For the second year in a row, I spent Valentine’s Day with some of my best friends in Jacksonville Beach, FL for the 26.2 with Donna Half Marathon, also known as the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. Talk about a race with a positive attitude. This is possibly the most fun race I have run in the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of great races, but this one is just filled with fun.
But let’s back up. For this race weekend, I met up with friends and family down in Florida. Perfect timing too, since DC was expecting more snow and ice (conveniently scheduled for my return day, but that was a problem for Future Megan).
It doesn’t matter how cold it is. The beach in February is awesome.
Race morning was a bit chilly, but not as bad as I had feared. The high was going to be in the 50’s, so it was probably somewhere in the 40’s when the race began. It didn’t feel too cold though, thanks to the bright sun. This race has ample parking, which means that we drove to the race start to get parking, then sat in the car for a while til we had to head to the start lines. No corrals, seed yourself, and the half and full runners start together so there are always friends to find. I even ran into Krissy at the start! (She had a baby 2 months ago and still beat me. Not that I’m jealous.)
I wasn’t sure how my run was going to go. I’ve been focusing on bike training, so while I’ve been getting my runs in, they’ve been indoors and only twice a week. So I knew this wasn’t going to be as spectacular as last year. Since I had a bunch of really fun friends running, I hooked up with a group I knew I could keep up with who planned to chat and stop at driveway bars and an actual bar around mile 7. If you can’t run fast, run fun.
At first, we were worried that the race spirit had changed because we didn’t see the normal driveway bars in the first three miles. Might have been the wind, or we may have just been too slow, because things did pick up as the race went on. Tons of spectators, and if you wanted to get drunk during the race, it was certainly possible with all of the bars setup. Lots of people seemed to be throwing parties during the race. One family had rented a bouncy castle for their yard. At least I assume they rented it and don’t just own it.
Tons of dogs out “cheering” too, and I definitely stopped to pet a few.
As planned, we hit up a bar for shots of Fireball Whiskey at mile 7. Delicious and didn’t negatively impact my running at all. I hit the lap button on my Garmin so I could see how much time we lost there. Right at 8 minutes. Not bad. And tasty.
At this point, our group split off a bit and I ended up running with Deb, who I didn’t know super well before the race, but now she’s definitely a friend. That’s one of the great things about racing. You’re always meeting new people and making new friends. And it was sweet of her to run with me when I knew that I was holding her back and she could have finished much faster.
I actually felt pretty good during this race all things considered. Kept up my intervals and just had a good time. My final finish time was 3:13:19. No speed records there, but if I back off the 8 minute stop, that’s not a terrible race for a fun run where I talked with friends and petted a bunch of dogs.
And then we all went back and put our feet into the very cold ocean.