Friday, February 28, 2014

26.2 with DONNA Marathon Recap

See my 26.2 with DONNA 5k and weekend festivities recap here.

26.2 with DONNA The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer Jacksonville Beach, FL
Field: Between the full, half, 5k, relay and ultra ~10,000-12,000
Spectators: Insane. By far the most enthusiastic I've seen in a marathon.
Start/Finish: TPC Sawgrass Golf Course to the Mayo Clinic
Course: Mostly paved neighborhoods with 2+ miles of beach running (hard packed sand) and a few miles of multi lane road running at the end.
Schwag: Long sleeve tech shirt (the really soft ones that feel like cotton but are wicking).
Other: Optional fundraising that goes 70% to breast cancer research at the Mayo Clinic and 30% to critical patient needs.  Additionally, all registration fees go to the charity.
All smiles at the start.  The smiles never faded.
Race day arrived bright and early.  I met up with fellow ambassador Krissy to take the 4:30 shuttle to the start line.  We  were worried about traffic, but arrived in plenty of time to meet up with other ambassadors, visit the port-a-johns, repeatedly visit the Dunkin Donuts tent (they even had muchkins!), and do what runners do before being herded into the corrals. We probably could have taken a later shuttle, but neither of us had run this race before and we didn't know what to expect.

As I mentioned in my pre-race thoughts, I knew going into the race that I was going to have a mental battle on my hands. My taper was longer than I wanted, including periods with no running, so my confidence wasn't on it's game. On top of that, it was a little hot (60 degrees) and humid at the start. I prepped myself for that doubt to come at some point in the race and maintained the goal of just staying positive and have a good time. There is so much to celebrate and enjoy on this course!
 
There was plenty of space in the starting corrals, and with a quick firing of the pink ribbon confetti cannons, we were off!  Here is a little drone footage of the start:
 
About 1 mile into the race, I ran by Donna, her husband Tim, and Dr. Perez making their way through the course.  They don't call it 26.2 with Donna for nothing.  Not only does Donna complete the marathon each year with a crowd, she stops throughout the race to take pictures with runners and spectators, thank people, and soak up every aspect of the day. Donna and Tim also ran the 5k the day before. They are awesome.
Donna, Dr. Perez, and Tim. He rocks the sparkle skirt. (Source: 26.2 with Donna Facebook Page)
About 2 miles into the race I caught the 4:00 pace group. They were utilizing the Galloway method, so I kept running into them every 5 mins (they did a 4 min run/30 second walk format) as their pace fluctuated. Around mile 4, I decided to join them for a bit to see what it was all about and I didn't hate it.  It was very different from my usual style, but I can definitely see how it could be really beneficial.
Tons of fun on the course. (Source: 26.2 with DONNA Facebook page)
By this point we were well into the neighborhoods and they didn't disappoint at all.  It seemed like every single house was decorated in pink with people sitting out and cheering. I've never seen so many spectators in costume or have been thanked so many times for running. There were so many unofficial water stops offering water and oranges that I couldn't even count them all.  Even with the heat and humidity, I never worried about finding water or sponges. There were live bands, houses playing music, cowbells, a 'free mammogram' station set in up in some guy's yard (very funny), and more cheering than I knew what to do with (to get a taste, scroll through the photos on the race's Facebook Page). NYC marathon may have the fan numbers, but the 26.2 with DONNA fans have the passion!
Course markers leading the way! (Credit: S. Chenoweth)
Around mile 7 we turned on to the beach. As nervous as I was about the beach miles, they really didn't affect my pace or running.  The sand was hard packed, so it wasn't slow-mo beach running like you see in the movies. The only real difference was that instead of yelling 'pothole' or 'sewer' to alert runners around you of obstacles, you yelled things like 'jellyfish' and 'sandcastle'.  The beach miles are know as the "memorial miles"  as huge banners that were signed by runners and spectators at the expo are position throughout the sand. It's a very emotional 2+ miles.
Banner were signed at the expo and positioned along the beach. (Credit: S. Chenoweth)
Exiting the beach, I let the 4:00 pace group go.  I was at a point where I needed to stay true to my race and run the pace and style that worked for me. Around the 12 mile marker I spotted Krissy going the other way and looking pretty snazzy in her pink.  I gave her a shout and we exchange happy waves, a nice little lift for both of us. Miles 12.5-15 go through some of the 'quieter' neighborhoods on the course.  I was still feeling ok going into them and crossed the halfway mark in 1:59:41.  While I was very happy to see my half time, I knew it was something I wasn't going to repeat for the second half. It was just one of those days. No one thing was going wrong physically, but I just didn't have 'it'.

I started the second half with the same goal of having fun, enjoying the course and fans for everything they offered, but not stressing over my time.  I was a tad worry that I was feeling done at mile 14, but I knew it wasn't the end of the world. Not stressing over time really helped me relax and run more comfortably.  I started mixing in a few walk breaks starting at mile 14, which is not my normal strategy at all, but I thought it would help me conserve my energy.
I really did smile the entire race!
By 17/18, the power of the crowd had my energy back up a bit.  I felt like I was running better than my lull in the mid teens and that boost carried me through mile 20.  Starting in the 20s, I had planned a lot of honor miles for friends and donor and it was the best idea ever.  For each mile I had someone or group to think about and it really helped me keep pace and run solidly.  There was no way I wanted to tell any of my friends that I totally fell apart during their mile!

 At mile 23, I noticed the race alert had been changed to yellow and you could see the clouds coming, both of which helped keep me moving.  During mile 26 the rain started and by the finish line with was solidly raining.  I pushed with what I had left through the long finishing straightaway and glanced at my watch as I came over the line:
4:11:19
Yep, after all that, feeling like I didn't have 'it', taking walk breaks, and running for fun, I missed a PR by 50 seconds.  I was very surprised by my time and I might be more proud of this one than my PR race because I had to work so much harder for this one.  That said, I feel very confident I could set a new PR in the future.  Another huge item of note, for the first time in my marathoning career, my toes did NOT bleed!  Lucky #7.
A volunteer took this one at the finish and posted it on the race FB page. Great shot!
I didn't stay long at the finish line party because the rain was really starting to pick up.  It got so bad, that they sadly had to close the course around the 6 hour mark and shuttle everyone into the Mayo Clinic.  When I came through the finish party, there was a lot of stuff at the finish from food to pink champagne to more food.  In better weather, I definitely could have seen myself spending sometime there and getting my grub on.
Looking tired, but still rocking my race shirt!
Overall, I can't say enough good things about this race.  From the care that goes into organizing it, to the amazing support throughout the neighborhoods, to the emotional and amazing stories of many of the participants (I might do an entire post about this alone!), this is a truly unique event. The course is flat, fast, and open for 7 hours, allowing all abilities to excel on it. If you are looking for a race with a lot of passion, or just a great Florida race to check out, 26.2 with DONNA is an excellent option. It will definitely be on my calendar again in the future.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#RunDONNA 5k + Festivities Recap

Fun, fun, fun!
That about sums up my entire weekend. But let's start at the beginning.
With Linzie, Krissy, Shannon, and Marcia pre-5k (Photo credit: Linzie Starr)
26.2 with Donna Marathon weekend started off on Friday with the VIP cocktail party. The Ambassadors were lucky enough to get an invite and it was a very cool experience. The party included the incredibly lovely Donna Deegan (yes, that Donna), the who's-who of Jacksonville, the happy-to-be-there Ambassador team, and some pretty big names in the running world, including Joan Benoit Samuelson who has run 26.2 with Donna every single year.
Meeting Joan was a pretty big highlight for me.  Growing up one town over from her in Maine, I knew who she was and what she meant to the world of women's running from a pretty early age. She has been an inspiration to me my entire athletic career, so I tried my hardest to play it cool. I think I did ok because she didn't run away and hide. Joan and I chatted about how winter was going this year in Maine, her race schedule (next she has some race in Boston in April, but I forget the name of it), her upcoming travel with NIKE for the Japan Nike Women's Marathon, and life in general (her kids, our jobs). Joan is extremely down to earth and a Mainer through and through.
The 5k group post race (Photo credit: A. Mummau)
 Sweaty in Pink! Wearing the taffeta in honor of reaching my fundraising goal!
The next morning the Ambassadors were up and at 'em for the 5k and Family fun run.  Krissy, MarciaLinzie and I decided to fun run the 5k together as we all had a marathon to save our legs for the following day.  The 5k started and ended at the convention center, home of the expo, and wove it's way through downtown Jacksonville and along the river.  Marcia, who lives in Jacksonville, gave us a great little tour of the city. The 5k was a fun way to kick off running 30 miles in one weekend. At the finish, we met up with Reist, another ambassador, who was running with his niece, nephew, and brother. Their family makes 26.2 with Donna an annual event and had over 14 family members participating in at least one race this year!  So impressive!
New this year, the 5k has a finishers medal and it's super cute!
Visiting the Expo. Yes, I now realize that it looks like the ribbon is punching me in the head.
On Saturday night we were off to dinner at the Mayo Clinic honoring some of the top fundraising teams.
Dr. Perez (in blue coat), Donna (in purple dress), Joan (black top) with some of the Ambassadors. (Credit: Ashley)
The dinner was very inspiring.  It was amazing to hear from all sides of the process. The Donna Foundation Team detailed where every penny goes and shared the stories and experiences of those who have been helped by donations. It was very evident the incredible care the foundation has for what they do. We also heard from some of the top fundraising teams and the stories behind why they raise money, heartbreaking and inspiring all at once.  Of course as a research scientist, I loved hearing from the research team of Dr. Edith Perez (Donna's Doctor) on how they have used fundraising dollars to make huge advancements in understanding breast cancer and designing individual treatment plans for their patients.  It is very powerful to see how so many people from different areas are pulling together for the common goal of finishing breast cancer.
With Donna Deegan. I should know better than to wear heels when I'm this tall.
The night was the perfect inspiration heading into Sunday's marathon.  It provided perspective and reminded me that the whole weekend meant a lot more than just getting one foot in front of the other.

