Monday, March 10, 2014

26.2 with Donna weekend recap

Time for another recap!

Ever since the Peachtree Road Race last year, my friends Marcia and Jill kept trying to get me to sign up for the half marathon portion of the 26.2 with Donna marathon weekend.  I waffled back and forth and decided about a month before the race to sign up!

To give you a little information about the race, it was started in 2008 and is a private, non-profit organization and is the only marathon in the United States dedicated solely to raising funds to end breast cancer.  100% of race entries goes towards breast cancer research (70%) and patient care (30%).  Donna Deegan, the brains and namesake of this amazing organization, is a three-time breast cancer survivor herself!

Jill and I drove down to Jacksonville Friday afternoon, and after meeting up with Katie to get a key to Marcia’s house, we picked Linzie up from the airport and headed to Al’s Pizza to meet Marcia and Katie for a late dinner.  After dinner we headed back to the house and settled in for the night.  Marcia and Linzie were running the 5k the next morning and Jill, Katie and myself had plans to sleep in.

Saturday morning we headed to the expo at around 9:30.  This was one of the best race expos I’ve been to!  Packet pick up was super easy and there were tons of great vendors to browse through.

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After doing a little shopping and meeting up with other friends, we headed back to Marcia’s to start cooking our cab loading dinner – spaghetti with homemade meatballs!  Some of the crew had a dinner to go to that night but the rest of us enjoyed hanging out and visiting.  I even made my pink champagne cupcakes…and thankfully they were a hit :)

IMG_8343                                                  Cheers! (Thanks Jen for the photo)

Soon after we all headed to bed as we had an early wake up call…it would be time to runDONNA!!

Marcia has us on a strict schedule as she knew when roads were closing and how we needed to be at the starting area a little early.  When we got there it was a bit chilly so some of us opted to hang out in our cars to keep warm.

Once we ventured out into the cool air, we met up with the rest of the crew and chatted a bit.  I snagged a picture with my new friend, Elizabeth, and another friend, Ashley

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When I saw the back bibs at the expo I knew I had to get one.  The first name on my bib is my Godmother, who is a survivor of over 20 years!  The second is of a friend whom although I have not met yet in person, she has inspired me during her fight of breast cancer (and can’t wait to meet her at the Wine and Dine half marathon later this year!).  The third name is the grandmother of one of my best friends who lost her battle to breast cancer a few years ago.

Soon after, we headed to our corrals and were sent out in a sea of pink confetti!  Ashley and I ran together for close to 2 miles but I sent her and her friend on their way…I don’t like to hold anyone back from running a race!

I was feeling pretty good during the first half of the race.  There were many spectators lined up along the road.  Once we got into the beach community it was so much fun to see the support they have for this race and the fight to finish breast cancer. 

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I took a Huma gel at around mile 5 for a little boost :)

Soon after we hit mile 6 and headed onto the beach!

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I started out okay on the sand, but this is where my race started to fall apart.  For the most part it was pretty compact, but since many many many people were in front of me it had started to loosen up a bit.  Combine that with a slant and my knees and ankles were HATING me. 

Just after mile 7, the half marathon runners broke away from the full marathon who kept running on the beach (I was happy to be back on a more steady surface).  They had a band playing and lots of spectators.  Miles 7-9 were decent.  I was passed by some of the elite marathon runners at my mile 8…their mile 20…I so admire them!  I was handed a Munchkin by one of the spectators, which was a nice little treat!


After mile 9, I felt like someone was stabbing my knee with a knife.  I was hurting so incredibly bad…at times I wanted to cry.  These signs did make me laugh though -

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Just after the signs was mile 10…only a 5k to go.  I was determined to finish, even if I had to walk the rest of the race (which, sadly, is what I ended up doing).  At mile 12 we had to cross this monstrous bridge…compared to that, I will take some hills in Georgia any day!

By this time I could hear the finish line and was ready to be done.  I walked until I got close and then jogged it in.  It was by far my slowest half marathon yet, but when I think of all the women (and men!) who are fighting for their lives, what I went through on this day was nothing compared to what they go through every day.

I saw this dude at the finish line (apparently he went by Bob) and grabbed a quick selfie -

I was handed my medal and found Jill and Jen at the finish line.  We stood and chatted and then they met me over in the runners village so i could grab my bag.  We headed to the beer tent where we nestled into a spot.  I finally took a picture with the beautiful medal we got -

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About 15 minutes later, it started to rain.  Jill grabbed us a couple of chairs and we hung out for a bit, waiting on our marathoners to finish.  Shortly after, this alert popped up on my phone -

NO!!  We were already feeling horrible that they were having to run in the rain, but for them to have to close the course for the runners’ safety and having no idea where they were was disheartening.  Jill had gone to the finish and was waiting for them and texting me with updates.  Marcia was the first to make it in, followed by Joe.  At this point, they were clearing all of us out of the family reunion area and directed into the hospital lobby.  Marcia and Joe came in and were shivering.  Jen and I gave them towels that we had to try and warm them up.  Kira came in next, followed by Linzie and Katie.  We all hung out in the lobby and the staff was fantastic.  They gave lots of updates on medals, checked bags, etc.  As soon as we were given the okay, we headed to the bus to take us to our cars to get back to Marcia’s.  Unfortunately, she had to stay at the race as she is runDONNA’s “social media butterfly” and needed to help out (which we all completely understood).

We headed back and got showered and packed up, cleaned her house the best we could, but had to hit the road.  Linzie had a flight to catch and Katie, Jill and I had to make the long drive back to Atlanta.

I had an absolutely fantastic weekend and am so glad that I did this race.  Although it’s not the race that I wanted for myself, I’m proud for finishing something that I started and know that I will have to come back for a redemption run on this course.

Marcia – thank you so much for your hospitality over the course of the weekend.  You are an amazing person and I cannot wait to see you again.

If you’re looking for a flat half marathon (with the exception of a bridge at the end) where 100% of your race entry goes towards a fantastic cause, 26.2 with Donna is a great choice!  The date for next year’s race is 2.15.2015.

Have you run the 5k, half or full marathon of the 26.2 with Donna race weekend?  Is it one you would add to your calendar for next year?

Until next time,

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  1. What a great cause this race supports! Do they have races around the country for the Donna Marathon/Half Marathon?

    Great job on your own race! Love the medal too! Also very awesome they gave out munchkins on the course. Those things are delicious. That is definitely a bummer that so many runners got rained out. Redemption next year, right?! :0)

  2. YIPEE!!! That looks like such a fun race! Those signs are HILARIOUS!!!!!!
    Hope the Munchkin was the medicine you needed for your pain :)
    Be proud of the bling!
    I'd be so upset if they pulled me off a course I've been training for. I'd dodge the lightning! :)

  3. Great recap, sounds like y'all had fun and man way to push through the race! What a fun weekend with running friends. I would love to try the Donna some day.


Your comments make me smile :)