Race Report – 2017 DONNA Half Marathon

Another year, another successful DONNA Half Marathon.

This weekend was the 10th anniversary of the DONNA Marathon and Half Marathon, a race dedicated to finishing breast cancer.  The race is always a hugely positive experience and so much fun to run.  Far from being a sappy sort of event, this race is filled with lots of laughter, great costumes, and amazing spectators.

This is one of those races where you can run it however you want.  If you want to push for a PR, this is a great place to do it. With the exception of the end of the race, it’s fairly flat.  If you are a new half marathoner and aren’t sure how fast you can finish, this is a great race to try, as it’s got a 7 hour time limit for both the half and full, so no 3.5 hour time limit here.  And if you want to see how much you can eat and drink during a course, these spectators have you covered.  I’m pretty sure you could very easily get drunk while running this race if you wanted to.

I’ve run this race for speed and I’ve run this race for fun. This year, I wasn’t aiming for a PR, but I had done some pretty great long runs over the past few weeks, so I decided I wanted to push a bit to see what I could pull out, even though my training hasn’t been run focused.  But I also wasn’t out to kill myself.  One thing that I worried would be working against me was the weather.  This year was predicted to be warm.  Perfect weather for hanging out on the beach, not great weather for running.

Race morning was cool, but not cold.  Plenty of people were bundled up, but I’m pretty sure that was the Floridians.  I was comfortable in my short sleeves.  The pre-race area is great – plenty of porta-potties, a warming tent, and free coffee and donuts!  Amazing!

The race starts with a wave-start, but the waves are self-seeded based on your estimated finish time.  Half and full runners start together, which I love.  And the best part?  Each wave got its own cannon of confetti that just kept blowing.  It’s great that everyone gets the fun of the start line, not just the fastest runners.

I decided to push a bit on the early miles, pick up a bit of padding for when the sun came up, and miles one and two were a little fast for me.  Unfortunately, all my hydrating in the days prior to the race meant that I needed a bathroom stop early on, so I lost a few minutes there.  Luckily, not too many.

There were so many spectators out for this race.  I loved it.  Neighborhoods really get into it and it’s almost as if they’re competing to be the best neighborhood.

I settled into my pace and made my way through the race.  I felt surprisingly good, even though it was warm.  My parents were cheering at mile 7, and the plan was for them to have shots of Fireball for all of us, but the bar didn’t open this year.  So disappointing!

Photo credit: My Dad

But all was fine, as a spectator had set up his own tent later with mini shots of Fireball.  Race nutrition saved!

We really lucked out with the weather.  The sun managed to stay behind clouds for the first few hours of the race.  The faster half marathoners had no issues with the heat.  For me, the sun came out sometime during mile 11, just as I was venturing onto the bridges – the only really hilly part of the race.  No shade and solid inclines… yuck.  Lost a bit of speed here.

As I reached the top of the final bridge, I remembered why I always push through this part – there are SO many spectators cheering people on, encouraging them up and over the hill.  You can’t stop there!

I pushed through and my final time was 2:56:56.  Considering that included a bathroom stop, a drink stop, and a quick pause to say hi to my parents, I’m pleased with that.  Most importantly, I had a great time and I felt good throughout the race.

Post race area was also awesome.  Soda, water, beer, snacks, hot dogs… yum.

I continue to adore this race.  I’ve gotten much more picky in the races I run, and this one will definitely stay on my schedule.  It’s the sort of race where you can make it whatever you want, and runners of all levels are welcome.

Until next year, Jacksonville Beach


Wednesday Workout Recap

sleeping fox

Shingo_Nono / Pixabay

Last week wasn’t much better than the week before.  Don’t I realize I have a race this weekend?  Whatever, maybe it’s a two week taper… three week taper.  Something.

Monday – Choir rehearsals.  I’ve figured a way to get in good balance between late rehearsals and work the next day by shifting my schedule around a bit.  So far, so good.  Sleep is a pretty awesome thing.

Tuesday – Team Fight Swim

Wednesday – Another freaking FTP test.  Might die.  But probably not.

Thursday – Stuck at work late, opted to push workout to Friday.

Friday – LOL, no.

Saturday – 2 hour structured trainer ride.

Sunday – Coeur Century swim.

You know what’s missing from that week?  Running.  You know what I’m doing this weekend?  Running a half marathon.  This will go very well or very very poorly.

