26.2: In the words of #teamsutera

Wow. I sit here at my laptop, knowing full well what a huge accomplishment becoming a marathoner is. 
…yet I struggle to find the right words to capture the moments that lead up to Scott and I crossing that finish line together. Hand-in-hand, as promised. 

But I’ll do my best to capture the emotion of the day — with future posts on all the *other* stuff that happened leading into the big day (including a ‘bloopers’ reel which I’m sure all you Type A-ers will appreciate!). 

26.2: In the words of #teamsutera

Running the Chicago Marathon was both the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most proud thing I’ve ever done in my life. The days leading into the marathon itself? Marked by lots of tears, more than a few moments of anxiety and a whole lot of thinking, wondering, pondering, reminiscing. You see, this past 18 weeks meant so, so, so much more to me than the race itself. No matter what was going on in our lives from June – October, the one constant that remained? Training for 26.2. It was always there. Always present by my side. In my mind. Just like Scott has always been there, always by my side, always on my mind. ❤

So leading into the big day on Sunday, all I could think about was ‘wow, this is almost over.’ The word ‘over’ felt so big, so heavy, so sad, somehow. I found myself crying in the car on the way to work anytime I thought about the marathon, or when I’d read some comforting and uplifting words from friends via text, email or tweet (Meaghan wins the award for making me cry the hardest with the most heartfelt email I’ve ever received from a friend). It all suddenly felt so rushed, so whirlwind-ish, so…nearly over. Even the morning of the marathon seemed to whir by in an instant. Next thing I knew, we were trudging down to Grant Park to find our start corral — with Jo and M by our side, trying their best to keep us (meaning: me) calm. Distracting us, making us laugh, taking pictures…even giving us both a hug before we parted ways at our corral. (the most comforting hugs of all…)

Scott and I stood in our corral, taking it all in. We were both so proud at that moment. I know that because Scott’s eyes were absolutely glowing with joy. Meanwhile, I kept hiding the fact that I was welling up with tears, sobs rising in my throat as I listened to the announcer prepare us for what would lie ahead. I didn’t want Scott to see me looking sad — when really it wasn’t sadness, but just sheer emotion at the enormity of what we were about to do. I couldn’t believe we were toeing the starting line — or once we crossed that starting line that we were actually running a marathon.

Us. Running a MARATHON. Seriously??

Now, I’m not going to go into every last bit of the race, mile-by-mile. That’s not my style, as you know. I’m here simply trying to capture the emotion of the day. Sure — it was physically painful. Sure — it tested every last ounce of mental strength I’d built up during training. Sure — it was all I could do to show strength and confidence when I saw my sis and M at mile 8 and again at mile 17 with my mom and her boyfriend Mark (when all I really wanted to do was crumple to the ground in tears). Sure — it was really hard to continue shuffling forward when we both hit the physical wall around mile 19.

But what mattered more that day? How we handled that pain, that emotion…all of it. We handled it together — just as we’ve done with every obstacle we’ve faced in life. With couragestrength and a fierce commitment to eachother and to finishing what we started.

So as we rounded that bend to mile 26 — and the announcer told the runners to take it all in, the accomplishment we were thisclose to hitting…and the emotions just came flooding forward. I was crying, big giant sobs while trying my best not to hyperventilate as we headed towards that finish line. It was more that I could finally exhale — all 18 weeks of work came rushing back at me.

We did this. We set out to finish what we started. And we did it together. Hand-in-hand, huge smiles on our faces, tears in our eyes, and more pride than either of us have ever felt in our entire lives. 

So on Sunday, October 7th at roughly 1pm — Scott and I became marathoners. Finishing that thing in under 5 hours (4:54ish). But more than any number could possibly tell you? We finished what we started — together, as always. 


(editor’s note: I seriously have *so* much more to share from our marathon weekend but I felt it important to start here — from the very emotional side of marathon training. A side of training I was clearly very unprepared for but so very thankful for. More to come, much, much more…)

100 thoughts on “26.2: In the words of #teamsutera

  1. this post had me tearing up! i ran chicago as well (my first marathon too) and i couldn’t begin to capture the emotions like you did here. i’m so glad you two got to do it together and i really hope to one day make a goal like that with my partner and accomplish it like you guys did. way to go!

  2. I am so incredibly proud of you, and especially that you got to share this with not only your husband but so many other loved ones. You earned that medal, lady! Can’t wait to read more…

  3. You seriously just made me cry at work. Four more sleeps for me….I’m right in the middle of that “major anxiety” phase. But reading your post made me excited to get out there and do this, in my own way, on my own terms.

    You rock! You’re such an inspiration.

