26.2 With Donna Health & Fitness Expo

Saturday morning started off somewhat lazy, but I was awake and ready to go by 7:30a. It’s amazing what excitement + anxiety will do for you = super productive (now, too bad I wasn’t at home and I could’ve cleaned my entire apartment in 2 hours flat I’m guessing). Later in the day, my mom, sister, and myself drove into Jacksonville to visit the 26.2 with Donna Health and Fitness Expo downtown at the Prime Osborn. Based on the location, I knew this would be the largest expo that I’d ever been to and boy, was I right! It was huge!!


We wandered around and saw tons of booths and sampled chocolates from Peterbrooke Chocolatier <- so good that they escaped any photos. As always there was lots of swag to pick up and I left most of mine in Jacksonville as my bag seemed to be shrinking each time I looked at it.

DSCN0147 Packet pick-up was a smooth process and there were very few lines at the tables. It was very well organized as long as you knew your bib number, but there were plenty of volunteers to help you out, as well.

DSCN0142 My mom checked the speaker schedule briefly and we realized that Joan Benoit Samuelson was due to speak in about 10 minutes,so we quickly grabbed a few chairs and camped out. It was really cool to hear her running evolution and even the goals after winning some of the major races. Since I was the only first time marathoner, she gave some specific advice to me (and yes, I will probably run another one). Too many what if’s continue to go through my head!


After a quick photo op by the entrance with my bib (and an opportunity to see Donna Deegan, the race’s founder at the expo), we were off to carb-load and relax before race day!



Race Recap: ZOOMA Florida

In January, I participated in the 2nd annual ZOOMA Florida event held on one of my favorite places in the state, Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island just outside of Jacksonville. I spent quite a few hours out there growing up and it was always a favorite spot to find sharks teeth and beautiful shells, but you always had to get out there early since everyone else was looking for the teeth too!


This was my third half marathon, and my 2nd ZOOMA race [what can I say, I loved the first one and needed to attempt to beat my time]! So, off to Florida went Nick, Sizzle and myself. On our way, we were sidelined by traffic and then Sizz wanted to experience the beach, so after we left the expo [it was small, but I knew to expect that after last year’s], we headed out to the beach to let Sizz smell the ocean air. Who am I kidding – she wanted to chase the seagulls! My little huntress…she likes things that fly.  

Photo: Good Morning. 73 degrees today!{Source}

Saturday morning we were up bright dark and early to head out to Fernandina Beach. The winds were blowing, but I knew shorts were the way to go with long miles ahead out in the sun as our route runs down A1A towards the Ritz-Carlton. Then, before I knew it, we were off and running down the main drag of Fernandina Beach.

2014-01-18 08.04.00The first miles went by smoothly and I started to pick up my pace a bit; I wasn’t running as fast as my Thunder Road times, but I kept at it. We went up and over a bridge before heading into the park and I was able to catch a gorgeous picture once again.

2014-01-18 08.29.40 The miles ticked away until I felt the last few really dragging me down; I teamed up with a fellow runner (who was doing a run-walk sequence) and we pushed through until we hit the dreadful sand. Last year, we ran onto the beach which as firm packed for us; this year it wasn’t so easy, we had to run through the soft sand that runs close to the dunes. This is not what you want to see when the finish line is in sight! But I pushed through and was able to complete my third half marathon.

2014-01-18 12.14.24 After I cooled down and stocked up on Hint waters, we hit up Moon River Pizza to indulge in pizza and a local beer post race. It tasted just as fantastic as I remembered. No pictures as I promptly inhaled it all!

Once again, this was a great race coordinated by ZOOMA – my only wish was for firm packed sand at the finish, not the super soft, sinkable stuff that glued your feet down!

Race Recap: ZOOMA Florida

I can now say I have completed my first half marathon! Yes, just the first as I have a feeling that I will be training for another before too long. Saturday was a beautiful day for a race in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Just before the start it was a bit cold due to the wind so I made a last minute decision to wear my running jacket. I was so grateful for it during the first few miles. Overall the course was flat, but we did have to conquer one bridge that offered the beautiful view of the day.

What a view! We then headed into Fort Clinch and ran several miles through the park. The overarching trees and marsh views were beautiful! I ate the first of my Clif Shot Blocks around mile 5. I had decided earlier that I didn’t want to wait for mile 9 for fuel since I was normally hungry about an hour into my long training runs. This turned out to be a great decision and kept me going for a while. My pace at the 6 mile split was 12:27 – not too bad for a girl who began training in November!

Once we emerged from Fort Clinch, we turned back onto Atlantic Ave before heading down Fletcher Ave for the final miles.

I knew we were close to the beach which made me smile. Around this time I began calculating that I could finish within 3 hours if I kept my pace up. My original goal had been to simply finish, but now I had a new (which was my original goal at the start of training) goal. I ate the last of my Clif Shot Blocks around mile 9. I needed the extra fuel by this point since right at mile 10, I started feeling the distance and time that I had been running. I changed my mental focus to thinking that I only have a 5k left! That’s it; you can do it! I gathered my energy and pushed through since I still wanted to make my goal of 3 hours. We made the turn down towards the beach and I knew the end was in reach.

The last 0.3 miles were in the sand on the beach. Right as I hit the sand, I saw my mom and she gave me the encouragement I needed to finish the race.

Once I rounded the corner, I saw the clock was at 2:49:00. I had just enough energy to run the last bit of the course and finished under 2:50:00!

Overall I maintained a 12:53 pace which I am happy with. Looking back, I wish I had done a few things differently. My trip to Thailand and having a sinus infection derailed my training for the last month and potentially slowed my run, but its only my first and I have opportunity for improvement. I have also learned about the importance of fuel on longer runs and will continue to fuel more frequently during runs over an hour.

ZOOMA Florida was well run and I loved being a part of a race geared towards women. I am already looking forward to next year’s race in Florida!

I am ready for this clock to reset!