25 February 2015

DONNA recap - day 3

Sunday, February 15: Race Day!!

So, the main reason I came down here had finally arrived, but let me tell you, up to this point I had an amazing time and was so glad I made sure to be in town for EVERY event leading up to the "MAIN" event. When I originally was chosen to be an ambassador, I intended to run the full and get redemption from last year's race. But after my goal race in the fall, I sort of slacked off. Like, only ran 10 miles in ALL of December slacked off. When I realized it, I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be ready to run a full in February. So I mentally set myself up for a fun half, with no real time goals, because my "A" race for the spring is Cherry Blossom.

What worked out really well being the "ambassador slacker" was that I had the distinct honor of driving Dave McGillivray (uh-hem, the Race Director for Boston, if you didn't know) to the airport after the race. I keep getting ahead of myself though...

Race morning always comes early. And I am NOT a super fan of mornings. But we headed down to the start, bundled up for the cold that we THOUGHT was going to chase us all morning. But it ended up being a beautiful day for a run. I enjoyed getting there early and grabbing some Dunkin coffee and munchkins before the race, as well as hanging out with fellow ambassadors, Krissy and Marcia. We got to chat with a few other folks before it was time to get started. Oh wait - one last port-a-potty stop before we line up. Meet you guys over there... except, when I came back I couldn't find them, which was fine because like I said I was the slacker ambassador "just" doing the half (Joanie, as she is affectionately known, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, would KILL me for using that word - 13.1 miles is no joke!) it wasn't as important to line up with everybody.

So, here's something about me you may not know - I wear glasses. I am nearsighted which means I don't need them to read books, but I do need them to drive and see further away. Except I NEVER wear my glasses when running (or riding my bike for that matter - bad, I know). I don't have any "sport" frames, and I sweat SOOOO MUCH they won't stay on. Plus, I have sensitive eyes (yes, like in that commercial), so I have to wear sunglasses even on the most overcast days. So, I'm heading to the front of the pulse start, trying to find the 2:00 hour pace group for the half, except I can't read any of the signs! I made it up near the 4:30 marathon pace team, and the first pulse started taking off, so I was just like, ok, here's where I'm going to be! I was planning on 2:00/0:45 intervals, which means running for 2 minutes and walking for 45 seconds. I had my watch ready to go, and kept to my intervals for the majority of the race, only walking a little extra thorough water stops and when needing to take my fuel (NOT forgetting it this year!).

The first few miles of the race are amazing - got to see Hal Higdon around mile 2.5 and give him a high 5! The people were out in full force cheering and there were so many "pitstops" where people had food and drinks set up in their driveways for the runners. We got to enjoy much of this same atmosphere at this point last year, because the weather didn't turn until later in the day. But these people really know how to turn out! I kept playing leap frog with some of the ambassadors in the 4:30 pace group (shout out to Holly and Elisabeth) and was super pumped when we made it to the beach. It was a beautiful sight and sadly my attempt at a photo without taking my phone off my armband sort of failed. As a half-marathoner, I only spent a mile on the beach and soon enough it was time for the split.

We were off the beach and heading back towards Mayo. Much of this is the same as the marathon course, but of course after a few more miles. I was feeling good, but wasn't trying to push it too hard. I was set on an "easy" run for my training plan, and aiming for a 10:34 average pace.  It was a little breezy on the beach, and I wasn't looking forward to how windy it would be on the bridge to Mayo, but that wasn't going to be for a bit.
But it came up SO fast! After running the full last year, the ramp up to JTB seemed to come quickly after making that turn off the beach. I had all kinds of memories of last year come flooding back - Linzie and I struggling up the ramp and across those last few miles, seeing the course go to black and the buses heading up the ramp from Mayo to go pick up runners behind us. But the sky was blue, the temps were AMAZING, and there was a little wind but it wasn't awful, as I came up to the final push over the bridge. The ZTAs cheering at the top of the bridge were GREAT (we missed them last year... ) and helped really get me over the hump. Oh, and I forgot to mention about this time the elites ran past us like it was nothing they had completed TWICE the distance in the same amount of time it took us to "just" run 13.1. And they made it look so easy clicking off those miles. In fact, when the first elite passed me, I was on a walk break, but when I was back running and the second elite passed, I thought briefly, "let's see if I can match his pace." Uh, NO! Damn they are FAST!
The REAL champions,
Donna and Dr. Edith Perez

Coming down the ramp and making that turn to head to the finish chute, I knew I wanted to push and run the last bit. I did end up taking one brief walk break so I could cross strong, but it was an amazing finish for me. No PR, no major speed, but this race wasn't about that for me. This race wasn't about feet to the pavement - it was about making a real difference in the race to a cure. It was such a great feeling to hit $500 and even see more donations come in once I got down to JAX. I still want to hit that $1000 total raised this year - and being at Mayo, learning about the work our donations are supporting, being around the people of JAX that get it, that see everyday what DONNA does for the community, running that route where Donna herself struggle with her demons of being diagnosed for the third time and deciding to create this amazing race to finish breast cancer - THAT is what this day was about.

So, I crossed the finish line, I grabbed an AMAZING spread from the VIP tent before rushing my pal Dave to the airport - that was super cool, and we had a cool conversation about all things running. And hopefully I'm able to head up to Boston next month and run the prep run with Adam and say "hi" to my cool new friend. But I wanted to get back to the party, to hang out with my super awesome friends, and enjoy more of the amazing atmosphere of what was happening at Mayo. Sadly, I didn't get back in time to watch Krissy (the speedster) or Marcia finish (I admit it, I stopped and showered before I got back - but also, traffic was a little crazy because JTB was closed for the race and they were rerouting people right where I needed/wanted to go), but I did get to see them in the tent and celebrate their amazing races.

I also got so see the girls finish the DONNA 110 - yeah, I missed speedster Dave who finished the marathon in 3:28! What a ROCKSTAR! And chatting with some of the other ambassadors - Krissy, Elisabeth, Dawn, maybe others(??) - we're considering doing the 110 in 2017!

Oh yeah, and I managed an average 10:23 pace. Not bad. Not bad at all. ;)

To help us continue to race #CloserToACure, please consider donating.
Some of the AMAZING DONNA Ambassadors after the race

1 comment:

EB said...

OMG, I love your race photos! You are such a rockstar!