Jayne Rodosevich grew up in Ridgecrest, California, a small town in the Mojave Desert – mostly on her own. Her dad, a chemical engineer for Searles Valley Minerals, worked a lot of hours, and her mom, a registered nurse, spent much of the time at the local hospital. Until Jayne turned 15, she practically raised her younger brother and sister when she wasn’t training on uneven parallel bars, the vault or balance beam, or learning floor routines for the next gymnastics meet.
Then in her sophomore year of high school, her mom decided to go back to college to become a nurse anesthetist – in Los Angeles, about a three-hour drive from Ridgecrest. Her mom took Jayne’s siblings and invited their grandmother to live with them to take care of the little ones. A refugee from Thailand who didn’t speak English became the housekeeper for Jayne and her dad while Jayne finished high school and competed in gymnastics meets.
Gymnastics and homework kept Jayne out of trouble. She brought home trophies and earned straight As until she graduated from high school and went off to the University of California in Davis. Jayne went from little to no contact with her family, and she no longer had time for sports. At age 19, she worked in a clothing store, back-bussed at a local bar, and poured coffee as a barista to pay for tuition, books, food and rent – and Jayne was exhausted.
Her husband, back then her 21-year-old boyfriend, introduced Jayne to crystal methamphetamine to give her the zip she needed to get through the day.
And she got addicted.
So did he.
They were each other’s bad influence in perpetuating the crystal meth roller coaster of manic highs and devastating lows. Jayne managed to get through six years of college classes, working three jobs, using speed to keep her going. Eventually, though, paying for tuition and living expenses became too much of a burden. Sadly, she quit attending UC Davis 30 units short of graduation, and they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the next 10 years, drug use whittled Jayne’s body down to 90 pounds. Her muscles, once robust from thousands of hours of gymnastics training, atrophied into saggy strands hanging off her bones. One cigarette after the next incinerated between her fingertips. Her teeth became mottled with black rot, a side-effect from crystal meth use, and still she and her boyfriend partied.
“We had one rule,” Jayne says. “You could never [mess] up at work.”
Life had become a cycle of self-induced bipolar disorder. Then three months after Jayne and her boyfriend married, she discovered she was pregnant.
Jayne’s life took a 180 degree turn.
Quitting her drug habits had seemed impossible until fear for her baby’s safety became a factor. For the first time in a decade, she put down the smokes, turned away the frenzied high she craved, and started eating regular meals that included produce and protein. Soon she plumped into a healthy weight, and eight months later, she delivered a healthy little boy.
(Since their son was born, over the last twelve years, Jayne has spent more than $20,000 to fix her rotten teeth.)
But Jayne continued eating the same after she stopped nursing her baby and gained 80 pounds. Her husband, too, blew past his optimal weight, into jumbo jeans.
“Crystal meth messes up your metabolism,” Jayne explains. “Your body holds onto fat in case you decide to starve it again because you don’t feel like eating when you’re using.”
Her husband cut his drug use way down, but it took a couple years for him to beat his addictions. Jayne focused on being a mom to their son and tried to be patient. After all, her husband never had the urgency of a human life growing inside him to fortify his will power.
Eight years ago, they moved from California to Bend, Oregon, where her husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a bi-product of his arrested addiction and current eating habits. He knew if he didn’t do something to improve his health, he would get sicker. Since Bend is known for its mountain trails, and runners populate the bike lanes as often as cyclists, he put on a pair of cross trainers and started logging the miles. His weight began to drop, and he began to feel better.
But Jayne worked graveyard shifts at Village Baker in their son’s early years, so she could be with their little one during the day. Constant sleep deprivation made cat naps more crucial than cardio workouts.
During this time, her mentally ill mother-in-law, estranged from her husband since he was a child, got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had nowhere to go.
So Jayne and her husband brought his mother home to live with them.
Jayne struggled to be a mom to their son, caregiver to her confused mother-in-law, and co-provider for the household for a nightmarish year-and-a-half before the woman passed away.
Jayne needed an outlet, a way to deal with stress, yet she didn’t know how to squeeze physical exercise into her busy life. Knowing her competitive nature, honed from years of competing in gymnastics meets, her husband teased her for two years, saying she couldn’t run for reasons that had nothing to do with time, alluding to her weight. Then Jayne and her husband both changed jobs, switching schedules, him working nights as head chef at a swanky restaurant, and her working days at Whole Foods Market after their son started school.
“I started running because [my husband] told me I wasn’t capable,” Jayne confesses. “I wasn’t going to let him be right.”
Getting regular sleep and living in daylight allowed Jayne to join a runners’ training group for a half-marathon through FootZone, an apparel store in downtown Bend that cultivates and nurtures the local running community. She made lasting friendships with people who supported each other in reaching their fitness goals. That first year, she not only became an excellent runner, Jayne lost 60 pounds and has kept them off ever since.
Three years ago, Jayne got a call from Christina Stavro, a training group coordinator at FootZone, who asked if Jayne would be willing to mentor other runners in the half-marathon group training for the race in Silver Falls, Oregon. A free pair of running shoes sweetened the deal, and Jayne has been mentoring groups ever since.
In fact, Jayne has been my knowledgeable, patient, supportive running mentor in both the Silver Falls Half-Marathon and Bend Marathon training groups through FootZone. I’ll be forever grateful for her gentle motivation, talking me through sore glutes, hips, and hamstrings, encouraging me to the top of steep roads and trails that seemed would never end.
In the meantime, Jayne’s marriage secretly suffered from her and her husband’s opposite work schedules. Last year, they had drifted so far apart, they became little more that roommates.
“I wasn’t afraid for him to leave,” Jayne recounts. “I’m not dependent on him anymore.”
At the brink of separation, they decided to carve out running time together, and their relationship began to grow again.
“We’ve realized we do better together,” Jayne acknowledges. “He’s my best friend.”
They’ve finally become a good influence on each other. Since March, they’ve trained for and competed in two races together, and she sees many others in their future. On July 9, Jayne will run her first ultra-marathon, a 50K (31 miles) at Mount Hood in Oregon. But her husband won’t be participating. He and their son will be cheering for Jayne as she crosses the finish line.
Thanks for sharing your story with our Tenacity to Triumph readers, Jayne!
Readers, can you relate to Jayne’s story in some way? We’d love for you to leave a comment.
Here’s to bad asses everywhere!
Author, Writing Coach, Freelance Editor