My Road to Boston

CHAPTER 1

My marathon dream started with The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Sept. 2006. I thought if I could walk 26.2 miles then I could run it, right? Well was I surprised how different running was! I really enjoyed the walk and raising money for breast cancer, since I had personally know over 20 women who had battled breast cancer. I enjoyed participating in it for four years and raised thousands of dollars. I loved it because with all the training hours I was putting in, it allowed me time to think and pray for those with the disease, even those I didn't know!

After the first three years of participating in the Avon Walk, I decided I wanted to see if I could run the distance 26.2 miles. I started training for the LA Marathon in September and ran my first race EVER May of 2009. Yes, I know I was crazy and went straight for the marathon; I didn't even know about a 5K or 10K back then! My finish time was 4:15, and I was pretty pleased with it. But I didn't train smart, didn't fuel right, didn't recover correctly....I had a lot to learn!

 

CHAPTER 2 - God Carried Me Through 26.2

My first marathon wasn't pretty! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had done the training, so I thought! My longest endurance training run was 20 miles, which I learned to find out wasn't far enough!

I had no idea what my pace was, nor did I own a Garmin. I had a digital watch that told me the time and nothing more, so I knew how long I was out there running. My goal was to just finish, and I thought 4:00 seemed like a reasonable time!

Several of my friends had signed up for the alerts on their phones or email so they could keep track of me during the LA Marathon. I sure needed them and their prayers to help me finish that race!

It was May 2009 and here I was 41 years old running my first marathon! First started out feeling excited and pretty good. No idea what my pace was, just running! I had read the book "Marathon, You Can Do It!" by Jeff Galloway and did the run walk up until mile 20, then I ran the rest.

Mile 20 - I was not a happy girl! What had I gotten myself into?! This was hard! My calf had tightened up and was killing me, and my opposite quad was starting to hurt. I felt like there was no way I could get through those last six miles! Then all of a sudden I started hearing coaching from behind me. The 4:15 pacer was running right behind me with her group, and she was encouraging them all along the way. I knew if I stayed in front of her I would finish, plus she kept me going by listening to her encouraging words.

Oh, and I prayed, boy did I ever pray, "Lord, please carry me through this! Bring me across that finish line!" I began to feel the power of my friends' prayers, and the pain in my legs started to go away; that or I just went numb, and I was doing it! I could feel the Lord carrying me!

The closer we got to the finish, the closer I was to my dream. The pacer kept me going, and she mentioned to make sure we smile when we cross the finish line for the camera! Camera, what camera?!! She said, "Come on!! You can do it!! You are that much closer to your finishers medal!" What?!! We get a medal?!! I was such a newbie I didn't even know I was going to get a medal! How cool is this?!!!

I crossed the finish line and couldn't walk! My legs literally carried me to the finish and they were done! I met up with my husband and collapsed into his arms. He helped me hobble over to the grass and tried to help me stretch out. It was tough making my way back to the car.

Final thoughts were I did it! I rode the adrenaline high for a week! There is nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line for the first time! You should give it a try!

 

CHAPTER 3 - Finding my Chi

Crossing the finish line at my first marathon, I felt elated!  Yes, I couldn’t walk, but I felt like I grew wings and flew home!  I rode the endorphin high for a week!  There just aren’t words to describe the feeling of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles!

I knew I had to do it again, and soon!  I felt like I had trained too hard to just stop, I wanted to try and maintain that level of fitness and keep going....mistake number one!
There were many mistakes I made along the way.  I didn’t fuel right, didn’t recover right, and didn’t have the proper running form.  So bring in Chi Running!  Shortly after completing my first marathon I started reading the "Chi Running" book by Danny Dreyer.  I was determined to work on my form and improve it so I would have minimal pain and recovery.  I attended a one-day workshop with Danny himself, and it changed the way the ran for the better.  Now I focus on my form and have no knee pain!

I learned it is important to recover after each marathon. Take time to repair those muscles and don’t race again too soon! I learned that lesson the hard way; I started running marathons every three months and ended up with several injuries.  Rest, recovery, fuel are all important aspects of marathon running. I researched, studied and became a personal trainer and learned by trial and error what works for me.  If you want to succeed and cross the finish line feeling strong and not totally wiped out, you need to learn what is right for YOU. There is no book out there that will tell you what will work for you, you have to take pieces of each book and apply the information and see what works for you. It's a long process, but well worth the feeling of finishing strong!

 

CHAPTER 4 - I Want More!

After crossing the finish line at the LA Marathon in May of 2009, I was hooked! "I think I really like this running thing!" No sooner than finishing LA and I was searching for another marathon to run, not knowing I should be giving my body ample time in between races to recover.

