Thursday, May 20, 2010

Three Times’s a Charm?

Three is the luckiest number? Once, twice, three times a lady? Three strikes you’re out?

I wasn't going to write a report for this race. I'm still hesitant to put into words what happened out there. It wasn't the race I wanted to happen, but it was the race that happened.

42.2k in 5:29:52 (although my watch read 26.48)

I woke up Sunday morning with the usual giddy anticipation! My legs were fresh, I felt hydrated, and well rested. I was all decked out in braids and my Punk Rock Racing shirt. In the spirit of the event, I painted my nails black, too. I was ready to rock.

(big thanks to Jocelyn for photo's both taken and borrowed)

At the start I squeezed in where I could, right by the 3:40 bunny (yes, a bunny, with ears and everything) noticing there were an awfully large amount of half-marathon bibs. After a singing of the Canadian National Anthem we were off. I felt great.

As we surged along I fell into an easy pace and was shocked to find an 8:51 1st mile. Oops. I pulled it in to a manageable pace in the low 9's but, in classic Jenna style, I managed to trip over a median, landing hard on my right leg. I don't know if that had anything to do with anything, but shortly after the fall I felt my first twinge of the dreaded piriformis. As the running continued the twinge grew into pain. By the end of mile 2 I knew I was screwed. I began limping and had to pull off by mile 3. I felt panic and dismay. I began crying a bit, but tried to hide it and keep moving. I was limping hard at this point. When I saw my sister and tall boy at the 9k point and I burst into tears. The pain was getting intense. This was not going as planned. After a good assisted stretch, I headed back out to try to make up lost time. I knew I’d see them again at the 20k point, but I wished it was sooner.

I felt good again as I took off and tried to readjust my goals. Ok, so no PR, but maybe still in the 4:30 range? That would be good, then BAM, off the road again. I couldn't keep moving and had to limp along. I was trying to negotiate in my mind how the hell I was going to make it to 20k. I really started to feel like a failure. Visions of DNF began to dance in my head.

When I saw tall boy and Jocelyn I was trying to smile for the camera, then I lost it and went down hard. I had tall boy push on my butt with all his strength but I didn’t feel anything. I felt so dehydrated, despite drinking at every stop and I was already covered in salt. As I tried to stand back up, my body collapsed under me. I couldn’t support myself on my right leg. The pain was like nothing else. I tried again and again. I saw fear in my sister and tall boy's faces and I knew I wasn't looking good. They asked if I wanted to stop. For some reason I couldn’t say yes. I focused on standing on my own accord. The plan was to try to run a bit with Alex and if I couldn’t go, I would be done. My sister gave me the best motivation when I was losing my mind, she said, "I know you're in a lot of pain, but you look really skinny!" Well, hell yeah! I told her to make sure she got a picture on my next round. Tall boy started off with me to test out the leg. It was working so I kept moving. They said they’d be at the 32k mark. Nothing has ever seemed so far away.

I started hitting k signs as I went, saying to myself, “Hell yeah, you’re still moving!” I told myself, "Look, we are doing this. We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way, it's your choice, but WE ARE DOING THIS!" The pain in my sciatic nerve had finally died down to something manageable, but it was replaced my pain everywhere else. That pain I could deal with. I felt my smile return and sent out a text my crew so they could relax. I started to blast Depeche Modes’ “Personal Jesus” (over and over and over again) and I got to a sign that said "Sorry, just a little out and back" which made me laugh, Canadians are so polite. I started just trying to have fun. I was yelling at people who were cheering, I gave a woo-hoo to the band that was kicking ass. I took every orange and banana I saw. We ran through a trail like part where I had to take out my ear buds and simply smile. We ran along the water with views of Toronto that were so breathtaking I felt like a kid. I started acting like a complete ass every time I saw the camera. As a former actress, I know how to turn it on when I need to.