    • Aw man, more tears! I’m sorry! haha

      You are going to be AWESOME on race day my dear, you are in such a good place in your life right now that I am just fully expecting and KNOWING you’re going to CRUSH it on race day. Cheering you on virtually all the way!!

  4. Gah! I have tears running down my face because I can so relate to each and every word. I am SO immensely proud of you because I know how hard it is to fight through those moments where you just want to crumple in tears. I told you about that, remember? You DID IT!!!!! And nothing can steal that accomplishment that you ARE a MARATHONER!

    Consider this a great big huge virtual hug that I didn’t get the chance to give you after the race.

    • Tears friend, lots of tears over here too. I KNEW you’d totally relate to this recap…it felt so similar to a lot of what you went through on race day huh? An incredible experience, not without lots of physical pain, but it was the mental strength we found, and the connection we shared that made it ALL worth it on that day. You know? SO proud to call ourselves marathoners, it’s just ridiculous!!

      XOXOXO biiiiig hugs right back atcha my dear!

  5. Love Love Love. Your journey with your husband to your first marathon sounds so much like mine with my husband. I have forgotten so many marathons but I still remember each bit of pain we had during our first race and the words we shared to get each other through it. I remember coming down to the finish line filled with so much pride of US. I cry just before most races because the training is really a HUGE part of the race. It was 18 weeks of your lives. 18 weeks that you dedicated so much heart into and you completed it. Yes, it is over, but you have so much ahead of you whether it be running or something else. Congrats #teamsutera!! You guys did amazing. I am so proud of you Jess and so happy I could be here to cheer you on. HUGS!

    • I LOVE hearing your words on the whole marathon experience my friend. I totally look up to you as a runner and LOVE that I made even you proud!!

      As for the ‘it’s over’ part…I’m still struggling with that, admittedly. I think it’s mostly because I’m such a go, go, go person that to suddenly be at a place where I can exhale and take a step back is SO strange to me. But I’m doing my best to embrace that before #teamsutera figures out what’s next for us 😉 xo!

  6. Congrats! That’s amazing and your emotion is so true of what we all feel. I think a marathon is a beautiful accomplishment because nobody made you do it and you don’t profit from it financially. You simply push yourself for months towards a goal, because you believe your body can do it. And you did. Congrats!

  7. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd cue the waterworks.. A-freakin-gain.
    And to think, this was just your FIRST marathon.. Wait til the next one.. Oops, did I say that outloud? 😉
    Love love love you more than works. CONGRATS #teamsutera! You are both amazing and an inspiration to ALL of us.

    • Hahaha sorrrryyyyyy friennnnd. But hey, I can totally blame you for this one — you’re the one who got me all emotional about this thing to begin with! Shall we revisit that email you sent me the day before the race? BUCKETS of tears. Love you SO MUCH!!!!

      (and ummmm another one?? I’m so tired just thinking about it LOL…but notice I didn’t say ‘no way’ right away??) 😉

    • Aww what a compliment, Heidi! Thank you! I just wanted to try to capture the emotion of the day and of the entire journey we had been on…like I said, this was so much more than just a training cycle, it was a journey to the end. Loved it so much.

  8. Aw–big congrats to you! First marathons are so special, and doing it with your husband? That much more so, I’m sure! Soak it all in.

  9. I love how you say that the journey to the marathon meant more to you than the race itself. That is exactly how I felt too. I think the reason behind that is because that is where the transformation actually happens. The lessons are all in the journey.

    I am beyond proud of you! You are a MARATHONER!!! That is a title that you have worked hard for and no one can ever take it away from you. JOYful for you friend….CONGRATULATIONS!

    • Friend. I thought of you OFTEN on race day…especially that piece of scripture you left for me on the blog. It brought me to tears and often brought me to tears while running that day. It was exactly what I needed to hear and to remember during the really difficult miles.

      This has been an incredible journey, so many lessons learned, so much evolution happened, so much change happened. But most of all, we did it together, are more in love than ever, and yes – we are MARATHONERS!!! ahhh!!!

  10. Congrats on your first! It is such an amazing experience and nobody ever knows exactly what it’s like until they get out there and are forced to push through the 26.2. You and your hubs got to enjoy that experience together and that makes it even more exciting and memorable! Way to go 🙂

    • You are so right…which is why it was so hard for me to even capture the experience with words. It was so much more emotional for me than I ever imagined. Something I will NEVER forget.