Enter the Danger Zone: too many races + minimal rest time = injury!  I figured, hey I had trained hard and wanted to maintain that level of fitness and distance so if I did a marathon every 2 months it couldn't hurt, right?  WRONG!

I ran my second marathon, The San Francisco Marathon July 2009, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (26 miles day 1 followed by 13.1 miles day 2) Sept. 2009, Long Beach Marathon Oct. 2009 and then I felt pain!  Oh pain in my hips!  I couldn't hardly walk up or down stairs, couldn't sleep on my side and couldn't run without pain.  Went to the doctor and started physical therapy for Hip Bursitis!  Lots of ice and ibuprofen and rest.  Physical therapy taught me to strengthen my glutes and core and hips!  So important for a runner!

Returned to running and slowly worked my way back to 26.2 distance.  Decided I would have plenty of time to train for the Huntington Beach Marathon in February of 2010, hey that was a full 4 months since my last marathon!  Ran it and qualified for Boston!  Wait, what?!!  I had gotten my first Garmin in Dec. and figured out what my BQ time was so I made sure I maintained that pace and actually finished in 3:46:24.

Felt the Fever again and decided I was strong and ready to go and did Palos Verdes in May 2010 and finished at 3:45:37 GETTING FASTER!!!

Followed by another San Francisco Marathon July 2010 (my favorite by the way) and finished 3:44:05  New PR!!  Wow this is amazing, so I though.

Major injury to follow...Stress Fracture of the Femoral Head of my right leg....surgery....3 screws....UGH!

 

CHAPTER 5 - Keeping My Dream Alive

I had finished the San Francisco Marathon July 2010
at 3:44:05 New PR!!

I decided to keep the training going and try for a PR of 3:30:00 at the Long Beach Marathon (Oct. 17) That would give me about 10 weeks of hard training with no recovery after the San Francisco Marathon....not a good idea!

I was doing my long training runs on the weekend and kept trying to run every long endurance run at race pace. I didn't know that this was NOT the way to train!! YOUR Long Endurance Runs are supposed to be at a slower pace, usually 20 seconds slower than your race pace! SO I was essentially racing every weekend. **Do NOT do your long slow endurance runs at race pace** Plus I was doing hill runs (running full speed down hill too, again a no no, and speed drills every week).

I was in the middle of a long run and my right side glutes were so sore that I had to stop. I just couldn't run on them anymore. I thought it was piriformis syndrome. So I stopped running until it felt better. I still cross trained with core and resistance training and felt fine, but I couldn't run at all. I was limping around horribly! After a month, and nothing was getting better I finally went to the doctor. An X-ray revealed a fracture of the femoral head and it went all the way through the bone. I had to have surgery the very next day because my leg wasn't stable in my hip and if it fell out, I would end up with hip replacement! So surgery involved 3 screws being inserted into the femoral head.

No walking, no driving, crutches for 6 weeks! Started back to walking and slow jogging after 9 weeks. Trying to work my way back to running the 26.2 distance. My surgeon told me the reason I was injured was because of my excessive training. The only way to ensure that I didn't get the injury again was to not run! He encouraged me to slowly try running again, but to always do less than I thought I could each day. I did exactly that, but still wasn't sure if I could go the 26.2 miles with screws. Would they bother me? Would I feel them? Would they cause my form to be off?

I had to find out, I didn't want to give up my goal of Boston and my surgeon said it was possible for me to run the San Francisco Marathon, which was 6 months away. But first I needed to learn to walk right again, without a limp!

 

CHAPTER 6 - Getting my Fix

Being on crutches, unable to drive, or go anywhere for that matter was quite a transition for this active mom!  I was used to doing everything efficiently and by myself because hey, my way was the ONLY way, right?!!   Well I had a very hard lesson to learn and the only way to learn it was from God.  I literally felt like God put me in Time Out.  I couldn't do anything, because it was almost impossible to stand up on crutches and cook; I couldn't go anywhere unless I had a ride from someone; I had to allow others to help….a lot!  It was very humbling to allow others to step in and "do my job" as a mom and wife, but I had to learn to accept the help and be very grateful for it!

I had a lot of time to just sit, be still before the Lord and wait.  I did a lot of waiting. At first, I felt a kind of peace that came over me.  I wasn't upset about the injury, because I knew I was there for a reason!  God had given me a peace and was teaching me to be patient and give up control.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it products a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have ben trained by it." Hebrews 12:7-11

Most impartially, God had witnessed my unraveling over the previous months.  I was literally running myself into the ground, trying to do it all, and train for marathon.  I was exhausted and needed rest!  Well, God gave me the rest I needed and time….time to spend with God which I had neglected.  You see, when I first started running it was just for fun, a time away from my crazy busy schedule and a time of prayer.  That all changed when I got my Garmin and started tracking my pace, time and distance.  I lost my focus on God and gained a focus on competition….with myself!    I started to hear my friends refer to me as a "marathoner" and I loved it!  I was being conceited with pride in my running accomplishments, no longer relying on God to guide my steps.

