Friday, October 28, 2011

  Crewing ? I'm supposed to be running the Pony Express  but I'm currently in the middle of a 6 week break due to, " robust bone marrow edema consistent with stress reaction. "  It took a few days for the reality of my injury to sink in. My gait was so off it was affecting my SI joint in the opposite leg. Even my coach was urging me to back off, not something he  does often.  The pony express  was going to be my first 50 mile race. I signed up based on the low technicality of the course. It appeals to my strength, endurance. Most of my friends know I'm not a fast runner "yet" but I can go far, how far remains to be seen.
I decided to offer to crew for someone instead. I told Davy Crockett the race director that I was thinking of crewing and rolling my entry over to next year. He quickly responded with the name of a runner, Tim Long, and said he is in need of a crew. My friend Jill said "let's go!"  We will learn the course and know better how to prepare for next year. I already had the time off so what the heck. I thought if I can't run I'll be the very best crew person possible.
We decided to stay at my sisters house, I was reluctant because I like to show up early for races but Jill thought a good nights sleep was going to be important. Race morning we got off track driving to the race but luckily we ran into others trying to find the start and followed them. Jill called Tim and told him the deal so he left his things on top of his car. I was anxious because I like to feel more prepared and wanted to have a  conversation with our runner before hand. We started off down the course and Jill described what Tim would be wearing but when we saw him I did not stop at first until he waved, oops,  sorry Tim I didn't recognize you. Crewing for someone you don't know is a bit awkward.  I knew he was not used to having a crew and judging by the way we were connected to each other I assumed Tim was emailing Davy to see about running without one. 
I'm very much a communicator and like to focus on details of how to go about things in the most efficient way possible. So I'm often trying to negotiate these things beforehand not just with running but life in general. When facilitating a meeting we call this contracting. This is where you go over all the details of expectations and requirements you all have and come to agreements about things in order to eliminate as much of the guess work as possible. (a skill I want to better develop )  We did not have much time to do this but I did get a few ideas about what our guy would want during his run based off some email exchanges. We started off just giving him gels and water and driving ahead as far as he told us each stop.  I brought all kinds of extra things, clothing, batteries, mashed potatoes, assorted gels, arnica, magnesium lotion, the stick, k-tape, first aid, and even a tennis ball for IT issues.
The way I imagine this would play out was he would tell us exactly when he'd want to change his shoes, put on warmer clothes,  eat real food,and maybe even what to do when he's thinking about dropping. Maybe a safe word?? I heard Ellie Greenwood had a phrase, bangers n mash,  for her western states plan, she took first this year. My friend and lead woman Michelle, and I share the same coach, Douglas. He is an accomplished runner who has won his age group in Leadville three years and at 50 years old ran to Winfiled in under 9 hours. He told Michelle's handler (that's what he called her) that at twin lakes he wanted her to sit in a chair eat soup, change shirt  shoes and socks and have  a washcloth ready for her face. He was very specific. I also watched ,  Margaret Heaphy crew for a guy at Hardrock and observed her at several of the aid stations taking care of her runner and even massaging his feet. Something I was willing to do but not without a conversation first, lol. I asked my friend George about crewing for Marshall Ulrich and  what he does and he also gave me some tips.  Earlier in the year I volunteered at a race in California and saw Wild Bill, known for his burritos at coyote2 moon, bring runner after runner back from the dead.    One thing I kept thinking during this race was that the dust had to have an effect on all the runners.  That was another aspect, recovering from a cold,  I got laryngitis and was not communicating very well which was extremely  frustrating. This meant I could not check things out they way I'm used to.  I did not want to focus on my being sick that because I could tell from Tim's polite and quiet disposition  that he was starting to focus on us too much.    My intuition was in tact but I was not following it it as well as I usually do.  I have no regrets but I like to look at things in retrospect and determine what I'd do differently next time. Even if next time means I'll be asking a crew what I'd like for a run.  It was challenging because I would pick up on cues but then not follow through on my intuition. I knew he told us to go to 7 miles ahead but if I would have stopped short and he found out it was only 3 or 4 miles I thought that might also be defeating. Jill kept saying he was not dressed well enough and she was right. I think she told him to put on gloves at least five times.  It's tough to tell a person what to do when you don't know them and they have much more experience running than you do. I would not have listened to us either.  :) To expect a complete stranger to trust you is a bit unrealistic.  One thing I really wanted to see Tim do was eat something. The soup was not prepared and it turns out it was up to me to make it at the aid station. I panicked because this was one thing Tim and I  did discuss. While passing through the aid station I asked the guy there if I could take some in my thermos  on our way back through and he said "sure." it turns out I was supposed to make it too!  We got back to that aid station the soup was still in the can.  I quickly dumped 6 cans of various soup in a pot and started to attempt to heat it up. It was taking forever. I'm not complaining, the guy there was super nice I just did not plan for this and might of known more had I been able to speak and ask questions.  So when Tim was ready to eat there was no soup. I did  not give up on the idea of Tim accomplishing his goal until he pulled up in a car. He hitched a ride only a mile back from where we stopped.  He was on track for a pretty fast time and when he arrived at our car he was 7 miles out and only 18 hours and 45 minutes had elapsed.  I said to Jill I should drive back  and see how he was doing but I didn't. It turns out he was in some trouble. My intuition is usually a much better guide than the plan but I still take comfort in having a plan.  I think if I crew for someone again I will ask more questions about what to do late in the game. I would do many things differently. Clothing is important. If you are still moving OK you can stay warm but if you start moving slowly because of any kind of physical issue your body temperature can drop way too much.  Also, I would have had two handhelds and just swapped them out each stop but as far as we knew we just had one ( later we found a second one )  I would ask at what point the runner  wants a recovery drink or electrolyte drink if at all.  I'm always happy to gain more experience whether it be running or crewing, although I prefer running. I recommend crewing for someone at least once if you are a runner because I think it makes you smarter and better prepared to know and ask for what you want. I still think had I done a few things differently I may have been able to at least impact the outcome if only slightly. I personally have learned so more about myself from the not so successful races I've had.  Bighorn 50 mile was bigger than me. I was not prepared and signed up on a whim but I learned I'm brave and that I'm bold enough to risk failure for the sake of feeling alive. Leadville marathon I got lost, and I learned that I can climb a 13,200 and some odd foot mountain feeling utterly defeated.  Pony express crewing I learned that I still have so much to learn about running and people in general.  I learned that when you are crewing for someone it is not about you.  This can be a tough pill to swallow because I really wanted to see a different outcome but it was not my race.
Getting to know my friend Jill better was a pleasure and it was fun to explore Utah with her after the race. In fact,  we headed out the Antelope island and I made a decision to shoot for the 50 mile race out there in the spring.  My mothers ashes are there so this will be the perfect place to run 50 miles. One reason I started running in the first place was to deal with the grief of  loosing my mom and my foster son in a very short period of time.  Feeling inspired after meeting Jeff Galloway, I signed up for a half marathon and then later a marathon. In a few days it will be a year since I ran my first marathon. Since then I have ran a total of four marathons, two 50k races and a handful of half marathons. I have had many different experiences running with lots of different people from new runners to elite athletes and have learned something from all of them.  I have surprised myself over and over. I have embraced every aspect of running and it has  brought me out of a very dark place in my life and I'm extremely grateful.    It was truly a unique experience crewing for this type of race. Thanks for the opportunity Tim!  Also, a big thanks to Davy Crocket, I will see you next year! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Bear Chase Trail Race 50K

