Jay Ell Alexander is a wife, a mother, a runner, loves to travel and shop! I am the owner and CEO of Black Girls RUN! And the owner of a small public relations firm. My passion is in health and fitness and communications. I love meeting people, hearing their fitness and healthy journey and encouraging women to be the best version of themself. I live in Richmond, with my husband and son and our five year old lab, Luna.
We spoke with Jay a few weeks ago and are honored to share her journey below.
SIB: Black Girls Run supports 250,000 women runners. That’s beautiful. It was started by 2 sorority sisters that wanted to see more representation in running, correct? What led you to BGR and your role as CEO?
Jay: I started running in 2010. I had hit my heaviest weight – happy weight I called it when I met my now husband! I just finished graduate school and I had gotten completely out of shape. I was connected with BGR! Through a professional colleague that knew the cofounders and they needed an intern to come onboard to help out with public relations and branding. After working with them, I then became one of the first Ambassadors to lead a group in Richmond, VA and then my role with them continued to transform over the years. In 2017, I was presented with the opportunity to buy the company and in April 2018 the acquisition was complete. This opportunity really was a force in my life that was ordained – I was fearful and apprehensive of taking this on. But, my passion to help people, grow the organization and take the group to the next level really fueled my decision to lead BGR! Into our next chapter.
SIB: This is an amazing and challenging time to be alive. As a professional, what has been the biggest obstacle and your biggest joy in 2020?
Jay: The biggest obstacle has been learning how to be creative and maneuver as an entrepreneur in 2020. I cried the first week of the shutdown in the pandemic, because there was so much uncertainty. My biggest joy has been seeing my son grow and develop. The time home has been truly a blessing to witness every single thing he does in his first year.
SIB: As a runner, what inspired you to start and what has kept you engaged to keep showing up?
Jay: My inspiration to start running was myself. I wanted to feel better, look better and be more confident. My mother is a huge inspiration for me as well. She ran her first half marathon at 70 years old. What keeps me showing up is the women that this organization supports. I have made so many lifelong friends that have become my sisters off the pavement.
SIB: Do you have a race or a run that you will never forget (for better or worse)?
Jay: My first race was the Ukop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, VA. It was bittersweet – I had all the wrong clothes and shoes on, but I was so happy to be out there running and my husband ran it rogue with me to support me along the way!
SIB: We heard you are a new mom (congrats!). How has balancing all the roles in your life been different then you anticipated? All of our experiences are different but do you have any advice to new or future moms who will inevitably seek balance in the juggle?
Jay: Motherhood is the hardest, yet most rewarding job ever, like ever! It has been difficult to balance all the roles in my life, but communication, running in the morning before he wakes, schedules and taking naps with my son has kept me showing up! It has been very much different than I anticipated. I have soooo much more respect for all the women that wear this cape of motherhood – it’s a superpower! My biggest piece of advice is to expect the worse, be okay with doing something wrong (your child will never know), give yourself grace through this process and know your child will always love you!
SIB: Representation in running (and the world) matters. BGR was founded on the mission to bring more positive and healthy spaces for Black women. Community seems to be such an important part of BGR. What does community mean to you?
Jay: Community means support and encouragement. BGR! Makes up a group of women across the country that push each other, show up for each other and motivate each other from the start to the finish line.
SIB: We want the deets. What’s your favorite/most comfortable running outfit from head to toe? Name the brands!
Balega Hidden Comfort Socks
Fitletic Running Belt
Old Navy Shorts
Victoria Secrets Workout tights
Black Girls RUN! Tank, of course!
SIB: Fill in the blank:
To me, strength looks like : a woman.
I am happiness when : sitting on the beach, no cell phone and enjoying a drink in my hand!
The first place I will travel when the pandemic is over is : Norfolk, VA to see my Mom and Dad, Jamaica and Barcelona.
Thank you for your time Jay! If you would like to learn more about Black Girls Run or join their free community check out blackgirlsrun.com