I wasn't going to do the Rock n Roll Marathon, but once I found out it was sold out I became intrigued. I went to their site and saw that it was indeed sold out, but there were reserved spots for the American Cancer Society - Team DetermiNation. I learned that if you committed to raising $1,200 you could get a spot in the race. Ever since my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I've been looking for ways to give back to the people that made her well. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I was humbled and amazed by our friends' generosity. Before long I not only met my goal, I surpassed it. The amount is currently $1,600, but with corporate matching I'm expecting that number to rise above $2,000. Through Facebook, we were receiving donations from not only friends, but friends of friends!
I did most of my training on my own, I added extra miles to my normal weekly runs and started doing speed work at Roosevelt Track once a week. I was so inspired by the stories I heard from donors and survivors that this training came very easy to me. The little bit of pain that I was going through was nothing compared to what others who have battled cancer have felt.
Let's get to the race. You might remember my Portland Marathon note (if not, feel free to read if you have some time - My Portland Marathon Story), if so you can be assured that I took special care to make sure I had everything I needed when I left for the race namely, my race number. By the way, the Rock n Roll Marathon had a booth at the start for people that didn't have their numbers, so I would have been fine even if I'd forgotten it again!
I've pretty much been out of racing for 7 years, so I'm not the seasoned racer I once was. Because of this, I probably didn't run the smartest race. For the first 19 miles my average pace was from 6:31 - 6:39 minute miles. The rest of the race I averaged about 6:50. Man, that 20 mile wall is no myth! At about mile 24.5 I was passed by the 3:00 hr pacer, my heart sank and for that moment I thought there was no way I could reach my personal goal of <3:00 hrs. I was spent, my feet were killing me, and my legs were sore. It would have been very easy for me to settle into an 8:00 minute pace and just concentrate on finishing. I thought of my daughter Alex, and how brave she was through all her treatments and surgeries when she was less than 2 years old. I thought of all the stories I'd heard from friends about their battles and the battles of the people they loved. I thought about how supportive my wife and daughters have been and how much I wanted to do this for them. It was at that moment that I decided to go for it. I saw the 25 mile marker and the time which read 2:50, I had ten minutes to finish the last 1.2. Seems completely doable, except for the hill that was staring at me. Thankfully my good friend Pedro somehow got onto this part of the course on his bike, hearing his encouragement surely helped.
The climb took for what seemed an eternity, but I made it and saw the 26 mile marker which now showed a time of 2:58. I had 1 minute and 59 seconds to round the corner and make my way to the finish line. There was absolutely nothing in my tank but fumes, but I dug deep and sprinted as fast as I could. I heard my friends Mark (who had just finished the 1/2 marathon) & Lisa screaming "Go Jon!", I also heard my wife and daughters yelling "Go Daddy!!". I couldn't help but hear the finish line announcer saying over the microphone "You can still beat 3 hours, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6...." I crossed the finish line with 8 seconds to spare (see it here). I was the 37th finisher of the 4,080 runners that completed the marathon.
From the finish I took a slow painful walk over to the American Cancer Society tent where Maya, Sammy and Alex were waiting for me. I was greeted with big hugs and kisses and lots of congratulations. That was way better than the finishing medal.
While the under 3 hour personal goal was nice, it is not the important number at all. The important number is $1,600 + that we were able to raise to add to the total of over $380k for the American Cancer Society. Thanks again to all our friends that supported this cause. I would highly encourage anyone that is planning to do a half or full marathon to run for Team DetermiNation, they treat you very well and are there to support you from the day you start training to the end of the race.
Clearly shows how I was feeling right after the race
ACS - Team DetermiNation
Family pic after the race
My 'In honor of' race number
A few more images from the race.
In front of the 'In memory of/In honor of' wall
Early morning bus ride to the race
Sign made by Sammy
Immediately after the race
Last stop before heading home.