Thursday, June 04, 2009

what's in you wednesday (part 2)

Forewarning: This marathon post is just about as long as the marathon that we ran on Sunday. You might want to be well rested and have a sufficient amount of food available to replenish your energy stores as you read it. At a minimum, consume 2-4 ounces of fluid at least once every 45 minutes.

Charlie and I sprang out of bed at 4:00 on Sunday morning, got dressed, scarfed down a bagel and banana and while my husband drank two cups of coffee from the miniature pot in our hotel room, I guzzled down a bottle of Gatorade and popped two Tylenol.

Just before we walked out of our room to check out, I remembered that I needed to pump.

Twenty minutes later, when Charlie ran to drop our stuff off in the car, I hailed a taxicab which would take us - as close as possible - to the start line.

Once we were dropped off at the race, Charlie went to a Starbucks where he had his third cup of coffee, while thinking that this was quite possibly the first time in his entire life he's had three cups of coffee before 5:30 AM.

We then made our way over to the start where we were reunited with Margaret, who had taken a Team-In-Training bus to the start line. People that actually live in San Diego aren't allowed on the Team-In-Training bus. So we either have to ride our bike to the start, take a taxi, walk, or have someone drop us off at 5:15 AM. Sadly, no one that we know likes us well enough to do that.

(Notice Margaret settled on the hat. I think it looked better than the visor.)

Once reunited with Margaret, we stood with at least 1,000 other people, while waiting our turn for a port-a-potty.

While we waited, I convinced Margaret to peel off her warm jacket and expose her body to the 50 degree temperatures and drizzle so she could show me the shirt that she had made up with all of the names of the people that she was running in honor - or memory - of.

Look closely, you can actually see goosebumps and the hairs on her arms standing on end.

We finally had our turn in the port-a-potty and then, we all set about stretching.

We dropped off our gear to be picked up at the end of the race, and suddenly - it was time to start. We made our way to the race corrals and we heard the gun signal the start of the race.

But instead of charging out of the gate, we all decided that we had to use the port-a-potty.


I suppose that's what will happen when you have a case of the nerves.

And you consume three cups of coffee and 24 oz of Gatorade.

Even though we didn't start running until several minutes after the gun went off, there was still a large number of people waiting to cross the start line. While we made our way to the start, the Master of Ceremonies was telling everyone that THIS was the earliest party in all of San Diego.

We crossed the start and we took off RUNNING.

Almost immediately, we could hear the first band playing.

We marveled at all the athletes who were running this race alongside us - and all of the purple Leukemia & Lymphoma Society shirts that were being worn by people who had flown in from all over North America.

I ran for about a mile and a half before telling Margaret and Charlie that it was important for me to "pace" myself. So, I slowed down to a walk while Margaret charged ahead. Charlie - being the devoted husband that he is - slowed down to walk pace himself with me.

Now, I think it's very important to add here that I really could have kept running if I wanted to. Or, if I was being chased by a hungry bear. But, I wanted to soak up the experience and I didn't want to rush my way through it. And since my feet were falling asleep, I didn't want to face plant on the asphalt before I reached mile two.

AND, the primary reason Charlie slowed down is because he genuinely loves me and not just because I had all of the food that we'd need during the day.

As we wound our way around San Diego, we saw some amazing people. Like this woman who is blind and yet, has run 12 marathons with her white cane.

(I think she beat me.)

We saw this couple who had been married the day before and were celebrating their honeymoon by running a marathon. Notice how it says "Just Married" on the back of their shirts?

(I think they beat me, too.)

We saw a pod of superheroes including Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Batman and Robin, Mr. America, The Incredible Hulk and Catwoman.

(Most of them beat me. Although I'm fairly certain Superman didn't because he is carrying beer in that bag and was three sheets to the wind by Mile 17.)

We saw these guys who looked to be dressed up as rodents. I don't think they were actually in the race. Although if they had been, I'm pretty sure I would have beat them.

(Especially if they kept their costumes on.)

I saw people who wore leg braces and arm braces and ankle braces.

I saw people who were running on behalf of education, stroke and diabetes.

I saw this couple who was running on behalf of the Children's Tumor Foundation.

(I'm pretty sure they beat me.)

We saw a lot of bands. But this was one of my favorites. I stopped running long enough to dance a little jig and take some pictures.

How could you possibly resist dancing when some one is playing a stand up bass and some one else is playing the washboard?! Besides, when you're running your first marathon, it's not like you have a personal best time to beat.