Injury, should I run this or not. I don’t have anything to prove really, or do I???? I know I can go the distance but would it be smart. Am I so wrapped up in this running business that I can’t take a break when I need it? Listen to your body….blah blah blah. (I really hate it when people say that, can they hear themselves?) I spent way too much of my life disengaging from my body to hear any kind of messages it might be telling me. One day my leg felt good the next bad. Giving it all the TLC one could imagine. Including taking several days off running to see if I would benefit, which turned out to be the opposite of helpful.
Like a lot of races I approached this like a training run because every run is a training run for the next one right? Was the injury real or in my head? Now it’s moving like a hot potato. Was I trying to read more into what my coach told me about balance? My coach videotapes my gait and we look at it together. I’m not a fan of seeing myself running but it is helpful for the sake of correcting form problems. (If I can stop worrying about whether or not my bra is working) I over stride on my left side and this sets me up nicely for injury. I have been working on shortening my stride with a metronome that I bought a long time ago from a Chi running instructor, named Mary. It is making a difference but I just recently started using it. Cindy another coach in the area I went running with said if I could see my feet out in front of me I’m over striding. Turns out this proves to be good way of checking myself.
Friends came to town for the race. Misty and Brian are both avid runners and have blogs that apparently lots of people follow. They shared many great race stories with me and it was a perfect way to spend the night before a run. The next morning we get to the race and I see so many people I knew from a few various running groups. The sun came up just before the race started and I felt hopeful for a good day. I had a good night sleep the night before which doesn’t always happen for me but I guess the fact that I was approaching this in a more casual way helped. At 6:50 we started and I fell to the back in my usual fashion. At first I almost let myself get caught up the group pace and not my own race. This was not my plan. My plan was to do the first 6-mile loop in less than 2 hours and aim for 3.5 for the second loop. The trail and terrain were a little bit more technical than my first 50K, Greenland trail race, with more small climbs and three creek crossings times 2 but at a slightly lower altitude. Right away my leg was hurting. Not excruciating but enough to make me very aware. Before the race a friend of mine said, “ You are perfect, whole and complete, don’t make the race mean anything.” This was my mantra for the day except I tacked on the end of it “steady and strong.” I said it to myself over and over. I’m perfect whole complete steady and strong… occasionally I threw in the word fast J …Even though my leg hurt and I had a bit of a limp unless I slowed down considerably in order to have an even gait. This was not the kind of pain that felt like I was in danger of permanently damaging something. I kept giving myself the out if I needed it though. I was eating and relying off the aid stations and supplementing with gels. Once in a while I’d realize I was focusing too much on my leg and I would expand my focus take in the environment around me. It was hot. I have no idea how hot but most people I came in contact with mentioned it. This race felt different from the first 50K I ran. Even though I was in pain I felt much stronger. I have been making small changes to my diet. Nothing too drastic, more veggies, less processed, more “nutrient rich” foods. (With the exception of race day and maybe the day after) My body felt more fluid and relaxed. I really did feel a source of energy I’d never felt before. Most everyone on the course was faster than me but I felt determined. I finished the first 6-mile loop 30 minutes faster than I planned. Not the burnout faster you hear the really fast runners talk about but a comfortable fast. Moving in and out of hyper focus on my leg but fully present for the experience. This is not typical for me as my brain is sometimes waiting for me at the finish line. Those that know me well know I don’t think in a straight line ever but running settles it a bit. As the day grew on the temperatures increased but I felt resistant to the heat. I attend sweat lodges and although it is a spiritual practice for me, it is also a physical experience that I think helps me tolerate heat. I get to Mt Carbon and focus on a very small area in front of me. Moving my feet as fast as I can up the mountain. Before I knew it I was at the top. I look back at the ground I have covered because it amazes me and often I surprise myself. My thoughts shifted from my form and movement to a small area of space around me, to an even bigger expansive space out in the world and then back in, then to the pain. I remembered my Native American friend, Ray, say on a run that I can ask the mountain for strength, so I did. Then I would feel a very faint breeze and immediately cool off so I thanked the wind. I knew my friend was having a sweat lodge that day to prepare for someone’s Hanblechia. I have often wondered what that would be like. I know may people who have done it but I just don’t think I could go that long without food or water. Typically its four days. Heck I don’t even go in a 3 mile run without water. In a way though I feel like long distance running is similar to a vision quest. You become pretty self aware while you out there. You face things about yourself and then you find your resolve. You learn your strengths, you forgive yourself, and you forgive other’s. You experience heartfelt gratitude for the earth, wind and the cold water in the creeks. You also feel gratitude for the people, the aid stations, and the kids who fill up your water and put an ice cube in your coke. Yes, this was my vision quest complete with gels, soda and tiny squares of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then I saw Marshall and he passed me but not without saying,” Party On Jennifer!” Once I made the second loop I had one more 12.5-mile loop to go. I even felt like I could have been more consistent with the last loop had my leg not been hurting. So I negotiate with myself for a while “I was on track and at that point I could use the time and just finish comfortably.” As I arrived at one of the aid stations I saw Jamie Donaldson, I didn’t say anything, which is out of character for me. Usually I introduce myself to people I admire but when I’m running I don’t like to talk much (I know). There were two more climbs left, not steep but at this point anything could potentially take me out, and I recalled my friend Dana’s email telling me to imagine him gently nudging me when I got tired. It made me smile. I thought of all the people I run with and all the people I saw throughout the day that I knew and all the people like Maria who wished me well before the race. I looked at my watch and thought I could get a sub 9 (don’t laugh) if I push. Even though I finished my first 5oK in 7:50 I was grateful to finish this one at all. I always like to finish strong, my friend Spunky taught me that. All the people, the experiences, training runs and races flood my mind. I fall deeply madly and frequently in love with running. The strength I get from the encouragement of others is so far beyond joyful that I feel ridiculous even trying to explain. I’m so filled with gratitude that I have the opportunity to run. I finished!!!! Katie snapped a picture. My friend Pam who has run 164 marathons gave me soup; Donna walked me to the med tent because I wanted to ice my leg. Heather Ulrich gave me a hug and then I saw Manthey, the race director, he gave me a high five and then a hug. As much as I tried not to make this race it mean anything it did. I have had such a rough couple of previous races, including one where I got lost, that I really wanted a success. I wore my medal to work where no one saw it all day while I was sitting at my microscope in my cubical. The next day though I was in a meeting and people started reporting to me about their weekends and the bike rides, hikes and walks they went on. To me this was much bigger than the medal and trust me the medal was big. To me this was sacred. Me, the South Davis Jr. High kid who could not run a single lap around the baseball field without being completely out of breath. Me, the one who wanted so badly to be on the track team in high school but did not have the confidence to even try. Me. the one who never quite fit in anywhere. Me……….Perfect, whole, complete, strong, steady and yes…sometimes fast!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Canyonlands Half Marathon

