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Softball Pro Jennie Finch Laces Up for the NYC Marathon

Jennie Finch gets a jog in with her running coach, Susanne Davis. (Photo courtesy of Timex)

It's crunch time! Or should we say, taper time? The 2011 ING NYC Marathon is a week away and already the city is bubbling with excitement and preparations. Among the list of notable celebs running this year are U.S. Olympian Apolo Ohno, model Christy Turlington, and on behalf of Timex, U.S. Olympian softball player Jennie Finch. Starting last, for every runner Finch passes Timex will donate $1 to the NYRR Youth Program. Below, we got the chance to chat with Finch on her unusual marathon training, and some tips she's picked up along the way.

Belated congrats on your second child this past June! What was it like getting in shape for the marathon right after pregnancy? It's been very intense! I didn't know what it would be like to get in shape for a marathon in general; it's a whole different ball game than softball. It took about 12 weeks to really get myself back into the shape I was before I was pregnant. I did stay fairly active throughout my pregnancy, but your body just goes through a lot of changes. Another hurdle has been making the time to train, especially with a newborn and not getting much sleep!

How have you been training for the 2011 ING NYC Marathon? I've been using the Timex Ironman Run Trainer with GPS and it's basically been my coach on my wrist. My running coach Susanne Davis is in California, so we've been doing everything virtually. She wrote out my running plan for me so all I have to do is complete my workout and upload it from my watch so she can see everything from my heart rate, pace, and distance. It's great because it makes me accountable for my runs since I know she'll be able to see what I'm doing. My husband suggested I just ride around in a golf cart to get the mileage in, but that sneaky trick clearly wouldn't work with her!  Through my workouts we've also been able to create mini-goals. First it was just to finish the race, but now that my pace has been improving and my distance has been increasing I'm able to push it to the next level with her help.

What's the best tip Davis has given you during your time training? I finally got the chance to train in NYC the past weekend with Davis, and that was really great because she could check out my form to make any adjustments I needed. She's talked a lot about my rhythm and keeping my strides constant with quick steps. This helps keep my pace up and is also a good distraction on long runs. Another great tip she's given me is how to deal with hills. She's always telling me to think about high knees when going uphill, and butt kicks going downhill.

Have you set a goal time to finish the race? I didn't until I ran with Davis a few weeks ago. She told me she'd like to see me finish in 4:10. It would be great to break 4:00, but we'll have to see how everything plays out that day! P.S. You could win a FREE VIP trip to next year's ING New York City Marathon by guessing how many people Finch will pass this year after starting last. Click here to enter! Hint: Last year, former New York Giants player Amani Toomer finished in 4:13:45, passing 25,817 people. Think Jennie can beat him?

*Editor's note: Jennie Finch did indeed beat Amani Toomer, finishing the marathon with an unofficial time of 4:05:26 and passing approximately 30,000 runners! Congrats, Jennie!

More from FITNESS: The 16-Week FITNESS Marathon Training Guide