April 28, 2014

Glass City Marathon Relay race report

I feel much more refreshed after a good night's sleep last night. I had such a busy weekend with my family! It was so much fun, and I didn't even have a spare moment to write a blog post. If I don't post on my blog, I still usually post on social media--Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram--because that only takes a second. But anyway, I will recap the weekend here, which could end up being a pretty lengthy post!

My sister, Jeanie, and her friend, Jen, drove in from Illinois. We, along with my mom, Jerry, and the kids, went to La Pita for dinner. Jeanie always likes to eat there when she's in Michigan for a visit. On Friday evening, Jeanie, Jen, and I went to a local bar to play Keno. The only time I've ever gambled has been with my sister! It was a fun, low-key evening.

I did my long run Saturday morning, 12 miles, because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it on Sunday. When I got home, I took a shower and packed up my stuff for the race, and then headed down to Toledo with Jeanie, Jen, Audrey, and Debbie (Jeanie's friends). We met up with Cathy (another of Jeanie's friends), Jerry, and Nathan (my little brother).

We went to the Glass City Marathon race expo to pick up our packets. Jeanie was running the full marathon, and there were five of us running the relay at her pace--Audrey, Jen, Debbie, Nathan (who took Cathy's place on the relay team because Cathy injured her back), and me--so she would have one of us by her side for the entire length of the marathon.

Jeanie had booked hotels in Toledo for us to stay on Saturday night. The race's start was going to be bright and early at 7:00 Sunday morning, so we didn't want to have to fight traffic or anything trying to get there. We checked into the hotels, and then headed over to an Italian restaurant called Biaggi's for dinner, where we met up with some of Shawn's family (Shawn is Jeanie's husband, my brother-in-law).

I've been SO excited for Jeanie to run this race! She started running in November 2012 in order to run the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K on my birthday in January 2013. Once she ran the 5K, she decided to keep going on to train for a 10K, since she was already halfway there. And after that, she ran her first half-marathon (I went out there to surprise her and run it with her, which was so fun!). Eventually, she made the big decision to go for a full marathon--the 2014 Glass City Marathon in Toledo.

I helped her train through it all, and hoped that she'd have a great experience with it. My first marathon sucked, so I wanted hers to be completely different. She had the idea to put together a relay team to run with her, which worked out really well! She would run the entire course, and each member of our relay team would run a leg of the course with her. After 18 weeks of marathon-specific training, she was as prepared as she was going to get for this race.

I got absolutely zero sleep in the hotel, and was ready to hit the road at 6:00 Sunday morning. Jeanie was a little nervous, but she was handling everything very well. She was just anxious to get started. We got the relay team ready to go, and then Jeanie and Audrey went to the starting line (Audrey was doing the first 5 miles with Jeanie). The rest of the team went to the first checkpoint--to cheer on the runners and to wait for Jeanie and Audrey to show up.

I made a couple of signs to hold up at the exchanges while we cheered:

Jeanie is a big Breaking Bad fan... hence the "Yeah, B*tch!" reference ;)
I swapped out the pink number at each exchange to reflect the actual number
of miles left.

Then we started watching the runners come through. I was on the lookout for Dean, from my Ragnar SoCal team, because I knew he was aiming for a sub-2:00 half-marathon. We saw him go by, and I saw he was right on pace for his goal. I also hoped to see Jessica, because I knew she was running the half. I wasn't sure what pace she'd be running, but she she must have been just behind Dean (she ended up finishing in 2:02). I missed seeing her, though.

Just after the 4:40 pacer (which is who Jeanie planned to follow for the first two legs), we saw Jeanie and Audrey. Audrey handed off the relay belt to Jen, while Jeanie, in great spirits, waved to us.

I felt much less nervous after I saw Jeanie go through, because she looked fantastic! She seemed like she was feeling really good, and everything was going well. Of course, she still had 21 miles to go at that point. ;)

We drove to the next exchange point to wait--Jen's leg was 6.1 miles, so we had a little over an hour. Jeanie and Jen followed the 4:40 pacer, and when we saw Jeanie at mile 11, she was looking awesome. She even said that she hadn't even started running yet (my friend Ty had told Jeanie once that marathoners don't even "really start to run" until after mile 10. Jeanie didn't really understand what she meant by that, but during marathon training, it clicked for her).

Jen handed the belt to Debbie. Debbie was really worried about running with Jeanie, because her pace is about 11:30/mile, and she didn't want to slow Jeanie down. But Jeanie told her it was completely fine, and they would run at Debbie's pace. So they let the pacer get a lead, and Jeanie and Debbie ran together for her leg, which was 4.4 miles. Jeanie technically didn't have a time goal, but she hoped for sub-5:00 (and, secretly, sub-11:00 average pace).

