... Otherwise known as Tu-tu's for Ta-ta's*
Race Weekend Recap - You can check out all the fun we had prior the race on Jill's recap HERE.
Race Eve - After enjoying a bit of fun in the sun on the beach we called it a day, had our pre-made pasta dinner, held a dress rehearsal, put finishing touches on our race duds (or destroyed them depending on which of us you talk to... Sorry about the socks Jill!) and into bed with a book and some trashy TV.
Sock cutting FAIL.
It was a brisk 36* as we headed out to the runner transportation buses near our hotel, we arrived a minute or two before the bus arrived for pick up so there was minimal freezing. Then we arrived at the Runner's Village and man oh man was it COLD! We attempted to stay warm by moving around or huddling around the light generators and of course peeing 5 billion times. It must be noted that while we walked about the village our Tu-tu's were by far the best ones around, if I don't say so myself! Toot, toot! (Thanks again Brandi for hooking me up with how to make them!) As the sun began to rise we headed over to the start corral as quite the tu-tu duo and got lots of appreciative and humored calls of approval and requests for pics.
Start Corral - Corraled at the Start we were a small tu-tu'd pair amid a sea of pink; Breast Cancer Awareness supporters, survivors and patients were all around. Every race shirt had a story to tell; everyone there was running for some whether it was a mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, themselves or just to support the cause. It was humbling and inspiring to say the least.
As ya'll know Jill was running in honor of her Mom-Mom (Grandma, Survivor) and I was running in honor of my Aunt Donna (Survivor). My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 1999, my senior year of high school, and bravely fought it until she was announced cured on May 9th, 2004. It was a long struggle, with a lot of ups and downs; she lost her hair, her breasts, at times her spirit but she never gave up and in the end she overcame it. She has been my hero and a constant source of inspiration, just remembering all of this, how she'd wear a bonnet to family functions during chemo, watching her joke about it with tears in her eyes, just makes it all so fresh in my mind...
Start to 5k - After crossing the confetti blasted start line we were quickly taught our first lesson on what happens when you do not read about the race course... we turned the corner and began running up an on-ramp onto the highway and then proceeded down said highway towards a HUGE bridge that went over a large expanse of grassy wetlands. I'm just going to go ahead and say it... FAIL. The incline was tough so I focused on keeping us on pace and taking in the beautiful sunrise and endless sea of runner's before us. I wish my pics of this had turned out because it was truly breathtaking. As we crested the top of the bridge we were greeted by the Bridge Brigade and our official spectator Christy! Yay! As you can see I was beyond ecstatic to see her! LOL!
5k to 10k - When we finally reached the water stop we took a walk break and I pulled off to the side to rid myself of the knee highs I was rocking. It was just too hot. Jill went on ahead and after I was free of the socks I grabbed an extra water for her and jetted off to catch up. She was a very naughty girl and picked up the pace in my absence! I quickly slowed us back down to our intended pace and as we ran through a beach neighborhood we were greeted by loads of spectators cheering us on and saying thank you. The Thank You's we received throughout the entire race were overwhelming, I can't even begin to count how many people we passed that thanked us for being out there running. It was an awesome feeling.
As we came up on Mile 5 we took our first Gu and rounded a corner that revealed to us lesson number two about not looking over the race course... the next mile+ would be run on the beach! I have ran a race on a beach once, coincidentally this very same beach for a 10 mile race last January, but Jill has never. It was called the Memorial Mile and the beach was lined with large boards that had inspirational words on them that had been set up for people to sign at the expo. As we ran along I did my best to keep Jill running smoothly on the packed sand and read the words aloud to her (she called me inspector gadget eyes because I could see so far away) to keep her mind off the terrain and focused. The whole scene was so perfect and beautiful, the sun rising, the ocean roaring, the runners all around us, it was by far my favorite stretch of the race.
10k to 10 Miles - After the beach we looped on to Beach Boulevard and passed our hotel, tons more spectators, bands rocking out like they were super stars, etc. We chatted away and cheered on other runners around us. We stopped briefly so Jill could get the sand out of her shoe and that was about the time we started leap frogging a young boy who was running in honor of his mother who had lost her battle with breast cancer in 2007. It choked us up to no end to see him struggling along in the heat and it was all I could do not to hug him. I can't put it in to words just how many times we saw shirts/runners like this along the way, each time it broke your heart a little more. Shortly thereafter, around Mile 8ish we passed by a large group of "Wanda's Walkers" and a lady went completely crazy over our Tu-tu's and thanked us to no end for being out on the course. Like I said earlier, the Thank You's were overwhelming and got to you. I get choked up just recalling it.
