Miller dedicated to career, extreme sports

AUGUST 31, 2008 – Jennifer L. Miller is featured in a new series for the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Briefcase, which focuses on “extreme” sports. The inaugural column describes Miller’s dedication to both running and her legal career, which complement each other in diligence, persistence and good training. Like preparing for a trial, marathon running requires expert preparation, steadfast persistence and unwavering dedication. Miller says, “it doesn’t hurt to be competitive and adventurous either.”

Lawyers and Extreme Sports, Activities

By Brian Pierson

Lawyers and athletes possess many of the same traits and characteristics. Both tend to be diligent, persistent, adventuresome and well-trained, and on occasion even tend to be a bit overzealous about their vocational and recreational pursuits. In the following series I hope to introduce you to some of our brethren and sisters of the County Bar Association who spend their spare time engaged in pursuits that probably exceed the physical and mental limits of the majority, and those who are faint of heart. Hence the title “extreme.”

Jennifer Miller, in many ways, represents the modern-day lawyer-athlete: dedicated to her athletic pursuits and her occupation and very aware of the benefits that each offers to the other. Jennifer is a commercial and business litigator with the Phillips McFall law firm, admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 2003. Outside of her practice she is an accomplished marathoner, having run five complete marathons, including the recently completed (albeit shorter than usual for some) 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.

Jennifer first developed her affection for long-distance racing in 2004 when she participated in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. She has also completed the 2006 Las Vegas Marathon, the 2005 and 2007 Chicago Marathon and the 2007 Dallas White Rock Marathon. The discipline required to train and complete a marathon is echoed in her professional life, and it demonstrates how through perseverance and determination you can achieve any task—reach any goal. As Jennifer added, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit “competitive and adventurous” either.

Preparation for marathons is arduous and time consuming, so Jennifer has to adjust her workday schedule, often rising early for 5 a.m. training runs. Sometimes, it is hard to tell which gets in the way of the other, but she has balanced her role as a lawyer and as a runner. She attributes a lot of that to the supportive attitude of her colleagues at Phillips McFall. Running also permits her to think through issues facing her in the practice of law, though she admits that after mile 18, those thoroughly examined and resolved issues tend to be forgotten!

A supportive family is also important. Jennifer has become an advocate for running, introducing her sister to marathons. Although she claims to be a bit slower than her sister, I suspect that Jennifer is being modest and humble. She also credits her fiancé (a lawyer but not a runner—yet!) and family-to-be (two step-children) with encouraging her running activities. She is hopeful that they will accompany her on long training runs on their bikes!

Like all long-distance runners, Jennifer has her favorite training runs, races and prerace meals. Her favorite training location, along with many other Oklahoma City metro residents, is along the 9.2 miles of the Lake Hefner trails. She says the best time to run is early in the morning so you can watch the sun rise above the horizon. Training for such an event as the marathon does not come without a physical cost though, and Jennifer has had her share of pain and injuries. Her most severe injury was a stress fracture that occurred just 16 weeks before her first marathon. Sidelined from training for 8 weeks in a “boot” she swam almost daily to continue her training. Upon being released to run again, she participated in a triathlon but discovered that was not her favorite event.

Running often takes its participants to unusual and interesting locations. Jennifer says that one of the most interesting places to run was along the Las Vegas Strip during the 2006 Las Vegas Marathon. With the race starting before dawn, she laughed recalling how funny it was to see people stumbling out of casinos at 6 a.m. wondering why anyone would be out running at that time of the morning!

Her favorite race is the 26.2 mile Chicago Marathon, which she has run twice. It is her favorite in spite of the fact that she completed the race in 2007 when temperatures reached over 93 degrees. Race organizers cancelled the race with many runners still on the course. She attributes her training runs under the sweltering Oklahoma sun and humidity with allowing her to complete the entire course, while hundreds of others suffered from heat exhaustion in local hospitals and failed to finish the race.

“The best pre-race meal has to be spaghetti the night before, with a peanut butter bagel the morning of a long run or race,” says Jennifer. While many would opt for a meal at a restaurant, she prefers one at home. Runners also enjoy the payoff for their extreme efforts, and Jennifer is no exception. She enjoys a big post-race meal followed by a dessert of choice as a reward for her accomplishment.

Jennifer was an accomplished swimmer in high school, but never took up running until after her law school experience. (In fact she says that she hated running in high school.) With that background, Jennifer’s response to the question most frequently asked of marathoners (“why do you do it?”) echoes that of thousands of other runners, but is also uniquely her own. “Training for a marathon has taught me a lot about myself. Training has taught me that I do, indeed, have patience…one does not simply wake up one morning and run a marathon. Months of preparation are required. Most importantly, training for a marathon has taught me that anything is possible with a little (and sometimes a lot of) hard work. It’s a lesson I take with me each and every day.”

Long distance runners must overcome many obstacles in the course of their training and racing. Jennifer has been challenged by stress fractures and running in extreme weather conditions. However, the worst experience was being attacked by Kite Hawks, reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” In spite of such adversity, she cherishes all of the miles and experiences, knowing they make her more determined than ever to continue running. Next up, Jennifer has been selected to run in the 2008 ING New York Marathon and hopes to run the 2008 Dallas White Rock Marathon. My guess is that she sets a personal record this time, with the support of her new husband and family. Good luck Jennifer! Jennifer was married July 26, 2008 to Thomas Ventura of the Law Offices of Daniel M. Davis. Best wishes to them both.

If you know of any lawyers in OCBA who are engaged in what might be considered an “extreme” sport or activity, please submit their name and contact information to me at bpierson@bancfirst.com or call 270-4791.