Saturday, November 12, 2011 Posted by admin at 11:51 am

My Magical Marathon Journey

The entire Marathon process was such an incredible journey from the beginning, truly magical.  Committing to a marathon when you’re 25 pounds heavier and with a little miracle inside of you is where it began.  Running a marathon was something that I had always way in the back of my mind considered as a possibility, but I thought it would happen way, way after softball. I wasn’t planning on it to be within a year and half of retiring and 4 months after giving birth to Baby #2! I was asked (it was a dare and challenge in my mind) by Timex and the main reason for saying “Yes” was that for every person I passed Timex would donate  a $1 to the New York Road Runners Youth Program.  It added to the challenge.  It wasn’t enough just to run 26.2 I would have to pass as many people as possible.

So it was a Go! Praying my delivery went well, Baby D was healthy, & my body was responding well, I was going to run! 2 weeks after giving birth I was hitting the road one foot in front of the other focused on the goal of 26.2 and money for the kids!  The Lord was so evident throughout the entire process. We even picked up a 5th family member, a stray dog who ran 10 miles with me all the way home to find himself a home. Ace was thrilled and named him Bullet and he has been just the sweetest addition to our family. Besides the many holes dug, boots chewed, possums brought to our door, overall he is a sweet little mutt and one of us now.  Getting out there and running also helped me meet an amazing local running group who have so graciously opened their arms and have treated me as one of their own.  From spin classes, telling me all about GU, getting the “right must have” socks, hitting the lonely roads with me at all hours of the day, and most importantly lifting me up in prayer.  They are an answered prayer for me being new to Louisiana and our friendship and runs will go way beyond any marathon!  Truly a blessing!

Its been so fascinating to tap into the “Running World” and having one of the world’s Top Athletes and a mom herself as a guide. I had the extreme honor of training under Coach Susanne Davis.
With her guidance I went from running 3 miles max and at a pace of over 10 minutes a mile to running 26.2 holding the pace of 9:35 through the bridges and crowds of NYC. She was incredible! I have to admit it freaked me out at times to look to the next week of workouts, or even for that matter the next days workout.  Slowly but surely I was getting them done one run at a time and building confidence daily seeing my progression.  I couldn’t of asked for a better Coach to help pull off this amazing feat.  For goodness sake running a marathon is equal to running to 1st base over 2,400 times. That tells you just how much I was out of my comfort zone!  Working with the Timex GPS Run Trainer allowed me to track all my workouts constantly look at my numbers, pace, heart rate, distance, cadence, more numbers than I knew what to do with.  It’s truly a wearable computer on your wrist! I was able to log all my workouts and upload them to Training Peaks where Coach Davis could then see, critique, and plan.  For me it was accountability too, I wanted to impress her and make sure I was doing her workouts just as she had planned.  I have to admit too selfishly it was a little about getting back into my skinny jeans.

After a 12 week crash course transforming me into a marathon runner we packed up both boys and headed for the Big Apple. I had three days of media, interviews, a signing, and a photo shoot for Women’s Running Magazine.  It was a marathon even before the marathon began.  I had the extreme honor of representing Timex for the race, along with my long time sponsor, Mizuno, and worked with Catalyst Public Relations, too.

New York has an energy like no other, it was a blast going from one studio to the next, one office to another, even if our days did start at 5 am and end many hours later.  We went over to the expo to check out the Timex booth and say hello to my friends at Mizuno.  Holy Cow I was in runners heaven.  Wall to wall running gear, body glides, GU’s, head phones, compressions, sleeves, everything and more.  Being a rookie, I was taking it all in, learning all the must haves, and getting exactly what I needed or was told I needed for race day.

We met up with my Godsend of a team at 5am the morning of the marathon. Coach Susanne Davis, Kelly Fillnow (my pacer/angel), and dear friend Dina Kwit the Chicago Bandits Team
photographer/marathon stud!  The Timex bus filled up quickly and we headed over.  I have to say it took me back to the Olympics heading over to the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing.  There was an endless line of busses, a pile of credentials, thousands of people.  My stomach sank and my heart started racing.  It finally hit me, I had to run 26.2 miles and not only run that far but I felt the pressure of wanting to pass as many people as I could for a great cause.  It was the ‘game day’ feeling. The pressure was piling.  I was trying to stay calm knowing I still had 5 more hours to go before I would start.  As the people started piling in by the thousands, getting out sleeping bags, foil blankets, beanies, gloves, they set up shop trying to stay warm.  Bands were playing throughout the crisp New York air, it was the Woodstock of Marathons.  Luckily we were blessed to have a tent set up with snacks, coffee, gatorade, and a heater.  We got comfortable, waited and waited some more.  I was able to mingle with the other athletes, Apollo Ohno, Mark Messier, Dr. Andy Baldwin aka The Bachelor, Trista & Ryan Sutter, trying to help pass the time and help distract my anxious nerves.  Finally hours later the tent cleared out and everyone had left.  It was my turn to run, I was starting dead last out of over 47,000 people.

