She and husband Duane traveled to the Colorado Marathon last May with the matching goals of notching qualifying times for Boston. It was their day, the first big step toward that magic line drawn across the road in a place called Hopkinton, where they had plans to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
A wet snow fell in Poudre Canyon as the race began and Jaclyn settled into a manageable pace. Experience told her there was no sense in sprinting off the line in a marathon. And then the day turned bad with the nauseating crunching sound, felt as much as heard, of her left ankle flopping on its side, followed by a lightning bolt of pain. She had run with a twisted ankle before.She knew the risks as she calculated her options on the side of the road. Without knowing the severity of her injury,she chose to forge on.
“It was snowing and I didn’t want to sit in the middle of the canyon, so I decided to keep running, to see how far I could go,” she says.
At Mile 4, the ankle began to swell. She kept running. At the halfway point, she was only slightly slower than her goal pace. By Mile 20, her foot had given up. “It wasn’t moving well,” she says.
Nothing more than willpower drove her the last six miles. She crossed the finish line in Fort Collins and hobbled around to find help. “I couldn’t walk anymore,” she said.
She found a ride in a wheelchair, picked up her crutches at Walmart, and didn’t walk again on her injured ankle for about seven weeks.
Spiral fracture of the fibula. Those were the doctor’s words. To everyone else it's a broken leg. “I just started crying,” Jaclyn says. “Did I do this to myself? I just ran 24 miles on it.” Her doctor insisted the damage had been done when her ankle rolled.
“Runners are crazy people,” she says. “It was my first attempt at qualifying,”
A 36-year-old science teacher at Manitou High School, Jaclyn will line up on Monday, with Duane, to run in the Boston Marathon. She had finished the Colorado Marathon in 3 hours, 36 minutes, about four minutes better than the qualifying standard. Some 45 others from the Pikes Peak region will also run at Boston, a race that began in 1897 and is now one of the world's most prestigious sports events, annually drawing more than 30,000 runners.
“This was our idea for our anniversary,” Jaclyn says. “We decided to do it in 2015. Duane had always wanted to run it. Back when I was a slower runner, I thought this would be way out of reach for me."
She tossed the crutches aside in June, walked in a boot for a couple of weeks, and then made her first ginger steps toward marathon shape. “In mid-July I was able to kind of start running, but it really wasn’t happening,” Jaclyn says. “It was August before I could really do any running.”
Slowly, she increased her mileage. In January she enlisted the help of John O’Neill, manager at the Colorado Running Company, who coached her into shape.
She said her workouts have included repeats on Rampart Range Road, as well as a little something O’Neill cooked up … four times around the (2-Mile) Nielson Challenge course as a speed workout.
“He gives me things that are hard, that kick my butt, but are still pretty laid back,” she says.
There is nothing easy about training for a 26.2-mile race, especially for teachers. She arrives at the high school at 7 a.m. She also coaches cross country in the fall and track in the springtime. The days are long, which means she sometimes crawls out of bed at 4 a.m. to train. Duane also takes the early shift as they mix their running/work schedules while raising two young children.
She admits the Boston Marathon is a little intimidating.
“The marathon, for me, I feel like it’s a little outside my comfort zone,” she says. “I know I overthink things. John brings me back to reality when he reminds me that running is supposed to be fun.”
The real fun begins at 8 a.m. MDT Monday with the start of the elite runners, followed by the main field. Duane will also start at 8 a.m., with Jaclyn beginning at 8:50. For more information, including how to watch the Boston Marathon online, visit http://www.baa.org/.