  11. I am not sure what I loved more, reading this, or reading all of the comments so far. Because reading these makes me even prouder as a sister that saw you through all of this from day one. And thinking back to that day and fast forward to today, you have learned so much. You have taught each other so much. You have taught ME so much. And you are carrying with you what you learned to the next…whatever it may be. Running, life, work, everything. That focus, determination, and the right mix of everything is the magic bullet for success. Love you both so very much and am as proud as I could ever be. XOXO

    • Aww sis, you always make me smile so big with your words of love and pride and joy for me. I have LOVED sharing this with you most of all, it’s been so fun seeing you grow and evolve as a runner throughout this process too…love that I’ve helped you get out of your own way a little bit and are truly loving running again. AND the fact that you look to Scott and I as a model of success? Huge huge compliment. love you. xoxo

    • It took me three days to capture my thoughts after all of that, it wasn’t easy — and I still don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around that day. It was simply amazing.

  12. Ok, when you said, “when really it wasn’t sadness, but just sheer emotion at the enormity of what we were about to do”, I totally do that with EVERYTHING! Seriously, anything that gets my emotions going to that extent, leads to tears! Having kids does that to me all the time too! Everything they do is an event for me! Jay shaved for the first time on Sunday night and I didn’t want him to see me cry, so I stayed away!

    Anyway, back to you two…I watched and listened to the whole thing. Tony did with me too! He kept asking about you two and it was a whole bonding session for us with our running. We are so incredibly proud of you two! The whole journey was just an accomplishment! You two are marathoners!!!

    PS, I was bummed they turned on baseball on the live feed right before you guys hit the finish line! I so wanted to see that moment!

    • Awww I LOVE that you sat there glued to your computer and TV the whole morning! I seriously couldn’t stop thinking of you guys on the course that day…I knew you were all cheering us on and that gave me such joy and pride!

      I also love love LOVE how running, and sharing parts of our running journey with Tony has brought you guys even closer together. That is just awesome. LOVE!!

  13. My eyes welled up with tears reading this! My husband and I just finished my 1st (his 4th) half marathon and it was such an amazing journey training and then running the race together. You guys have inspired me to train for a full marathon now! Congrats! What an amazing accomplishment! Can’t wait to read more posts about your experience!

    • Aww I love that you ran your first half marathon together, what an experience, huh?? I LOVE that you’re now ready to face down a full together — trust me, you will NOT regret it!!

  14. Gosh, you have me crying at this. I totally understand what you felt – crossing the finish line with Scott…I ran Boston with my husband (bf at the time!) in 2009 and we crossed the finish line together. It’s amazing to be able to share an experience like that with someone that you love.
    You guys are amazing – so proud of you!!! And I loved sharing the journey with you both!! xoxo

    • Ha, lots of tears on this post, sorry about that! 😉

      I love that you ran Boston with your husband…wasn’t it just an incredible experience?? I LOVED every single minute. xo!

  15. I get emotional and cry at what others might think are the strangest moments… but when I am MOVED I cannot help it… I totally know what you were feeling in the corral!

    this made me cry, gave me chills, made my stomach flip – all in good ways, of course. I am so SO elated and proud of you guys, just BEAMING smiles right now!!

    • I absolutely agree – when something moves me, I can’t help but well up. I guess I’m a big mushball afterall, huh?

      I love you guys so much for all of your support during training and on race day, you guys are just AWESOME. Truly.

  16. Biggest congrats! Can’t describe how proud I am of the two of you – I love how you said you did it together, and Scott was always by your side. That makes all the difference : ) I’m about to run Newport Half this weekend- – hopefully my emotions and willpower will take me to the finish as pain-free as possible. Proud of you, lady!! ❤

  17. I am sooooo soooo proud of you and Scott. Seriously. I love that you two stuck together and experienced something very people do alone, let together. You guys EARNED those medals! (which are pretty fabulous, right??)

  18. Congratulations! I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now, and was so excited to see this post. I teared up reading about your emotion before and during the race. You and your husband are SUCH an inspiration to me. Kudos to you both for not giving up on each other or yourselves and crossing the finish line together! 🙂

    • Aw I’m so glad you’ve been following, thank you for coming by, I love hearing from you!

      And you’re right, finishing together, hand-in-hand and never giving up on eachother? The best feeling ever.

  19. I completely resonate with your words- the marathon was also the hardest thing I had done, and the thing I was most proud of. Congrats, you did it!!

  20. CONGRATS again, looking forward to even more posts about your marathon experience!

    My favorite things about your race recaps that make them a lot different than others I have read about Chicago, is you write “TEAM SUTERA” instead of just Scott and I, it is great how you appreciate the team effort even if others were not out there running. Kudos!!! And did you bring your medal to work?!?!

    • I still can’t believe how much energy you had cheering us on on race day. I LOVED seeing you!!!

