An Awesome Weekend (26.2 with Donna Recap)

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).

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My Road Trip Partner

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Waiting for my parents to arrive

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.

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Beach time! A little too cold to lay out but it was a beautiful day.

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.

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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 🙂

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My race outfit, I couldn’t resist the new punch color oiselle shorts and arm warmers

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.

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Before the race

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.

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At the start ready to go

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.

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Post race, so happy with my PR!

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.

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After the race

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Finishing the post race beers before getting on the shuttle to our car at the start.

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On the shuttle selfie

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.

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The medal is so cute and looks good on my new medal hanger

You really couldn’t ask for a better race and we couldn’t stop talking about wanting to do it again next year!

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Used my new selfie stick to get a group wrist tattoo pic

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!

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Philly Half Marathon

Today I ran my 4th half marathon and my only goals were to finish and have fun. And I successfully completed those goals.

I highly recommend the Rock N Roll Philadelphia half marathon! The course is flat and takes you through a lot of great areas of the city. It starts and finishes at the Art Museum where the famous steps from Rocky are. It takes you through the sky scrapers (where your GPS watch will lose signal) to the historical areas of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and back past the museum to the river. You go along the side of the river where the boat houses are for rowing. These were so cute and I really enjoyed this part. I had been feeling strong up until this point and thought I could potentially PR. I tried to ignore all the pain I was in, pretty much everything ached. After a couple miles we went over a bridge, that was surprisingly flat, and turned around to run back along the river. This part was the hardest stretch for me, there was walking every 1/2 mile and it was a mental battle to keep moving. And around mile 9 I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen, but I knew my time would be a huge improvement over Chicago.

There were a lot of musicians along the way, while I had my headphones in, I enjoyed the bag pipe band and some teenagers playing jazz. The race finished with a short uphill to lead you right in front of the museum steps. I picked up the pace here and passed a few people along the way.

My lovely friend from high school, Trudy, was waiting for me at the finish line. She snapped a couple pics for me…

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And then we went to brunch at Jerry’s Bar (get the hashbrowns!!) The food was awesome and the company was even better. I feel so fortunate to have good friends all the place that I’m able to see when I travel.

After brunch Trudy dropped me back at my hotel. I’ve been stretching and relaxing since I have a 6 am flight and go straight into work tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be rough but I really enjoyed my time in Philly!

ZOOMA Amelia Island Half Marathon Recap

My 2nd half marathon was only 6 weeks after my first. I just felt burnt out after the first and struggled to get all my training runs in. I usually got them in, but they weren’t always pretty and they weren’t always the distance they were scheduled to be. I managed to get in a 10 miler, but my 12 miler did not go well. The 12 miler sucked (and ended up being 8 miles with walking) because I apparently I had strep throat and didn’t know it. I went to the doctor the Thursday before my Sunday run, but she said my strep test was negative. On Monday morning I found out I did had strep throat. I had less than two weeks until the half marathon and I couldn’t get any good runs in. I took it pretty easy to try to get better. I had one good shake out run before the race, I was done with antibiotics and it was time to head to Florida for the ZOOMA Amelia Island half marathon.

This race was special for me because I was getting to run it with my mom. I didn’t set high expectations since my training was sub par and I had been pretty sick leading up to the race. I was just going to go at a pace that felt comfortable and would try to push it when necessary. The race took place at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, which is one of my favorite places. I used to work for Ritz for 5 years and I’ve been to this property at least 10 times. I used to stay there for only $50 a night and I definitely miss that rate, but I was able to get the friends and family rate for this weekend, which was $125 and more than $100 less than the group rate that ZOOMA had secured for the weekend (this girl LOVES a good deal). My parents and I arrived at the resort a little after 4pm. We checked right into our room, you can see the view from the balcony here…

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After the bellman brought our bags up we headed down to the packet pick up and expo. Since this was a small boutique type race, it was very quick to get our race bibs and swag bag. We checked out a couple vendors, my mom really likes Muscle Milk, who is a big sponsor for the ZOOMA events. After checking out the expo we went over to the concierge to find a restaurant for dinner. We made an early reservation at Ciao, an Italian restaurant on Center St. (the main downtown street) in Fernandina Beach. We showed up early and were seated quickly. I’m so glad we got there early, within 20 minutes the restaurant was full and there was a wait. My mom and I both enjoyed our pasta dishes. We also snuck in some Dairy Queen at my dad’s request (the man loves his ice cream). We headed back to the hotel for an early bed time.

The race course was a point to point that started in Downtown Fernandina Beach, went through Fort Clinch State Park and along A1A back to the Ritz. Shuttles were available to those staying at the Ritz at 7 am so we all jumped on that. My dad is the ultimate spectator/bag holder. He rode the shuttle with us and took back whatever clothes and such. He was told he would be able to take the shuttle back, but the drivers got all weird about it that morning. He ended up finding a guy who had driven there and was going back to the hotel, so he asked him for a ride (my dad has no problem asking these things of complete strangers).

The shuttles got us to the start early and since it was a little cold and windy that morning, a lot of us were huddled behind a building waiting for the race to start. I was bundled up and wasn’t planning on wearing anything more than a t shirt, shorts (with a team sparkle skirt over it) and procompression socks. I ended up adding arm warmers because of the wind. Check out a few shots before the race….

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Love my Nuun tat and Team Sparkle Skirt

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Heading to the start

This race was small with around 400 people (mostly women) running. I really loved that Zooma had pacers even with a small field of runners. Everything was well organized. There weren’t really corrals but they didn’t need them.

They called the start and my mom and I wanted to stay around 11:30 pace as long as we could. I wasn’t sure how I would do with being sick the two weeks before the race. We made it almost to mile 3 before we had to slow down a little bit. I took my arm warmers off at this point too. By now we were in the state park which was really pretty. I took my first gu after mile 3. I think this made my stomach not so happy. Around mile 5 I saw one of my fav bloggers, Julie, from Peanut Butter Fingers finishing the out and back portion. Not far behind her was Presley from Run Pretty, who luckily yelled my name so I could say hi 🙂

Around miles 6-7 I was starting to get dizzy and light headed. At that point I knew it was not going to be a good race. I had to start the run/walk and felt so bad that I had to slow down my mom. I tried to walk 0.1 mile run the rest. This continued for the rest of the race. I knew this was my lingering sickness and not the same cramping issues I had in Vegas. I did the best I could and really was wishing I could do better. My mom pushed me to keep running and I did what I could.

Then came the surprise last 0.7 mile of the race, it was on the beach, as in ON THE EFFING SAND. I had no idea that was happening and needless to say there were MANY curse words coming from this girl. I ran most of it until we got to the sand that looked like it would break an ankle. The finish line was soon after that and my mom and I grabbed hands and ran across the finish line with our arms raised.

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Half #2 Complete!

My time was slower than Vegas but I went into this with low expectations. I knew I wasn’t 100% after being sick. And then I got sick the next day and ended up on antibiotics again. I was pretty much sick the entire month of January.

After the race we went to the after party. Zooma does a great job with this and had massages, wine and a lot of vendors. My knee was really hurting at this point and my dad went to find me ice. The lovely Tricia from Zooma wanted a pic of my skirt so my mom and I stopped for this photo….

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Can you tell it was windy by my hair? Photo courtesy of ZOOMA Facebook Page

We skipped the massages there since we made appointments in the spa for that afternoon.

Overall this was a great race. It was well organized and in a beautiful location. I would definitely recommend this race for a racecation!

I’ve switched up some stuff in the last month so more on that soon!