Sunday, March 31, 2013


Gimme an 'R'!  Gimme an 'A'!  Gimme a 'C'!  Gimme an 'E'!  Now put 'em all together and re-CAP!  Re-CAP!  Woooooooo! Insert high jumps, splits, and pom-pom shaking here.

Race #10- 26.2 With Donna (a.k.a. The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, a.k.a., The Donna) Marathon Relay, February 17, 2013
             Feelings and Numbness (If you don't have time to read two recaps of the same race, read my sister's, linked right there ^.  It's way good.  Really.)

You know, it's Spring like this that makes me recycle.  Maybe all those warnings about global warming are actually intended for us and not for our great-great-grandchildren.  All I know for sure is that I almost never complain about the weather, but I am so sick and tired of the cold, lately, that it seems all I do now is whine every time I go outside before 10:00 a.m.  (Yeah, the race was technically still during the winter, but it was a really cold winter for Florida.)
March 25, 2013, in Virginia.  Photo courtesy of Megan Connelly, used without permission.
And racing in the cold?  Well, it's not so bad.  But waiting outside to race in the cold?  Miserable.  Well, mostly.  Sorta.  Okay, if it hadn't been for my sis...  As it was, we got to wait together for her to begin her third marathon and me to lead off our relay team.

The Donna is held in Jacksonville, FL, which happens to be where my in-laws live.  Instead of paying for a hotel room, we were able to stay at my sis-in-law's apartment (thank you!), and were able to leave the children with them while Husband and I joined some friends from the running group for dinner (thanks!).  After the nightmarish time the night before my first half-marathon, it seemed wise to make every effort to get Baby to sleep comfortably.  To that end, we made a trip to Buy Buy Baby and purchased a special mattress that fits inside the pack-n-play, and an extra soft sheet made of the same material as her regular crib sheet.  Mom-in-law kindly laundered the new sheet (gracias!), and we set up the portable bed with crossed fingers. I rocked Baby to sleep, just like at home, held my breath, and laid her down.  She didn't wake up immediately!  About an hour later, I was ready for bed, too, and that's when she woke up.  Twice, I rocked her back to sleep, but both times she woke up as soon as I laid her in bed.  I resigned myself to another sleepless night, and laid down on the couch with her on my chest.  Husband covered us with a cozy blanket (merci beaucoup!), and I only woke up every hour or so when various body parts had fallen asleep and were numb.  As often happens, my discomfort was a blessing in disguise.  I had received a new phone from sis-in-law the day before (ever so grateful!) and did not set the alarm correctly.  I happened to wake up only 2 minutes after it should have gone off, and was able to get ready on time.  I left her apartment just before 5, with a full 4 hours of sleep in me, and zero caffeine.

As instructed by the brochure and website, my sis and I were at the start line 2 hours early, at 5:30 a.m.  The temperature was at the higher end of what had been predicted, and was just above freezing when we arrived.  Kim was the second runner on my relay team, and had also arrived extra early to board a shuttle bus to her exchange point.  We had a few minutes together near the gear check trucks, where there were several warming table/lantern/canopy things.  We then did our necessary in the too-cold-to-smell-bad port-o-lets, bid farewell to Kim, and made our way to the really wonderful Runner's Village, where we were offered free Dunkin' Donuts coffee, bagels, fruit, muffins, granola bars, juice, water, and admission into a giant, heated tent.  Again, my sis and I followed the instructions we had been given, and made our way out of the warmth, away from the coffee, and into our starting corral at 6:30.
The reflective stuff really works, eh?
Our race bibs were color coded by predicted finishing time, with the slower people in the corrals further from the start line.  When my sis registered for the marathon, she hadn't yet run that distance, so she predicted her finishing time to be much slower than it actually would end up being.  As a relay team, we were expecting to finish with the fasties, and so were given yellow (corral #1) bibs.  It was clear to us that she should have registered as a yellow, so we didn't feel bad at all about sneaking her into the yellow corral.  (And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that pesky security guard!  More on that in a bit.)

Unfortunately for us, many many other runners did not follow the instructions.  Or something.  I don't know exactly why, but there were thousands of people still stuck in traffic when the race was supposed to start at 7:30.  And still, at 7:45.  They delayed the start time until 8:00, which I'm sure was best for the majority of the racers.  It's just hard to wrap a frozen brain around rational thoughts like that one.  My goodness, was it ever cold!
Still smiling = Before the first delay announcement.
Finally, the race began.  As the announcer was counting down to "GO", a very-serious-about-her-volunteer-work security guard stepped in front of my blue bibbed sister and told her to get out of line and go back to the blue corral.  She was brave and smart enough to refuse, and only had to endure 4 seconds of the security lady's nasty look before we crossed the starting line.

