Race Report 26.2 with Donna
Well, this was my long run, non-race event this past weekend. One of the nicest race experiences I’ve had.
I was asked a few weeks ago by a friend if I would come up and support her first Marathon. Due to some unforseen events, her family was unable to make it up there.
I admit, I felt pretty honored to be asked. I realize it was because indeed, I don’t have a lot of outside obligations, but I still really was excited for her!!!
A week or so before her race, I realized that 13 was on my plan for the weekend. So I went ahead and signed up for the Half.
Now….26.2 with Donna…the Race to finish Breast Cancer? Would NEVER have been my first choice. My friend picked it though and I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the overabundance of Pink…I really enjoyed this race. I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking for a first Half or Full Marathon.
The race was started 6 years ago when a local newscaster, Donna, a three time Breast Cancer survivor decided to put this all together and raise some money for the Mayo Clinic. Really, it’s a bit more complex than that. Click here if you want to read more! I’d heard about the race and decided it wasn’t for me. Essentially I heard the course is open for a long time for slower runners, that you “get to” run on the beach, that the crowd support was incredible, and that it was usually cooler weather. I’m not a fan of breast Cancer, but if I was gonna raise money, it would be for something less known, like Multiple Sclerosis. I have usually hated crowd support- they always yell, “you’re almost there” when you know by looking at the Garmin that you aren’t almost anywhere! Running on the beach, not so cool. The cooler weather is awesome.
So I was kind of surprised to find myself at the expo, in a sea of pink having a lovely time. I did feel terribly guilt at one point when a nice lady asked me if I was a “survivor” I smiled and said, No…she then said, “So you must be running for someone special?” and I had to admit, I wasn’t. She then looked sort of shocked and said, soooo you just like to run? I was like Yeah, that sums it up. She very lovingly said I could run for her because she was a survivor. I am not close to anyone who has dealt with breast cancer, so I felt a bit out of place. But…that faded. I loved the Expo. Got myself a new hat and my friend found all the little things she was looking for, including a pair of tights, because it was COLD!
My favorite part was this goofy free photo booth where we got to dress up against a green screen.
Some photos of the expo. Everyone was invited to sign these boards with words of hope and encouragement on them.
It was a really lovely tribute ot so many people who have sufferred from this disease.
OK so fast forward. We went and had dinner, and then went back to the hotel, where we analyzed the race map, and talked a bit. We eventually hopped into bed and the two of us both tossed and turned. My friend was nervous – with good reason, a first Marathon is a huge undertaking. I was less so, I had this idea I was gonna run a HUGE PR. Ha ha ha ha.
THe next morning she awoke before the alarm at 3:30 in the morning. I evenutally joined her. We got ready and filed out to the shuttle that was taking us to the site. The start was at 7:30. We arrived at 5:30.
It was 28 degrees. This is REALLY cold for Florida. First awesome thing about this race: they had these radiant warmers set up as well as a “warm up tent” for runners pre-race. We all stood around and chatted as runners do and while it was cold…I never felt like I was nearing hypothermia. Second Awesome thing: Dunkin Donuts was at the race in the morning serving up free coffee and munchkins. Since I forgot my diet coke at the hotel and had no coffee, this was the most exciting thing I had seen. Whoo Hoo.
Donna is a corralled race. This means you get put in your group (corral) based on the time you give them for a finish time. I ended up in the second corral, and my friend who had signed up a year ago and had no time estimate, was in the last corral. After a while I made my way into the corrals. This was my first corralled race and I was not too pleased about that. It is hard to time nutrition when you aren’t sure when your corral will go off. I was pretty pleased though to be in the second corral! Everyone again chatted. Sadly the race was delayed because of traffic. So Negative points there for Donna. It was so cold, I could not feel my toes. As I was waiting I had to pee so badly I ended up using the bushes, sorry Jacksonville! the portapotties were really far from the start area and it was unclear how much time we had!
