Jen Hitchings: December 2010

I haven’t interviewed Jen yet, as she was waiting to see how things went at her fall race at the California International Marathon first. This year marked her fifth run along that course. While the race didn’t go as planned, she nevertheless picked up a one minute PR. That time was also enough to have her now leaning toward being part of this interview project. I hope to interview her sometime next month.

The race account below was written by Jen’s training partner (and ex-Sacramento Bee writer) Dan Weintraub, with additional annotations/corrections from Jen where indicated. It covers the race up to around mile 15, after which Dan lost contact with Jen.

The goal at the start was to run at least a second under 2:46, and to do so with my friend and training partner, Jenny Hitchings. Jenny was trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials, and that was the time she needed to meet. We started out with the “2:45″ pace leader, with this designation meaning that any time up to 2:45:59 would be acceptable. There was a group of about 20 women and men running together. After an erratic first two miles, we ran together and on pace for about 7 or 8 miles. But then the leader decided to step on the gas, despite assuring all of us multiple times that he intended to run steady splits as close as possible to 6:19.

This acceleration happened just after Jenny had recovered from her first mishap of the day, a dropped gel pack. She had stopped to pick it up and then spent a mile or more chasing our group through the rollers to catch back up. As the pace group headed into the village of old Fair Oaks, Jenny and I looked at our Garmins, realized the leader was way under the goal time, and decided not to chase him. We could barely see the leader and the rest of the group as we passed the half marathon mark, and I began to think we were falling behind our intended pace. He couldn’t possibly be running that far ahead of the goal after everything he had said. So I was surprised to see our times: we passed the half in 1:22:33, about 30 seconds faster than our goal pace. The pace leader was a full minute faster than he told us he planned to run it.

Miles 14 through about 18 are always a grind in any marathon, and the same is true at CIM, especially the early miles of that section, where the scenery is mostly made up of run-down strip malls, donut shops and fast food outlets. Still, I felt good, and Jenny and I were still running together. My friend Nicole Dolney was kind enough to offer constant support from her bike, and my wife Jan and Jenny’s husband Andy and their daughter Maggie popped up several times along the course as they drove the side roads by car to meet us. Little knots of spectators cheering us on also lifted our spirits, one of my favorite things about running a marathon.

I wasn’t watching my heart rate during the race, but a later peek at the data showed that it was well under control through these miles. I actually felt great and was confident we would make our goal. I welcomed the turn west and the change of scenery to the residential streets of Carmichael. I knew the race would start to get hard around mile 18 and I just tried to enjoy these miles and steel myself for what was to come.

But around mile 15 Jenny had another accident, this one more serious. Going into the Buffalo Chips aid station to pick up her water bottle, she slipped and fell. She was upset and gave up on her water bottle and later, her calves began to seize, perhaps from dehyration. I was ahead of her and didn’t realize she had fallen, only that she was no longer running a step or two behind me.

Jenny recovered from her fall and finished strong, in 2:50:25, also a PR of over a minute. She was the first local woman finisher,  and first in her age group. Congratulations, Jenny!
— Dan Weintraub

Thanks for all your support! I really want to achieve this OTQ goal — but first, I may need to break 2:50 with ease.
— Jen Hitchings

Some race stats:
  • 1st in her AG (45-49)
  • 1st local (Sacramento region) female
  • 2nd PA (Pacific Assocation) USATF female masters
  • 3rd masters female overall
  • 26th female overall

Go back to Updates

%d bloggers like this: