At the beginning of 2009 Jillian and I were on a tear. I had just ran the Marine Corp Marathon and she had run the Annapolis 10 miler and felt good about it. So we decided to sign up for some races. Well, as I’m sure you know, Jillian is conveniently no longer in the country to run these races, casting doubts as to why she really went over there.
But even if she did move to Haiti just to avoid running races, I am still here and I HATE signing up for races and then not running them (this year’s marathon not included). We had both signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge, a trail race through Great Falls in Virginia.
The problem was that in an act of pure overachievement, I signed up for the half marathon, and I hadn’t been running in weeks. Now, there was plenty of time to train, but I’ll be honest, I have run once in the past 4 months. Seriously. It’s embarresing.
But then I remembered, Jillian had signed up for the 10k, a much more manageable distance than 13 miles. I could use her number and just run the shorter distance and still feel like I didn’t bail completely. It could also be an act of solidarity, running the race FOR Jillian, who I miss so much that I MUST run it for her.
My brother Aiden and I (the terrible twosome) went and picked up the packets together at the North Face store on Friday. Of course, with Aiden being six and thinking only logically, when we go to pick up Jillian’s packet he asks the woman at the desk, “but how will she run the race if she’s in Haiti?” I quickly interject, “Haha, oh Aiden, she’ll be just fine….excuse me ma’am, does this packet come with socks?” She gave us a look and we were on our way.
Race day came and I strapped on Jillian’s number and timing chip. After repeatedly ignoring the requests for “all runners to please check in at the timing table”, the race began and no one knew I was really a woman.
The run felt great, after 4 miles I felt like a million dollars that had just run 4 miles without training: kinda tired but pretty good. I stopped once on the sixth mile to quickly catch my breath and then headed for the finish line, excited that I still had it in me to run races.
I see the finish line and start to kick it, this is it, I did it! And as I’m about to cross the finish line I hear the announcer scream over the loudspeaker: “AND HERE WE HAVE JILLIAN THORP!”
“….way to go.” I run across the finish line and continue running so that they don’t take a closer look and ask me to leave. “Sir, what you have done is highly illegal, you will no longer be able to run in races ever again,” I imagined them saying. In all honesty, with all the drama with that South African woman runner maybe being a man, I highly doubted they were in the mood to do gender tests (and neither was I).
But they never came after me and I sat there watching the 50-mile race winners sprint into the finish faster than I was ever running in the 10k. Feeling fullfilled but strangely dejected I went home thinking about how this better be the start of me running again.
So today I went on to the races website and found the official times, and wouldn’t you know, Jillian wasn’t disqualified! In fact, with a time of at 57:09, Jillian came in 109th in the overall standings and 21st in her gender group! I think we can all put our hands together and give Jillian a round of applause for her outstanding performance. Way to go Jillian, hip hip, hoorah!!!