Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon Recap

We left for Sacramento about noon on Saturday.  The weather was gorgeous and the scenery as we drove across the Sierras was, as always, breathtaking.  I was a little nervous, still, about the 1/2 marathon the following day, but I was mostly excited.

After we arrived in Sacramento, we went to the Fleet Feet Sports store downtown to pick up our race packets.  
I don't know anyone in this picture
Then, we went and checked into our hotel.  We rested for a little bit, and then headed over to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house, where we had a FABULOUS dinner of spaghetti with elk meat sauce, Caesar's salad, corn-on-the-cob, and the best bread EVER!  Perfect carb-loading for the race.

The weather forecast for Sunday was perfection.  50's in the morning...high of mid-70's.  With a starting time of 7:30 a.m., I figured it would be good running weather. We arrived at the starting line about 6:25 a.m.
Husband and Son

Me with husband
Me with son
About 20 minutes before the start, I lined up for the porta potty.  About 8 minutes before the start, I turned on my Garmin.  My Garmin searched and searched, but apparently could not locate a satellite.  Right before the start, it asked me, "Are you inside?"  I entered "no".  It asked if I was over 100 miles away from the location where I last used the Garmin (don't remember the exact words).  I entered "yes", at which point it continued searching and searching and searching some more for satellite.  When we started, all I could do was hit start time, but nothing showed up as to pace or mileage. 

My big, "probably won't get but could do if everything goes perfectly", "A" goal was to run 2:15 overall.  I wanted to stagger my paces a little bit by starting out slower, and getting progressively faster.  But, with my Garmin in satellite lala land, I didn't know what to do, so I just lined up behind the 2:15 pacer, and tried to keep him in my sights once we got started.
I could tell when we started that the pace was a little faster than I was expecting, but I also felt pretty comfortable.  Although the higher humidity (than what I'm used to) was obvious, the lower elevation felt AMAZING!  I kept the 2:15 sign in my view for about 4 miles.  Then, (this won't surprise too many of you who regularly read this blog) I felt the urge to take a pit stop.  Ugh!  I went right before the race, specifically so this wouldn't happen.  Anyway, there was a bank of four porta potties with quite a long line at about mile 4...and I had to make a decision...stop or keep going to the next porta potty (they had them approximately every 2 miles).  I - mistakenly, as it turned out - figured there would be a line, no matter where I stopped, so I just better get it over with.  The pit stop, itself, took 30 seconds.  The waiting in line PLUS the pit stop took over SIX MINUTES!  Oh, how I wanted those 6 minutes back!

I continued running.  Overall, I felt really good, except that I now had a mental obstacle of trying to make up that time.  I was desperately trying to just enjoy the race, soak it in, and remember that this was basically just a "training" run.  And, oh yeah, at about mile 2.6, my Garmin decided that it found a satellite it could get along with.  Now I knew down to the second just how far off that "A" goal I was.  And, of course, every porta potty I passed from mile 4 on was completely open with no lines.  I just told myself to relax and I could still reach my main, "I would be happy with", goal, which was to finish in less than 2:30. 

The course, itself,  was pretty nice.  Parts of it were on a bike trail which ran by the river.  Parts went through beautiful residential areas and parks.  In some areas, the trail was pretty narrow and crowded.  This made it difficult to get by people.  I ran on the dirt just off the trail pretty frequently just to pass other runners.  The closest I came to a mental "low" was on an out and back part of the course (I was about at mile 9) when I saw the 2:15 pacer pass by in the other direction.  I knew there was no possible way I was going to catch up.

But, honestly, I felt physically strong the entire race.  The race results show my average pace the first half as 11:28 (over a minute over my goal pace, thanks to the pit stop).  My paces for the last 6 miles were:

10:50 (I think this was at that "low" spot)
Overall official chip time:  2:23:50

My goal pace was 10:20, so I am really proud of those last miles.  I proved to myself that I can finish strong at this distance (I think I could become addicted to 1/2 marathons), and I'm hopefully one step closer to that sub-5 hour marathon. 

Yep, that's a cowbell cool is that?
My husband finished on his hand-cycle in 1:10:29 (2nd overall, but no award since he's on a hand-cycle)
My son ran the 5k in 28:18 (yeah, he beat my 5k time with no training...stinker!)

This was such a fun day, and I learned a lot (like DON'T use porta potties with lines during the race and I better turn my Garmin on at least an hour before). Sharing it with my family made it all the more special. 


  1. seriously that medal is awesome. love it! and so proud of you for pushing through despite some obstacles at the beginning. you are well on your way to your goal marathon and i am so excited for you! great race and love that you were able to share it with family! congrats sweet friend!

  2. Way to overcome! This is really weird, but my wife Michael ran in a race in St. Louis this past weekend called MO Cowbell and the medal was similar. Huh, two cowbell races on the same weekend - they need to start a national holiday or something.

  3. Great Job, Jenn! YES you are on your way to a sub 5 marathon!! I see a quick way to shave 6 minutes off :). Garmin stuff is a pain sometimes, but i have found a lot of help from youtube.

    Congrats to you and your hubby!

    BTW..we have elk burger spaghetti a lot.