We went over to the starting line, watched the last wave of thousands and thousands of people take off like herded cattle.  I was covered in chills as “God Bless America” filled the air followed by “New York, New York!”  Amazing!  Luckily, I had an interview with NBC to distract me once again.  Finally it was our time to take off, our team of four all lined up at the start.  We started our Timex GPS watches, Coach Susanne, Kelly, and Dina took off.  I followed just as I would do for the next four hours, one step at a time moving from dead last passing as many people as possible and there were plenty of people ahead to pass.  There was clothes all over the bridge, people packed shoulder to shoulder, we had to start passing immediately. My body at this point was numb, taking in the breathtaking view of Manhattan.  It was on, I had to maintain a pace, I had to keep gaining ground in order to reach our goal.  I was overwhelmed with emotion all throughout the race.  So many people, so many causes, so many brave courageous people joined going for one goal, reaching the finish line.  Good thing I had sun glasses on!  The tears started even before the race when Kelly prayed over us and continued through out the race when I saw signs such as, for Mom, for Dad, NYPD, 9/11, Imagine a life without Cancer, I run for fun but live for the Lord. Passing so many incredible people that had physical disabilities, when Kelly told me this mile is for Diesel, this for Ace, and this for Casey, and much more. I had to tell myself many times to get it together… Honestly the first 14 miles flew by, I was floating, weaving in and out of people.  The streets lined with so many people from all over the world and local people cheering us on, offering us fresh cut fruit and filling us all with their positive energy! Their selflessness once again made the tears flow.

Mile 16 I was ready for yet another bridge, I thought if I made it through this I was in the clear or so I was told. Not quite, mile 20 was probably the toughest one steady mile that felt like 20 miles of incline.  We were racing to get to Central Park and the finish line.  The last 6 miles were tough but I was pumping it, taking advantage of some of the downhill terrain and using the leverage of my 27 inch inseam.  I can’t begin to tell you what an all star team we had.  I kept telling myself, “Jennie you need to enjoy this, soak it all in, this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.”  My three teammates made it so very easy on me, weaving in and out, shouting “it’s for the kids” as we are bumping people left and right.  My arms were bruised and sore the next day, no joke.

Coach Davis was taking care of it all, from getting me water and gatorade so I could just sprint right through the crowded hydration stations.  Coach Davis handed me salt tablets, Advil, and even reminded me of when to GU and open it up for me.  Yes, you can say I was spoiled!  These three ladies were there making it possible for me to keep on trucking as smoothly as possible.  Coach Davis constantly telling me scrunch your toes, do some high knees, butt kicks, focus on form, telling me my pace was excellent! I had to laugh as I was behind her watching her do high knees and I would try to mimic but basically unable to get them anywhere but high!  Kelly was there to give me bible verses, cheers, and share her experiences and tips with me to help carry me through it.  Dina was there to remind me of where I came from and who I am.  She reminded me of my entire softball family that was there with me.  She was awesome doing whatever was needed and just there supporting me and our endeavor.  It was a magical team and such a blessed journey to the finish.  I would take on anything with these three super women beside me!

The last 3 miles my 91 year old grandmother was on my mind and in my heart.  She is my prayer warrior and a true inspiration, she rides her stationary bike 3 miles everyday.  If she can do it, I can do these last 3 miles.  When we hit the 400 yard marker to the finish I began to sprint, or try to sprint.  The girls yelled, “Pass all of these people.  There is $100 dollars right here, get these for the kids!”  And I did.  Sprinted across the finish line looking at the best view possible, Casey and Ace!  The perfect ending to My Magical Marathon!  I immediately found the fence to use it to brace up against.  My quads were pulsing, my feet felt broken, my heart racing, I was filled with relief!

Note- Reading this through after I wrote it I realized running a marathon is like child birth.  I wrote this and mostly included the positives because they do most certainly drowned out the negatives.
I have to be honest though, I was dying, my mind battling not to give in to my body, my legs were heavy, my feet were burning, my hamstrings tightening.  It wasn’t as pretty as it sounded, but
I will keep the positives close to my heart and flush the negatives!

