Vero is a very important person in my life.  I’ve known her for years, but in the past 4 months we’ve become especially close.  It all started one afternoon when I visited her gallery to purchase a birthday gift for someone.  She told me she had been reading my blog, and then our conversation went straight to exercise.  We made a date to ride bikes together the very next morning.  I was a little nervous about spending one-on-one time with her… would she think I was cool?  Would I be interesting enough to talk to for a whole hour?  In my mind, she was the hippest of the hip.

Turns out that Vero has no idea how cool she is.  She is a modest and giving person, always willing to share everything in her life.

Vero and I are now full-on running buddies.  We try to run together as often as we can each week, and we both bring our own unique gifts to the relationship.  She pushes me to be a faster & better runner, while I encouraged her to enter her first road race (the Vulcan 10k on November 6).   She is the first person that I have ever wanted to talk to while running… in the past exercise was a solo gig for me.  Having conversation with someone you like makes the time go by so much faster.  Plus, I feel like I am able to go farther because she is there.  I look forward to running because of Vero.

Here are some random questions that I asked Vero to answer for this blog post!

Where are you from?
I am from a town called Braine-l’Alleud located in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium. It’s just minutes South of Brussels.

What do you miss about Belgium?
I miss my family, my friends, Liege waffles (nothing to do with Americanized “Belgian” waffles), Summer months on the Flemish coast, bicycle lanes and public transportation.

Why did you decide to move to the United States?
In 1996, I was 25 and I was fed up with the job market in Belgium, I worked in creative advertising at the time and it was shark land. I don’t care much for that atmosphere. Belgium is also pretty depressing when it comes to its climate, unless you like cloudy skies and rain 3/4 of the year. My mood improved a lot when I moved under the Southern skies.

Why Alabama?
The weather, the amazing people, the green spaces, the laid back attitude (although sometimes it gets to me), the cheap cost of living which allowed me to become an artist and own my own gallery.

What are some of your favorite foods?
Greek Yogurt! I was raised on it like Americans are on Peanut Butter. We call it “Fromage Blanc” over there and it makes a mean (and low fat) pie! Also: Vegetarian Moussaka, the vegetarian grape leaves and humus sandwich from Makarios, Frozen yogurt, Indian food, and all vegetables except for collard greens.

Does having a running partner benefit you in any way?
Oh yes! You make me run longer (because it’s not boring) and force me to get up before dawn, which I never thought I would do. And I look forward to it! Another thing I would have never done is run a race. Everything is so much easier with someone to motivate you. Especially someone as motivated as Louise!
(That is my middle name, Jennifer Louise West)  🙂

Do you like to listen to anything on your solo runs?
I rarely listen to music, although if I do it will be in French, I love Zaz right now. Street jazz female vocal, it’s fabulous! Like a modern Edith Piaf. But I love listening to language learning podcasts, I am such a multitasker. Makes me feel like I don’t waste my time. I am brushing up on my Spanish with “Showtime Spanish” and learning tid bits of Russian, Italian, Japanese just for fun. I also love to learn random new things with “Things You Should Know” and I love real stories and listen to real stories told live without notes on “The Moth”. All the above is on iTunes and free.

Why is living a healthy lifestyle important to you?
We only have one body, and now that I’m about to hit 40 I realize how important being in good health is. Life is too short to spend it uncomfortably if you can do something about it.

Vero also owns a gallery called Naked Art which she opened in 1998, and you can ready more about it by clicking here.

Vero and I on September 12, 2010