Purposefully bringing up the rear in this Sunday's New York City Marathon will be Jennie Finch, a name you might recognize from the Olympics. Finch, 31 years old, pitched the USA Softball Team to a gold medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2008. Retired but not ready to quit, Finch, who is the mother to two boys—Ace (age 5) and Diesel (four months)—took up running as a way to stay fit and clear her mind. Oh, and to run a marathon.
I had a chance to talk with Jennie about three weeks ago, and asked her about her latest athletic endeavor.
Why did you start running?
It was a great way to get my competitive fire going after softball. When I committed to running the New York City Marathon, I didn’t realize it was going to be four months after giving birth. So I started out with a two-mile run and ran a half-marathon when I was 20 weeks pregnant to give my body a little jump-start on the training. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity though.
I’m going to be the very last person to cross the starting line, and Timex is going to donate a dollar for every person I pass in the marathon to the New York Road Runners youth program. What a better way to run a marathon? I love team sports, and I still feel like I’m on a team.
So how did you get ready for a marathon in four months?
Two weeks after giving birth, I got on the elliptical, but I didn’t start running seriously again until six weeks after he was born. I’ve run 17 miles, and think my longest run will be around 19 miles. I've run the hills of Central Park, so I know what I'll be facing during the last few miles.
What do you like most about your newest sport?
I feel so empowered on the longer runs. I just think, Holy Cow. I never thought I could run 17 miles, but here I am. I love interval training too; today I ran ten 800’s in Central Park and really like pushing myself. My training has been much more enjoyable than I thought, but it’s also been a lot tougher than I expected too. I will say I am looking forward to the day where I don’t have three-hour runs hanging over my head.
What are your goals for the marathon?
It used to be to finish, but now I want to finish somewhere around 4:10 or 4:15. Really, though, my biggest goal is to pass 25,000 people. I’d love to make $25,000 for youth runners.
How will softball help you on race day?
There are so many aspects to softball: hitting, pitching, throwing, running. Running is just running, so there isn’t much skill-wise that carries over. But my mental toughness will definitely come in handy. It’s not a matter of if I can do this. I know I can, and I will.
Timex isn't just generous with the little runners of NYC; they're also giving away a Timex Ironman Run Trainer with heart rate monitor the same GPS-enabled device that Jennie has been training with, to one random winner. The Run Trainer tracks all your important data--pace, mileage, heart rate, route--and displays it on an easy-to-read screen on your wrist, and then downloads it seamlessly onto your computer. It also has important bells and whistles: alarms to remind you to drink or eat; interval timers; and ranges you can set for your heart rate or pace. (Love the alarm to drink and eat, btw: genius.)
In order to be entered into the contest to win this great Timex Run Trainer, you just have to tell us in the comments below if you started last in the New York City Marathon, how many runners--there are approximately 45,000--do you think you'd pass?