I ran into Jocelyn and Alex around the 32k mark, or close to mile 20. I smiled and waved even though I couldn’t feel my toes on one foot and my back was killing me. Jocelyn ran with me for awhile and warned me of the Mind-f that was up ahead. You could see the finish line. How messed up. From then on out it was a mind game for me. After Jocelyn left everything began to hurt again with intensity. A small crew of us leap-frogged each other along the last 5 miles, shouting encouragement and commiserating on our pain. I had been limp-running and overcompensating and I was really feeling it. It felt like bones were rubbing together in my left knee. Speed bumps felt like freakin’ mountains.

Finally I hit the straightaway to head to the finish. It seemed endless. I told a police officer at Mile 24.5 that I’d changed my mind and I didn’t want to do this anymore. I thought about burning my shoes. I was never going to run again. Ever. This was it. As I came round the corner to the finish chute I couldn’t see the end. I saw tall boy’s dad and step mom and began to cry a bit, then I started shouting “Where the hell’s the damn finish?!?!”

(you can see me shouting it here)

Finally I saw it. I waved to Alex and Jocelyn and smiled for the cameras, crossed the finish line and burst into tears as everything began to hurt in a white hot intensity.

I hit my last-ditch-dear-god-please goal of sub 5:30.

Someone asked me at dinner (that I couldn’t eat) why I didn’t take a DNF. I was in so much pain, why didn’t I stop? I have no idea. I guess I had questions I needed to work out. If I hadn’t been able to run with Alex after the 20k, I would have stopped, I’m only half-stupid, but I couldn’t live with the “what if”. I’m happiest when I’m running. Despite the pain, the heat, the sunburn, running makes me happy and the thought of not running at that moment was more than I could deal with.

I don’t have any words of wisdom or feel-good sentiments to add. I honestly feel empty and really down on myself. This one has taken a big hit on me psychologically. I keep replaying it in my head and I don’t have any answers.

Too bad the best way for me to figure things out is to go for a long run.

I guess I might hold off on burning my shoes, for a little while at least.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Philadelphia Marathon Recap!

This was just nuts.

My first marathon I ran in 5:44:56.

This marathon, I was hoping to sub-5, I was praying to hit 4:45...never in a million years did I expect to run what I did....


I feel giddy, stupid, over the moon....I don't was a perfect run.

The morning of the race I woke up at 4am. I hate waking up, even for things I'm excited about. I think I swore several times as I tried to hit the snooze button...I am really not a morning person...I would have killed for a mimosa. Tall boy had KT taped my knees the night before, and the people had taped my foot at the expo. And I wore the damn DEVIL brace (more on that later!) so I was locked and loaded.

I met up with Jenn (@purpleshoe and dailymile fame) and we headed to the start. It was freaking cold outside! I do not like to be cold. I was freezing my boobies off. I hate being fucking cold. I do not do well in the cold. I’m a crabby, crabby girl. I contemplated wearing pants, but Jenn kept saying “By 10:00 it will be 50!” When we were huddled up trying to keep warm pre-race, I was seriously doubting my sanity! I looked up and thought I recognized someone. I did a triple take and realized it was my sister! She totally surprised me. The night before I had talked to her and she said she had a brunch date with her friend the next morning so I really wasn’t expecting her. I mean brunch = mimosas, I’m no fool, I know my place! It was the best surprise and she did my hair for me!

Time seemed to move by slowly as we waited. After a last minute emergency pee stop (out by 7am on the dot!) Jenn and I grabbed hands and made our way to our corral. I knew she was way faster than I, but I thought I could maybe hold on for the first 6 or 13.1 miles. As we were waiting, a feeling of calm joy came over me. I started to smile. That smile hardly left my face for the next 26.2 miles. And then we were off!

Miles 1-6 passed by in a blur, seeing Tall Boy and Jocelyn was amazing! I wanted to skip and dance, I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having.

