Friday, March 22, 2013

26.2 with Donna Marathon Recap - Part 1

I know, I know. I'm super late! I promised you this post days weeks ago and I'm just now getting to it. Actually, a draft of this post has been sitting here the entire time, but for some reason I just haven't had the heart/courage/i'm just not sure what to post it. You're probably thinking I tanked at the race and that's why I've delayed talking about it.

But if that's what you thought, you were wrong.


 Let's begin at the beginning...

My coworker and weekday running buddy (right) headed over to the race expo during our lunch break on Friday. We picked up our packets, activated our bibs, and headed for some "shopping." I met up with my neighbor training pal and we decided to scour the booths for the "free stuff." We wound up meeting THE Donna! She's very sweet and so much tinier than she looks on TV!

The expo had some great stuff, but it was a bit overwhelming and I was ready to head back pretty quickly. After all....all I could really think about was these three cuties and how they'd be in town in mere hours.

My sister, my nephew, and two nieces got in late Friday night. I couldn't resist, so I headed to their hotel to meet them and help them get settled. It wound up being a late night (for me) with me finally getting to bed around midnight. But there was so much excitement and adrenaline in the air, it didn't matter.

Saturday morning Mike and I met my sister and the kids at Metro Diner for breakfast. I was pretty nervous, so I ordered an egg white omelette and picked at what I could. Before I knew it I was racing out of the restaurant to pick up my BFF at the airport.

We all toured our little beach town and helped my sister and BFF get acquainted with the race route and plan. After lunch we hung out back at our house until my parents arrived. Once we were all there we talked about the race plan and how exciting it would be...oh, and how COLD it would be.

This is the second year in a row where the Donna Marathon race day has been freakishly cold. Here at the beach we usually have a few weeks of cold days in January and February, but it is very rare to drop below 40. Race day weather was Lo 33, Hi 54. Yikes.

After making sure everyone had the right t-shirts (thanks Mike!) I said goodbye for the evening so I could eat my regular pre-run meal and get to bed early.

Considering my nerves, I slept pretty well and woke up at 4:30 am ready for the day's challenge.

My BFF woke up with me and helped me get mentally prepared for the day. At the expo the day before I was feeling ambitious and grabbed both the 4:15 pace tattoo and the 4:05 pace tattoo. But that morning, I was feeling humble and a bit silly to even expect to stay on the 4:15 pace.

(That tattoo was huge and didn't wash off for a good 3 days post race)

We left the house right on time at 5:35 am. The new race start was at TPC Sawgrass, a beautiful location, but with very limited access for massive amounts of people. I was a bit surprised....I mean, doesn't this place host thousands of spectators for the golf tournaments?

We sat in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour before I started to panic. The GPS still said we were about a mile away from the start, but with the traffic I knew I'd never get there in time. I gave Mike a big hug and kiss and  jumped out of the car in to the 33 degree morning. I jogged down the middle of the road until I found my running buddy and her boyfriend sitting in their nice toasty truck. She jumped out with me and we made the 1 mile trek to the start.

It was already just minutes away from the race start, but we both knew we needed 1 last restroom stop. Off to the massive port-a-potty lines we went. By the time we made it to our corral they announced a 30 minute delay to the race start due to traffic. Even so, our corral was already packed full and we needed to squeeze our way in.

We saw an opportunity to climb over the fence and squeeze in to the corral. Without thinking, I jumped right in with all of my throw-away clothes on. It was packed. I feel for anyone there with even the most mild claustrophobia because it was uncomfortable. I wiggled out of my fleece, long sleeve, and old pajama pants and tossed them over the fence. (Side note: race volunteers collect all discarded clothes and donate them - I was not littering) Everyone around me was obviously freezing and giving me strange looks and comments about how cold I must be. I rolled my purple polka dot knee high socks up my arms and finally felt ready. (note to self...find a picture of me with those silly socks on my arms)

We stood there long enough for our toes to go numb, but that was OK. The excitement was so hard to contain. Finally it was time to start.

8 months of training runs. 14 months of strength training. Finally, race day.

Tune in for Part 2 - the actual race :)

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