I am back to regularly scheduled blogging, after a super exciting week. Not only were we celebrating the one year anniversary of my running journey (and the subsequent documentation of it here), but we were busy welcoming my mom and stepdad to their new home. About 20 minutes away (which is a huge improvement over 20 hours away). We are all over the moon, and have been very busy helping get them settled.
But now, we return to running.
When I last wrote, I was getting ready for the DONNA 5K & Family Fun Run, scheduled for Saturday, February 22. I was incredibly excited about it, both for the fact that I haven’t run a 5K in a while, and for the great cause – helping to finish breast cancer. I knew it was going to be a glorious and emotional day and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Before we could get on with the main event, though, I had the opportunity to participate in a small training run with two very special guest: founder of both 26.2 with DONNA and the DONNA Foundation, Donna Deegan, and Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson. The event was planned to start at the luxurious One Ocean Resort in Atlantic Beach, with participants running about 30 minutes through the surrounding neighborhood streets.
I didn’t know if I was going to make it in time for the 9:00 AM start. I was about 40-45 minutes away, and had to get little man and his friend off to school. The weather was also a factor – dark clouds gathering with the threat of thunderstorms. I made sure to get up early enough to shower and get into my running gear, and then, after carpool, I threw caution to the wind, and decided to go for it.
I mean, how often do you get to actually run with, not one, but two such incredible people?
Traffic cooperated and I made it to the meeting point with seconds to spare. The group was comprised of about 20 runners, a mix of guests and Run DONNA Race Ambassadors. I didn’t get to meet everyone prior to setting out. I had to quickly get into my shoes (in my haste, I had grabbed the wrong ones, although, I figured that if it poured, at least my good shoes wouldn’t be soaked for the 5K), and then catch up.
I finally hooked on to the back end of the pack and chatted with a very nice gentleman, who was doing :30/:15 intervals in preparation for the marathon on Sunday. I fell into pace with him, and then broke off when the group started doubling back at the out and back to chat with some of the other runners.
We arrived back at the hotel and it was time to say hello and chat with the group.
Such an amazing group of people had gathered.
Donna was lovely – so sweet and so approachable. She has overcome so much in her life, beating cancer three times and it is incredible how much she is giving back to others, in spite of her struggles. I have so much admiration for her.
The thing that stood out for me about Joan Benoit Samuelson was the fact that she kept circling back on the run to lend support to those in the back of the pack. She is so graceful to watch – efficient and powerful. She could run circles around me on any given day without even breaking a sweat. She did not appreciate my Yankees visor, though.
We hung out for a little while, talking about the runs (5K on Saturday and half and full marathons on Sunday), and things we were excited for. There were still about an hour and a half before the expo opened, so I decided to go grab breakfast while I waited – I didn’t want to drive all the way home and then all the way back to this side of town.
Of course, the only reasonable thing to do was hit Maple Street Biscuit Company for a delicious egg biscuit with a side of sausage gravy.
One must carb-load appropriately before race day.
Then it was time to head to the Prime Osborn Convention Center for the expo. Of course, it was just as the rain started coming down. I made it inside just in time.
The Health & Fitness Expo was kicking, even at noon on Friday. I was completely overwhelmed by the vendors and displays, and then decided I would make my way back to the packet pickup, before the lines got out of control.
Pickup was held in a completely separate room of the expo – I thought it was nice to have it out of the way like that. I had an email with my bib #, so all I had to do was show my ID and confirm my shirt size, and I received a really nice clear plastic tote with my goodies. I picked up my safety pins and then I was free to browse and shop.
There were tons of great products and brands on display. I found some really great things, too.
Even more incredible than the convention center floor were these: this huge pink garbage truck, where people could inscribe their dedications to those they are keeping in their hearts with black Sharpie
And these huge panels, where people could do the same.
I don’t have any photos of these all filled up, but I saw them later, and the amount of love and emotion shining through was breathtaking.
Finally, it was time to head home.
Little did I know that the storms had worsened closer to my house, and we were actually in a tornado watch. That’s always panic-inducing. Fortunately, I made it home without incident, albeit slowly, and was able to start prepping for Saturday while little man was still at school.
Some of the great items I brought home (some were part of the packet, and others were part of a goody bag I received at the meet up). I also picked up some socks, fuel, an Armpocket and a magnet.
Saturday was going to be a busy day. Mr PugRunner was out of town (helping my parents with the long drive to their new home – he’s really the best), so I was going to have to get up super early to get little man off to his babysitter (with all his football gear for his game) and get back to downtown Jacksonville with plenty of time to spare to find parking. City parking always throws me for a loop, so I was hoping for the best.
By evening, the rains seemed to be clearing, so I was really hopeful for the rest of the weekend. I prepped my running things, enjoyed an early dinner of angel hair and mushrooms at the nearby Italian restaurant with little man, and tried to get some sleep.
I was stoked for my first ever runDONNA race.