Mile 1 - 9:24
Mile 2 - 9:32
Mike 3 - 9:29
Mile 4 - 9:52
Mile 5 - 9:48
Mile 6 - 9:19
Mile 7 - 9:42

Initially, I was having a bit of a tough time adjusting to Jenn’s pace and dodging people in the crowd. It was like navigating Times Square at Christmas. Move people! By mile 8, I decided to let Jenn go and run my own race, I was wasting too much energy negotiating the crowds trying to keep up and I worked too hard to blow it now

Mile 8 - 10:08
Mile 9 - 9:46

At mile 10, the BRACE OF DOOM started to make its presence known. Yes, I had applied about a gallon of body glide and Vaseline, but part of the metal on the inside of brace started to cut into my leg. BAD. I knew I couldn’t keep going with this pain. I would ultimately be forced to stop. What to do? I could risk taking off my knee tape, but what if it didn’t stick? I looked down at my gloves and I totally MacGyvered that bitch up! I took the glove and put it around the stay of the brace, alleviating the pain! I felt like a damn genius. (If you look in the photos you can totally see the glove!)

Mile 10 - 10:20
Mile 11 - 9:48
Mile 12 - 9:47
Mile 13 - 9:55

I spotted Tall Boy and Jocelyn around the halfway mark. It was so much fun seeing them, I think I jumped around a little bit! I also passed Jenn around this point too, she told me she had been throwing up, I tried to run/walk with her for a bit, but I had to push on. I am so proud that she made it! Most people would have walked off the course at that point.

Mile 14 - 10:14
Mile 15 - 10:11
Mile 16 - 10:40
Mile 17 - 10:22
Mile 18 - 10:25

I saw my sister and tall boy around this point too, right before a big hill. They really helped me keep going. This stretch was particularly tough. On this course there are not one, but two points where you go out and back. This stretch was endless. I kept shouting “Where the F is the turnaround?” When I got there it was a little pole in the middle of the road. A pole. Seemed so anti-climatic, so I did a little dance to make it a bigger deal then it actually was.

Mile 19 - 10:08
Mile 20 - 10:40

I had a bit of a freak out at this point. I knew I was making really, really good time. I did some quick math in my head and realized I could finish in 4:23…I had to stop myself from thinking that way. My plan this whole marathon was mile by mile. Just run this mile; just make it one more mile.

Mile 21 - 10:20
Mile 22 - 10:23

At this point, I knew I was lying. Here is an actual conversation I had in my head…
Me – Just one Mile
Me 2 – Liar.
Me – no really, you can totally walk after this one mile…
Me 2 – Why are you lying to me…
Me – fine, I’m lying, but come on, just run one mile, you can do it…you can run one mile!
Me 2 – Fine, but you owe me…

Mile 23 - 10:14
Mile 24 - 10:17

At mile 24 I overheard a couple say, “Look at Jenna, she’s smiling!”

Mile 25 - 10:20

At 25.5 (Garmin mile), I became exhausted. Just tired. I wanted to go to sleep. And remember that brilliant glove-brace idea I had? Yeah, well, it pushed the brace out to a weird angle which left me with a giant painful blister on the inside of my foot. Oh, it hurt so bad. But I knew I had to keep moving….Keep moving….I couldn’t stop smiling….

Mile 26 - 10:24

This was it, I felt strong, I was picking people off, I was passing people, I saw the finish line! I couldn’t believe it….my face hurt from smiling….I just kept pushing. I raised my arms above my head and I crossed!

Mile .44 - 9:07

Total time 4:25:32

What the hell!!!! I was torn between wanting to cry, wanting to dance, wanting to lie down and take a nap, wanting to drink a beer….I saw tall boy and Jocelyn running over to me! I got my medal. I got a space blanket (I love those and they ran out at the San Diego Marathon, so this was my first one!) I felt like a rock star. I was so happy. I begged for help getting my brace off….my cut was bad, pretty nasty, but the blister was huge! I begged the medical tent people to pop it. They would not. I begged for ice for my knees. The guy handed me two ice packs and looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at me. Finally I asked for the plastic wrap stuff to put it on and someone came over to help. Then I made it back to the finishers area for a banana (heaven!) apple juice, a pretzel (oh yes!) and chicken broth (genius!) and my amazing crew had bought me a seltzer (better than vodka!)

Overall, my experience was amazing! The crowds yelling my name and tall boy and my sister being there was unbelievable. Words cannot describe (although I sure as hell used a lot of them here)

I feel like a rock star....

(photos are from jocelyn at