Race Recap: Breast Cancer Half Marathon

Two weeks ago, I completed a half marathon race during the 26.2 with Donna – The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, FL.   I’ve mentioned previously that the mission of the 26.2 with Donna is “to passionately produce world class events to raise funds for ground breaking breast cancer research and empower women living with breast cancer.”  Donna Deegan, a Jacksonville, Florida native and a former news anchor on First Coast News, created the 26.2 with Donna – The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in 2006.  Donna herself is a three-time breast cancer survivor, who was first diagnosed in 1999 at the age of 38 and again in 2002 and 2007.  She created The Donna Foundation in an effort to raise research dollars and to bring awareness to women who battle breast cancer and to provide help to cancer patients who have difficulty meeting their financial needs.  If you are looking for a race with a positive message and you like to run for a cause, then this is the race for you.  I’m pretty sure that you’ll have as much fun as I did.  Anyways, here a quick recap of my race experience.

The Expo:

Saturday afternoon I headed to the Prime Osborne Convention Center for the 26.2 with Donna Expo and Packet Pickup. I always look forward to any race expo because of all of the various vendors that show up.  I spent about 2 hours at the expo bouncing from booth to booth checking everything out. I bought some deep discounted running t-shirts, a pair of compression sleeves for my legs and some Jelly Belly sports beans for extra energy along the course.  On my way out of the expo, I stumbled upon a booth called Fellow Flowers.  There were 2 warm and friendly ladies selling really cute logo t-shirts in various colors and bright cloth-like flowers that you can wear in your hair.  The booth was buzzing with so many women, so I had to check it out.  I almost left the expo at that time because I got a call from my BF, but I’m glad that I didn’t.  I needed up getting myself a t-shirt and something for my mom who’s birthday is coming up.  If you have chance, check out their website for some running inspiration and shopping.  So, the best part of me stumbling on this booth was that finally I got to meet Donna Deegan in person.  She just happened to be stopping by the booth to meet the two ladies at the booth.  I have to say that meeting Donna was the highlight of the race weekend.  She was super sweet and took a bunch of photos with other admirers and running enthusiasts.

After I left the expo, I met up with some friends for lunch and then I went home to rest up for the next day.  I gathered all of my running gear and laid everything out for easy access and a quick change in the morning.  I had a quick pasta dinner and decided that I needed go to bed pretty early since I had to wake up at 4:30am.

The Race:

When the alarm when off at 4:30am on Sunday morning I hit the snooze button a few times.  No matter how early I go to bed, getting up at 4:30am is never easy.  Once I finally woke up, I toasted two waffles added some peanut butter on them and got dressed pretty quickly.  I was determined to be on the road by 5:30am.  I walked out the door with my waffles in hand along with a cup full of Naked Green Machine smoothie drink (my favorite).  When I got on the road, I was pretty excited because there appeared to be no traffic.   I thought to myself, I love it when things work out the way I planned out in my head.  My reflection was short lived by the time I got to Jacksonville Beach.  As soon as I got off of Butler Blvd and turned onto A1A, I saw the traffic that everyone warned me about at the expo.  Apparently everyone got the same memo to leave early because I sat in traffic for the next hour.  Luckily, I left early enough that I didn’t think I was going to be late since the race was scheduled to start at 7:30am, but I was still a little nervous. 

While I sat in traffic, two of my friends called to let me know they were just getting to the traffic. At that point, I figured that they were going to be late for the race.  After fighting my way to merge from 2 lanes into 1, I was finally able to park.  I still had about an hour to spare until I made a quick visit to the long lines of porta potties.  My friends called again to give me an update of their location, but they were still pretty far away and still sitting in heavy traffic.  I made my way to the corrals and lined up while constantly keeping an eye out for my friends.  At 7:15am, I started to stretch and warm up for the race and chatted with some ladies from South Carolina.  Finally after a long wait, the race officials made an announcement that they were pushing the start time to 7:45am to allow for the people sitting in traffic to get parked and settled at the start line.   My friends eventually made it to the start line around 7:45am and snuck into the corral with me.  A few minutes later, the race officials made another quick announcement that the race was going to start promptly at 8:00am.  Thankfully, the race started exactly at 8:00am and we were finally off and running!

Unfortunately, I signed up for the race late, so I started in the third corral. Which was a little further back than I would have liked to start. With that being said, I had to fight my way through a large crowd for the first couple of miles.  We immediately started running through neighborhoods of fantastic and supportive Jacksonville Beach locals.  There were so many local folks that stood out in the cold to hand out bottles of water and Gatorade, various foods or simply to cheer us on with signs, banners and well wishes. I definitely felt their energy.  Unfortunately, after running about 3 miles, a friend of mine decided that she needed to stop to go to the bathroom at the one and only porta potty in sight.  Normally, I don’t stop running unless it’s an emergency or I’m in pain, but I made an exception (I’m still trying to figure out why I did during this race, but oh well). Our little detour set me back about 7-8 minutes because the line for this one porta potty was pretty long.  After our little detour, we ran another 2 miles until my friend mentioned that she needed to walk and I let her walk by herself.  I was already on a mission to make up some lost time, so I kept on running.


When I made it to the beach around mile 7, I ate some of my sports beans and one GU energy gel that someone handed me along to way.  I really tried to pick up my speed to make up some time, but my body was slowing down.  By the time I made it to the bridge towards the finish line, I was pretty much spent and in a little pain.  I used all of my energy to run the last 3 miles of the race over a couple of bridges.  All I thought about was getting to the top of the bridge because the finish line is pretty close.  I just focused my mind on the finish line and focused on finishing.  I was pretty happy when I finished, but a little annoyed with myself with my time.  This race just gives me room to improve on my next half marathon and really beat my time for this race next year.

My Stats:

There were 4,250 total race finishers for the half marathon and 3,100 female finishers.   My official chip time was 2:17:17 (which isn’t great, but I’ll take it given my circumstances).  Have any of you competed in a 5k or a half marathon lately?  Do you have a race that’s coming up that you are excited about? Let me know in the comments?

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