Monday, February 21, 2011

26.2 with Donna Race Recap

My first (as in not the last) was amazing!  Before I give the entire recap, I want to remind you that this marathon is called 26.2 with Donna:  The National Marathon to Finish Breast CancerI ran this marathon in honor of my mom's good friend who was a family friend... Linda.  Linda passed away from breast cancer on January 15, 2010.  She will never be forgotten.
Linda, her daughter, and her grandson

Prior to the race, I had three different goals.  My first goal was to finish the marathon.  My second girl was to finish the marathon in five hours.  My secret if-it-happens-to-be-a-super-awesome-race-day time was 4:30.  My December half marathon time was 2:02:43, so I was pretty certain I could reach my 4:30 goal; however, that half time was prior to my injury.

The week before the run, I did a 3 mile run really pushing my pace.  My idea was that running my goal pace of 10:18 at the race would not feel so bad if my legs could remember having to push for a much faster pace (well, it worked for my half marathon).  I ate pasta for at least one meal for the four days leading up the race.  I also drank a lot of water and got plenty of sleep.

Friday night I was freaking out, when I realized race day was going to start with the weather in the 30s!  Luckily, Katy and Chris reassured me that everything would be fine.  I made my sign to wear in my shirt on race day.
My name is Jessica.  This is my first marathon!  I am running in memory of Linda Franasiak.
First thing Saturday morning, I drove to Sports Authority and picked up a new long sleeve running shirt.  After, Chris and I drove to Jacksonville where we met up with Ryan, Caitlin, and Katy.  We all went to lunch, walked along the water, and went to the expo.  The expo was amazing!  They gave us really cool bags filled with goodies.  Chris bought me my Valentine's Day gifts early.... a really awesome 26.2 with Donna technical shirt and a Christmas ornament to go with our collection.  Chris is the best!  I also purchased a few magnets for my car.  Then we met up with my old roommate (my original running partner) and her boyfriend.  That night Chris, Ryan, Caitlin and myself met up with my old roommate, her boyfriend, and her sister for a pasta dinner.  Then Chris and I ran by Wal-mart so I could pick up a cheap sweatshirt that I could toss, we got everything ready for race morning, and we went to bed. 
Me and Chris
Caitlin and Ryan
Me and Caitlin... sideways.  I cannot figure out how to fix it. )o:
Me and Katy
Adding to the signs
Seriously, not sure why the pictures with Caitlin keep uploading sideways.  Does anyone know how to fix this?  Darn Blogger!
The race poster... also sideways
Donna's husband, Tim.  He wore a skirt during the race after raising a lot of money for charity
I love my shirt!
Christmas ornament
Race shirt!

Race Day

Caitlin, Ryan, and I woke up at 4:30 am.  (Chris had a ton of homework, so rather than making him stand outside in the freezing cold while I ran, I told him I'd meet up with him after the race.)  Although I did not sleep well, I felt quite awake.  We got dressed, and I ate a bagel and a few bites of a banana while we waited for the bus to take us from our hotel to the start.  It was really cold outside!  After arriving at the start and checking out bags, we headed to the race corral where I ate a goo.  When I signed up for the race, I hoped for a 5 hour finish, so that is the corral I was in.  Up ahead, I saw the flag for a 4:30 pace group, and I knew I wanted to catch that group.  Just before the race started, I made a bathroom stop.  In the line for the bathroom, I met a 53 year old woman who was preparing for her 15th Boston marathon.  Yikes!

The race start was pretty emotional.  We were surrounded by pink and signs honoring all of those who survived or were lost due to breast cancer.  I saw many signs on the backs of people's shirts.  I even saw a sign on a father's back about his 6 year old daughter who has breast cancer.  I saw a young woman running with a "super hero cape" that was pink and had a sign that said she was running in memory of her mother.