"...in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2 Corinthians 12:7  The words of Paul spoke deep into my soul.  God purposefully put Paul in a situation beyond his control.  He gave Paul a constant reminder of his need to rely on and connect with Him.  Without this thorn, Paul might have slipped into arrogance, but this pressing need continually reminded him of his frailty.  I could relate to Paul.  I felt as if the 3 screws placed in my femoral head was my thorn in my side, a constant reminder that I needed to rely on God, because I am weak without God.

As I prepare for the Boston Marathon, I am reminded by my "thorn" those 3 screws will remain there and I will run with that reminder, and the scar everyday.  Being thankful to the Lord for all that he has blessed me with!
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

"...offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:1-3

 

CHAPTER 7 - Lifting Up 26.2 Prayers to Heaven

I started back to running, post surgery, gradually.  My surgeon said I had to do less than I though I could.  So I took that to heart and started back doing more walking than running. 

On Christmas day, 2010 I started to run again.  I was ready to get back to running, at least in my mind.  As for my body, I wasn't so sure. How well would my femur recuperate? How well would my body respond?  And now that my qualifying time for Boston had expired, would I be able to qualify again?  Even my doctor wasn't sure my leg would hold up for long distances.  One thing I did know was that I had to try, so I started to train still not sure I could get back to my desired performance.  Thanks to what I learned from my injury and the grace of God, I was able to recover and run again.

I trained for 6 months and ran The 2011 San Francisco Marathon, my all time favorite marathon, and it was HARD! I finished it just at 4 hours so I was happy to finish, but it wasn't a Boston Qualify time.  I will have to say, I did not enjoy that race, it took a lot out of me and seemed to be so much harder than ever before! I took a break from training, and decided run a Half Marathon in November. That got me going again and I had just enough time to train for The LA Marathon March 2012.  In preparation, I ran the Disneyland half marathon, and finished with a PR 1:44:07 (average pace per mile 7:57).  I was thrilled and thought maybe I was getting my body back!

I dedicated my LA marathon to 26 people.  I took one of those paper pace bracelets (the ones you get at Clif Bar tent at the Marathon Expo) and wrote the names in order (1-26) so when I reached that mile I prayed for that person.

It was a moving and emotional race.  I barely felt like I was in the marathon! I kept my thoughts on the person I was praying for during their entire mile.  When I was starting to come to the end of a mile, I thought about ending the prayer so I could begin the next.  It was as if I was caring the burdens of others, shouldering some of their pain, lifting them up in prayer and feeling their power pulling me to the finish.  It was almost as if I was running with them, since that is where my heart was.

The marathon literally flew by, I hardly looked around to see the sights, (just kept my head down so I wouldn't slip on water cups, banana peels, and orange wedges) but kept my heart up reaching for the Lord and his blessings on others.  A moving experience.  One I will never forget.

I got the idea from a book called, "Mile Markers."

Prayer Bands: dedicating each mile to a particular person.

......."Running for someone else makes me less willing to give up and more able to withstand the pain and fatigue, knowing that someone else is drawing power from my effort.  It is an opportunity to carry a portion of someone's burden, to cover some ground on that person's behalf, to try to lighten the load by shouldering some of it on my own back.  That's endurance.  That's what moves me to move."

By the end of the marathon I had completed 26 miles and 26 prayers. I was in prayer the entire race and concentrated on them, not my time and pace.  I was shocked when I pressed "stop" on my Garmin and looked at my finish time! God blessed me with a new PR (3:43:16) and my ultimate goal, a Boston Qualifier.  I made it!

I am running The Boston Marathon April 15, and will have my Prayer Band on, lifting up others during my 26.2 miles in Boston.  It has been a long road but so thankful for the ride.

 

CHAPTER 8 - 35 Seconds Too Late

My 10th Full Marathon, My First Boston Marathon,  April 15, 2013

It just wasn't the Boston Marathon I had dreamed of, trained for....in more ways than one......

It had been an emotional time for me, having qualified 2 years ago and then ended up with a fracture in the femoral head of my right leg, then surgery and 3 screws.  Not know if I could run 26.2 miles again...but I came back and qualified and I was there!

The expo was absolutely incredible!  So emotional just being there and meeting Team Hoyt and Kathrine Switzer AND picking up my Boston Marathon Bib and goodie bag.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 5:15AM and wouldn't you know, my period had just started (sorry guys you had to read that)!  So needless to say, it wasn't a good start to my day!

I got to the bus at 6:15 and we took off on school busses for the Athletes village at 6:45, arriving at 7:45.  Had a cup of coffee, and my peanut butter and banana sandwich and stood around with the other runners (met up with Distant Runners Devon).  I was freezing!  I only brought an emergency silver plastic blanket and it wasn't keeping me warm.  Stood shivering for about 2 1/2 hours until our Wave 2 was called to head to our starting corrals.

I was at the end of Wave 2, so I didn't cross the starting line until 10:26.

Mile 1-5
I just wasn't feeling it!  Usually I am so excited and the adrenaline is flowing, I am totally pumped up and excited to be running a marathon, but not today.  For whatever reason I was just in a fog, my head wasn't in the game!  I tried to shake it off and kept telling myself, "You are running in the Boston Marathon!" But I wasn't really there.  I started out, praying for my friend Cathy, mile 1 prayer.  I was feeling the prayers coming and feeling a little better....but then a horrible headache hit me.  It was a sinus headache.  I knew I had come down with a virus the 3 days before we left for Boston and it had gotten the better of me.  The constant pounding of my feet wasn't helping my head.  My pace was OK, I kept slowing myself down, because the beginning is mainly downhill and I didn't want to use up too much energy.  I was about where I wanted to be at an average 8:20-8:30 pace per mile.

Mile 6-13
I had my first Clif Shot Gel and had been drinking my water and my headache had started to go away.  I was still praying for my friends and family each mile and taking time to look around and take in the crowds and spectators!  800,000 spectators were out and they were incredible!  Yelling and shouting out my name, encouraging us to keep going, we could do it!  It was overwhelming at times, so loud I had to tune them out so I could focus on my running!  I got to mile 13 and was feeling pretty good, as far as my pace was.  I wanted to try and speed up to 8:15 per mile pace, but I was still in a fog, my mind not in the game and my heart wasn't in it.  I told myself I wanted to enjoy the race and not worry about my finish time, but I did want to finish before 3:55:00 my BQ time....so that was in the back of my mind.

Mile 14-20
Started to slow down
Mile 13 8:43 pace
Mile 14 8:42
Mile 15 8:45
Mile 16 8:48
Mile 17 9:25
I saw my husband, Mike, at mile 17.  It was so great to see him!  He recorded a video of me running by and he cheered me on and said, "You are right on pace!"  But I wasn't.  I had slowed down by then.  I was bummed.  I kept getting slower and I wanted to push it to go faster, but I just didn't have it in my heart to do it!  Then my entire abdominal area cramped up on me.  It was as if my muscles were stuck in a crunch, I didn't know if it was my cramping from my period or my abdominal muscles being overworked.  I tried deep belly breathing, but nothing helped.  It remained like this for the duration of the race.

Mile 21 - Heartbreak Hill
It wasn't that bad, really, I made it up and over in no time, and now had the final 5 miles to go, which were mainly down hill.  I hadn't trained running downhill, since that was how I had fractured my femoral head!  Those miles were the hardest, so hard on your body after 21 miles!

Mile 22-25
I kept running along, enjoying the sounds of the crowding yelling my name, "Jody are almost done, JODY...YOU can do this!!"
My pace kept slowing: 9:20, 9:20, 9:32, 9:46....
As I headed into mile 25 I saw the Citgo sign and knew I was so close to the finish!  I kept watching my Garmin and doing the math in my head trying to figure out if I would finish before 3:55:00, because I wanted to qualify for Boston at Boston!

Mile 26.2
Last mile, Last prayer was for my husband, Mike, he deserves the extra .2 mile of prayer!  Made the final turn (where the second bomb ended up going off 30 minutes later) and headed straight for the finish line.  I was supposed to be taking in these final steps, feeling the rise of the crowd, the cheers of the fans, the finish line chute, but all I could do was watch my Garmin....3:54...was I going to make it in time?? cross the finish line before 3:55??....NO.  As I was coming down the chute, right where the first bomb ended up going off, I saw my Garmin...3:55....I....was...crushed....  I crossed the finish at 3:55:35.  I had mixed emotions.  I was glad I finished but I didn't do what I had set out to do, not the time I had hoped and trained so hard for.  I kept telling myself, you did it, you crossed the finish line at THE BOSTON MARATHON!!  It didn't hit me until they placed the medal around my neck and I picked it up to look at it, then I cried!  It took me 25 minutes to walk through the corrals to finally exit and meet my husband. I fell into his arms and cried.  He had just taken my photo with my medal when the first bomb exploded.  We were 3 blocks away.  At that moment, I didn't care about my finish time, I was just so thankful to have finished and to be alive,  God saved me and my husband from what followed.

I want to go back now more than ever!  I want a redo!  I want to run the race again, in support of Boston, I want to Run Strong.  I will never forget this Boston Marathon, I am forever changed.