Just 8 days earlier, I had kept an average of 8:10/mile for 3.1 miles, so I was feeling really confident in my ability to do the same, or close to it, for my 6 mile leg of the marathon relay.  I may have said this before, but it bears repeating.  Confidence doesn't do the work for you.  Nor do happy thoughts, encouraging signs, or energetic crowds.  All of those things are helpful boosters, but make no mistake- in order to run fast, you have to run.  Fast.  This task is much easier to complete when your toes feel like toes, rather than large chunks of ice weighing down your shoes.  My first mile time was 8:41, and I still felt totally frozen.  My sis and I ran together for a couple of minutes between miles 1 & 2, but then she took off, and I wouldn't see her again until the finish line.  My second mile time was 8:45, and everything except my toes had thawed out.  The sun was shining, there were people cheering, I heard music playing, saw lots of pink balloons, streamers, and signs, and I was truly glad to be running for such an important cause.  Mile number three was 8:43, but the cold weather was about to take its toll.  I had recently learned that I experienced much less knee pain when I was running with proper posture and concentrating on where my feet were landing.  I had also figured out in my last race how helpful it was to breathe deeply.  Problem was, I still couldn't feel my feet to know where they were landing. I was also hunching over, bracing myself against the wind and cold.  And, each time I tried to breathe deeply (I couldn't close my eyes in this race, there were way too many people around), my lungs would burn and I'd start coughing.  I don't know how to spit, and when I take deep breaths in cold weather, I always feel like I need to.  Then, I feel like I'm choking or gagging, and it's not the greatest.  Mile 4 was slower than the previous 3, at 9:10.  Just after the 4th mile marker, my knee started screaming, and I couldn't ignore it.  I slowed to a walk for much of the 5th mile, and clocked it at 10:04.  My last mile was slightly easier.  My knee was still really hurting, but the crowds of cheering people were even more plentiful than they had been.  I saw a pair of women displaying their years of cancer survival on signs pinned to their backs.  I saw strangers holding signs thanking the runners for helping fight against breast cancer.  I thought about my mom, having been so brave through chemo and radiation and sickness and pain and hair loss and fear, and was grateful, as always, that she had beat breast cancer.  Finally, I heard someone shout my bib number just before I saw Kim, waiting to take the baton from me, and I was done!  My 6th mile time was 9:30, for a total of 54:something.

I managed to find Husband, MIL, and Baby really easily where they had parked a block away from the relay exchange point.  I let Baby munch on my medal for a bit, then nursed her in the warm car.  Not sure where her obsession with medals might have come from...
Baby and her Papa
Aunt Jenn
Big Brother
...those things don't run in families, do they?

I had Husband drop me off at the finish line area, left my jacket in the car (but remembered my mylar blanket, at least!), and waited for my teammates and sissy to finish.  The Finisher's Village was pretty awesome.  I got a free massage and some hot soup while I was waiting, and later took advantage of the free beer and samples of energy popsicles.  The only problem was that the FV was around a few corners and about 1/4 mile away from the actual finish line.  There was a huge screen set up so that family members could (supposedly) see their loved ones cross the line, but it was impossible to tell who I was looking at.  I couldn't even make out bib numbers or genders from the view on the screen.  I talked to Kim, who was with my brother-in-law and her husband (2 of our 3 other teammates) and learned that Jenn was on pace to meet her goal of finishing under 3:39:59.  I walked closer to the finish line, and was stopped by (can you even believe it?) the same way-too-self-important security guard from earlier.  She informed me that the area needed to be kept clear for the runners, and I would have to go the other direction.  I rolled my eyes as politely as possible, and stepped behind her.  She turned around and gestured for me to keep walking.  I did, until she turned back around.  I sneaked past her a few minutes later, and stood quietly, not blocking anyone's path or even standing close to anyone finishing the race.  She approached me again, and told me that I wasn't allowed to be there, or anywhere near there.
"I just need to see my sister cross the finish line!  She'll be here any minute!"
"You can see from the sidewalk back there."
"No, I can't see from there!"
"Well, you can't be here.  You have to keep moving."
Again, she followed me until I was safely away from any possibility of seeing the most proud and momentous accomplishment my sister had ever made.  At last, my brother-in-law and other teammates arrived, and I learned that there really is safety in numbers.  Nobody stopped us as we walked to the finish line.  After just a few minutes, when the clock had already struck 3:39:00, she came into view.  And, well, now I'm crying again.
Please enjoy this awkwardly posed picture while I grab a tissue.
She did it.  She qualified to run the Boston Marathon.  She has secured a spot for herself in a race that you have to earn your way into.  There is something so amazing, so inspiring, so phenomenal, about seeing someone accomplish a goal like that.  Add in the fact that I was watching my dear sister, oldest friend- someone who I had seen run her first marathon, and her second, who had inspired me to run and changed my life for the better, whom I knew had trained for months, and worked so hard, and well, now I'm crying again.

At some point, our last relay team member crossed the finish line, too.  My eyes were too full of tears to see, but we ended up in 11th place out of nearly 200 teams.  We had some pictures taken, shared some stories, complained about the cold (by this time, it was in the mid-40s), and I burst into tears several more times.  Eventually, I walked the mile to the shuttle bus that would take me back to where I had parked at the start line, and was able to compose myself a bit before I got behind the wheel to return to the rest of my family.  I cried again as I described her amazing finish to Husband and the in-laws, limped around on my still-sore knee, had some lunch, and home we went.

Result: Me- 6 miles in 54:xx
Bad Case de Runz (our actual team name)- 3:41:29
Jenn- 3:39:38 BQ BQ BQ BQ!

I'll repeat my advice for you today, in case you didn't see it earlier.  Check out my sister's blog.  You won't be sorry!  Oh, and you might want to grab a tissue.

Do you recycle, or can I blame you for the cold temperatures?

Been inspired, lately?

1 comment:

  1. We all need metals I mean medals I mean minerals in our diet. She's an extra smart baby is all.

    And though we do recycle, feel free to assign blame for the cold weather. I like it!