June 6, 2011

Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon Weekend

Team New England
Team New England
This race weekend was another one of those weekends that was great. Similar to the marathon weekend and the L O C O event, this was another classic event for Intestinal Fortitude. Up until a few weeks ago, I was only supposed to be doing the Napa to Sonoma half-marathon in mid-July, but because we are the number one fundraiser, I was invited to the weekend festivities and race. So, the weekend started on Thursday night. There was a VIP dinner but due to work I was unable to make it. My sister, Alexandra Marcus, and friend, Brian Teague, drove from Boston to my new residence in New York on Thursday and then we left early Friday morning. The road trip was a good time and we ended up in Ashburn, Virginia at about 2:30 pm. We checked in at the Embassy Suites hotel and read on the itinerary that we were leaving for the inspirational pasta dinner at 4:30 pm, so we quickly got ready. Our endurance manager, Alison Rosenfeld, brought us all our tickets and gear for the weekend and then we boarded the bus. Before heading to the inspirational pasta party, I picked up my race number and found out there were over 2,000 runners. Brian, Alix and I then walked over to the dinner and were enthusiastically welcomed by the nation's coaches, mentors, and team managers, which was awesome. We got our food and went into the ballroom filled with 655 CCFA runners and their families/friends. Alison confirmed that we were the top fundraiser and would be honored and that I would be making a speech. National director, Staci Brown, welcomed everyone with a great video and many kind words. She announced the top ten fundraisers and then gave me a standing ovation which was pretty cool. I got a bottle of wine and a bib number that said top fundraiser. I gave a speech thanking everyone but was very unprepared and was probably just rambling on, so in Napa I'll have something better. Many people came up thanking me which was great but I made sure they knew it was not just me, but the entire Intestinal Fortitude group plus many more that helped the cause. An 8- year crohns honoree, Patrick from Pittsburgh, gave a fantastic speech. We made an effort this weekend to introduce ourselves to as many honorees which was very satisfying, especially after meeting new England honoree, timmy wright, this season. After the pasta party, we had a team new England meeting. Over the course of the season I couldn't make many of the training runs so didn't really know anybody on the team until this weekend. However, I come to find out every person I met on the team was very nice and down-to-earth. At the team meeting our fantastic coaches, chris Mullins and Jenny Higgins, gave everyone pre-Race advice. Everyone seemed ready to go. I was also noticed again for the fundraising efforts and was given gifts that were given at the VIP dinner on Thursday night. Brian, Alix and I went out for a bit afterwards and came back to find a sign that said "Good luck Jake!" on it, which was awesome. I got to sleep somewhat early due to the 4am breakfast. I woke up pretty tired at 4am, got ready and went downstairs for some breakfast. In this time, I was also able to meet a lot more people, all of which were great. We took a few more photos and then boarded the bus which went through the rolling vineyards of Loudon County. Upon arrival to the race start, there were swarms of orange jerseys representing Team Challenge. It was amazing to see all these people and mingle some more. The race was delayed a half hour because of a late bus which happened to be one of ours. Good thing the race directors accounted for this delay because I would have hated to see anyone miss the race. Coach Chris and Jenny gave me some more tips about the course and whatnot. It was pretty sunny and hilly and due to my lack of training I would have been thrilled with 6:30- pace. I said some final good lucks to people and headed to the start. Chris ran with me for the first mile and then headed back to pace other runners. On the start line we noticed there were a handful of elite runners, a few of which were Kenyans, that were not gonna be beat today. Here were the splits for the race: 6:26 6:08 6:07 got stuck w guy trying to do 6-minute pace 6:19 6:26 6:28 6:21 6:21 6:31 6:16 5:36 picked it up but split might be off 6:07 6:39 ~6:03 pace for final 1.1miles 1:21:51 (6:15 pace) 9th overall, 2nd in age group My favorite parts of the race were seeing the swarms of orange jerseys cheering us on. Even though one third of competitors were Team Challenge it must have been about 75% of fans were Team Challenge. My other favorite part was seeing Brian and alix heading into the finish chute and then raising my arms through to the finish. They told us to try and look enthusiastic going into the finish so I made sure of that. After the race we were congratulated by various Team Challenge members and then walked over to the finish to cheer everyone else on. The team unity was incredible for a team of 655 participants, which especially showed at the Team Challenge after party and wine tasting. Everyone was incredibly open to meeting everyone. In the awards ceremony i got another free bottle of wine for finishing 2nd in my age group. We went back to the hotel and I tried napping for a bit, but even though I was in the sun all day, ran 13.1 miles and was up at 4am, I didn't nap for long. We then went out with Team New England to Finnegans Irish bar and restaurant to watch the Bruins game. In the morning, We said some goodbyes and road tripped back to Boston, which due to detours took over 15 hours. The whole time we recapped the weekend and realized how amazing it was and how many cool people we met. A lot of people asked me how I raised so much. The whole weekend I made sure to emphasize that it was not just me raising the funds, but our entire intestinal fortitude committee. With more minds reaching for the same goals, the word of mouth will expand. Everyone on the intestinal fortitude chapter was extremely committed to reaching the next goals even when breaking the record seemed impossible. We had a huge emailing campaign and met once every couple weeks. It would take hours to count through all the emails sent amongst our committee as sometimes there were chains of over 100 emails a day. Tickets forOur big event at L O C O were definitely expensive and we had our doubts, but we raised over $22,000 in that night. We definitely took risks and brainstormed as many unique fundraising ideas as possible, but I wouldn't have raised even close to this amount if I didn't have the creative minds around me. The other thing is, we want our goal to be broken. We're all striving for the same cause and it would be awesome to see multiple people break the record. It is possible once you put your mind to it. I'm sure doing a half-marathon seemed impossible when everyone started your training, but I saw many people go above and beyond this weekend. There are way too many people that I want to give shoutouts to after this weekend. The whole season has been amazing and this weekends festivities confirmed that. Weekends like this make me want to continue with Team Challenge for a very long time. It was very fulfilling and I'll definitely be in touch with many people in the future. I already want to go to Napa. I also want to congratulate everyone for their races. Not many people would wake up at the crack of dawn to run for over an hour in the summer. Also, congratulations on the fundraising. Everyone had to raise a minimum so that is very impressive that 655 people did so. I thought of a saying during the race: R&R, racing and raising. It was incredibly fulfilling to see how many people are inspired to find a cure and R&R (not rest and relaxation) is a great way to do it. Thank you all, it's been an amazing journey so far and I can't wait to continue.


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