Waiting at the starting line the winds gust up the canyon.  I could hear people all around me complaining. It was my first half marathon last year. Jeff Galloway helped me with a plan after I’d met him at title 9 in Boulder.  Since then I have been training consistently.  For those who have never been to Moab the landscape is red rock and cliffs that form into arches by thousands of years of wind and rain. The Colorado River runs along the side of the road the race is on. It is beautiful and it’s hard not to feel inspired by the unique surrounding beauty.
We met a friend Mike that has run with my Galloway group in the past and he rode on the bus with us up the canyon. It was cold but my friend, Roberta and I kept thinking how much warmer it was than last year. We made our way up to the starting line after we got some hot chocolate. Mike was telling us about his weight loss and how it has helped his running. He trains differently because he found out he was loosing muscle. I spotted some old Jr High School friends and quickly snapped a picture. Then I couldn’t find my group but we all run at different paces so it was not a problem.

The gun went off, although I did not really hear it in the back but people started moving and it took about 3 minutes for me to get to the start line. I hit start on my Garmin and I was off. At first I felt like my legs were heavy… I thought this was a bad sign. The wind was blowing in my face. This is strange feeling for me because at the Mesquite marathon I experienced an altered state of reality as a result of the wind. During that race wind was blowing so hard in my face, 35MPH, that towards the last 4 miles or so I started to feel very large and the road got very small, I felt powerful, strong and large. It reminded me of a scene in Alice and wonderland. So now when the wind is blowing on my face I remember that and in a small way I go back to that feeling. In recovery this is called euphoric recall.  I got to mile one thought this is going to be a long race.  Before the race I did grounding exercise that my coach taught me. I’m not what I would call proficient at this but I’m starting to practice and be more aware of my body and where I hold tension and my awareness of my form is at the forefront of my mind right now. I also did a constructive rest exercise in the hotel room. My coach is exactly a huge fan of my run walk style but he honors it and what I have learned from it and I appreciate that.  We are focusing on proper form and I really feel it’s paying off. I decided to start shortening my walk breaks and lengthening my running. I had my ratio set and in my mind I kept thinking just push a little harder for every walk break and every running interval and over the entire race this will pay off.   I think eventually I’m going to have to push it to the point of failure in order to see how hard I can actually push it.  During the race I also needed to pay attention to my foot plant because I naturally swing out my left leg more than my right. When I see this on a video I can tell if its not corrected it could set me up for an injury. I also needed to shorten my stride. I’m not familiar with all the technical terms but I think I also increased my tempo. It felt more comfortable to take shorter strides and more of them. My breathing was relaxed and once in a while I had to take a cleansing breath but it was natural. I used to force a pattern to my breathing and it wasted a lot of energy. I picked up another runner along the way and she said she forgot her watch. We ran about the same pace. I was very surprised at the number of people I passed during the last 2 miles.  Not a feeling I’m used to at all. When I got to the final stretch my new friend Melinda said ok now no more walk breaks, we will just run the final stretch. I said, “Im in!” We ran towards the finish and not only did I PR but I felt so much better than the previous year. I think it is the fastest I have ever been.  Even though my ultimate goal is not speed but that of distance cutoff times are my main challenge and it feels good to know that I have the chance to beat a cutoff time with practice.      2:42:47 :) pace 12:25 ....... I'm thrilled!!!