      #teamsutera all the way, you know it!!

      (and no, I refrained from wearing it to work, thought about it tho, hehe)

  21. I am *SO* proud of you guys. Not only for finishing the marathon together and finishing what you started – both HUGE accomplishments – but really, how you have handled yourself throughout this whole process. #teamsutera all the way.

    • Thank you SO much friend and fellow #runsherpa. I couldn’t have done it without #teamsutera all the way…or without you guys too. You have no idea how much ALL of your support meant throughout this process. I have gratitude in my heart for all you’ve done. xo!

  22. Congratulations!!! You should be so proud! Reading this post brought tears to my eyes, I know those feelings you express oh so well. Start lines and finish lines and race days in general are always marked with tears in my world. As I read your words about the finish I remembered when Michael finished and I saw him, the hugs and tears we shared and how, somehow, I managed to run into his arms the minute I saw him. Chicago is amazing. Thank you for this post!

    • It was definitely MOST emotional at the start and finish for me — it just felt like two giant, very monumental moments and I just couldn’t help but let the tears come (even if I hid them from Scott at the starting line). It was an incredible experience, I am SO grateful for every single moment of that day and every single week of our training.

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  24. Oh, Jess (and Scott!) this is just so wonderful. Remember a year ago when you were all, “I could never run a marathon!” And now, girl, you’ve done it, and in the best way possible. Your training was so fun and inspiring to follow, and each time I read about you tackling a new distance I knew you’d write a recap just like this after race day. I am so proud of you and so happy for you. Celebrate this accomplishment for a very long time! Congratulations!

    • Just like I said on twitter — your comment made me smile so big! Thank you for reminding me of that moment last year where I truly and HONESTLY had zero intention of ever running a marathon. I didn’t think I had it in me. At. All. I guess I proved that one wrong big time on Sunday huh??

      I am basking in this post-marathon glow for as long as possible!

  25. Beautiful recap of your first marathon! I love that you captured the true meaning behind it. The emotion. The fact that you stuck it out and finished what you set your mind on! THAT is the beauty of the marathon, not the time on your watch.

    so proud of you! so happy for you 😀
    Cheers to recovery

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  27. i almost cried reading this hah. chicago was my first race EVER and i remember crossing the finish line and tearing up…what an amazing feeling. you really do go through so many emotions during those races they definitely push you HARD. its totally worth it though…you must be so proud of yourself-you absolutely should be. congrats!! which race is next? 🙂

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  32. As I prepare for my first marathon in exactly one week in Washington, DC I just tear up and get goosebumps all over as I read your blog post. I thought I was the only crazy one out there that gets choked up and has to hold back tears as I sit in my car on the way to work each morning! I’ve had a bit of a tough last 2 weeks as I injured my knee after my 20 miler. It was difficult to let go of running for 2 weeks when it had been my EVERYTHING since the summer. Like you, I am training with my husband (who is a fast runner and has done 4 marathons already) but similar to your story, he has been my biggest motivator and what has made this entire experience so amazing and unforgettable. I’d imagine you were on Cloud 9 after you finished the race 🙂 I love all the detail and emotion that you brought into your experience and that you shared with your readers. I am sooo excited and know I will be crying at the start and balling at the finish. Congratulations!!!! You are now a marathoner, and there are not many people out there in this world that can say that 🙂 Don’t ever forget the feeling of accomplishment you felt on October 7, 2012 in Chicago 🙂

    – Annie

    • Ahhhh I LOVE this!!!! I can’t wait to hear ALL about your experience next week — just try your best to soak in EVERY moment that day…even the most painful of moments. Looking back on it now, it feels like a lifetime ago already, it’s crazy how your mind just sort of goes into amnesia mode after the race is over. It’s just crazy. Anyway, I am SO excited for you both!!

  33. SO So incredibly happy for you & Scott!! Watching people go through training is always an eye-opener, as we alll handle the trials, ups and downs so differently. But seeing those photo updates of your huge smiles every week? Keeps a lot of people going, and a lot of people thinking maybe this marathon thing isn’t SO crazy 😉

    Congratulations on crushing your goal(s) and adding “marathoner” to your list of accomplishments!!

    • Aww my marathoning friend, THANK YOU for such excited, supportive and proud words! Means the WORLD to me to hear from you on our own marathoning ways. Seriously. And you are SO right — everyone handles (and approaches) training quite differently — I’m SO glad that it turned into the personal journey that it evolved into for each of us. SO thankful for that time! (and haha — it DOES make it seem like marathoning isn’t AS crazy as it first sounded to me when I first considered the concept, hehe)

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