I DID IT!!!! Beat my goal of 4:10 and had passed as many people as possible!  I finished, 4:05 and 26 seconds, passing 30,500 people. Its hard to put into words what I was feeling afterwards. I was so very proud to accomplish something for a greater cause. It had nothing to do with me. Yes, it was an achievement for me to finish, but I was the least important factor of it all. It was about all of the kids who will benefit from the New York Road Runners Program.  So many people had helped me through this journey, I am so humbly blessed and grateful.

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to run and blessing this entire journey.  Thank you to my family who have allowed me to make the sacrifice of time, training, and preparation. Thanks for laughing at me at first then supporting me and believing in me 100%!  My friend and agent, Erin Kane, for bringing this and so many opportunities my way. Thanks for being there every step of the way and all of your hard work over the years. Thank you Timex for taking the risk of asking me mid-pregnancy and having faith in me to step up to the challenge.  I was honored to represent Timex, and so grateful for your generous donation of $30,500 to NYRR Youth Programs. Thank you Catalyst Public Relations. You guys rocked it.  Thank you for making it a terrific campaign in so many ways! Thanks to my awesome Coach Davis whom I trusted completely, following and buying into her plan from the start. Kelly Fillnow, a true blessing from above! Thank you for shining so bright and bringing His light to the journey.  Dina, thank you for your friendship, courage, and endless support. The Spar Stars, my sisters and brothers, who came up big, hitting the deserted Louisiana roads at all hours. Your friendship, fellowship, and advice are so appreciated. I’m so happy that this journey is just beginning with you all.  To all of my friends, teammates, and fans thank you all for all of your prayers, love, and support!

Thank you all for believing in me and inspiring me to take on anything!  There is so much more to do and so much more to give! It was truly a Magical Marathon!

Continued Dreaming & Believing… #27

20 Responses to “My Magical Marathon”

  1. November 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm, John LeTourneau said:

    Thanks for sharing this . It is wonderful on how you talk about Jesus and the glory you give God . Your faith is a great testimony for all to see in this world we live in today. Godspeed !
    In Christ ,
    John
    Joshua 1:9

  2. November 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm, Robyn (3girlsmom) said:

    I had the privilege of being with you the week before the race – at the JF camp in Alpharetta. You are an inspiration and an incredible role model for my daughters. It’s HARD to raise a Christian Athlete, but it’s easier with you as a guide. Congrats on your incredible finish in the marathon! What an achievement!

    We still pray for you, by name, every single night. Mary Emma adores you. Thank you for being her #2 hero and for helping point her to her #1 Hero!

    Robyn Davidson – Birmingham, AL

  3. November 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm, Katie Maddox said:

    ~inspiring!~

  4. November 13, 2011 at 2:26 am, Susanne Davis said:

    Jennie, This was a wonderful read over my coffee this morning. We had pouring rain yesterday and this a.m. it looks like a crisp, sunny NY race day. You are a great writer and always speak straight from the heart. I always tell people how nice and down to earth you are. God gave you many gifts, but your ability to share, glorify & give credit openly for all of his blessings in tweets, on face book and in person is unique. You’ve taught me I need to bring prayer back into the forefront of my life right . I trust in God, but I also like to “know” what should be my next step. I must wait upon the lord. I am thankful to have met you and it was very fun & rewarding to coach such a competitive and determined woman. I’m so happy you found a running group to keep the journey going! Please call me for any future challenges and coaching needs! I’m excited for your new chapter in life “running” and maybe a sprint triathlon! The race was an amazing experience and wonderful to meet & share it with Kelly & Dina. It was a Dream Team! You all- will be engrained in my head and heart when ever I think of New York. Susanne

  5. November 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm, Cindy Jesse said:

    You are an inspiration to just the softball world. Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for your continued dedication to softball and most of all Thank You for openly sharing your faith and love for OUR LORD!!!!!

  6. November 15, 2011 at 3:33 am, Gloria Wilson said:

    You continue to share your life and thoughts to many all over who look to you as a roll model . You have definitely made an impact on many for your love of God, family, friends and fans .You love for softball and sharing that love with families has helped the dreams of many young ladies to play in the sport of their chosing possible.