-This race was dedicated to my mother in law Peggy Cline who passed away in Moab in January

Monday, February 21, 2011

For the Love of Strangers by Jeno February 14, 2011 at 10:20pm

On the flight to Seattle I convinced a woman named Bonnie who is a breast cancer survivor to walk the next race for the cure this fall and wear a shirt that says “Three years ago I did this in a wheelchair” Good start to the long journey to my race. I got off the plane, got on a light rail called the gal I had just met on the carpool site, and she picked me up right as I stepped out into the street. Andrea was friendly and had a dog-named Cooper. I quickly got introduced to him and we were on our way. We had about a 2-hour drive and quickly got to know each other. The Internet is so strange because you feel like you have known strangers for a long time once you finally do meet them. We stopped at a local grocery store and got a few items and we were on our way. The first time I saw the pacific NW was only a few years ago when my dad moved there. It has a mystic sort of magic to it. We hopped on the ferry and met a few folks headed to the race. We got there and I immediately recognized more folks I had met on facebook. More strangers that it felt like I knew. I got to my cabin to get settled in. It was very rustic. Not at all what I’m used to and something I’d have the urge to complain about usually but I thought ‘Girl… go with the flow” After all that’s what Roberta would do. I was lacking a few hours sleep.
The morning of race day I woke up and had this massive sinus headache and I was very cold. I got dressed and headed down to the start line. I barely had time to eat part of a bagel and we were off. I immediately fell to the back partly because that is the level I’m at but also I feel rather comfortable in the back because I don’t have to move over and don’t have the concern about the person behind me getting annoyed if I’m going to slow. The surroundings are moss covered trees and a misty type morning fog. It’s so beautiful, I felt alive. Then I remember the headache. I kept going in an out of a negative space in spite of my surroundings. How could I be so negative in such a positive environment? Even though I started early I kept thinking there was someone behind me and then I figured out it was my own heart beat I was hearing. It seemed loud. I felt sweaty not like running sweat but the kind you feel when you have fever. I mentioned it to a woman that came up behind she checked by kissing my forehead paused and said, “nope, I don’t think so.” In a strange way I felt my moms presence and I got a little teary eyed. I continued on up Mt Pickett and saw a tent house that I figured was someone’s home. I was not taking full advantage of the downhill and flat terrain because I did not feel well. I kept thinking I’d snap out if it. There were quite a few creek crossings; small but something I’ve only negotiated a few times before with lots of help from more experienced friends, usually with the kind of thought, ”will I cross this? …. Not really a “how will I cross this” sort of attitude. I just had to go for it. Soon some sweet downhill came like a paycheck. Then I saw someone, it turned out to be the race director James, and I said I did not think I would make the cutoff. He tried to be positive but I knew it was getting too late. I made it to the aid station and my garmin was two more miles than the aid station was supposed to be. I quickly ate some things, a nice guy filled up my Nathan pack and I was off again. The next part was Mt constitution, which is was a doozy anyway and made even harder by the fact that I knew I would not finish. Someone, a friend/stranger told me don’t quit no matter what a few days prior. So up I went but before I got to the base of the mountain I had to get though some mud that nearly pulled off my shoe. I started up the mountain and It seemed steeper than the Manitou incline. It felt longer too. The name of this section is power line. “Isn’t there a power line at Leadville too?” I thought. I felt flat and out of energy, why continue when there is no chance of finishing? I thought to myself. Up came the sweeps behind me and soon they were in front of me. One was nice and talkative and the other scolded him for talking and said I’d need all my energy to get to the top. He asked how my nutrition was and salt and so forth. He also said they would stick with me until the end. It seemed like there were many false summits. When I got to the top of the power line section I turned around, it was breathtaking!!!!!! It was like floating in the sky and the place I came from seemed so far away that I felt I had accomplished something phenomenal for a moment. I savored how far I had come. We finally got to a crossroads and one of the sweeps said you better turn here, I guess he had changed his mind about staying with me. I told him I’d rather summit because we were so close. He said that if I turned I’d be running with people and I’d finish before dark. He also said I would get more mileage in. I was a little out of it and tried to figure out which way to go,” I mentioned again that I really wanted to summit and then he yelled at me and said turn here if you go the other way you will be pulled in 2.5 miles. I felt sad but I turned. As I made my way down I thought @&%$ him!!!! If I were on my “A” game would have totally let him have it. I should have told him off and kept going. I could tell he wanted me to turn because he did not want to wait for me to pull the flags. In hindsight, I would have hated getting pulled off the coarse and getting a ride down the mountain so he was absolutely right. I also would have missed some of the best part, the downhill. Soon I started to cry. It actually felt good because my headache was finally disappearing. At one point I ended up in front of many people who passed me one girl said how did you get there? She was probably thinking I cheated, I thought. Things got from bad to worse with my thinking and the course continued to be beautiful. I was thinking, I’m done running, I’ll never be fast so why bother, I am absurd to even attempt this, what is wrong with me, I don’t deserve a place on the trail. I’m not running the 50K at Greenland, I’m not going to run Greenland at all!!!! It was quite pathetic really. Then I see Matt, another Facebook friend I had just met. I was pretty low at this point and told him the situation. He immediately said,” Don’t you dare feel ashamed of what you have accomplished out here!” It lifted my spirits a little. It tried to focus on the positive. My thoughts drifted to the finish line. I thought. ……Oh no!! I will get cheers! AHHHH!!! What should I do jump off the course? I started to panic a little. I can’t think of anything worse at this point than hearing cheers for a race I did not complete. So I get to the finish line and first I see James. He says quietly to me that he knew I had turned off early, I think because I was shaking my head “no” when I finished. I saw Matt and Betsy and Betsy said, “I could not believe you picked this course for your first 50K.” I’m glad she did not say this before the race. Then I sat down by my roommates and this guy, Gary, walked over and sat down. He was funny and he asked how it went. I told him I completed 19.3 miles. I felt bad and he said that this was a tough one for even the most elite runners. He seemed to notice how far down I was and it was like he reached down in my soul and pulled me back up. He took some time explaining that it was a tough course for everyone. The kindness of these strangers was so remarkable. It occurred to me that I was being treated much better by the strangers around me than I was treating myself. When I run I mentally face the damage I did to myself in my younger years because of bad choices I have made but then I’m left with a feeling of being one more step towards healing it. Andrea and I returned to Seattle, I stayed at her home. We got up early she made fancy French pressed coffee and we went to a Yoga class and later ran with her dog. On the wall it read,” a path with no obstacles leads nowhere.”
I posted that I did not complete the entire race on Face book. I got all kinds of sweet comments. One friend reminded me that my first marathon was a mere 4 month ago. (Closer to 3 actually) I thought about it and last year was the first time I had ran over 8 miles. I went on to run 4 half marathons (2 were pretty hard trails) 3 marathons (including Greece), several training runs including most Saturdays. I climbed my first 14’er and did quite a few things I’d never thought I would do. So as I look forward I need to remember how far I have come and honor that the same way strangers do.