Meanwhile, the rest of the team went to the next exchange to wait, and Nathan got ready to run. He looked awesome in his (oh so manly) tutu ;)

We saw the 4:40 pacer come and go, and then we started looking for Jeanie and Debbie. My parents showed up with the kids, so there was a pretty big group of us at each exchange point on the course--the relay team, my parents, my kids, Jerry, Cathy, Shawn, and Shawn's family.  It wasn't too much later that we saw Jeanie and Debbie--Debbie was SO proud because she ran sub-11:00 miles! Jeanie knew she'd be behind the 4:40 pacer, and she was totally okay with that. She was still on course for a sub-5:00 finish time.

Once Nathan was running his leg with Jeanie (5.1 miles), I got ready for my leg--the final leg--of 5.3 miles. I knew that around the 20-mile mark, Jeanie would start feeling really tired and run down, so I had warned Nathan of that, and how to handle it. Jeanie's pace slowed a little, but not by much. She never stopped running! They had some really strong wind through those miles, but she pushed through it.

At the final exchange, I was getting really nervous. I just hoped that Jeanie was still feeling good. I kept looking around the bend, hoping to see a glimpse of Nathan's tutu. I saw the 4:40 pacer come and go, and a few minutes later, I saw them...

Nathan was obviously very shy in his tutu, and didn't ham it up or anything ;) Nathan passed me the belt, and I fell into step beside Jeanie. She was listening to headphones, but I asked her quickly how she was feeling and I did a quick once over on how she looked. She said she was getting tired, and her pace had slowed, but she didn't have any major issues--no real pain, no stomach problems, etc.

Jeanie was extremely organized in how she planned to handle fueling during the race. She followed every bit of advice I gave her, and it had worked out really well (to my relief! haha). She stuck with her plan for the Gu/ShotBloks/Gatorade. I passed on the water stations, because I didn't need it for a five-mile run, but there were some people who set up a makeshift beer station with PBR in Dixie cups. I was definitely game for that! ;)

I glanced at Jeanie every so often to see how she was doing. Her pace was around 11:15/mi at that point, so I knew she'd finish sub-5:00. She never complained, or said she was tired, or stopped to walk, or anything. I was completely shocked at how well she was doing during the last five miles! With two miles left, I sent a quick text to Jen to let her know how much longer. About a mile out, Jeanie took off her headphones, and was maintaining a really steady pace.

We started to talk about the finish line, and I didn't want her to get photobombed at the last minute (I hate when people sprint the last few yards and wind up right in front of you for a finish line photo). I wanted her to have a very clear picture of her crossing that finish line! She said she wanted us to hold hands and raise our arms as we crossed.

When we saw the finish line, and ran in that last tenth of a mile, Jeanie started to tear up, which made me start to tear up. We raised our arms and had a great finish!

Jeanie immediately started crying, and almost forgot to accept her medal ;)  It was so emotional to watch her hug everyone--everybody was so proud, and there were lots of tears all around.

We took some pictures before heading home for the after party.

I took a quick shower at home, and then went to my parents' house where we were having an after party. Dean, and his wife, Mandy, came up there, too, so it was fun to get to spend time with them.

Dean crushed his sub-2:00 goal, by the way--finishing in 1:57!! My dad made fried fish, and we had a bunch of other food and drinks there. I'd also gotten a cake from Monica's:

It was too cold to be outside, so we just sat around and talked inside. My older brother, Brian, came in from Minnesota, and it was awesome having all three of my siblings in one spot. That only happens a couple of times a year. My mom wanted to get some pictures of us together, and they ended up turning out so great!

I wish the marathon had been Saturday, instead of Sunday, because we had to make it an early night to get the kids in bed for school today. We hung out over there until 8:30, and then we came home. It was an awesome day to cap an amazing weekend!

My sister's results:

She finished in 4:47:41! That's faster than my SECOND marathon. She did so awesome--she really couldn't have had a better race experience, I don't think. She said she highly recommends choosing a first marathon that offers a relay option, so you can have your friends by your side to help you through it. It made the time and distance go by so much faster. I'm going to ask my sister if she'll write a guest post about the race and her training.

I'm SUPER proud of my sister for all the sacrifices she's made in training for this race. She followed her running schedule right to the tee, and was extremely dedicated to her training. Tomorrow, she's off to vacation at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico--the perfect reward for all her hard work!


