Yesterday was the 26.2 with Donna Marathon and it was a great race! Just as I remember from last year, the route was full of volunteers and spectators ready to keep all of the runners motivated and moving!
The race started just after 7:30am yesterday morning and runners headed off in several different waves. I started in the third wave as I am a starting line procrastinator and never make it to the starting line more than 5 minutes before the race is set to start. By the time I was able to fit myself into the line up, I was only able to make it through about 1/3 of the runners which meant I was toward the back. I ended up running over the starting line about 8 minutes after the cannon went off. The weather for race day just about perfect! Last year, the race started off at a freezing 34 degrees which meant that I couldn't feel my toes until about mile 4. This year though, the temperature was about 56-57 degrees and cloudy. There was a slight chill to the air which meant no humidity (Florida humidity can really kill a race!) so overall a pretty good start! I had to spend most of the first couple of miles weaving through slower runners to finally find my way out of the pace and into my groove.
We ran through the neighborhoods of Ponte Vedra Beach and into Jax Beach and eventually on to the beach itself. The beach is always a challenging 2.5 miles but this year there was no wind (like last year!) and with the clouds this part of the race definitely could have been worse! We continued up North through Atlantic and Neptune Beaches and then back down South on the road next to the beach. My phone, and my source of music, died at about mile 20. That meant I had no idea of my pace and no music to motivate me for the last 6 miles of the run. I kept pushing forward though and made it up the ramp to the highway which covers the last 3 miles of the race. This last stretch is probably the most challenging part. Because it's a bridge, the amount of spectators is very low and these three miles do have several ups and downs. The first half of the last mile is uphill...after having run 25 miles an uphill run is not easy! At the top of the bridge though, just as we were about to head down and off the ramp toward the finish line there is the "Bridge Brigade." The "Bridge Brigade" is a large group of very loud and enthusiastic volunteers set up to make that last push happen. Having now run this race twice I can easily say, this last 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile would not be possible without these volunteers. After having run about 25.5 miles and the most recent stretch being uphill I think many of us are ready to shut down and begin walking. I am proud to say that I used this motivation to keep going and made it across the finish line strong....well, sort of strong anyway.
I finished with a time of 3:47:13 which is 2 minutes and 20 seconds faster than last year (a finish time of 3:49:33)! I placed 115th of 1014 full marathon completers as well. I'm glad I started and then finished when I did as about 15 minutes after I passed the finish line it started to rain and about 30 minutes later the skies opened up!
Question of the Day: Have you ever run a marathon or half marathon? What kept you going for that last push?
Link of the Day: Shape's Tips on How to Recover From Running a Marathon