When we started, my feet were numb for the first 2 miles, which is around the time I finally tossed my sweatshirt.  Below my sweatshirt was the sign I made for Linda, and I have to say that I am really glad I made the sign.  All throughout the race, people were telling me "good luck" or something of the sort.  It was really nice.  I also loved that our race bibs had our names on it, because hearing people cheering for me and saying my name was very encouraging.  I seriously have never smiled so much during a race.  I was feeling energetic but made myself hold back a bit.  

I took a goo at mile 5.  While the race does hand out GU every 5 miles, I personally prefer the PowerGel brand, and I carried those in my SPIEbelt.  Then we ran 2.5 miles on the beach, which was beautiful.  It was there that I finally caught up to the 4:30 Galloway pace group and passed them.  After the beach, I was starting to feel a bit tired.  The fact that I had not even reached the half way point made me feel nervous, but then at mile 9 I saw Katy!  She was there cheering on myself and all the other runners!  That really lifted my spirits!  I seriously cannot thank her enough!  (You can read Katy's race recap here.)  After that, I just kept telling myself, "I am almost to the half way mark and it is all downhill from there" (little did I know that was completely wrong about the downhill part).  I took another goo at mile 10.
Awesome beach shot Ryan took of Caitlin (in pink).  The boards led us across the soft sand to the packed sand.
Picture Katy took.  My favorite picture from the race!  Way better than any of my other race photos.
When I reached the half mark (at 2:09!) I took some advil and stretched.  I just kept telling myself that I was half done.  At mile 15, I took another goo and realized that I was on track to hit 4:20, so that became my new time goal.  Shortly after that, I was really starting to get tired.  Thank God for Katy at mile 17!  She really lifted my spirits, yet again!  By the time I reached mile 20, I was getting really hot.  I made it just past the photographers, then stopped to take another goo.  At that point I spilled orange gatorade all down my shirt, and felt like an idiot, but I was just so hot.  It was then that I told myself, "You only have a 10K left!  Just 6.2 miles!"... at that point it dawned on me that I had at least another hour of running.  I had a split second where I thought I would cry, but then I just kept reminding myself that it was only 6.2 miles. 

Those last 6.2 miles seemed to never end.  Thank goodness for the crowd support!  During the entire race, I must have said, "Thank you" over 100 times.  I seriously attempted to thank everyone who was cheering, because my race would not have been as fabulous without them.  The last few miles my Thank You's had less of a smile and sounded rather pathetic I'm sure.  I ran a few miles chatting with a man who has completed two Ironmans!  He was very encouraging.

The last couple miles were the worst.  I had to run on a highway ramp which meant that the road was slanted and was killer on my legs, especially my left hamstring/butt.  Mile 25 was nearly at the top of an overpass, and it really was rough for me.  The last mile was in slow motion.  And not in a movie-magic kind of a way, in a slow oh-my-goodness-will-this-ever-end kind of way.  I kept hearing people yelling my name, and I saw the clock and knew I could just beat my new 4:20 goal (official chip time 4:18:03).  It was hard not to cry as I crossed the finish line.  As soon as I crossed, they put a medal around my neck, and a few feet later there was someone who wrapped ice around my knees.  I'm pretty sure that saved me the next day.
Final stretch.  I felt as dreadful as I look.
It turned out that some of those people calling my name at the end I actually knew.  I believe one was Katy, although unfortunately I never was able to meet up with her at the end.  Another was my sister Renee and my niece Joy.  Renee completely surprised me!  Joy just wanted me to hold her, which was difficult but melted my heart.  Renee took some pictures while I stood in front of the banner for the finisher's photos.
With Renee and Joy
The cutest niece ever!
  Then I used Renee's phone to call Chris who was only a block away trying to get to the finish line to surprise me.  My sister had to leave shortly after Chris arrived, because my niece was fussy, but I was so happy that she came!  Chris and I met up with my old roommate (who ran the half), her boyfriend (who ran the full in a great time...3:40 I think), and her sister (who came to cheer).
with Chris and Joy
with my old roommate

I did not get to see Caitlin and Ryan finish, because I was on my way to get more ice, but I heard their names being announced with an amazing time of 5:22!  I immediately went to meet them.  I am sooooo proud of Caitlin!  I could not have run this marathon with Caitlin and Ryan!  (I am afraid I do not have a picture on my camera from after the race with Caitlin and Ryan.  But we did take a group race photo that is awesome!  I will post it as soon as it comes in the mail.  I don't want to get in trouble with copyright issues.)

