Monday, February 15, 2016

26.2 with Donna - Race Recap

Picking up my packet at
the Donna Race Expo
 Happy Valentines Day! My husband and I celebrated by getting up super early and driving to Jax so I could run a marathon. He is the most supportive spouse EVER. Marathon #8 here I come!

Race: Donna Breast Cancer Marathon
Date: February 14th, 2016
Finish Time: 4 hours, 05 minutes
Distance: 26.2 miles
Gain/Loss: 840 ft
Flat Toni

First I was using this run as my long training run on my 50 mile training plan. My goal was to consume a minimum of 3 GU gels on course, and eat some food that was offered to me. I usually split 1 GU (eating half around mile 12 and the other half around mile 19) over the entire marathon. I also ate a different breakfast than normal. Just trying to figure out my fuel and learn how to eat while running. I ate 2 eggs and a piece of toast for breakfast around 5:25 am. I ate 3 GU's (2 different brands, 3 different flavors). I did well with all of it, I got hungry around mile 19 instead of mile 10, and only felt sick after my 2nd GU which was chocolate in flavor. Success with those "training" goals :)

The race started at 7:30 am (so late for a marathon, it was amazing to "sleep in" on race day). My gps said it was 1 hour 5 minute drive but I knew there would end up being some congestion as we got closer so we left at 5:40 am. Glad we did, we got there at 7 am and used the porta-potty in the parking lot (no line!). Was about 1/4 mile walk to the start line from the parking area. It was 40 degrees and soooo cold. I had on shorts with a pink tutu, custom made tank top from my good friend at "Distance Designs by Pamela", and a pink jacket. I was still freezing. We walked to the start area and they had outdoor heaters everywhere! It was awesome. I got in the start area and found the 4:15 pacer. They started the race with a prayer, which was really cool, then the national anthem and the count down. They let us out in waves to help with congestion (this was awesome). Unfortunately both the 4:00 pacer and 4:15 pacers were let out in the wave ahead of me and I got stuck behind! Going to have to wing it I guess!

Gorgeous roads we ran down.
Finally my turn to go, I glanced at the start clock and it was around 4 minutes. As expected my first mile or two had a lot of weaving around people. I started warming up some around mile 4. Around mile 6 I heard someone shout my name, as I turned I saw my husband running down a side road waving! What a surprise! It's always such a perk when I see him along the course. After a quick kiss I kept going. He is the most amazing spectator! At this point I had passed the 4 hour pacer and was a few minutes ahead of them.

People covered the streets and side walks
with chalk. Huge breast cancer ribbons,
names, stories, hearts, encouraging
words, even boobs! LOL
We ran through some pretty cool neighborhoods that were SO supportive of this race. Most of the neighborhoods were out having block parties and cheered for us as we ran by. They had jump houses, fire pits, and a lot of loud music. Then they even had tons of food and drinks to share with us runners! It made this portion of the race fly.

A lot of people wore bibs on their back that said "SURVIVOR" or "I am finishing for ______". Some had a ton of names listed on their bibs. Was a nice reminder of the cause we were supporting. I have a few people in my family who suffered from breast cancer or other forms of cancer. When I struggled, I thought of the struggle being diagnosed with cancer would bring both emotionally and physically. It reminded me that my 26.2 miles would be over before I knew it, and I was fortunate for that because my pain and struggle would be done.
free mammogram!

throwing my (wet sweaty) jacket to
my husband as I zoomed by! 
Then we hit the area near the beach and it was SOO WINDY! You could feel the wind resistance as we ran near the ocean. I saw my husband again around mile 10 I was feeling so strong still at this point and maintaining my position several minutes AHEAD of the 4 hour pacers. My Achilles that I injured in Mississippi was starting to hurt just a little but I figured I would just block it out and keep running, only 16.2 miles to go, I can do that!  It started getting pretty warm out and I had to take off my jacket. It was heavy around my waist... Where's my husband! lol.

We kept running along through a really cool area that reminded me so much of an "old school beach town". The course is a closed road coarse so there were never really any cars waiting on us. It was cool to run through town with no cars or traffic (other than runners foot traffic). Saw my husband again around mile 17, very briefly this time the 4 hour pacer was catching up to me and my foot was really starting to hurt so I didn't want to slow down too much for fear of not being able to pick my pace back up. I was happy to see him though because I threw my jacket at him so I didn't have to carry it anymore! The bummer was all my GU packs were in my jacket pockets. darn!