We ran through a ton of hydration stations. I made a concerted effort to search out the nearest trash can because it is against EVERYTHING in my nature to throw trash on the ground.

(I'm sure that my desire to be environmentally conscious cost me quite a bit of time.)

And then ... OH LOOK!!!

We made it to 10K!!!

I should probably add here that the first woman to cross the finish line, was more than half way through the race by the time I had completed six miles.

But I'll bet she didn't stop and dance.

Charlie stuck with me throughout the entire race.

This was very nice of him to do although I felt like the old gray mare slowing down the feisty stallion. At several points along the course, I would encourage him to run to the next mile marker and see how long it would take for me to arrive.

When I'd finally catch up - huffing and puffing - he'd say, "That wasn't so bad. I've only been here for five or six minutes."
If you were to deduct that time across a distance of 26 miles, Charlie could have easily shaved at least two hours off his finish. Of course, if he was in this race strictly for time, he'd never take a moment to enjoy standing in the middle of a freeway with his hands over his head.

I'm all about life's simple pleasures.

(And photographic opportunities.)

This was my absolutely favorite music stop on the course.

I loved their drumming and I kept the tempo of the beat they were playing in my head for the rest of the race while imagining that I was part of some African tribe running through the brush.

Remember Superman? Here he is replenishing his on-course-carry bag with beer from his running companion. The guy in the yellow shorts was RUNNING with a cooler on wheels behind him for at least the first 15 miles.

By the time I saw these guys, I was really missing Henry.

It had been at least 20 hours since I'd last nursed, the pain was starting to settle in and I'd begun to think that perhaps bringing my hand held pump on the course might not have been such a bad idea, after all.

But then - just a short while later - my mind was distracted when I realized that we were already half way finished with the marathon. And what I'd later realize is that by the time I had arrived at this midway point, the woman who had come in first had already been finished for 45 minutes. I'm guessing she didn't stop and pose for any pictures or thank the cheerleaders who were lining the sides of the road, though.

Nor did she stop and use the port-a-potty five separate times like I did.

During the second part of the race, we saw a whole lot of inspirational signs.

Like this one, telling everyone that they are powerful.

We are powerful, you know. Even you, the person who is eating a bag of Hershey Kisses and pondering the last time you exercised ... YOU ARE POWERFUL.

I saw this sign, which made me smile because this sign was actually made by the group of women who got me started running (or briskly walking) in the first place.

Way to go Moms In Motion!!

Let's hear it for Flower Power!!

There was this sign which I'm fairly certain was for me.

Even though the girl on the sign looks absolutely nothing like me.

And then there was this sign - which was very similar to numerous other signs along the route being held by cancer survivors - which made me stop and tell the people how fortunate I felt to be completing this race for THEM.

And then I saw this sign, which was a cruel joke because there were no margaritas at the next exit. Believe me. I looked.


Then I saw Superman again. During this particular stretch of the marathon, there were no bands lining the road, so Superman - who had been drinking beer for the past four and a half hours - was taking requests from nearby walkers and runners and belting out whatever songs they suggested through his hip-mounted megaphone.

Here he is his singing "You're The One That I Want."

(Punctuated with a lot of hiccups.)

I passed a group of running Elvises.

Or Elvi, as they so often refer to themselves.

I've heard that a lot of runners say that they "hit a wall" at 20 miles and I can so easily see now, why that happens. In large part - because 20 miles during this particular race was at the top of a hill. And even though you might feel like you're getting close to the end, you still have SIX POINT TWO MILES to go.

The next six miles were really a blur. I tried to block out the pain in my legs and just stay focused on getting to the end. And then, we were there.

Twenty six miles loomed before me and we had just a mere two tenths of a mile left to go.

So we ran and oddly enough, I had more energy during this last stretch of the race than I'd had for the prior six hours and fifty some odd minutes.

We arrived at the finish line and were greeted by Margaret - who had arrived an hour earlier - and her two sons, Alexander and Brian. We were also greeted by my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill, who had flown in to California from South Carolina, the day prior.

My Uncle Bill was right there waiting for us - just like he said he would be - and I don't think I've ever seen him look so happy or proud. He said that he was having one of the best experiences of his life, watching everyone run across that finish line.

(Particularly the 84-year old man who ran across a few moments before we did.)
As I've written before, my Uncle Bill is currently battling stage four cancer. He has endured numerous rounds of chemotherapy. He has been told that he only has months, if not weeks, left to live. But that was years ago.

