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Fox Cities Marathon

Susan Jankelson

I know you are all anxious to hear about the marathon. It has taken me two weeks to find a little extra time to sit down at the computer to write my synopsis of the day. Plus, I had to wait to get home to actually get a picture to share (to prove that I actually ran the thing). Short version ... I finished.

The week prior to the marathon was a roller coaster ride. I was not getting much sleep because my husband Steve was not getting much sleep. I also think that my girls were trying to get sick. It seemed like I had NO time to be nervous for the upcoming 26.2 mile run!

I sat up every night to watch the news as I was trying to keep track of the weather. As only a few of you know, Wisconsin weather in the fall is very unpredictable. When packing for the trip, I had to include running clothes for both summer and winter weather. My suitcase was 1/3 full of running gear (not to mention the two pairs of running shoes). As I watched intently every night, I saw that we were probably going to get rained on. You would think, being from the Northwest, I would have packed rain gear!

The day of the race was here. I got absolutely NO sleep the night before. So, when everyone started getting up, I was in no mood to talk about running. In fact, I was about to call it quits when Steve came in the room wearing a yellow shirt with the following on the front:

#528
Jankelson Tactical Crew
'Go Suzy Go'

On the back was written:

#528
Go, Suzy, Go
Beautiful Wife, Daughter,
Sister, Mother, Friend
Wow, Look at-'er Go!

He had a shirt for everyone in the family -- including the girls!!

Then, he handed me a page of the local newspaper, The Post Crescent. On the front page of the Sports section the Tuesday prior to the race, there was an article with a HUGE picture of my parents wearing the t-shirts and giving the thumbs up sign. (The picture was bigger than Brett Favre's that day)! It was a wonderful article about me being from Appleton and doing my first marathon and all the trials and tribulations I had been through to get to that day... a knee injury, training while pushing the girls in a jog stroller, training while my husband was out defending the country on a regular basis. Needless to say, that gave me the inspiration I needed to get dressed, stretch and head for the starting line.

The weather was not what I asked for. It was way overcast with a good chance of thunderstorms. It was also humid and 71 degrees at the 8:00 am start time. Not the ideal conditions by any means. We listened to the radio to make sure nothing was cancelled.

So, there I was at the start line waiting to run. I really was not as nervous as I thought I would be. I think because deep down I knew I was ready and had great training thanks to Coach (King) Art. All I had to do was remember not to take it out too fast.

I did just that. I stayed back in the pack and just tried to hold on to a steady pace. The miles actually clicked by. The wonderful thing about this marathon is that it runs through about 6-7 different cities in the Fox Valley region. There was always something to look at. Only one time did we find ourselves on a "country" road and that lasted maybe two miles! The community really supports this event. Many people brought out their lawn chairs to sit at the ends of their driveways to cheer on the runners! It was rather neat.

I did not see my cheering section until the 10-mile mark. I have to admit, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see them, but the10-mile mark was perfect! There they were whooping and hollering. Alan apparently gave Ally a very loud horn. She definitely enjoyed that part! They had also made huge signs to cheer me on as well! A couple of runners stopped and waited for me to come and became a part of the cheering crowd. These two, Pat and John, ended up running with me off and on for the next 6-7 miles.

Then, the fun began. At around the 14-mile point, I saw it… a big, black cloud heading our direction. John, Pat and I joked about it and the two men tried to convince me that we would not get rained on during the marathon. Two minutes later, I found out how wrong they were! Not only did it rain, but also it rained with a purpose. My shoes seemed to weigh 10 pounds instead of 10 ounces! There were miniature rivers flowing in the streets. I tried to keep things positive... at least I wasn't hot anymore. There was a clap of thunder as well. I began to wonder what I would do if it become worse.

As I was coming down a hill nearing the center of Kaukauna around mile-15, I noticed people veering off to the left (the course was supposed to go right). I thought the officials may have changed to course at the last minute. It was then that I noticed the police officers talking to runners. As I got down to the bottom of the hill, Steve stepped out of Mom and Dad's car to inform me that the race was cancelled. I was devastated. All the training, the injury I fought through, the countless miles that I ran to get to this point, all to find out the race was over at 15 miles. I tried to think of other races within the next two weeks to try to run but knew that I would not be in peak condition for those races. Then I noticed my buddies, John and Pat, run past me and up the bridge over the Fox River. I looked at Steve and said, "I came here to run a marathon and that is what I am going to do - officially or unofficially." I gave him a kiss and said I would see him at the finish.

Well, I saw him before then at the next water station. It seems that particular water station was closing because the race was cancelled. So, we decided that Steve and my family would have to be my support with fluid and food for the rest of the race. I continued to run and created a contingency plan in case the weather worsened. I figured we were running through residential areas and I would be able to take shelter on someone's porch. Well, I did not have to follow that plan because the weather cleared.

As I kept running, I noticed that water stations were still open along the route. I was pleasantly surprised so I made sure to thank each and every person for hanging out to support us.

Somewhere between mile-19 and 20, I asked Steve for that second pair of running shoes. It was one of my better decisions. It was nice to put on dry socks and shoes. I really think that helped in those last few miles. I passed numerous people that seemed to be limping one way or another… I wonder how many of them had blisters?

Running along nicely at mile 23. I think I am even smiling!

So, I hit mile-22 (my longest training run) with relative ease. Then came the last four miles. I kept trying to tell myself that it was a normal training run. My legs weren't as cooperative. I walked a little more during those last few miles. The course was nice enough to run on an overpass that was a nice little "bump" in the road. My brother and his wife were in their van cheering me on as I climbed that last hill. Then rest was downhill.

Steve ended up joining me on the run for the last two miles. It sure was nice to have him there.

I finished and it was official. The finish line never closed. It wasn't the time I would have liked but I made it in before five hours and had the greatest support crew anyone can imagine! Thanks for all the support out there. It was a worthwhile journey. If asked two weeks ago if I would do another one, I would have been very hesitant to answer. Today, I say, “bring it on”. I am looking forward my next marathon.

Hey, I'm still smiling!

There was a little controversy following the marathon. Remember when I said that some runners were being pulled off the course? Well, about 50-75 runners went to the Kaukauna Fire Station as they were told. A bus eventually cam to pick them up and take them back to the finish. Needless to say, they were pretty upset to see runners coming in and getting official times. It took a week for a resolution for those runners… a different commemorative t-shirt and medal and free entry in one of the marathons over the next three years.

Thanks Susan for sharing your article.

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