I will definitely run another marathon!  And I would love to run this same marathon again.  It is for a wonderful cause, and it was extremely well organized (including the expo, race start, plenty of port-o-potties before and along the race, lots of water, gatorade, and GU, plenty of support at the end of the race including the ice, and great medal and race photos).
Here are my mile splits from my Garmin:
Mile 1:  10:46 (still in a big crowd and my feet were numb from the cold)
Mile 2:  9:53
Mile 3:  9:57
Mile 4:  9:41
Mile 5:  9:33 (chip time 49:17)
Mile 6:  10:00
Mile 7:  9:52
Mile 8:  9:49
Mile 9:  9:38
Mile 10:  9:38  (chip time 1:39:05)
Mile 11:  9:30
Mile 12:  9:46
Mile 13:  10:16 (stopped and stretched twice)  (chip time for 13.1 2:09:39)
Mile 14:  9:37
Mile 15:  10:08  (chip time 2:28:16)
Mile 16:  9:42
Mile 17:  9:43
Mile 18:  9:21
Mile 19:  9:54
Mile 20:  9:45
Mile 21:  9:49  (chip time 3:17:08)
Mile 22:  9:56
Mile 23:  9:58
Mile 24:  9:50
Mile 25:  9:52
Mile 26:  9:38
Mile 0.28:  9:28 (I think that extra 0.08 was at the very beginning trying to get around people)

This is just proof that training for distance and not speed on the long runs and doing a bit of speed work really pays off!  Our long runs ranged between a 11-12:30 pace depending on the day, which was absolutely great because it was a pace where we could chat and keep ourselves entertained.  In fact, our friend Kyle pointed out to me that my half marathon time (2:09) was exactly half of my full marathon time (4:18).  I am proud that I was able to stay so consistent.

Post Race

After the race, we went back to the hotel and showered.  Then Chris and I stopped for food and headed back to Orlando, where I slept in the car.  I was most definitely sore the next few days!  And speaking of the next day... On Monday (the day after running a full marathon), Caitlin successfully defended her candidacy!  I am so proud of her!!!!  She is officially a doctoral candidate now!  This day was also Valentine's Day, and Chris and I opted to eat in and enjoy a relaxing evening at home.  It was perfect!  He even brought me home roses!  He is the best!
Last week and this past weekend have been very busy.  I will post more about them later, but for now I am going to head to bed.  I am putting together a collage to remember the race, and as soon as it is done I will post it.  I cannot wait to show you all the cute picture that Caitlin, Ryan, and I got at the end (it was one of the professional photos, and I ordered it... should be in the mail soon).

I want to thank you all for your support and encouragement!  I could not have done this marathon without you either!  I love the blogging community!  I hope that you all have a wonderful week! 


  1. What a great race recap! It even gave me some goose bumps, just reading it! You did an amazing job and maybe someday you will run a marathon in VA or DC and we can run together! :)

  2. Great Race Report! It looks like you ran a very smart and AWESOME race! (Much smarter than mine!... My last 6 miles were so painfully slow... you actually went faster!) It's been so fun to follow you on your marathon journey... I'm so proud of you! :)

  3. Amazing amazing amazing! You are truly an inspiration and a rock star! This is only the beginning for you and I can't wait to follow you on your future running goals! :D Congratulations again! :D

  4. Wow! Awesome race report. Amazing for your first marathon!

  5. Congratulations on running such a smart, fun and successful race. What an inspiring story!

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