Anyway. Plus 5 for Donna! Once the first corral went off, we were also off in about 5-6 minutes. At the start they were blowing pink confetti at me. Normally this would annoy me, but I decided to go with the flow and I found the pink fluttery stuff was actually kind of fun.
The course took us through neighbourhoods. KUDOS to Jacksonville. Especially Duval. The local residents came out, strung banners across the streets for us. Most were dressed in pink, had their pets dressed in pink…several had make shift aid stations with all sorts of beverages, cupcakes, you name it. One lady said she had her guest bathroom open for runners. WOW. It is a big inconvienience to have a bunch of runners plowing through your ‘hood on a Sunday. Throwing Gu wrappers, possibly peeing on your bushes, and water cups strewn all over. These folks were genuinely welcoming.
By Mile three, my feet started to thaw, and I felt some very unusual sensations in the tips of my toes. I wasn’t the only one, as I saw several runners suddenly sitting down and pulling off shoes to look puzzled, at their feet. I figured I had been with my feet all day and knew there wasn’t anything in my shoes, so I kept going.
While it was very cold, I was loving this race so far. It was so flat, I felt as if I might be running on a slight decline. THis happiness went on until mile 6. We then entered the Beach. So pretty. SO windy…so sandy! It was pretty hard packed but I still had trouble maintaining a pace on the beach. I stopped and walked a bit, and then realized that I couldn’t walk the whole mile. Of course at mile 7 we half-ers left the Marathoners on the beach, and turned back to asphalt. I was so so happy to get on to the asphalt, that I ran a really fast mile 9. I thought WOW, I am really gonna do well.
Well, at mile 10.5-11, we started to have some overpasses, which meant some inclines. I was pretty tired at that point. So, I started to do a walk run walk run thing. I do not walk quickly, so my pace rapidly deteriorated.
At mile 12 I made it up the top of a causeway bridge, and then enjoyed the run down. I jogged it in and then suddenly, at the finish I decided to sprint, it wasn’t planned and I do not know what possessed me, but I ran down that 0.10 mile in about a 7 mm pace. I chicked a few dudes….and did run a faster time than the OUC, but only by about 1 minute.
I blame the beach. And the small inclines at the end of the race. I also blame the fact that I was not tapered and thus was not really racing….I mean, yes I was trying to run fast, but during the week I had put in some really big speed workouts, a lot of swimming, and thus was actually kind of tired at the start of the event..
Still for a 12 mile training run, it sure was a blast!
Would I do this race again. NO. the roads have a bit of a slant to them. It was not great for my knees. I did not enjoy running on the beach. I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy the cheering crowds because for the most part I was focused on my run, and thus they were kind of in my periphery. I was focused Just enough that I didn’t want to stop for pink frosted cupcakes, as awesome as they were. I think it’s a good one for someone who enjoys the crowds, and a great one for people who don’t like running alone in a race. I know I finished up in a bunch of people, because I was in the top half of the Half Marathon finishers (yay me!). I was number 830 out of 4253 runners. In my age group, I placed 135/470 ladies. Not too shabby. Sadly, I don’t really remember anything about running the last three miles except my internal thoughts, my legs and how long the finish area seemed! Plus there was a local band providing music…at the time I thought, “Whoa! This band is super awesome” Later when I walked by I realized in actuality, They were AWFUL!!!! I just was so focused on the race that they seemed that way. So….
Did I enjoy doing the race? Heck yeah. I just think it’s a one and done for me. Do I recommend it, YES! The money raised stays right in Jacksonville at the Mayo Clinic- where some really awesome research is done. It’s a fun course if you can stomach the slow down on the beach. As a first race, I think it is wonderful. My first race was no where near this fun, and I gotta say, since I did poorly on time in my first race, all the “frills” would have taken the sting about of that situation a lot.
And on to more training! Thanks Donna!!!!! I had a great training run! I feel rejuvenated. On to GLASS CITY! TOLEDO OHIO!