I was gifted this race entry as a contributor for the St. Augustine Moms Blog. All opinions ore my own.
On the second weekend of February, parts of Jacksonville, downtown Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Beaches area turn pink for an excellent cause: the DONNA National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.
Conceived in 2008 by local journalist, Donna Deegan, after her second of three breast cancer diagnoses, the DONNA Foundation helps raise funds for breast cancer research at the Mayo Clinic and provide financial assistance to families who are struggling with this awful disease.
Needless to say, the support for this event is absolutely overwhelming and inspiring and it’s truly an honor to be a part of it.
This year, I am sad to say that things were a little more personal and the race weekend took on some new meaning.
Since I had two events this weekend (the 10K on Saturday and the first, 6 mile leg of the Marathon Relay on Sunday), I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to run. Part of me wanted to take the 10K slow and save it for Sunday, while the other part just wanted to push it both days.
One of my Facebook running groups talked about meeting up prior to the race and breaking off to run together, and I was ok with that. I figured I could just go out and see how I felt. I didn’t have any particular goals, other than to support a wonderful cause.
The morning was ridiculously foggy.
I was able to snag a decent parking space near the Convention Center. The Saturday races take place right outside the Expo location. I arrived fairly early, and was able to use one of the (inside) restrooms, before meeting up with some of the group members.
There were some vendors and tents set up around the fountain and local celebrities, including Donna Deegan, Jeff Galloway and David Gerrard gave speeches about the event.
There was a brief warmup with one of the local fitness companies, and then everyone took their place at the start line.
The day was overcast, thank goodness, but the humidity was a bit deceptive with the coolness.
I hadn’t run the 10K before, and it was definitely a different route than I had previously encountered. From the Convention Center, we wound through the roads of downtown, coming back out on Bay Street and heading towards Everbank Field. However, instead of turning around, we continued into some of the neighborhoods at the back of the stadium. It was kind of cool to have a different set of sights for a change, and that distracted me from everything else.
The bad news was that I had gone out a lot faster than I had planned, and the humidity was really taking its toll. At three miles, I needed to slow up. At four miles, I took an extra walk break, and I struggled to come back from there.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I was thrilled to see that even though I hadn’t PR’d, it was the fastest 10K I’ve run in over a year. I was glad for that strong finish and also glad that I was able to run in honor of some truly wonderful people.
I was so proud of everyone who come out to represent.
And I was thrilled to run into a fellow St. Augustine Moms Blog Contributor – she and her kiddos were taking on the 5K, which followed the 10K.
As I have come to expect from the DONNA events, everything was wonderful. From the course support to the cheering crowds, to the amazing volunteers to all the pink everywhere. I loved it, and I hope that next year, I can run both the 10K and 5K as part of a larger challenge event.
It was time to grab a bite to eat, shower up and prepare for the next day’s Relay Adventure. Stay tuned for Sunday’s recap!
Do you have a huge local charity event like DONNA?
Have you been having all the fog like we have?