We wrapped back thru the beach neighborhood and came up on Mile 9 where we began the dreaded "jug handle" back on to the highway. Jill was really struggling with her hip but still running pretty steady despite the pain so I decided to sing silly songs to take her mind off things. The next mile we sang each other as many random 80's television theme songs we could think up and I feel confident saying it really helped make that mile fly by... right up until we were on Mile 10, out of songs and back in no water stop land.
Mile 10 to 13.1 - Mile 10 was tough on both of us, between her hip and my ITB screaming at me we took quite a few walking breaks but kept moving. We got to see the elite marathoners run by which was uber exciting as I've never seen the elite's before and it gave us renewed energy to chug on. Mile 11 was a game of "just make it to *insert object in distance here*." I had my Peppy Pacer Pants on in full effect and did my best to keep our spirits up. With Mile 11 behind us we ran up the Bridge of Death and I reminded Jill that we would see Christy soon and thus Christy became our "prize" or when we could take our next break. Soon enough we saw that bright green wig and it was just what Jill needed to put a pep in her step, she charged the hill and up to Christy. She flipped her poster around to reveal a special message just for us: "Redhead & Jill Saving the Ta-Tas one step at a time!" And she drew us in our Tu-tu's! LMAO! So awesome! Thank you so much Christy for coming out and spectating! You and your sign totally made our day! Make sure you check out her whole spectating recap HERE. She began her day before the race started and cheered on runners until the very end!
After leaving Christy we only had 1.1 miles to go! We've got this! Jill asked me when I thought we'd finish and after checking Hermie (my Garmin) I told her if we could keep the pace we'd finish well under what she had estimated. So we trudged on and down around the exit ramp. We hit the last water stop before turning on to the final stretch and the Finish. As we crept up on Mile 13 Jill told me she was struggling and I told her no more Peppy Pacer Pants for me I was bringing out Drill Sergeant Morgan: "Put a smile on your face, give it all you've got and Finish strong nomatterwhat because we can't cross that Finish line in our Tu-tu's struggling!!! You can't have a bad day wearing a Tu-tu!!!" That was all she needed to hear and she picked up the pace for a strong finish!
Finish - Of all the places you'd expect a lackluster crowd it would not be the Finish line right? Well for whatever reason the finish line crowd as we came in were oddly quiet. No cheering or cowbells, nothing really. In fact we had to request some cheers as we ran in. So strange... Any way, after we crossed the Finish line I happily informed Jill we had finished in 2:33, 7 minutes faster than what her worst case scenario forecast had been! SUCCESS!!!
Post Race - We received our medals and clicked a few photos, HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the woman who offered to do this for us and then we hobbled off into the Finishers area. There were volunteers handing out ice packs and I immediately hit up the medic area to have them tape up my knee with some ice. My ITB was trashed and I wanted to get ice on it STAT. No messing around when you have a marathon to run in a week! (Don't worry, I am 100% A-ok) I was so thankful for the volunteers at the race, they were the best I've ever dealt with and the girl who wrapped me up was my angel. THANK YOU! After we got our official pics taken we headed over to the Runner's Village for some H20 & food! I left Jill so I could go grab our bag out of bag check and just happened to run into Tall Guy Surfing who was there spectating his girlfriend Jenny who had also run the half! She totally killed it out there! (Read his spectating recap HERE) I was majorly excited to run into some familiar faces!
After we had thoroughly stuffed ourselves with fruit, muffins, sugar cookies, etc... we made our way to the transportation area once again and headed back to the hotel. 13.1 Miles Run, Done and SO much fun! Tu-tu's for Ta-ta's was a raving success!!!
Read Jill's Recap HERE.
Post Race Thoughts - Running the Donna Half was by far the most inspirational and emotional races I have ever run. The cause surrounding it was so near and dear to my heart and the whole event from Start to Finish left you humbled. I don't know how anyone could run this race and not be moved. I am so glad I ran it for fun and had the opportunity to truly appreciate the entire effort put into it; from the signage (we're talking flags on light poles, spray painted logos on the highway, etc...) to the volunteers, spectators and the runners themselves. There was a constant reminder of why you were running and there's no way you could've finished not feeling like you helped the cause in some small way by being a part of it. Running this race was by far one of the most memorable things I have ever done in my life. We all have been touched by breast cancer in some way, whether directly or indirectly, so if you've never run a race for the cure or attended as a spectator/supporter I highly advise you do. 100% of race proceeds went towards breast cancer research and looking around at the start corral and out on the course you were constantly reminded that no matter how bad you felt and what you were struggling through it was all for a greater purpose.