My Magical Marathon Journey
by Jennie Finch on November 14, 2011
The entire Marathon process was such an incredible journey from the beginning, truly magical. Committing to a marathon when you’re 25 pounds heavier and with a little miracle inside of you is where it began. Running a marathon was something that I had always way in the back of my mind considered as a possibility, but I thought it would happen way, way after softball. I wasn’t planning on it to be within a year and half of retiring and 4 months after giving birth to Baby #2! I was asked (it was a dare and challenge in my mind) by Timex and the main reason for saying “Yes” was that for every person I passed Timex would donate a $1 to the New York Road Runners Youth Program. It added to the challenge. It wasn’t enough just to run 26.2 I would have to pass as many people as possible.
So it was a Go! Praying my delivery went well, Baby D was healthy, & my body was responding well, I was going to run! 2 weeks after giving birth I was hitting the road one foot in front of the other focused on the goal of 26.2 and money for the kids! The Lord was so evident throughout the entire process. We even picked up a 5th family member, a stray dog who ran 10 miles with me all the way home to find himself a home. Ace was thrilled and named him Bullet and he has been just the sweetest addition to our family. Besides the many holes dug, boots chewed, possums brought to our door, overall he is a sweet little mutt and one of us now. Getting out there and running also helped me meet an amazing local running group who have so graciously opened their arms and have treated me as one of their own. From spin classes, telling me all about GU, getting the “right must have” socks, hitting the lonely roads with me at all hours of the day, and most importantly lifting me up in prayer. They are an answered prayer for me being new to Louisiana and our friendship and runs will go way beyond any marathon! Truly a blessing!
Its been so fascinating to tap into the “Running World” and having one of the world’s Top Athletes and a mom herself as a guide. I had the extreme honor of training under Coach Susanne Davis.
With her guidance I went from running 3 miles max and at a pace of over 10 minutes a mile to running 26.2 holding the pace of 9:35 through the bridges and crowds of NYC. She was incredible! I have to admit it freaked me out at times to look to the next week of workouts, or even for that matter the next days workout. Slowly but surely I was getting them done one run at a time and building confidence daily seeing my progression. I couldn’t of asked for a better Coach to help pull off this amazing feat. For goodness sake running a marathon is equal to running to 1st base over 2,400 times. That tells you just how much I was out of my comfort zone! Working with the Timex GPS Run Trainer allowed me to track all my workouts constantly look at my numbers, pace, heart rate, distance, cadence, more numbers than I knew what to do with. It’s truly a wearable computer on your wrist! I was able to log all my workouts and upload them to Training Peaks where Coach Davis could then see, critique, and plan. For me it was accountability too, I wanted to impress her and make sure I was doing her workouts just as she had planned. I have to admit too selfishly it was a little about getting back into my skinny jeans.
After a 12 week crash course transforming me into a marathon runner we packed up both boys and headed for the Big Apple. I had three days of media, interviews, a signing, and a photo shoot for Women’s Running Magazine. It was a marathon even before the marathon began. I had the extreme honor of representing Timex for the race, along with my long time sponsor, Mizuno, and worked with Catalyst Public Relations, too.
New York has an energy like no other, it was a blast going from one studio to the next, one office to another, even if our days did start at 5 am and end many hours later. We went over to the expo to check out the Timex booth and say hello to my friends at Mizuno. Holy Cow I was in runners heaven. Wall to wall running gear, body glides, GU’s, head phones, compressions, sleeves, everything and more. Being a rookie, I was taking it all in, learning all the must haves, and getting exactly what I needed or was told I needed for race day.
We met up with my Godsend of a team at 5am the morning of the marathon. Coach Susanne Davis, Kelly Fillnow (my pacer/angel), and dear friend Dina Kwit the Chicago Bandits Team
photographer/marathon stud! The Timex bus filled up quickly and we headed over. I have to say it took me back to the Olympics heading over to the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing. There was an endless line of busses, a pile of credentials, thousands of people. My stomach sank and my heart started racing. It finally hit me, I had to run 26.2 miles and not only run that far but I felt the pressure of wanting to pass as many people as I could for a great cause. It was the ‘game day’ feeling. The pressure was piling. I was trying to stay calm knowing I still had 5 more hours to go before I would start. As the people started piling in by the thousands, getting out sleeping bags, foil blankets, beanies, gloves, they set up shop trying to stay warm. Bands were playing throughout the crisp New York air, it was the Woodstock of Marathons. Luckily we were blessed to have a tent set up with snacks, coffee, gatorade, and a heater. We got comfortable, waited and waited some more. I was able to mingle with the other athletes, Apollo Ohno, Mark Messier, Dr. Andy Baldwin aka The Bachelor, Trista & Ryan Sutter, trying to help pass the time and help distract my anxious nerves. Finally hours later the tent cleared out and everyone had left. It was my turn to run, I was starting dead last out of over 47,000 people.