Today, he believes that the reason he has survived - and is surviving - is because he has always tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle and because he will not give up. This man wants to live. He wants to be a part of life. He wants to set goals for himself - and see those goals through.

So when my Uncle Bill told me that he wants to run the next marathon with me, I tend to believe that he means it.

And ... based on my finish time, there's a fairly good chance he'll beat me.


How are you doing with your goals?

Have you set any - and if not, what is stopping you?

Do you not realize that YOU ARE POWERFUL and you can do just about anything that you put your mind to?

I, for one, have had to keep reminding myself of this the past few days because it seems my legs have forgotten how to walk.


  1. Okay, Here I am at work sitting here with tears in my eyes. YOu guys really do ROCK.

    Loved all the pictures. Loved Margaret's T shirt, {cried at all the names I knew}. And I must say, Uncle Bill looks GREAT!!! I think he will complete the next marathon..

    How about Boston in 10????? We could have family hydration stations along the way, followed by a Megafamily reunion.

    See You all in April...


  2. I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this post and reading about your marathon experience.

    You've inspired me to set an ambitious goal for a happy couch potato who has never much been into running. I've roped in a bunch of friends and we're going to do the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May 2010 - assuming Pgh manages to hold one, otherwise we may try to pick one in our home state.

  3. Congratulations, J. I'm mighty proud of you.

    Is this the right time to tell you that I'm planning to buy rollerblades when I get back to S.D. so that I can rollerblade up to the store for those forgotten odds and ends every couple of days instead of drive, and I'm thinking maybe there's a former marathon runner up the block who'll want to join me?

    You're adoring fan,

  4. Awesome post!!!!!! So inspiring!!!! Good for you, you did it!!!!

  5. I was doing great until I saw Marg's shirt....then I cried for the rest of the Blog. You guys rock!


  6. Well done to you all. I admire you so much. Your husband is a sweetheart for pacing with you!!

  7. This is amazing Jen! I am so proud of you for completing this. And your story is wonderful and inspiring to hear. I had tears in my eyes the whole time I read this. AWESOME! Way to go!

  8. Jen, YOU ARE AMAZING! It's so inspiring to read your story, even just your daily life as mom of 4, but to see you do's really & truly such an accomplishment on so many levels. It makes me think about what I can accomplish. Ok, not signing up for a marathon yet, but I'll start with a 5K. Go Jen!!

  9. Well done all of you, what an achievement. You must feel like you can conquer the world now - and you probably can! As I've commented before - you are truly inspirational.

  10. I think it is incredible that and your husband participated in the marathon! I'm not sure why, but I read this post with tears streaming down my face...Way to go!!

  11. WOOOOOOOOOOOHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You are a rockstar! I love California, with all those characters running with you, and all those awesome bands. Great idea. So, so, so proud of you, and so glad I was a (tiny) part of supporting you. Get lots of rest and ice cream in you asap, you deserve it!

  12. I've also been just waiting to hear all about the marathon! You are all awesome for running in it! Really impressive and inspiring. And thanks for sharing your experience and great pics!

    My sister (who has run marathons) said that preparing for a natural childbirth was like preparing for a marathon. So let's say what I'm currently doing is preparing for a 10k... not completely natural, but trying for a VBAC! But I don't think I'll allow pics of the whole thing, especially not on the internet! hehe.

  13. Dad and Kathleen6/4/09, 11:55 AM

    Charlie and Jen:
    We are very, very proud of you and all your hard work in getting across the finish line! And for such an important cause,too.
    We had a mini-marathon that was a win for all of us at home while you 2 were away. The children were absolute angels....only 1 time out the entire day, night and day. We just loved being able to smooge with them, get to know them as precious individuals. Read, snuggle, make up stories, meditate....yes meditate where Elizabeth actually fell asleep.
    Lots of fun dling crafts and playing poker. The 12 old National Geographics we brought to cut out time were great hits. Henry slept well and DID NOT MISS NURSING ONE BIT! So this should help when you go away to work?
    We were not at the finish line, yet we were at the start, middle and end of 2 perfect days and 1 night with our darling grandchildren. We almost took 3 home with us.....
    Glad we could be there in the wings to support you both. We will be there again, for your next one, too!
    Love and missing the children!
    Dad and Kathleen

  14. Absolutly amazing. I am so proud of you. Your pictures and story is aww inspiring!

  15. Yep, I had tears in my eyes while reading this post, too. I've been talking with my husband about joining him for our city's Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving~ you've inspired me! Thanks!

  16. This post was so much fun. I just loved the whole thing. You guys are awesome.

    Now I really want to know how Henry did without his awples.

