Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Marathon - Part 2 (The Race)

Once we left the hotel, we made our way to the open corral. Being at the starting line was surreal. I’ve never seen so many runners all in one place it was pretty amazing. Shortly after 7:30 we were moving towards the start line.  I think we finally crossed about 24-25 minutes after the gun went off.

I was still having fun!

For the first few miles I felt great. I was enjoying running through downtown and was pulling energy from the crowds. I heard someone say my name and was so happy that it was @BonnieGartley!! I can’t believe she found me in that see of people. At that point I was thinking that I might actually hit the goal time(s) I set for myself.  Somewhere in between miles 7-10 all of that changed.
By mile 10 I was feeling pretty awful. I knew my splits were off and that I was really slowing down. That’s a pretty shitty feeling when you know you still have 16+ miles to go. Then I started getting dizzy. I took a GU and ate a few Sport Beans. I’m pretty sure I was dehydrated. I looked at my phone and saw text messages from friends and family. Those messages were enough to pull me through for a little bit. Somewhere in those miles @MaddyHubba also found me on the course – and I was so happy to see her!
I remember texting Lauren (@LiloRuns) that I was miserable and that I was afraid of a DNF…I think this happened about mile 13. Jenna (@TinyJenna) was texting me, too, and I think I may have told Jenna the same thing. I pulled off the course at the next aid station, thinking that I was done, but right as I walked up to a volunteer a song that means the world to me (J.Simpson’s Remember That) came on my iPhone. Yeah, yeah, yeah…laugh all you want about the fact that a Jessica Simpson song kept me going, but it reminds me of what it was like to live in an abusive marriage, and more importantly it helps me remember the strength it took to leave. I asked the volunteer/RN for some aspirin/Tylenol/whatever they could give me and hopped right back on the course.
fake smile
Things got a little better for a few miles. I was able to fake a smile and wave for the course photographers. I remember sending a tweet that if I could smile and wave I could keep going, but my feet were killing me. I could feel the blisters on my toes, heels, and balls of my feet forming. Blisters are something I always deal with on long runs, but not like this. I’ve never felt pain like this. Then I realized that my shoes and socks were soaking wet thanks to the spray stations, open fire hydrants, and people with their hoses. Fabulous.
@PunkRockRunner (Ron) must have heard I was struggling because I started getting texts from him somewhere around mile 18 or 19. He kept pushing me. I had a feeling that he and Jenna were texting each other (this was later confirmed J). Lauren was texting me too. These three people were awesome, constantly telling me that they believed in me.
Sums up how I felt about the day

I later found out Lauren and Ron were updating the rest of Twitter about my day. Every time I looked at my phone I had a new text and the couple of times I checked Twitter I was moved to tears when I read everyone’s messages. I want to say it was about mile 22, or maybe it was even later, my phone rang and it was Ron. I’m pretty sure I was crying through most of the call and to be honest, I don’t really remember what we talked about, but I do know he told me that he believed in me and that he knew I would finish this race.  All I specifically remember is feeling more love in those last few miles than I’ve ever felt before.
Maddy & I - DONE
The end of the race was a total blur. I remember seeing the photographers in the finish chute but I couldn’t force a smile. I was spent and completely deflated.  I left everything I had out on the course.  A few moments before I crossed the finish line I noticed that MaddyHubba was right in front of me.
After finishing I didn’t stop for a beer, or ice, or anything else. I grabbed a bottle of water, two bottles of Gatorade and headed right back to the Hilton.
I’m not going to tell you my time. I’m sure a lot of you already know and if you don’t and want to look it up go for it. I’m over feeling sorry for myself.  To say Sunday wasn’t my day is a gross understatement. I’m not really sure what went wrong other than I found out first-hand just how mentally tough you have to be to be a runner. I let my mind play games with me and my mind almost won.
I also feel like I need to mention a couple of things that are indirectly related to this race.
I got some slack from people about texting and tweeting during a marathon. I get that it’s probably something that most people don’t agree with, however without Twitter, I am certain I would not have finished this race. The love and support I got from everyone on Sunday was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I didn’t want to let you all down.  I knew that I had a ton of people virtually cheering me on from all over the country, I didn’t want to have to come back and tell everyone that I’d given up so I kept moving forward. This race belongs to everyone who supported me along the way – I could not have done this alone.
Back in March a friend and I made plans to stay together for this race. I was very much looking forward to spending the weekend together and getting to meet even more of my Twitter friends.  Mid-September I received an email rescinding the offer to share a room because this person didn’t feel like I take running seriously enough. To say this left me in a bind kind of understates the situation. I couldn’t find a room anywhere near downtown that wasn’t extremely pricey and I was considering not making the trip. That’s when Lee and Isis stepped up and let me share their room – that’s what a friendship is and I think that’s the true spirit of a runner.  Runners all need to lift each other up, not demean one another. I felt the love of more runners than I could have ever imagined on Sunday and it meant the world to this non-serious runner. I can’t wait to have the chance to cheer you all on during your next race or tough training run. You all embody the spirit of a true runner.