  1. Congrats to Jeanie! That sounds so fun!

  2. Congrats to your sister! The relay along with the full is such a great idea! I am running my first full marathon in October, Chicago. I am excited and incredibly terrified. Any tips you can pass on would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I hope my first marathon in June is as smooth as it sounds like your sister's was! I would love to hear more about your fueling, and Jeanie's experience running her first marathon! I am also glad I am not the only one who gets emotional at the end of races. I have cried - or at least teared up - at 2/3 of my half marathons, and can only imagine I will cry June 21!

  3. Congrats to your sister! And yes....please have Jeanie write a guest post. I'd love to read it.

  4. Congrats to Jeanie! It looks like you guys had an awesome time. I really love the signs you made.

  5. Way to go Jeanie!!!!! What an awesome post! ...got a little teary eyed myself just reading it. And who doesn't love a party where the whole family can be together! Looks like a great time had by all!

  6. What an amazing recap! You must be so proud of your sister, to be able to follow the plan you wrote up for her and to see her finish so strong! Would love to read her "race story"! Keep up the great work Katie, you inspire so many of us!

  7. Awesome job for your sister!! A couple of my Michigan friends ran the Glass City 1/2. They said it was a great race!

  8. Super recap Katie--such fun to read about the wonderful time you all had RUNNING! Your brother looks so cute in his tutu, and as you said, he was extremely shy! NOT!! I love the signs you made for Jeanie--Yeah B*TCH!!! So funny! And the pictures with your family are my favorite. You all look great!

  9. Congrats to your sister and your whole family! Sounds like an amazing race.

  10. Congrats to Jeanie!! LOVE your brother in his tutu!!! (also, I totally don't remember saying that, but thanks for the name drop!) I bet you're proud to have inspired a non-runner into a marathoner, too! :)

  11. I love that the bibs say 'Jeanie's cheer squad'!

  12. Awesome race! Congrats to Jeanie! And katie - way to coach :)

  13. Congratulations Jeanie!! What an awesome story!

  14. Congrats to your sister, sounds like a fantastic race! WTG on running the whole thing that is quite an accomplishment!

  15. What a genius idea - to have a relay of runners! Wow.

  16. Way to go Sista! And you have such an amazing supportive family!!

  17. Such an awesome, feel good post! I also have two brothers and one sister - we love it when we can all get together. I am so impressed with the help you gave your sister, and all that your sister had to do to prepare for the big day. What a great accomplishment! I sure look forward to reading your blog.

  18. I saw you at the first hand-off location for the relay and was star struck! I said "Ahhhh that's the Runs for Cookies girl! I love her blog!" You have been a great inspiration to me over the past 2 years!

    1. Oh, I wish you'd said hi!! Were you running or spectating? It was such a fun race! I'm going to do the relay again next year.

  19. I know I should have! I ran the relay with a group of my friends. It was so fun! We had on bright pink shirts and tiaras. We will definitely do it again! You guys are so awesome for running with your sister! I couldn't think of a better way to run a full!

  20. What a beautiful and touching post! Such an amazing and inspiring family, Katie - all of you. Congrats to you all!

  21. Congrats to your sister! She did awesome! She looks so happy in all of her picture like she really was enjoying the experience. I ran the Glass City half. I looked for your team of tutus at the relay exchange but didn't see you. I must say I thought the medals could have been a bit bigger :)

  22. So sweet and generous how you watched out for your sister along the whole route! Really touching.

  23. LOVED reading this post! You have such a supportive family. Congratulations to you all.

  24. Jeanie did such a great job! I hope she enjoyed it enough to want to do more.

  25. Get it, girl! Congrats Jeanie!! Terrific time and terrific vacation spot! You guys are such a sweet family!-- Mave

  26. You all look so cute in your tutus, especially Nathan. Glad that the Glass City was good to you all. Congrats to Jeanie!

  27. Wow, such an awesome and emotional race recap! By the time you got to the finish line I had tears. Great accomplishment, and such amazing support. Love the relay idea, never knew you could do that. You have a super supportive family!

  28. What an awesome, awesome, awesome race report!! I loved reading every bit of it, and I'm so happy for your sister! What a stroke of genius to choose a marathon that had a relay option so you could run with friends and family. Besides being an awesome marathoner, Jeanie is one smart cookie.

    I think I want to run a race with your brother sometime. He looks like he'd be my kind of runner. ;)

    Thanks for sharing the story, and congratulations to Jeanie!!

  29. I totally love the idea of the relay team to support a runner who is doing a full marathon!


Feel free to leave a comment! I had to turn on comment moderation due to a ton of spam comments, but I will approve your comment ASAP.

Featured Posts

Blog Archive