· · Share · Delete
    • Roberta Shaver Jennifer, you have only failed when you have failed to try. The story here isn't about not completing all 31 miles, but the triumph to complete 19.3 miles with all you have endured and the humility you have to share with others. You renewed a spark in me that over the past couple of months I have missed a little- the kindness others have shown you- the same kindness you have shared with others. It exists! We will rock Greenland together. I have no doubt. You are amazing n need to celebrate each mile as a success. I love you!
      February 14 at 11:09pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks my valentine!!!
      February 14 at 11:11pm ·
    • Ilene Carpenter That's a wonderful race report, Jennifer. You've come so far, so quickly and you will accomplish so much more. It has been great getting to know you during your transition from half-marathoner to marathoner and beyond. Your openness brings out the best in strangers and helping you makes their day a better one. I look forward to training with you for Greenland!
      February 15 at 7:50am ·
    • Cheryll Paull I loved reading your report, Jennifer! Very inspirational.
      February 15 at 7:57am ·
    • Christie Combs Ebenroth
      That was such a heart-felt, transparent race report. Big, big hugs to you for struggling with the headache, that totally difficult course and making it through the hardest section of the race. Powerline about did me in. I'm sorry the sweepe...r wasn't more understanding or sympathetic in his behavior towards you. That would have made me sad, too. You rock! I can't believe you only did your first marathon 3 months ago! Holy smokes! That's even more impressive how far you did make it on this challenging course! Hold your head up high! You accomplished so much out there and you'll keep getting stronger! I'm proud of you!See More
      February 15 at 9:34am ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Well I should really apologize to the guy he was totally right. If he had not yelled at me I may still be out in the woods somewhere and I would have gotten less than 15 in if I would have summited. The skirt around the lake was phenomenal!!! Thanks it was so nice to meet you! The cry cured my headache too. Lol
      February 15 at 9:41am · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline I talked smack about him for a while :)
      February 15 at 9:55am ·
    • Ken Michal
      I really enjoyed this report, Jennifer!

      Personally, I would rather DNF an event I didn't know I could finish than finish and easy one! It takes a lot more guts!!! Congratulations on not taking the easy road!

      I'm pretty sure it was Gary Ro...bbins at the finish, yes? He's a great guy! He would know that Orcas is tough for elites... by experience!!!
      There are a couple interviews with him on RS if you're interested!

      Now, while the race is still fresh, think of three things that you could do to finish this event next year!
      See More
      February 15 at 1:55pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline
      Yes! It was and after we spoke I figured out who he was and had just heard one of those interviews. I didn't know he was a big deal though, lol. I just thought he was a nice guy.
      Yes I want to go as far as I can without being pulled. I hear...d this thing on science Friday about taking on challenges even if they are lofty and how good it is for the brain.
      Thanks and keep up the great work ! Inspiring the back if the pack is something I aspire to do and you do it well and improve so much. I can't get the kazoo song out of my head!!!!
      See More
      February 15 at 2:02pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Show me the link ? I can't tell what episode He is on ?
      Please ?
      February 15 at 2:05pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline ‎3 things:
      Power hiking hills
      More consistent training
      Better diet..... Outside of the event
      (during it was working both hydration and nutrition)
      February 15 at 2:08pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Ken Michal
      He's on 2:

      and again here:
      both are pretty easy to find in iTunes as well... They're titled "Gary Robbins interview"
      See More
      February 15 at 3:12pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline For some reason when I go to your podcast on my iPhone the title is cut off .... So I just see the numbers :)
      February 15 at 3:13pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Lol thanks!!!!
      February 15 at 3:16pm ·
    • Rainshadow Running great report jennifer! have fun at greenland and i'd be honored to have you back at orcas again next year!
      February 15 at 11:33pm ·
    • Rainshadow Running also could you email me the photo of the orcas chalkboard? thanks!
      February 15 at 11:34pm ·
    • David Murphy Loved it!! Your attitude is perfect for ultras. You will be successful with that determination.
      February 16 at 8:06am ·
    • Mark Miller You rock, Ill epic run with you anywhere, great report, pat yourself on the back!!!!!
      February 16 at 5:57pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks guys!! I'm not an ultra runner yet but I will be :)

Tucson Marathon by Jeno.December 31, 2010 at 10:27pm

Well this was my third attempt to get a better time. I traveled to Tucson and met my new friend Jack at the airport. Jack was aiming for a BQ.  He came close at the NYC marathon by 10 minutes. We went to the pre-race Expo and I finally Met Lisa Batchen-Smith in person. I was going to meet her when she was in Colorado running because Marshall Ulrich told me she was going to be running here. So I asked her if she had ever finished a race last and she said once when a scorpion stung her. Not exactly what I meant but still an amazing story.  We ate early and skipped the pre-race talk in order to wake up very early in order to catch the bus.
Jack is an ultra runner. He has had some amazing experiences including Mont Blanc, Copper canyon, Hardrock, Leadville and Wasatch 100 to name a few.
Pam Reed the, race director, let me start the race early. It was fun to do that but did have some drawbacks. I let a person with a clipboard know I would be starting early and she wrote my time down. I ended up starting a few minutes after that because I could not find the right bus to drop my bag.  I started out in the dark. The desert is so beautiful before the sun comes up and stirs something up inside me that primal and instinctual.  For a while I was the front-runner. That felt all right!!!!! One guy I met started early because he had burns on70% of his body and therefore he only sweat out of 30% of his body so he starts races early to avoid the sun and over heating. I was paying close attention to my form because I have been working with a form coach for a little while now.  I can definitely feel a difference between good and bad form and I go back and forth and in and out of awareness about it during a race.
Two front-runners finally passed me.  They were moving so fluidly and it was beautiful to see. Soon the pace groups were passing me. I saw all shapes and sizes of people some moving with a relaxed and easy gait and some kind of schlepping and forcing their way though. Still, most of the runners were passing me. This is the trouble with starting early, lots of people pass you and it takes me down a little with each passerby.  I considered that the cumulative effects of running my third marathon in 43 days might be catching up with me but only for a second because I can’t dwell on the negative during a race. A few negative messages roll though my head even some from people who are supposed to be supportive.  Like, your not supposed to run that much, you are over training, you will get hurt, blah blah blah.   All from well meaning people who have no idea that these messages are not helpful and that I’m mentally throwing them in a trash can. I run a different kind of way. I’m slower and steady but I recover very quickly and feel pretty energetic even after a race. Surprisingly, I feel very focused when running. Typically I have the attention span of a piss ant but running takes me somewhere else where I can focus. I am starting to feel my way through and although I was not 100% like I felt the last two, I felt pretty good.  We went though a town called Oracle and past the Biosphere. I started to develop a blister that I’m thinking might be from the way my shoes were laced but I’ll experiment with various socks to figure that out later.  I saw a person pass me who had one working arm and one that looked atrophic and floppy and slightly wilted. There was evenness about the way he was running in spite of this.  I finally reached the finish and by that time my friend Jack is gone and I don’t really know anyone but take the bus to the hotel. I enjoy some food at the bar and met a guy who quits drinking every 7 years for a year just to prove he can and he had just run his first marathon. His time was 4 hours and some change. Darn good if you ask me. His first race was on Oceans shores in WA this is also where my dad lives.
I went to bed early and in the morning sat in the hot tub got ready and hopped on the bus for downtown. I was proud of my self for being so resourceful. Oh yes and I popped the blister with my race bib pin because I couldn’t walk. Don’t worry I licked it first!!! It healed fast. Now …..up next a 50K!!!!

by Jeno, December 31, 2010 at 10:26pm

After returning from Greece I decided that all my training would enable me to run my second marathon right after my first and I could possibly shave a considerable about of time off my first one. Did I give it my all? I’m not sure I ever give it my all. I use energy but I never know if I’m going to use it all and have nothing left and possibly not finish but I get increasingly more willing to gamble with my edge.
I went with Pam. Pam is a member of one of the running clubs I belong to. She has run over 156 marathons and is recovering from a broken foot. Not a stress fracture, a break that required screws to fix. She is tough. We arrive in Vegas and meet at the rental car counter. We got this tiny little smart car that evidently was too smart for us. The drive up to mesquite was very windy and I did not realize that this was a preview of the race conditions. We get checked in and met another runner from the group named Becky. We got prepared and planed where we would meet. Very early we get on a but that takes us to what seems like the middle of nowhere in Utah near St George and drops us off. I met several people that said it was their first marathon. This race starts in Utah moves though Arizona, the edge of the Mohave Desert and ends in Nevada.
It starts out cool and it felt like it might be a good day. Soon the race starts. I’m not sure but I think the guy just said, “Go!” Then it immediate started to lightly rain. Not a problem, it felt good but shortly after that the wind started blowing very hard. It felt like it was knocking the wind out of me. I kept gasping for air but my energy level was high. Instead of marking how far you have ran the mile markers said how far you had left. I liked this compared to Greece because it was in miles and not kilometers. I started to doubt myself because this was race I was hoping to get a good time on to prove that the last one was because I stopped but it quickly turned into being just about finishing. The wind continued to blow towards me the entire race. Pam kept telling me to go ahead but I was going as fast as I could. I have come to realize that I have to work very hard just to be average or possibly below average. I try very hard not to give these thoughts much power but I’m clearly torturing myself with this thinking. Pam would stop to use the facilities and every time she would catch back up to me. It was amazing. We were close to the back. I was using my run/walk/run and it was working well for me but my form was off because the wind was blowing towards my face but also slightly to the left so I was leaning to the right. The wind was blowing so hard that the aid stations did not put cups out because even the full ones were blowing away. Later we found out the wind was actually 30-45 MPH. At one point I started to feel even more determined the harder the wind blew. I shouted to Pam “ It could start snowing right now and I would not stop!” I was about 6 miles out and I experienced what I can only descried as an altered state. I started to feel very large. Not large in the awkward sense but a feeling like the road was small and I was large. I was mastering the moment! This is something that even some of my running friends find strange. We got closer to the finish and we saw Becky’s husband. I did not recognize him I thought he was just a friendly guy. He carefully put his medal away because Pam doesn’t like to see the medal before she finishes a race. I finished this race 15 minutes quicker than my first. I was hoping for a much larger improvement. I’m learning a lot about myself from each race. I care more about my time then I would like to or will ever admit. I earn every bit of improvement that I make. I rob myself of celebrating that improvement buy minimizing it. This struggle for speed is the very thing that will become a tool for me later. I just know it!!!!
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Kouragio by Jeno November 7, 2010 at 6:04pm


