice ran 6:14.88 in the 1500 meters, taking 6 seconds off the previous record, also held by Great Britain’s Copson. The time converts to 6:44 for a mile.
Rice is most well known for her marathon records. As a 70-year-old, she ran 3:27:50 at the Chicago Marathon and a few days after she turned 75 in April of this year, she ran 3:33:15 in Boston.
The Korean-born U.S. citizen from Ohio began running at the age of 35 when she felt she’d gained a few pounds after a vacation back to Seoul and thought jogging would be the best way to lose it.
Fast-forward 40 years and the semi-retired real estate agent is a force to be reckoned with in any marathon field. With a natural talent and a competitive streak Jeannie averages 50 miles a week all-year round and increases that to 70 miles when she has a marathon in her schedule.
Does she have a secret recipe for her success?
“I used to do weights for my upper body, never my legs as I figured my legs get enough of a workout with all the miles I do. I am an avid downhill skier and I golf as often as I can, which includes a lot of walking, and I enjoy swimming too.
“In terms of what I eat, I grew up on rice, fish and vegetables and I’ve never liked meat. My favorite meal is still grilled salmon and a green salad. I am not crazy about sweet foods, and I probably weigh about five pounds less than I did when I was teenager.”
Jeannie has also been very lucky in her running career when it comes to injuries.
“All the years and all the miles, and I have never had a running injury. I know I am very lucky. I have fallen a few times and hurt my knees on the concrete roads, but I have never had any injuries where I’ve needed to take medication or have surgery. Long may it continue!”
Her injury-free career may in part be due to her dedication and discipline with training which is quite remarkable.
“Running is a huge part of my life, and it’s the main part of my daily routine. I go to bed early around 9pm, wake up early every morning around 5am, have a cup of coffee and get out the door six days a week to run.”
Jeannie lives by a mantra of ‘never underestimate your ability’ and has learned a lot about mental toughness, motivation and determination through her years of running.
So, what advice would she give to younger athletes who also want to be lifetime runners?
“I would say: Stay fit and healthy with a controlled and steady diet. Don’t be disappointed and don’t give up when the results are not there. Be patient and keep trying. Run with your friends and make it a fun activity.”