  17. I don't know how you do it, but you always seem to make me laugh and cry when I read your posts! Maybe it's the preggo hormones racing throughout my body right now... BTW, I found the 64oz water jug you gave me back in 2004! It's all cleaned up and ready to be used for another 9 full months!
    Thanks again!
    Love you guys!
    --Lorie ;)

  18. Awesome --- kicking myself.....I should have gone down there and been a cheerleader.

  19. Very awesome. You guys are an inspiration!

    My boyfriend is quite into running, I want to get him running marathons for charity and see what kind of funds we can raise to do our part.

    Notice how I didn't once say, "WE" will be running. I'm just sending him off on this mission alone... LOL.

  20. What am awesome post, you guy DO rock! I almost let my rice burn because I didn't want to stop reading... I'm so proud of ya'll!

  21. Congratulations! Not only did you complete a marathon, you helped work toward a cure for cancer. You have also inspired many of us. I've been waivering about the triathlon I'm planning to do this September. There are never enough hours in the day and training seems to be the last thing on the list. Well, your post has helped me find my resolve and determination. Thank you!

  22. You guys are incredibly inspirational!! Way to go!!!

  23. First, I have to say that these pictures and your marathon experience are awesome. I am completely in awe of you and your husband (and Margaret).

    Now, as for me and my goals - well, I keep finding excuses not to go to the garage and work out on the elliptical or do the couch to 5k program. Ultimately, I'm just lazy and would rather watch tv. But, I have decided what my first goal towards a healthy being will be: no more liquor or cigarettes. I'm leaving in 2 days to visit my friend and newborn for 2 weeks. She's breastfeeding, so she's not drinking, and smoking around a newborn is just plain wrong. I'll be with her for 2 weeks, so hopefully I'll be completely detoxed from the nicotine by the time I return home. The drinking isn't so bad, actually. I rarely drink as it is, but since I'm trying to have a baby, I think I'll just cut it out all together.

    To pull me through the times I just want to give in, I'm just going to think of you doing this marathon with feet that don't always cooperate with you (or is it just your blood? lol), and the blind lady you saw at the marathon.

  24. LOVE all the pics, looks like such a blast. I am inspired to go forward... busy with such a big project that has the potential to really impact people's lives. Have been procrastinating a bit but no more sista! I am powerful!

  25. You know I think it took me longer to comment on this post then it took you "all" to run the whole thing all together. All my kids
    (( well, not M.E.)) read this post...looked at the wonderful pictures and felt such pride.

    Great Post! I think this one was my favorite!

    Love to you all ~ Lisa

  26. Good for you, Jen! "Met" you on the duckie board long ways ago. I am running the Chicago marathon in October for Team Autism....and up until training for this have never run more than 5 miles! SO you think it's doable??? We'll see!!

  27. Great job and wonderful pictures. Uncle Bill looks so happy as do you all.

  28. Well, my progress is certainly not a marathon - GREAT JOB on that by the way - but I have lost five pounds in 10 days by loosely following the weight watchers plan, but mainly by doing Walk Away the Pounds with Leslie Sansone. It's a great exercise DVD that includes arm work and a little core work along with "walking", for a workout that equals 3 miles. I do it three tiems a week with a neighbor and twice a week alone.

    On the other hand, my daughter and her friend made O'Henry bars last night....

    I really love the pictures you took as you ran your marathon. What an accomplishment for you - and for those whom your fund raising has benefitted.

  29. Jen,

    I have to delurk on this post. Congratulations to you, Charlie and Margaret! Wear your medals proudly as that is quite an accomplishment. I personally hate running, but I love how I feel when I am done so it all makes it worthwhile. And to run for a cause helps get through the mental aspect of the run.

    Enjoy the high as long as you can!



  30. One of many cuzzins!6/6/09, 5:04 PM

    WOW! I can barely see through my tears.

    Actions speak louder than words and these photos with you, Maggie & Charlie send a very loud and inspirational message. I have such admiration and respect for you three. The amount of money raised is phenomenal. Your family... both near and far, are very, very proud.

    Uncle Bill looks wonderful! He is still the handsomest guy around. I believe he will run in a marathon...and he'll probable cross it before the three of you.

    Margaret's shirt was so moving. I am so grateful that she included me amoung the honorees.

    You guys really are awesome. And, hot diggity dog, I can say I'm related to that team!

    Great job! Hope you'll come do Boston one year.


  31. That was fun, Jen! So glad I could experience the excitement of the marathon through your pictures and story.