  7. November 15, 2011 at 5:49 am, Trevor said:

    u r so awesome and u write a lot

  8. November 19, 2011 at 11:35 am, Rachel Marsden said:

    Jennie, my only wish is to be like you and be as good as you and I practice 2 hours every week. I practice pitching for an hour and 30 min. Only 30 min is decated to hitting. I am only in 5 th grade. My biggest wish is to meet you, in person and to get you book and get your autograph. You inspire me in every way possible. When I watch you pitch I have a mind set to be like you and watch and learn what I can do better.My biggest problem is I don’t get myself in the ”k” position.But I loose speed when I’am not in the ”k” position but it is to hard for me to get that way when I’am pitching??????????

    Any Advice!!!!!!!!!!

    Rachel Marsden #14 Erie,Pennisalvinia

  9. November 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm, Elizabeth said:

    Loved following your journey. I also just had a baby (end of July) but unfortunately it was an emergency c-section so I was not allowed to start running for awhile. FORTUNATELY my baby girl is healthy and we just celebrated her 4 month bday! God is SO good and we are so so blessed…baby girl is a true angel. I am from NY originally but now live in the Bay Area with my football coach hubby and I am hoping with fingers crossed that I get into the NYC Marathon next year. It is my post-baby goal. Nothing as impressive as your 4 month post baby Marathon, but with it being football season I don’t get a lot of time to train…who am I kidding, I don’t even have time to shower or grocery shop half the time:-) I know I can do this though! Thanks for being part of my inspiration! Question: What are the MUST HAVE socks that your running group was referring to? I am in need of some MUST HAVE socks to take my baby girl out on our BOB Stroller runs:-)

  10. November 29, 2011 at 5:05 am, kylie tipton your biggest fan said:

    hi mrs.finch my name is kylie and i am a huge fann i am doing a project for school and i would like to know a few things…1 what is the biggest obstacle you had o overcome?.thank you !

  11. November 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm, kylie tipton said:

    Hello mrs.finch i am a HUGE fan and i have to do a project and i picked you to do it on because you are my role model will you please email me at the one above and let me know the answer to this question……..Your biggest obstacle the hardest thing you have to overcome?……………..Thank you!!!:)

  12. January 01, 2012 at 3:10 pm, Caitlyn said:

    I am so proud of you for going and running a marathon.

  13. January 05, 2012 at 12:11 pm, Amanda said:

    I love you Jennie Finch! I was wondering if you are going to do a camp in North Carolina because i would love for you to help me get in even better in softball! When i get older i want to accomplish what you did! I am 12 years old and i am in travel and hope to play in college and after!
    Amanda #6

  14. January 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm, Mark said:

    That is great work! I’m impressed that you were able to run to first base 2,400 times that fast! Passing 31,500 people must have been hard! I do think your inseam is 37 inches and not 27. :) I’m 6’1″ and I’m closer to 37 than 27. Yay for September 3rd birthdays!

  15. January 24, 2012 at 6:31 am, Shera said:

    What year did you start college

    FYI its for a school project about a biography on you

  16. February 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm, jerry davis said:

    IVE BEEN TALKIN WITH JEFF McNUTT. You really inspire us. ACE is a perfect name for your child. So glad youve been REBORN. GODBLESS US ALL. I truly remember the day. not the exact day. but i can go through the details.

  17. February 24, 2012 at 5:25 am, Britaney Shaw said:

    Dear Jennie, i didnt read the passage above but i know your my most favorite softball player other tan cat osterman i love who you are and how you play can u tell your cather to send me an email i play the position of catcher and i need help so can u tell her to post more videos on youtube and i also need help in batting iam in the 5th grade and i am on a samll scolarship to duke university on academic so all i need to do is get my batting up and maybe i will be able to attend my dream college LSU baby but anyway i love you and you are awsome

  18. February 27, 2012 at 5:06 am, Olympian Jennie Finch inspires triathlete – - CNN.com Blogs said:

    [...] a guest in the conservatory and a spectator at the finish line. Oddly enough, Jennie Finch had been racing in the marathon that [...]

  19. February 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm, skyler said:

    Hiiii,
    you prob. dont know me but im a really big fan of you! you really have tagught me to be awesome even when your down. right now im working on a book report for you about jennie finch! its an a to z poster like j: jennie finch but then i have to draw a pic of u!!:) i still dont have a lot of letters like E, F, G, H, I, K, M, N, O, P, Q, R, T, V, W, X, Y and Z!!! and its due in two days i know you wont see this but any chance you do can u email me at lisaswearingen79@yahoo.com? thanks!
    Your #1 fan for EVER AND EVER!!:))
    ~Skyler<3
    Ps~ never stop belivning and dreaming!!!

  20. February 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm, skyler said:

    you are the best pitcher ever and the whole wide world!!:) funny, i pitch to!:)

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