Coeur Half-Century Swim

This weekend, I did something crazy.  One of my Coeur teammates set-up a challenge – get together to swim 100×100.  Now, there was no way that I was going to be able to do a full century swim, but this event was totally friendly to all ability levels, and we were all encouraged to set our own goals.  There were over 30 people there, which was pretty impressive.  I felt bad for the regulars at the pool – they just kept looking for an open lane and figuring we had to be done soon.  That said, we were only taking up 4 lanes.

I set my goal at 50×100.  5000 yards in the pool.

When I was setting my goal, I wanted something that was challenging, but also something that I could achieve.  I’m honestly not sure what the longest swim I’ve ever done was, but I’m betting it was somewhere around 3000.  That said, I’m doing the 4500 swim at Fort Ritchie Swimfest at the end of May, so I wanted to see just how much training I need to do to comfortably be able to complete that swim.  But even the night before, I was debating whether or not I wanted to drop my goal to 4000.

This was an awesome event to be a part of.  There were people of a lot of ability levels participating, and there was zero judgment in the slow lane, or from anyone in the fast lanes.  We were all out there challenging ourselves and getting it done.

I definitely wasn’t attempting to swim 5000 without any breaks.  There were chat breaks at the end of the lane, bathroom breaks, snack breaks, water breaks.  Whatever it took to get through the workout.

I definitely hit a bit of a wall somewhere around 3000.  I couldn’t believe that I was only 3/5ths done.  But once I pushed through and hit 4000, doing an extra thousand didn’t sound so bad.  For me, it’s all about breaking up a big workout into manageable chunks.

And while the company was clearly the best part of the workout, the second best part was the delicious Honeymoon Ice Cream sandwiches afterwards.  YUM.  I’ll do just about anything for good ice cream.

January Mileage Update

jarmoluk / Pixabay

At the end of last year, I noticed a lot of people posting about the number of miles they had completed via swim/bike/run, and I realized I had no clue how far I had gone. I had a good guess on biking, since I always used my Garmin to track my distance, be it indoors or outdoors, but I hadn’t been logging treadmill distances, and who knew how much swimming I had done. So this year, I’m trying to get every workout logged into Strava so I can track how far I’ve gone.

In January, I:

Ran 46 miles
Biked 227 miles
Swam 4.2 miles

Not bad for a month with a few missed workouts.

Obviously, the biking mileage is a bit misleading, because indoor mileage doesn’t completely translate to outdoor mileage, but it’s the best measurement I’ve got right now.

I’m pretty pleased with the run mileage as well. 46 miles really isn’t a lot, but I remember the days when I was primarily a runner and I would push to make it to 50 miles a month. Now I’m doing multi-sport training but still getting in some quality mileage.

I don’t have any specific distance goals for the year, primarily because I have no idea what my distance totals have been for recent months and years, so I don’t know what a good goal might be. I guess my goal is just to continue to track and log workouts in Strava. It’s an easy way to keep a record of what I’ve done in one place, plus it’s nice that it automatically tells me when I’m making some sort of improvement. I’m a sucker for data, even when I don’t actually understand what it means.

One thing I’ve discovered about tracking my workouts is that it can reframe how I felt about a workout. I’ll go out for a run and come back feeling like it was terrible. I feel like I struggled for pace, or just couldn’t find a groove. And then I look at the stats from the run and compare it to previous workouts and find that I was faster than I was before. So of course it feels a bit harder. I just didn’t realize I was running faster.

Plus it’s just fun to be able to see what I accomplished. I’m not doing it to compare to anyone else, because I’m sure there are people who easily completed ten times the distance I did this month. I just want to be able to compare to me.

Wednesday Workout Recap

This was pretty much my method for getting over my cold – and it seems to have worked.
Mysticsartdesign / Pixabay

This week could have been better. I blame people who work at my office.  By Tuesday, it was clear that I was coming down with a cold, so I decided to not go to swim practice, in the hopes that added rest would kick whatever was coming.  I also started taking Zinc and Vitamin C.  I was pretty tired for the rest of the week, and can’t tell you if I was just fighting something off or just being lazy, but I decided to go with it and basically missed all of my weekday workouts.

Saturday – So by the time my Saturday workout came around, I was feeling pretty darn rested!  Who knew!  Two hours on the trainer today, not structured, just an endurance workout.  I found a pretty good groove and it felt great.

Sunday – 11 mile run, my last long run before Donna.  This went spectacularly.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the week off or if it was just awesome conditions, but it was an awesome run and I hope that race day can somewhat approximate it.

My throat is still a little scratchy, but I’m honestly hoping that’s simply due to the super low humidity in the office.  I’ve got the humidifier up and running and I’m hoping for the best.