Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Cleveland Marathon Race Report

The last time I posted, I shared my plan for the 2014 Cleveland Marathon.  The goal this year was all about helping someone else achieve a goal that they could no longer achieve on their own.  Going into race weekend, I knew that I would be traveling to Michigan for Kaelynn's figure skating competition so I made arrangements with the girls I run with to take care of packet pickup for me.  Friday afternoon, Kaelynn and I headed out for Michigan.  Once we had arrived and checked into our hotel, we met up with another skating family and Kaelynn's coach and son for dinner.  We enjoyed some outstanding Korean food.  In hindsight, I think this was a bad choice for me two days before a marathon.  Friday evening I also found out that Barry (our ALS participant for the race) had been hospitalized and had some setbacks during the week.  "Short" Emily was interviewed by the news station and we found out shortly before the news cast that Barry would not be able to participate (doctor's orders).  The plan was then to have his 12 year old son sit in for him.  While at the rink on Saturday I made sure to take in fluids regularly.  I also tried my best to make good food choices.  We had a late lunch and I had a small burger and some macaroni and cheese.  The competition ended up being a success for Kaelynn.  She placed 3rd in her compulsory event and finally got over her recent struggles with the axel during practice ice while thinking about her cousin Kyle's advice:  suck it up, focus, and just do it.  She did fall on the axel in her program but everyone was happy because she went for it and that was the goal of the day. 
3rd Place Compulsory Moves

Kaelynn and Kyle

We waited on Kaelynn's results and she ended up 5th out of 7.  Not bad for taking a fall during her program.  After we finished with results, we quickly said our goodbyes to our cousins Tiffany and Kyle and thanked them for coming.  Now I would need to drive the 2+ hours home to Ohio.  Did I mention it was already after 8:00 PM when we got out of the ice rink?  The drive wasn't too bad as Kaelynn's coach and her son were in the car with us.  It made time go by faster because I had an adult to talk to.  Of course the kids were asleep within minutes of getting on the highway.  I finally arrived home just after 11:00 PM and didn't get to bed until about 11:30.  I tossed and turned for a long time and eventually fell asleep only to be jolted awake by my 3:30 AM alarm.  I proceeded to get up and get everything that I needed together.  I grabbed some food and coffee to eat on the way to the race.  Missi was kind enough to drive us all so I just had to drive to "tall" Emily's.  Once we were on our way to the race I found out that the specialized wheelchair had accidentally gotten sent back to Columbus so we would not have a chair to push Barry's son in.  The alternate plan was to push Barry in his chair over the last 1/4 mile.  I knew nothing of this plan until that very moment!  Prior to all of this happening, another runner, Rachel was added to our push team.  It turns out I work with her mom and will be working with her next year.Talk about having an entirely different perspective for the marathon at that point.  There would not be a chair involved any longer.  Right after this discussion we received a text message from Rachel letting us know that with a heavy heart she made the decision not to run the marathon.  When she had signed up for this it was only to help someone else run a marathon.  We sent her back a text and let her know we respected her for making the best decision for herself and we hoped to see her on the running trails soon!  As we made our way downtown there were a ton of road closures.  Fortunately, Missi used her stealth driving skills to get us where we needed to be.  The best thing about this was that our parking garage was basically across the street form the starting line and porta potties!  Definitely a win/win situation prior to running 26.2 miles.  We hade a few visits to the potties and sat in the car for a bit before heading to the start line to have some pictures taken.

Team Barry sporting the matching tanks!

After we had been standing outside for awhile we moved to a bus stop to get out of the wind.  The bonus being that the stop was heated!  While waiting in the bus stop, we met up with lots of our friends for more photos.  Patty was running her comeback marathon and Kim was running her first marathon.  Bick was representing in the 1/2 marathon.

