DH and I took the day off and drove down to Jacksonville for 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.
On Saturday, we went to the race expo and checked in. The expo was very good. Check in was quick, the race shirt is really nice and the volunteers were cheerful and helpful. DH and I also did a little bit of reconnaissance -- confirmed where the bus from the hotel area to the race start was, confirmed that the beach was hard packed as advertised and so on. My parents and my in-laws were both coming into Jacksonville for the race so we gathered some course info for them as well.
On Saturday evening, we went Mellow Mushroom for a pre race meal. Pizza, as usual!
On Sunday morning, I got up at 5:00, lubed up liberally in an effort to avoid chafing and then ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana and drank a bottle of Camelbak Elixir to get some electrolytes into my system. I had a little bit of coffee from the hotel lobby and I walked across the street to get a shuttle bus to the race start. I got into line at about 5:30 and we arrived at the Mayo Clinic for the race start at about 6:00.
At about 6:30 or a little before, they herding us to the corrals. They had four corrals. The half and full marathon runners went in together according to color codes they had on our bibs. In other words, 4 hour marathoners and 2 hour half marathoners were mixed together.
The race started a few minutes late. They were obviously checking with police to make sure that the roads were clear and we started as soon as the organizers got the all clear. It 40 degrees when the race started (60 degrees when I finished).
It was also neat that the start of the race was broadcast on TV. My peeps watched the TV coverage and then went outside and saw me. (This is where it helps that the event is 26.2 with Donna and Donna is a news anchor on a local station and Mr. Donna is a weatherman at a local station. As a result, the races has excellent media coverage.)
The course started at Mayo Clinic and crossed the intracoastal waterway in the first two miles. The first (and last) three miles were on a (closed) expressway. By mile five we were on the beach.
The run out to the beach was fun and included highlighted by helicopter flyovers for TV and plenty of cars honking in support of the thousands of runners. The spectator support was amazing! The 2.5 miles run on the beach were beautiful.
|On the beach just after mile 7|
The hotel that we stayed at was on the course near mile 7 and mile 19. I saw my family on the beach just after mile 7. They cheered and I waved. That was neat. Throughout the race I kept on counting down when to have Gu or when I would see my family during the race.
|Just after mile 19|
The run went really really well until mile 16. Then my legs started to complain a little bit. About this time I started to dislike the marathon relay teams. I mean really dislike them. The relay people looked so fresh and perky, having run about one mile since the exchange at Mile 15, and my legs were feeling somewhat less than fresh and perky. I kept on telling myself, less than 30 minutes until I see my peeps again (at mile 19). Then it was less than a mile to the next Gu. 10k to go. Back onto the expressway to the finish. With about 2 miles to go I could see the finish. There's Mayo Clinic. Right there. The finish. Up the bridge. It's all downhill from here. The finish should be just around the corner. I hope the finish is just around the corner. There it is!
I checked the race results and over 1600 marathon runners finished, along with over 4000 half marathoners plus 214 marathon relay teams (5 people per team).
I thought that the organization and crowd support were superb. The expo was great as was the runner support on the course. Water stations were well stocked, port-a-pots plentiful, Gu available, etc.
I would definitely do this event again. I would definitely recommend it to a friend.