Half 50: 2013 26.2 with Donna Half Marathon

26.2 with Donna has been one on the bucket list since early in my running career. The problem before now is it has always been close on the calendar to Princess so the travelling never worked out. It wasn’t an original addition to my race calendar. In fact I had been holding out so that my 5th Princess race would be my 50th half marathon. A friend of mine that is a cancer survivor reached out to me in December about running the Disney Marathon with her and unfortunately I had already planned to not run the race at that point. That same friend said she was doing the half at Donna and I felt like it was a great opportunity to spend some quality miles with her.  Compound that with another awesome friend offering a room to stay in and a ride to and from Jacksonville Beach and how is a girl to say no right?!?

Here are the highlights of this race:

  • The expo was surprisingly far away from the beach area where the race was actually run.  When I pulled out my GPS and saw 35 minutes to the expo I was shocked and started to get concerned given evening traffic that we wouldn’t make it in time.  Thanks to my travel partner’s excellent driving skills we made it there with plenty of time to spare.  The expo was very impressive given the size of the race.  The packet pick-up process was painless and the goody bag was very nice.
  • This year they changed courses and the start moved.  There was ample parking and once you were in the lot things went very smoothly however the roads in and out left something to be desired.  We left with over an hour and a half to spare to make the 10 minute drive and park and it took us over 45 minutes to make the trip.  In the end the traffic delays caused a delayed race start.  Hopefully this is just a growing pain and they will be able to work around it next year now that they have this experience under their belts.
  • Once in the parking walk to the corrals was short and sweet.  The set up they had with warming tents, coffee, water, dj was all very nice and welcoming before heading to the start line.
  • The course was a little crowded, but nothing like Disney.  I was really impressed with all the directional signage on the streets as you were running to ensure you didn’t get lost.  Unfortunately the first GU stop was empty before we got there, but the rest of the course was well stocked with water and sports drink.  The volunteers were all very nice but there were a few too many non-gloved fingers in cups for my comfort.
  • A small stretch of the race was on the beach running through sand.  Thanks to the traffic my RP was not able to use a port-a-pot before the start so we had to stop at the first set on course.  After a 22 minute wait we were left in the back-of-the-pack.  By the time we hit the beach finding packed sand became difficult because of all the runners before us that churned it up.  Unfortunately I ended up with some sand in my shoes that made for a raw spot on my heal I didn’t notice till after the race.  The big problem however was with the sustained wind picking up the sand and throwing it at us as we ran.  Luckily you could see it coming and duck your head to prevent it from getting in your eyes.
  • At Mile 12 you ran over the intercoastal water way.  Whew talk about a bridge.  OMGoodness.  At that point I decided it was time to just walk it in so that I didn’t end up overdoing it and risking Princess next weekend.  They did however have an awesome cheering group at the top to encourage you, which was cool.  Just couldn’t have imagined that being mile 25 of a marathon if I was doing it, lol.
  • The runner’s village was nice with lots of options for food and drink.  We had coupons on our bibs for two drinks and a soup.  The soup was Panera!  I ended up with the cheddar and broccoli which is a favorite and it did a lot to warm us up after the race.  For beverages I could get a Diet Coke while others were able to get beer so I was happy.  The signage to find your way out and towards the buses was non-existent so we ended up having to ask for directions.
  • As we started heading for the buses back to the start we found that our buses were the furthest away.  We passed probably at least 30 buses back to the host resorts or UNF Lot 18 (Not sure what that was.) and walked I would say a good mile till we finally found a warm bus to take us back to our cars.

In the end I am happy I did the race.  It was a good time though I am not sure from this experience that I would put it in my top 5 half marathons.  I want to go back and give them another chance on a year that they didn’t just change the course and I have a feeling it will change my mind.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.