The whole gang before the race

Eventually we had no choice but to go line up in the corrals.  As I was standing there a lady walked up to me and asked me if I was from the Hermitage area (my throw away shirt was from a race I did in Hermitage over Thanksgiving).  I said yes I am and as she introduced herself I realized that I knew her!  She was my cross country coach the first year I ran with a neighboring school as an independent.  It was too funny when she said she thought she recognized my voice.  She would be running the 10K.  We shared a hug and we were eventually on our way.  The plan was pretty simple, the four of us (me, Missi, "short" Emily, and "tall" Emily) would stay together as long as we could in the hopes that we would all get to the finish around the same time to run Barry in for the last 1/4 mile.  Early on in the race I saw my Athletic Director from work.  I ripped off my arm sleeves and tossed them his way asking if he would bring them to work.  The first 12+ miles of the race were great!  Tons of spectators and both Emily's family's were out on the course.  I started to fade back from the group around mile 12.5 and then had no choice but to let them go at mile 14 when I had to find a bathroom quickly.  My stomach had decided it was going to revolt.  The gas station attendant was kind enough to let me use his restroom.  I tried to be quick and then headed back out on the course.  I was not feeling so good and my ankle bone was getting rubbed raw by either my shoe or sock or both.  Around this point Kim passed me and she was looking good.  I tried to take in an orange and it didn't really help much.  Kim asked me if she should wait and I told her I would be okay and to run her race.  At this point I texted the my group and let them know I was having issues and to go ahead and take Barry across the finish line without me.  I knew how sick he was and I didn't want him to have to be out there any longer than necessary.

The girls with Barry at the finish.  I joked that we needed to photoshop me in!

Shortly after this Dan and John appeared out of nowhere like my guardian angels.  I tried to stay with them but I was having a rough time and my stomach was deciding to revolt again.  It became a sprint between porta potties for almost the final 12 miles of the race.  Eventually Patty and Tony caught up with me and I tried going with them again and it just wasn't happening.....porta potty, wash, rinse, repeat.  Sometime later in the race I saw one of Kaelynn's skating friends with her dad.  It was definitely the motivation I needed.  It made me think about Kaelynn's success the day before and how she went all in and never quit.  While quitting on Sunday was never a consideration I made, the hug I received from the skater's dad really helped pull me along and know I had people out there cheering for me.  I ran when I could and visited the porta potties when needed.  Finally around mile 24 my stomach started to calm down allowing me to run more and get closer to the finish faster.  During the last 1/2 mile I came across a really big group of runners.  Come to find out it was a family that was running with their daughter, Kelsey.  It was her first marathon and she was doing great.  Once her family left the course I stayed with her.  When we got to the 26 mile marker, she wanted to walk and told me to go ahead.  I of course was having none of that.  I encouraged her to run the final .2 with me and she did.  I always says everything happens for a reason.  I'm pretty sure I was meant to be right where I was on Sunday morning to get Kelsey across the finish line of her first marathon.  Kelsey and I shared a hug, had a picture taken by the race photographers and headed our separate ways.  I immediately took off my shoe to assess the damage to my ankle bone.  My fear was confirmed when I saw that I had zero skin left in that area.  I was in need of a Band-Aid in order to get my sock and shoe back on.  My friend Dan offered me the Band-Aid that he had used on his chest to prevent raw, chafed nipples.  I wasn't too proud to take it.  It would do the job and Dan was kind enough to share with me that he washes his nipples daily.  That made me laugh!  At this point I announced once again (I had told John the same thing during the race) that I was retiring from marathons.  Of course I got the typical, you've said that before looks.  We took a few pictures and then I met back up with my group and Dave (who was kind enough to drive up from Columbus to watch the marathon) to discuss how the day had unfolded. 