There she was sitting on the side of the road, talking nonsense with a red face and dry heaving. She tried to stand up but almost passed out. Should I call the medics over or flag someone down? This was not the race I trained for. My time goal, that I was told many times over not to have, was long gone. I really thought it was my destiny to get that time. It was an arbitrary number I chose because it’s my birthday, 5:24. It also turned out to be my bib number, 13524. It was ambitious for my first marathon but I felt it was doable. I had trained well and worked out many kinks before the big day.
Here I was in a foreign country because I thought it would be cool to do my first marathon where the very first one took place in 490 BC. If I finished I would be running towards the finish line in the famous Panathenaic stadium where the first modern Olympics took place in 1896. I would be a part of history. It would be epic!!! The race started out like many other races I had been in before but I had never attempted that distance until this day. We met as a group by the yellow flag and the plan was to start at the back after the 7th wave. This was a very crowded event because it was the 2500th anniversary of the original marathon. We started the journey from marathon to Athens in the run/walk fashion I had trained. Many local people lined the course handing the runners olive branches and saying “Bravo!”
Quite a few were smokers. The smell of tobacco mixed with olive trees and jasmine filled the air. I felt great!!! I was a running goddess, or at least that is what I told myself. Sometimes these preplanned messages are helpful when I start doubting myself or the shadows emerge and try to get me to give up. My new running partner started to get tired and I could almost hear her shadows telling her to drop out. She did say a few times, “you can go ahead of me, I feel like I’m holding you back.” I started saying “stay with me here.” I looked at her and she seemed to be getting into worse shape. Her face was red and I thought she was overdressed for the race. I’m not as teachable as some but I do listen to people’s advice, particularly the things I hear more than once. Not to overdress was one of them. I had a hydration pack on. Someone told me to be self-supporting for a race in another country because you never know if the aid stations will be equipped with what you need. Another valuable piece of advice it turns out. We got close to the halfway point and I was about 30 min behind my goal and we were not keeping up with my 1:1 run walk plan at all. She looked at me and said to go ahead but something told me to stay with her. Just before the halfway mark she dry heaved a little, said a few things that did not make sense and sat down. She tried to get up and almost fainted. It was hot and there was virtually no shade’s cover almost the entire course. The course was really just 20 miles uphill and 6 down. I started to feel invested in her success. I’m not typically a selfless person but I really wanted her to finish. After previously resisting I convinced her to take an enduralyte pill. She was just taking in water and sweating a lot. I asked her what her nutrition plan was and got a long pause. Maybe she had one but she had some candy and water and that was it. She took the pill and then I very bossily told her to sip water like an IV drip and not to guzzle it. We got up and started walking. I told her to keep moving forward, just like many of my more experienced running friends told me. I’m thinking in my head that I’m way off from my goal and that it will no longer be possible. I was also thinking that the gal I helped could still drop out and that would be her prerogative. My stopping to help her and kissing my goal goodbye may have been futile. She said it again;” If you want to go ahead do it.” I have said that same thing to many people many times. I always want others to get what they want out of a run or race. As much as I don’t want to take away from anyone else’s joy, I really enjoy running with others. Not the usual show up and get left in the dust kind of running with others, but the kind of running where you hear your footsteps synch up and you get in to a rhythm that feels transcendent. Maybe that’s why I needed to stay; her words had been mine before. I wanted her to move past that and into another space. I have never been a runner. In gym class I could not make it around the field once without stopping. I just resigned to the idea that I’m not athletic but I secretly dreamed of running. I dreamed about it a lot. I have bought shoes, jogging stroller, gym memberships etc. I never stuck with it. I had difficulty breathing almost every time I tried to do something active. Signing up and training for races was the first time I have felt driven to train consistently. Part of my passion for running comes from convincing others to give running a shot. It fuels my soul. This is because I have discovered that I AM a runner and I want others to realize that if they want to run, it IS possible.
We moved on another 5 – 10 kilometers and my friend was coming back to life. We met another gal who was walking the entire race and said she was right on target for her goal. She said if I wanted to go ahead I she would stay with Deborah. I decided this time to go for it now that I knew she was with someone else and going to be OK. I was really feeling great even though I knew my time goal was hopeless at this point. I got back into a rhythm. I caught up with a guy that was limping and he said he had a disability. I think it was some kind of palsy, something that happened at birth and he said he was thinking of dropping out but we were only about 5 miles out at this point. I felt compelled to convince him to keep going too. I was about 4 miles out from the finish line and I saw a little old lady dressed up in her church clothes holding her purse crossing the street right by me and she uttered something to me in Greek I did not understand. As moved past her I looked back and said “ English?” and she responded “ Courage!” my eyes started to tear up. Soon I saw the glass runner. This was a glass sculpture that marks the final Kilometer to the finish. It was inspired by a rock formation in the mountains. I made my way down the small street and into the stadium. I broke out into a full run but had to pull back a little right before the finish line in order not to throw up. It was such a great feeling but all the best things about it are what got me to that place. When I look back at this race, a race that took me a long 7 hours to complete, I will know that I helped a fellow runner. I will not have the memory of leaving someone by the roadside sick. I drove myself crazy for a while after the race. Could I have met my time goal? I will never know. This is what I do know: My relationship with running is still intact. Perhaps the running gods and goddesses will bless me. I had no idea if the girl I helped finished or not. I was not proud of my time. I did not want to go back home and tell the people in either of my running clubs my time. I imagined people would think I really messed up my opportunity to achieve something great. Tuesday morning I saw her again and she jumped up and said,” This is the girl…this is the girl!!!! I asked her how it went and she said, “ I finished!!!!” To that I have one word to add, “Kouragio!”

Me and Pav
My favorite
Glass runner inspired by rock formation
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    • Maryann Ramirez
      You are an amazing person, Jennifer... Kudos to you for helping that young woman complete the marathon!