It was awesome this race provided wet towels and pink sponges that were soaking in ice cold water several times along the course that they were handing out to runners to help us cool down, and wipe the sweat off of us. This was the first time I experienced this in a race and it was AWESOME. Feeling like a VIP at this point, I kept on running.

I passed my husband 1 final time at mile 19, the 4 hour pacer had just passed me and I was feeling pretty discouraged. I knew I wasn't going to be able to catch them with how much pain I was in. I kept going, 7.2 miles to go!

This was the moment I realized
I wasn't going to be able to catch up
to the 4 hour pacer again. My Ankle
was killing me and I was holding
my hamstring because it hurt so bad.
Mile 19 I walked through the water station (as always) and when I slowed to a walk I felt that horrible sharp pain in my foot, just as I did at the Mobile Light Marathon. Noooooo! I walked for a bit and took a few minutes trying to stretch it out, but when I started running again it was a horrible pain.

I ran behind a super annoying couple for awhile. The guy was having a hard time going the pace the girl was wanting to go, and I kid you not they sat wasting all their energy bickering about the pace back and forth. I thought, man, how much would I give to have a friend or spouse with me through this struggle right now, and all they could do was sit and fight with each other. She was telling him to give it his all and push it out, and he was complaining that she was keeping too fast a pace and he couldn't keep up. He mentioned he was already giving it his all and they still had over 6 miles to go. They argued forever before they finally were far enough ahead I no longer had to listen to them.

Oh the hills. These would have been tough without an injury,
but with my achillis injury going up and down hill
is the most painful thing. This was a torturous way
to finish a marathon! 
Mile 23 we hit the first of 3 consecutive overpasses. going up and down with my ankle was torture and my stops got longer and longer because it was so painful to start again each time. Mile 25 was the start of the final overpass and this one was huge! My pace picked up quite a bit, I knew I was almost done. We came off it and you could see the finish line ahead.

Woohoo I was so excited. I crossed the finish line and my official time was 4:05:52. Not the Sub - 4 I was hoping for, but now I know it is within reach.

In the finishers chute getting
my ankle iced and wrapped :(

Holy cow I still managed to PR! At first I was super bummed, I came really close to maintaining my lead on the 4 hour pacer and felt amazing (minus my stupid ankle). If it weren't for that darn foot I could've done it with ease!!! Husband said next time I will and told me how amazing my PR was, and after it soaked in I was really excited about crossing at 4:05:52. Bummed, but still excited :) I gimped my way through the super long finisher chute where first aid was happily waiting to apply ice to my ankle. The compression and ice felt AMAZING. I limped out into the finishers area where my husband was waiting for me.

Marathon #8 Complete!
Overall this race was awesome, they provided Gu packs every 5 miles or so, more water/Gatorade then I could ever wish for during a marathon, ice cold wet sponges/towels several time along the course, a lot of fresh fruit and food on course, amazing PINK signage, even digital timers at most of the mile markers. It was very well organized from the parking area at the start line, the start area, the race chute, the course team and the finish festival. Kudos to an amazing race director.

The only thing lacking was the information on the website, I felt like I had to dig around forever to find the information that I needed, and still ended up asking friends who had run it questions regarding the start and finish areas ect. The neighborhoods were amazing, so supportive which made the race seem to go by so fast! I didn't get to enjoy much of the finish festival because my poor baby woke up throwing up with the flu today (my oldest who's 8 and just wanted her momma). We bolted out of there pretty quick to get home, but it looked awesome. They had tons of food options, massage tents, freebie stuff ect.
Me and my #1 fan, my most loving, most supportive,
most amazing person in my life. My love!

I would love to do this race again next year, maybe I can get a small crew together to run it as a fundraiser with me.

I have an appointment to get a massage on Thursday, then an appointment with a Sports Medicine Doctor on Monday to get my Achilles looked at (finally). Hopefully they will give me some good easy fixes that will not prohibit me from running. I do have that 50 miler coming up... less than 3 months!

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