Up next...Marathon recap!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday 5: #RunDonna Edition

As I get ready to make the drive to Jacksonville, I thought I would drop you all a note of how you can follow along on all the excitement this weekend. I'll be updating twitter and instagram (@runningeb), but also check out @262withDonna on twitter & instagram, and on facebook as well!
1. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!  I reached my fundraising goal (again)! The taffeta has been hemmed and I've packed extra body glide.  Always the sign of a good weekend.
2. Galloway Method:  I had been planning on at least starting the marathon with a pace group. Turns out the pace groups use the Galloway method (run+walk intervals).  Now I am a bit torn on joining one.  Has anyone tried one?  Thoughts?  Mentally it makes me nervous to be walking during the first and second mile of marathon, but I know the program works and a lot of people have positive things to say about it.

3. Race day tracking:  For those of you eager to know how you did in the Chocolate Island Boost Contest (I'm looking at you David, ok you too Monica), here are my bib numbers.  Feel free to follow along, race track, send me good vibes as I sweat my way through Florida, and cheer for me anyway you know how.
4. Here's the Ambassador crew, including yours truly.  Check out their blogs, why they are running, and get ready to see them in some photos from the weekend.

5. Last but not least, Race Day Goals!  OK, I'll be honest.  I am not feeling as pumped up as I did before Chickamauga.  I had a wacky taper this time (longer than usual and including changes to my running routine) and mentally took a toll.  I starting to get excited and have high hopes for the day. I think getting to the expo will help get me excited.

  • A goal: PR the marathon (when is this not a goal?)
  • B goal: Sub 4:15 marathon
  • C goal: Smile, have fun, and soak in the spirit of the race.
What are you weekend plans?  How do you get mentally ready for a big race?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

#RunDonna 1 week to go!

First off, another huge THANK YOU to everyone!  Your support has been awesome and I am very close to hitting my fundraising goal (again), ensuring that I will be adorn in a fabulous pink taffeta outfit on 5k day!  A few more $10 donations and I am pretty in pink.  Or at least sweaty in pink.
I warned you it is pink!
Second, your guesses on the Chocolate Island Boost contest are awesome.  I'm flattered by your speedy guesses, and you all are motivating me to work even harder on race day!  Thank you!  Thank you! And if you haven't entered yet, you have until midnight on Friday, so get to it.  What are you waiting for?!

It was a weird week here in Atlanta, leading to limited postings by me.  First we had snow, ice, freezing rain and power outages that shutdown the city for 3 days straight.  Then just as things were returning to 'normal', there was an earthquake east of the city.  And to top it all off, it is going to be almost 70 on Sunday.  It's a weird, weird world.
The icy hill on which we live. Luckily it melted quickly this time because there are very few plows.
The wackiness that was Atlanta this week led to a slightly accelerated taper.  I was unable to get to the gym as the streets were closed and the sidewalks were so icy, it was too dangerous to attempt running outdoors.  I did the best I could and got in a few quality workouts this week.  Needless to say, I should be well rested come race day.
Me, after being stuck in the house for 2 days.
Though I tried to avoid it, I sustained an ice injured during the ice storm when an ice pack fell out of our freezer and took a 5 foot fall directly onto two of my toes.  I may have whelped and made a bit of a production leading the Jayhawk to declare that they were indeed still attached to my foot.  Ironically, I used the offending ice pack to ice my toes. I did have some swelling and blue nails from the event, so I did take off the rest of the ice storm (not like I could workout anyway).
Valentine's brunch, even if we are two days late! :)
By Friday, I was back to running and my toes appear to be holding up nicely.  Always fun to have a near injury during taper time to prove just how crazy you are.

How was your week? Any good taper madness stories?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chocolate Island Boost Contest

Remember when I went on and on last fall about Chocolate Island Boost and it kind of seemed like I was teasing you because it wasn't even available for purchase?  And you probably thought it sounded awesomely tasty, but were more than a little annoyed you couldn't have some. Well, I have some good news.  Not only is it in production and finally for sale on the Island Boost website, but I have some that I'm giving away! For reals. A Gift from me to you.  A kind of apology for teasing you like that last fall.
Available just in time for Valentine's Day (hint, hint).
But there's a catch. You didn't think I was just going to give it to you?  You do have to do a little thinking for it, but it's worth it. Promise.

