Following my last post and picture, yesterday was totally opposite. Although it was a bit cool at the start, 37 degrees, it was great for a run. The forecast was for sunny skies and warming to 72 degrees. By the time I finished my half-marathon, it had reached the low 50's.
This was my third year running the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer". Each year I have chosen to run the half-marathon. This is an outstanding event and I have already signed up for next year. The date is February 13, 2011.
Please see my other blog: "The Pink Bandanna" for a different perspective on the race.
I arrived in Jacksonville on Saturday along with my friend Bob (aka Sponge Bob) and we immediately went to the expo to get our race packets and scan the many booths of the various vendors. My first stop was to say "hello" to race founder and all around wonderful lady, Donna Deegan. She was at her booth signing copies of her book, "Through Rose Colored Glasses". She was hooked up to a microphone, so I had to go behind the counter to accept my hug. I also saw Donna's husband Tim, who is the meteorologist for a Jacksonville TV station. Tim promised a beautiful day, and boy did he deliver!
My next stop was to visit with Hal Higdon, the author of many notable books and columns about marathon running. I purchased a copy of his newest book, "Marathon", which he graciously autographed.
For those of you who follow this blog, I had the good fortune to meet and run with Bill Rodgers at last years race. He was scheduled to speak later in the afternoon on Saturday, so I thought I might find him in the mix of people.
I continued my search for Bill Rodgers as I picked up free samples of various goodies to make me run better. A stop at the "Minute Rice" booth and a spin of the prize wheel won me a box of brown rice. Onward.
On a final sweep down the last aisle, I spotted Bill Rodgers at the booth where Hal Higdon was. Bill was ever so gracious as usual. Runners are wonderful people! We joked about the results of last year where I finished third behind Bill after running the first five miles of the race with him. That is an experience I will never forget. I told him I would be looking for him at the start.
An early dinner at Carabba's Italian Restaurant was whole wheat pasta with sauce and chicken. The salad and bread came first and I must admit I ate more than I should have for a pre-race dinner. It was so delicious!
Morning came as I had anticipated and I felt no side effects of my dinner. My breakfast consisted of an oatmeal bar and a cup of coffee. Got dress for the run and off I went to meet up with several other runners. In the lobby of the hotel we "ran" into Jeff Galloway who stopped to chat and offer some words of encouragement. If you are not familiar with Jeff Galloway, he is a former Olympian who now leads the largest marathon training program in the country. Jeff has authored many wonderful book on our sport.
The start of the race utilizes the "corral" system whereby you start according to your anticipated finish time. Having run well last year, I was fortunate to get the "Yellow" corral at the front of the field of runners. We were now getting close to the start time, the speeches were finished, the National Anthem was sung. With a countdown from 10-9-8...... and we were off. Once again I was fortunate to be running with Bill Rodgers. I knew this year it would not be in my best interest to try to maintain his pace. We completed the first mile together then I made the decision to run "my race" not his. I kept a pace of about 8:15 minutes per mile. I don't recall all of my splits, but at 6 miles the clock read 49:00 minutes. I settled into a run/walk of 7:45/:30, a system developed by Jeff Galloway. Running for 7:45 minutes then walking for 30 seconds. At about mile 9, I met Dan, a man from Illinois who was running this race for the first time. We chatted and it made the mile go faster.
As I passed the 12 mile mark I knew I would accomplish the time goal I had set. As I reached the final turn a lady asked, "how much further is it?" I told her, "less than a half mile", maybe I was off by a bit, but she didn't need the truth. We turned the corner together and we could see the finish line and the big screen TV. She was struggling and I asked her if she was running the race for someone. She responded, "for my mother". I now had her, every time she hesitated or started to let up I reminded her of her mother. It must have worked as she pulled ahead of me as we reached the finish line. I forgot to stop my watch and get my time. I remember seeing a time on the finish tower, but it was the "gun" time. I would have to wait. I can't wait to see the finish photos as I was not at all focused as I usually am. It was worth it.
After some time I got the final results; I ran a 1:49:51, placing 4th out of 44 in my age group and 257th overall.
Today I registered for next year and made my hotel reservation. If you are a runner you have to do this race.