When Amani Toomer searched for a new athletic challenge after his 13-year Giants career ended, he partnered with Team Timex and ran the ING New York City Marathon to support the New York Road Runner's Youth Program.
Toomer started dead last among the races 45,350 runners, with the idea that Timex would donate $1 to New York Road Runner's Youth Programs for each runner he passed. By the time he crossed the finish line – in 19,533rd place – Toomer had passed enough participants to raise $25,817 for those programs. He officially finished the 26-mile, 385-yard course in 4:13:45.
Jennie Finch intends to beat that time.
"That is the goal and I have my competitive juices going," Finch, the splendid softball pitcher who is now retired, said today. "My goal is to beat his time, I am going for around four (hours)."
Finch visited the Giants at the Timex Performance Center to promote her endeavor. She caught passes with tight ends Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe and attempted a field goal with punter Steve Weatherford holding.
Finch is accustomed to athletic success. She was a two-time All-America at the University of Arizona, where her career record was 119-16. She was 36-2 with the U.S. National team that won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and a silver medal in 2008.
Last year, Finch retired from softball to spend more time with her husband, former Major League pitcher Casey Daigle, and their sons, Ace and Diesel (who was born on June 19). But like Toomer, it wasn't long before she sought an outlet for her competitive juices. Though she had scant experience running long distances, Finch quickly decided to run the marathon, which will be held on Nov. 6.
"I wanted to do it one day after I retired from softball," said Finch, who just turned 31. "It was a good call to go after and try to target train to stay in shape. Timex said that they would give a dollar for every person that I passed and I thought it was too good to be true. I wasn't planning on it being so soon after I gave birth, but why not?"
Finch has long been a superbly-conditioned athlete, but training for a marathon presented challenges she has not previously faced.
"It has been intense," she said. "Running is a small part of our training in softball, but there were so many different aspects other than running. It has been amazing to see how far your body can go. I definitely carried over some of the mental toughness and mental strategies from softball into my running. It is going good. Last week, I ran 17 miles. I did nine miles this morning in Central Park. I have a great coach and my Timex watch gives me all the feedback I need, so it is great. I know my heart rate, my speed, my distance all on my wrist."
Finch said she hopes to get in a 19-mile run before the marathon. She is looking forward to running the race in part because it runs through all five boroughs of New York City.
"I don't come here a ton but when I do, I'm in and out of the city real quick," she said. "They say said it runs through every neighborhood and the bridge runs are the best of the best. I am looking forward to it and hoping the adrenaline will carry me."
Despite her inexperience, Finch has an athlete's determination to finish the marathon.
"It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when and how long," she said. "If my body can endure, my mind will push me there and get through it. I am excited about the race day and it is coming quick. We are three weeks out, so it is kind of a crash training course of 12 weeks. I have been training hard core for it.
"It's nice, because I can train wherever. It has been able to get me back in shape after having the baby. It has been exciting to experience this whole new world and tap into it."