What you have to do:
In just under 2 weeks, I am running both the 5k and the marathon during the 26.2 with Donna weekend. In order to win the Chocolate Island Boost, you have to guess my combined finish time (hours and minutes) for the two events. We are going by Price is Right rules here, so it is the closest to my combined finish time without going over.
For example, if you think I will run a 17 minute 5k and a 2:20 marathon, then your guess would be 02:37 (which is probably a little under, but still a solid guess). If you think I am going to have trouble making it out of the Dunkin' Donuts tent at the starting line (Seriously!), you might guess something like 09:32 for both races (also a good guess). All you need to do is comment below with your guess. Anyone who has donated to my 26.2 with Donna Fundraising (any amount) gets a second guess for being awesome. If two people guess the same time, it goes to the first person who guessed it.
What the winner gets:
The winner will get 5 packs of Chocolate Island Boost. But to sweeten the pot just a little more, if the winner also happened to donate to my 26.2 with Donna Fundraising campaign (any amount), I will throw in a pack of each of the other flavors of Island Boost as well as some #RunDonna flair. Mmm, hmm. You read that right. Bonuses for being a good person.

What everyone wins:
If you are eager to try Island Boost, head on over to their website use the RunningEB coupon code.  When you order 10 packs, Laura, the mastermind behind Island Boost, will throw in one pack for free. It's a great way to try out all the flavors and see which one is your favorite.

So guess away. If the contest goes well, expect a few more like it in the future.

Follow this link to visit my 26.2 with Donna Fundraising campaign:
http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2014Marathon/ElisabethBlanchard

All entries must be received by Midnight EST on 02/21/2014.  The winner will be announced once I find my calculator and total everything up (probably on 02/24/2014).  Big Thank You to Island Boost for supplying products for the contest and being rock stars in general. I reserve the right to make any decisions regarding the outcome.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#RunDonna Update

Once again, HUGE thank you to everyone that has supported my 26.2 with Donna Fundraising and training.  I am overjoyed to announce that with your help, I broke my fundraising goal!!
Since there is still 2 weeks left until race day, I decided to set a new goal and if I hit it, I will wear a Breast Cancer Pink Bridesmaid's dress during the 5k.  It's a pretty spectacular strapless taffeta number, so it will lead to some of the most unique race photos of all times. And of course I will post them.  But we've got to break the new goal to make it happen!
Yes, the dress is this pink!
As I mentioned earlier this week in my February Goals post, I will post my first contest here tomorrow!  Heads up, 26.2 with Donna donors will get a little advantage! And, yes, this might be involved:
As far as running goes, my work schedule is finally returning to normal, with that so is my workout schedule.  I got in several quality runs this week (quality not quantity, right?), including a 5 mile tempo run-commute (8:18/mile pace) where I found $1.  This running thing is really starting to pay. :)

How was your week? How do you fit in your workouts when life gets hectic?

Donate here:
http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2014Marathon/ElisabethBlanchard



And remember, to stay abreast of all thing #RunDonna, check out their social media sites!




Monday, February 3, 2014

February Goals

I know it's already the 3rd of February, but it's never too late for some goals. Here are just a few things I am focusing on this month.

1. Complete my 7th marathon while still smiling. I'm very excited for race day, and even if my training plan was non-traditional, I still intend to enjoy every minute of it.
2. Reach my 26.2 with Donna fundraising goal.  My goal is to raise $600 which works out to $20 for each of the 30 miles I will be running during #RunDonna weekend. To sweeten the pot, if I break my goal, I will wear a significant amount of flair on race day (suggestions are welcome). You know I love to race in flair, so please help me spread the word! Also, all creative fundraising ideas are welcome!
I could use some new pink flair.
3. Host my first contest on the blog.  Stay tuned because there is an element of skill for this one!

4. Have Fun!

What are your goals for February? Anything big coming up?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January Recap

First off, Thank you all for supporting my 26.2 with Donna fundraising!  I really appreciate all the kind words, donations, and help sharing the message.  If you are still interesting in helping out, my fundraising page can be found here.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I'm sure you've heard that things in Atlanta (or Atlantartica) have been a little exciting. We are fine and everything is beginning to return to normal.  Now on to some recapping!

Miles: 83.25

Races: Krispy Kreme Doughtnut Dare

Current Gear Want: Pink Gear.  How else am I going to fit in in Jacksonville?!

Current Gear Need: New shoes (again).  These beauties are fast approaching the 500 mile mark

What I am excited for in February:  Um, I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but I'm running a race in Florida this month!  I'm actually running 2 races in Florida! Since I'm going to be in Jax already, I've decided to run the Donna 5k the day before the marathon.  I figure there will probably be a little warm up running, so when you add it all up, it should be a 30 mile weekend (3.1+26.2+0.7 warmup).

How was your month?
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