I just got back from Jacksonville Beach after a great long weekend with some of my favorite people that involved my favorite activity.
So let’s rewind to Friday, Matty and I loaded up my car in the super cold Atlanta weather and made our way south. My parents agreed to watch matty for the weekend at their house in North Florida and we made a plan to meet at the outlet mall in St. Augustine (mainly because I wanted to check out jeans at the Off Saks outlet).
I handed Matty off to my parents after I scored a new pair of jeans and pried myself away from the amazing purses they had to head up to Jacksonville Beach to meet my friends.
We rented an amazing house half a block from the beach. It was a great size and it was nice to have a house as home base instead of a hotel room with that many people. I was the 2nd to last to arrive and our last arrival came not long after me.
We had a great dinner (I highly recommend Salt Life, the restaurant not the stickers on cars) and headed to Trader Joe’s for supplies, lots of wine and chocolate for my friends and race eve dinner for Saturday night for me.
My friends were running the Run with Donna Marathon Relay and I was running the half marathon on Sunday so we spent Saturday checking out the expo, hitting up target, a short walk on the beach and just relaxing.
The race expo was pretty good for the race size. There were a lot of freebies and my friends talked me out of buying a massager device called a bffer that was super expensive but was AWESOME! So if you have one and live in Atlanta invite me over to use it! I did buy a pair of momentum shoe tags so now I have two pairs and can rotate them among my hokas.
Saturday evening was spent doing a little girl talk and making sure I had everything I needed laid out for the race. While my friends went to one of my favorite places, pita pit, I ate the boring chicken and rice.
My cousin, Kassie, made our shirts. I picked up the shirts at target (c9 is amazing!) and she did the vinyl cutting and pressed it on the shirt. We all loved them and I’m already trying to figure out what type of shirt I can make next 🙂
Race morning I woke up nice and early, ate my bagel and egg, drank some nuun and felt really good. We were planning on getting there early to get ahead of the road closures since our house was on the race course.
We got there with plenty of time, I checked my bag, my friends got coffee, I hit the portapotty and was ready to go. We hung around for a few more minutes before sending Meg and Alicia to their shuttles and took off a layer and shared with those who be sitting out in the cold until their relay legs.
Ashley (who we call Blaney) was running the first leg of the marathon relay so she agreed to run with me for her 6 mile leg (she was sick so she was okay with going slower than her normal pace). We headed up to start and got ahead of the 2:15 pace group. I didn’t think I’d be that fast but the pace group was doing a run/walk and I didn’t want them starting and stopping all around me.
We started in the 2nd wave and my plan was to be conservative the first 3 miles and try to negative split the race. I was trying to stay in the 10:30s and base the rest of the race off of how that felt.
I really felt great from the start, we worked our way towards the ocean and went along a road with beautiful houses with people outside cheering. It was trying to reign myself in at this point because I definitely wanted to go faster but didn’t. Blaney stayed with me through this part and we passed Jeff Galloway, said hi and kept moving.
Around mile 5 we went past our house and waved to the empty home. Blaney handed off the baton at mile 6 and I kept moving. I turned and realized we were heading to the beach portion of the race, I cursed and the girl next to me said its not too bad and it’s only a mile. I worked my way to the hard packed sand and kept moving. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I enjoyed the scenery. As I was making my way off the beach Katie was cheering there while waiting for her leg to start (a couple hours later).
This was around mile 7 and I was heading back towards the finish line. I was still feeling pretty good and decided to really start pushing myself and stay in the low 10s.
We were running one street over from before and the crowd support was still great. I was really just enjoying myself and feeling really strong.
We came out of the neighborhood and headed to my least favorite part of the course, the last 3 miles on this kind of high way. There wasn’t much crowd support and we were head on into pretty strong winds. I had to keep my head lowered so my visor wouldn’t fly off. I was still feeling strong and kept moving. I was starting to pass more people at this point, which is something new for me at the end of a race. I could see the one “hill” of the race looming ahead in the form of a bridge and I was staying a little conservative to make sure my legs didn’t die out on the climb over the bridge.
As I was making my way up the bridge the elite men marathoners came running by looking pretty good for mile 25 of their race, I enjoyed cheering for them and distracting myself from the hill. My pace started to slow about half way up but I kept moving as fast as I could and eventually made it to the top where there was a large cheer station.
I just wish the way down on the bridge was as long as the way up. We went off the highway, made a turn and I could see the finish, kind of. I couldn’t actually tell where the finish was and I knew my garmin was off from the beach running. I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were like, ummm nope. I went as fast as I could and realized I was going to be in the 2:15 range (just to refresh your memory that was the goal I wanted to hit by the end of the year).
I crossed the finish line in 2:15:17 (previous PR 2:20:13) and I was so happy about it! I fought back the happy tears (when did I become so emotional??) and saw Blaney cheering for me just past the finish line. I grabbed my medal, had some teenagers attach ice to my hip and made my way out of the finishers area.
I met up with Blaney, we grabbed my bag and hit up the dunkin donut tent for munchkins and a bagel + the beer tent because I had to celebrate a 5 min PR! We found a place to sit and hung out waiting for everyone to finish their legs and make their way back to the area.
This was such a fun race! The water stops seemed well stocked, I only grabbed Gatorade at two of them because I carry my own water. The parking was really easy, there was plenty of food pre and post race, the medal was nice and the support along the course was awesome.
You really couldn’t ask for a better race and we couldn’t stop talking about wanting to do it again next year!
I really needed the weekend away. Work has been a little stressful with deadlines and it was great to unplug and spend time with my favorite people. It’s so rare we’re all in the same place and I’m so grateful for the awesome friends in my life.
Can’t wait to do it again!