Official Time: 3:24:34
Sunday morning I woke up at 4:30 am, getting only about 5 hrs of sleep. Race nerves & loud hotel neighbors kept me up, but I banked extra hours the week leading up to this so I wasn’t too worried. We arrived on campus around 5:50 am. Matt dropped me off and I walked toward the starting area. So far, everything was going smoothly! After a few bathroom stops, light stretching, and meeting up with Alisa (@alisakasprzak) I finally headed into the starting corral with just a few minutes to spare. At this point, all of the nerves from earlier in the week had started to subside. I felt fairly calm, and mostly just anxious to start this thing already.
I stuck with my plan and started conservative at 8:15 pace and dropped a little bit each mile. By miles 4-6 the plan was to settle into race pace at 7:50-8:00. At first that felt forced, but within a few miles I got into a rhythm and the miles started ticking away. Matt and Annaliese were waiting for me in Wildwood at mile 11. I was all smiles at this point. Everything felt effortless. I was now holding steady in the 7:40s.
I switched to autopilot mode as the course went into the section with few spectators. I went through the half around 1:43, a minute and a half faster than planned. Some self doubt started to creep in and I wondered how I’d maintain this pace and not hit “the wall”. I did my best to push the negative thoughts aside. I kept repeating my mantras: “you can do hard things,” “you’re prepared for this,” and “there will be easy miles and hard miles – just take each one as it comes.” Miles 16-20 I seemed to pick up the pace again. I was passing people left and right. At this point I was hitting a few 7:30s, and even went 7:27 at mile 19. I remember thinking “You shouldn’t feel this good this far into the race. Take advantage. This is your day.” I was on the ultimate runner’s high at this point. You couldn’t take the smile off my face.
We re-entered Wildwood and I saw Matt and Annaliese again there at mile 21. At this point, I knewa BQ was well within reach. I was over 3 minutes ahead of my race plan. But I didn’t get ahead of myself. So much can happen in the final 5 miles. I was fully ready to hit the wall at any time. Miles 22-25 along the final stretch of bike path were brutal. I can’t say I really hit a wall; the wheels never fell off. My legs simply seemed to go numb to everything. It took all of my effort to hold onto 745 pace at this point. Multiple times I said out loud “You’re going to do this, Jenna.” I knew I was going to BQ, without question. Going into the day I knew that objectively my fitness showed a sub-3:25 was possible, but everything would have to go right. Now I could see that 3:25 was within reach — and I wanted it. At mile 23 my headphones died and I started praying a rosary on my hand all the way until mile 25. It took every bit of mental energy to focus on completing that, and tuning out everything else.
Coming onto campus was surreal. Passing Savage Arena and the track where I had spent so much time in college, I got extremely emotional. And when I made it into the stadium I saw Matt had managed to make it to the finish to cheer me on. I crossed the line and was so overcome with happiness. For crushing my time goal, yes. But also because I had finally proven to myself that I can do this again. That I can be fast. And I know beyond a doubt that I’m just getting started.
Please follow and like us: