Less than two months ago, St. Paul resident Gwen Jorgensen won an Olympic gold medal in the triathlon. Since returning from Rio, there haven’t been many dull moments. Jorgensen, 30, is embarking on a new challenge while staying on the triathlon circuit: She is training for the New York City Marathon in November — her first 26.2-mile race. Jorgensen is also running the Twin Cities 10 Mile on Sunday. In advance of that, she chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q: What has been your favorite thing since winning the gold medal?
A: I’m enjoying every day, just thinking about the medal and about the hard work that went into the past four years. That’s definitely been the best part.
Q: Does it change anything about your day-to-day life — and do you sometimes just stop and think, ‘Wow, I won a gold medal’?
A: I do think about it, but I don’t think it changes that much aside from the fact that I’m a little more recognizable. Things are pretty much the same. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.
Q: But you just posed for like five pictures with fans (outside of the marathon packet pickup area). Aren’t you kind of a big deal?
A: (Laughs) We’re in a running venue. I’m a big fish in a small pond.
Q: This event Sunday, running the 10 Mile, what do you think it will be like?
A: I’m not naive. I’m not a professional runner, and I’m running against some of the best runners. I think that’s exciting to see, all these great runners coming to what I consider my hometown. For me, it will be the longest running race I’ve ever done. It will be a challenge and will let me see where I’m at before the New York City Marathon.
Q: What made you decide to do a marathon?
A: Ever since I started running, I’ve always wanted to do a marathon. These past four years, it just wasn’t realistic with the Olympic triathlon goals. Once that was done, it just seemed like I could do this bucket list thing that I’ve always wanted to do.
Q: How do you think you will do in the marathon?
A: Well, I really hope I finish it. But I have no idea. I’ve never even run a half-marathon. It’s a huge unknown and for me, and it’s so different from what I’m used to. I’m used to setting a goal and having some sort of expectation. This time I literally have no idea how it’s going to go. ... The number one goal is just to stay injury-free.
Q: Will things ever slow down?
A: I don’t know. I’m still enjoying everything. Patrick (Lemieux, Jorgensen’s husband) and I want to start a family, so if I get pregnant maybe then things will slow down — but maybe not. We’ll see.
Q: Speaking of Patrick, there was a backlash during the Olympics when commentators credited the spouses of female competitors for their success. Do you have thoughts on that?
A: Everyone’s situation is different. For me, I couldn’t have done what I did without Patrick and his support. He gave up his career to support me. I think that’s a very unique situation where you have a male supporting a female like that. I’m very grateful that he did that, and I’m a better athlete because of him and his support.