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.


  1. CONGRATS SISTER! You are amazing. Way to push through and just have fun! It was fun to cheer for you (after worrying for the first 1/2 marathon). We run because it makes us feel awesome, and even though you were limping like a fool by the end, I know you got a nice runners high in there too! Thanks for letting me be apart of your 3rd marathon :) LOVE YOU! YOU ROCK!

  2. You're totally my hero! Be proud of this, because it shows you have GUTS!

  3. Finishing this marathon, in my opinion, is more impressive than any PR you've run. You knew you were hurt before you even started and, when you're body reminded you of this, you pushed through the pain and finished.

    When it's all said & done, You got to use "white hot" in a sentence AND you got a finish line photo with a lady walking with a purse.

    Very impressive.


  4. Congrats Jenna!

    You are amazing.. from start to finish you were in pain and you kept going.. you pressed on when you didnt want to and finished.

    weather you think so or not, you did amazing and when your ready *as long as you dont burn them* your running shoes will be there waiting for you!!!

    great great job girl! i'm so so so proud of you!!


  5. Being far far away, and getting Pain Reports, was tough. Let's face it, what mom wouldn't worry. Then, the report came, that you were smiling in the 2nd part of the race, and I knew, once again, that you would win in the mind over matter battle. Congratulations. Impressive Run and I agree with PunkRockRunner that this was more impressive than any PR.

    Great shots of you, Tall Boy, and Jocelyn. I especially love the last shot. Mom

  6. yeah man... inspiring stuff there youngin'! You got the Bling, you did the shirt proud (HTFU), you did yourself proud... heal fast, because there are many more to run (when you are healthy!)

  7. Just freaking outstanding. You are stronger than you think Jenna.

    Congrats to you on an incredible marathon. You pushed past all the pain and made it happen!!!!


  8. You my Dear are much stronger than you give yourself credit for! A lesser mortal (and by that I mean me) would have not been able to hang on until the end.

    You finished. You looked super cute. And you got an awesome pic with tall boy. And this Canadian is thrilled we hosted your third! :o)

  9. Absolutely brutal and I'm sorry you had to endure that. That said, you are supremely bad-ass. Tip of the cap to you. Except I'm not wearing a cap, so I'll raise my pint glass in your honor. Rock out.

  10. really sounds like you went through it all there.. enjoy your medal - hang it high, its well deserved!!

  11. When you finish the really "tough" ones it's a HUGE accomplishment! it is a PR in a completely different sense!! remember-you FINISHED a marathon! There are SO many people that will NEVER do that! And this year alone you have run 3!

    CONGRATS!!!! You are a Punk Rock Rockstar!!!

  12. Jenna! You are so strong! What a crazy experience. Your photos are awesome. The cameras love you :-)