  1. I'm so proud of you, Jenn! I'm so glad to hear that all of us here in the twitter world helped you make it through. You are an amazing runner and an inspiration to me and many others. If having your phone with you helped you complete the race then who cares what others think about it. And for your "friend" that decided not to room with you, thats really crappy and I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm glad to hear it worked out in the end and you were able to stay with @RunningCouple! Keep up the good work! I'm glad to be on a Ragnar team with you. We are going to have a blast :)

  2. I'm so sorry about all of the negative, but I LOVED seeing you on the course!! Congrats on finishing! You're a rock star Jenn!

  3. Never and I mean never let anybody make you feel bad about running! The person that said you weren't serious enough really needs to pull the stick out of their ass because last time I checked covering 26.2 miles by foot is pretty serious! I know how bad you felt out there because I felt the same way and I almost gave up because of what my time was going to be, but it's because of my friends/family that were texting me that I pushed forward. Congrats girl on another marathon finish! Don't let anyone take that away from you!

  4. OMG! I am so proud of you! I am sitting here at my desk at work crying. You are such an inspiration to me and I am sure many others.I don't know if I will ever run a full but I am determined not to let anyone tell me I can't and that is thanks to you. Congrats on your run. I don't how long it took you but its not always about the time its about finishing a goal you set for yourself. I look forward to actually meeting you at RTCL until then keep your head up and keep running. I am depending on your runs to help keep me motivated!

  5. Great report..I have my second marathon coming up and will surely be one of the very last people to come across the line but am now over it. I have trained for this and know that my true running friends don't care how long it takes me.

  6. Way to go!!! I too know what it's like to have someone back out of trips - it puts you in a hectic situation. Way to still go and finish!

  7. Congratulations again!! Way to stick through it & finish strong! :)


  8. I think so many times runners get caught up in time, status, and achievement. I'm so glad you were able to push yourself and finish. You are a runner, like the thousands of people who ran that day. And who cares that you were tweeting during a race. Personally, I thought it was cool. :)


  9. I was scared to ever start running because of people like that. Also, you had people cheering you on from all over the country AND out of the country. I couldn't wait to touch down in the States to check in on your progress.

  10. Great report Jenn! I'll be thinking of you when I'm out there doing my 26.2 on Sunday. Way to finish strong!

  11. From one non-serious runner to another - great job gutting it out. You couldn't quit anytime...but you didn't. A race like this can help you in the next because you now know you can face down just about anything! Proud of ya!

  12. You are amazing. In order to run a marathon, 26.2 miles, you have to take running seriously. I will punch any person who says you don't. I never fully understood the mental toughness that running required until a few friends started training for the Portland marathon. In my book, anyone who runs a marathon and finishes is a rockstar, regardless of their time. Less than 1% of the population does that. You are truly, truly amazing. Be proud that you finished, Jenn.

  13. Nice work. You went the distance. You know what I would say to that friend who let you down? No worries, my real pals will be there for me !!
    Great job!!

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  15. My first post didn't sound right. ;)

    I think you are amazing. Period.

    Whether you're running 1 mile or 26.2, you're definitely an inspiration!! :)

  16. hey beautiful, you are the heart and soul within every marathoner, every runner and every warm friend. the love of your friends and their deep respect for you as a woman and as a runner will get your feet to the end every time. lots of people finish and maybe even faster but very few are blessed with the support and love that you have from so many people from all over. so happy that i met you for reals. keep laughing jenn. your smile makes everything else fade away. :)

  17. Jenn, you embody what is right about running and the human spirit. Running is secondary when covering long distances. The true value is releasing past demons, embracing the future, and fighting through the current physical pain while on the course. Running also spawns genoursity and laughter and from reading the Twitter posts, you bless those around you with those qualities. So enjoy reflecting on your CM10 triumph, because that is exactly what it was: a celebration of life.

    Until we meet
    Greg Y. (@AL_Attorney on Twitter)

  18. Congrats on finishing #2! And great job focusing on your goals, not others goals for you. It's about doing it, not how you do it. Maybe I'll be in the next one with you.

  19. CONGRATS!!! I'm so proud of you!! You rocked that race because you finished. You are such a fighter! I hope you're enjoying your vicory and don't have any regrets about the race. Sometimes we just have off days. And there will always be another one! Congrats on another 26.2!!