The first 1/2 was much better than the second 1/2


As I was talking with them, Kelsey's family stopped to thank me for getting her to the finish line.  I graciously accepted the thank you and told them how well Kesley had done.  Right before we were getting ready to head back to the cars I felt very sick.  I thought for sure I was going to "toss my cookies" right there but I was able to breathe through it and not throw up on Dave's shoes.  I am happy to report that Patty got her redemption on the marathon, Kim finished her first marathon with a very impressive time,  Dan finished another marathon, "tall" Emily had a great time running 26.2 miles, and "short" Emily and Missi both set new marathon PR's!!  While it wasn't a great day for me, I was still very happy for my friends.  Once I made it home and got cleaned up I realized I had gotten a major sunburn.  I didn't even think about sunscreen when it was so cold at the start line (another lesson learned).  I continued to feel rough the rest of the day and into Monday.  I decided to head into work on Monday and see how I felt.  My Athletic Director came through for me and my arm sleeves were hanging on my office door when I walked in.  I did okay most of the morning but just before noon I started feeling awful and asked my staff if they would be okay if I went home.  They sent me on my way of course (I must have looked bad).  I went home and applied crazy amounts of aloe to my sunburn and proceeded to take a 3 hour nap followed by drinking as many fluids as humanly possible.  When I woke up I was feeling so much better.  I am pretty sure I had mild sun poisoning.  By Tuesday afternoon I was feeling well enough to get in a short bike ride to break up the lactic acid from Sunday.  Of course, in true Jodi form, I was questioning my "marathon retirement" by Wednesday morning.  I won't be making any decisions anytime soon as Sunday is still too fresh in my mind.  I don't know if I am ready to say good-bye to the marathon just yet.....only time will tell.  For now, I will just keep running.....

Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

ALS and the Cleveland Marathon

Just over a month ago,  the Cleveland Marathon posted the following on their Facebook Status:

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
April 8 ·
RUNNERS - We are assisting the organization - Dream Days, - in finding interested participants to assist them for our race on Sunday, May 18th. Dream Days is an organization dedicated to planning, facilitating and providing events for those with developmental and physical disabilities and other chronic conditions. The idea to have marathon runners push special needs individuals in specially-designed running chairs stemmed from seeing the Hoyts, where the father competes in marathons and triathlons with his son who has cerebral palsy. If you are interested, please contact, Executive Director, Jonathan Schulz directly at

Shortly after the Cleveland Marathon posted this status "short" Emily shared said status with our Sunday morning running group.  My initial thought was that I wouldn't be able to push someone for 26.2 miles so I simply put the idea in the back of my mind for future reference.  Fast forward to our Sunday morning long run that week and "short" Emily and "tall" Emily showed up for our 18 mile long run with a stroller in tow to "test the waters".  As we set out on our long journey, the Emilys shared what they would be doing with Mellisa and I.  By the middle of said long run, Mellisa and I had committed to joining the push team with the Emilys. 

Several weeks went by and we hadn't heard anything in regards to who we would be pushing and what their special need was.  We then received an email and found out that they were having a hard time finding special needs participants for the race.  The Executive Director of Dream Days was shocked by this as he thought finding the runners to push the participants would be the hardest part.  The very next day we were given our Team Captain!  We would be pushing Barry Winovich who is in the fight of his life battling ALS.  "Short" Emily sent us this video link so we could get to know our captain a little better.  Needless to say, there were many tears shed and even more gratitude to have been given the honor to push such an amazing individual.  In watching the video, we learned that Barry founded Bright Side of the Road Foundation because he chose to "start living". 

Yesterday marked our final long run prior to the Cleveland Marathon on May 18.  We did a lot of soul searching and talking about Barry and life in general as well as what our ultimate goal for Sunday will be. In the end the goal is simple......get Barry across the finish line of another 26.2 mile journey.  There will be a lot of prayer, determination, sweat, and probably a few tears.  Inevitably there will be pain but our pain is only temporary compared to the challenging journey that Barry and his family are on.  This marathon is not about us, it's about Barry Winovich, a truly inspirational soul.  With God's grace and Barry's will to fight, we will succeed.

If you are out on the course Sunday morning and see us in our mint green tanks, pushing a specially designed running stroller, please cheer for Team Barry.

Source:  Google Images

Keep running, you're simply the best, and Barry Winovich YOU inspire ME!!