      and you know what I think is funny in a strange sort of way... that Deborah that you met on the course... was she a dark haired short wouldn't that be funny if she is the same Deborah that I will be meeting up with at Bataan next March?See More
      November 7, 2010 at 6:20pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline I don't know her last name but her picture is linked to this note.
      November 7, 2010 at 6:31pm ·
    • Joan Heller Your story is absolutely one of courage and achievement. Your time is one greater than a number but of a great human heart. You inspire others by the choice you made.
      November 7, 2010 at 6:39pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks!
      November 7, 2010 at 6:40pm ·
    • Andrew Harding
      Hi Jenn...You ARE a RUNNER. You have dramatically proved that if indeed proof was ever needed. Training and toeing the line at a Marathon is no mean feat. Tremendous race report. For your 1st Marathon you have given and learnt a lot that ot...hers, including many runners, will never experience. To put yourself out for another like this is Courage. In a literal sense she will never forget you, It was a defining moment when you chose to put her 1st. The ancient Greeks saught immortality through engaging in an heroic activity such that their name would live on. Achilles in Troy. King Leonidas of Sparta at Thermopylae. I am sure that this will be the case here. Long after the aches and pains have healed she will remember you and tell of what you did for her; to her family and friends. All the best in your next adventure.See More
      November 7, 2010 at 6:48pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Marathon Maine-iac Awesome job!! You had QUITE the experience in you FIRST marathon!! but you are NOW a marathoner, AND a GOOD Samaritan, too boot!! You did the RIGHT thing!! well done.
      November 7, 2010 at 7:06pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks, but i cant wait to beat that time into the ground, lol!!!!
      November 7, 2010 at 7:07pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Maria Walton Jennifer, I am touched by your amazing example of selfless sacrifice, and reaching out with compassion for a fellow athlete. She was blessed by your strngth. And, you were enlightened by beauty. You ARE a runner, a loving Mom, and cherished friend to many. Enjoy a well deserved celebration!
      November 7, 2010 at 7:11pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Marathon Maine-iac JJC, oh, and you WILL!!!
      November 7, 2010 at 7:17pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Im thinking next month!!! When you take 7 hours to complete a marathon you recover very quickly
      November 7, 2010 at 7:18pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Micah True nice!
      November 7, 2010 at 7:26pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks! Didn't you say something to me about courage once too?
      November 7, 2010 at 7:28pm ·
    • Roberta Shaver
      I'm not gonna lie... I thought u were crazy when u suggested we run a half marathon! I thought u were crazy when you said let's do the Leadville heavy half marathon and I thought you were crazy for the method you were using when I met you. ...But I liked how you put in prospective that
      You beat everyone who stayed home on the couch. Then to travel to a foreign country and do a marathon and stick it out not only helping someone else but to spend that time and distance! When I feel defeated Jennifer. I often think of you and your courage to dare do the unthinkable when people think you may be a little unorthodox. But I realize this is what I love about you... u are a RUNNER! You are an amazing human being and I am proud to call you my friend! You have made a huge impact on my life and along the way you have made me laugh and encouraged me to do things I didn't think were possible. I no longer think you are crazy like cuckoo crazy, but crazy in that way everyone should be passionate, courageous, fun & outthere!!!
      See More
      November 7, 2010 at 7:39pm · · 3 peopleLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks Roberta! this made me cry :)
      November 7, 2010 at 7:49pm ·
    • Roberta Shaver Awww now u got me tearing up... Love u Jennifer
      November 7, 2010 at 7:58pm ·
    • Laura Arbury You are a beautiful human being, Jennifer...inside and out!!
      November 7, 2010 at 8:10pm ·
    • Aimee Clark Henderson I loved reading this .... you are awesome !!!
      November 7, 2010 at 8:20pm ·
    • Ilene Carpenter Awesome story, well done! I'm so glad you both finished. Congratulations!!!
      November 7, 2010 at 9:06pm ·
    • Kelli Gould
      I'm glad that you're no longer second-guessing your courageous and completely correct decision to help another human being. The story that you just told is worth more than all the 5:24's combined! Running a marathon in record time doesn't... impress people as much as selfless acts of kindness. ESPECIALLY those which require us to give up something that we want for ourselves. You will have plenty of opportunities to get your 5:24. You asked on your FB page what mantra we used when running to keep us going. I didn't answer but for the past 6 months, since I've been following your training for this marathon, my mantra has been, "if Jennifer can train for a marathon, certainly I can go another mile!" Thanks to you, I've been running longer than I ever have so...Thank You! You are truly an inspiration!See More
      November 7, 2010 at 11:13pm ·
    • John Finklea
      To see just how it happened in black and white makes it real and gives it all purpose. The ability to be of service is what it is all about. And in being of service to others , we are offered a brief glimpse of what and who the person that ...the powers that be would like us to be.
      I want to be just like you when I grow up!!!!
      See More
      November 8, 2010 at 1:54am ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks!
      November 8, 2010 at 2:20am ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline John, I forgot to say how you set the positive tone for the day. You just saw the best in everything around you. I admire you for that. I was so glad I met you!!!! You are right !!! I was rewarded with experience !!
      November 8, 2010 at 2:38am ·
    • Laura Chartrand Congratulations on a very special first marathon!
      November 8, 2010 at 7:18am ·
    • Caleb Wilson awesome!
      November 8, 2010 at 8:32am ·
    • David Manthey As we light the path for others, in the process we also light the path for ourselves... Congrats Jennifer!
      November 8, 2010 at 9:18am · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks David !!!! electrolytes,electrolytes,electrolytes
      dont over dress, lol....lots of good advice
      November 8, 2010 at 9:20am · · 1 personLoading...
    • Mark Miller Wow!!!!!!! Great report and add to that, there is still hope for humanity. I am proud to be your friend. Leadville 2012!!!!!!!!!! CONGRATS again!
      November 8, 2010 at 9:33am · · 1 personLoading...
    • Lisa Smith-Batchen Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.made my day!
      November 8, 2010 at 11:15am ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks Lisa ! I can't wait to run another one. I've been thinking about it all day! Good thing I go back to work tomorrow, lol
      November 8, 2010 at 11:39am ·
    • William Snodgrass You are an amazing person Jennifer. You are not a RUNNER, you are a RUNNING MESSENGER! You are someone who loves the world around you, loves your family and loves the gift of life and wants to give that gift to everyone. Running is your vehicle, love and life is your message. Keep the mssage alive!
      November 8, 2010 at 4:07pm · · 1 personLoading...
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Thanks Bill!!!!! I'm always gonna cherish my first 14er with you two!!!! I can't wait to climb another one!!!!
      November 8, 2010 at 4:25pm ·
    • Pavlos Diakoumakos
      My friend you are unique and honestly i got no words to say how precius human been you are and how happy iam that i met you and i been litle part of your andventure here in Athens,. It took time to write you aboat this couse i just want to easy and quiet to write how i feel aboat that. Iam proud my friend for you and you got a friend here in Greece that always look frwrd to see you eating out of my shop again and share a sweet with you, Baclava, you have to taste it next time, always your soulmate at the other side of this planet. PavlosSee More
      November 13, 2010 at 3:04pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Pavlos you have a friend for life ♥
      November 13, 2010 at 3:54pm ·
    • Chris Russell Well done. I've heard that is a very hard race.
      When's the next one?
      January 1 at 6:25pm ·
    • Jennifer Johnson Cline Soon
      January 1 at 6:32pm ·
    • Martha Wickman Montour Your note brought me to tears. It is so wonderful to read of your transformative experience and the way you helped others meet their own goals. Kouragio indeed!
      January 13 at 11:14am ·