Race Recap: 2019 DONNA Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA marathon weekend

I was blessed to be able to run and pace the 2019 DONNA Half Marathon in Jacksonville. This was my first marathon back in 2013, and I have since returned to run the half or full distance in 2014, 2015 and 2017. It’s truly a race like no other, and I always enjoy running it.

Jacksonville is about 2 1/2 hours from Orlando, so I always drive over on the Saturday morning before the race, and spend the night. This time, my mom joined me and we left my parents house about 10am on Saturday. The drive over is easy, but not the most exciting. So, I am always happy to have company. Mom also was happy to get out of the house for just over a day, as she just had knee surgery the week before. It was also a good opportunity to have some mom/daughter time.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA expo

DONNA race expo

We arrived at the race expo at about 1:30pm. This year, the expo was at an old K-Mart plaza. Heading inside, I was pretty impressed with the setup. I thought it was nicer than the 2017 expo, as I can’t say how the 2018 race expo was since I didn’t run the previous year. Felt as though this old store location was a great place for the race expo. The vendors were laid out well, and I had no issues finding anything.

Once I picked up my race packet, I spent a few minutes talking to Jeff Galloway, as did my mom. I told her to talk to him about getting back into walking after her knee surgery. He gave her some great advice, of course! I then walked around the expo checking out the vendors. Spent some time chatting with John of sQoosh bands, and he hooked me up for some lucky blog readers! If you have yet to try a sQoosh, you owe it to yourself to do so (stay tuned for a giveaway soon)! Then, I stopped by the TEAM 413 booth, always love spending time with Chris and Kiki! And yes, I got another shirt, and new magnet for my car while I was there.

The Girl's Got Sole - sQoosh

Talking sQoosh with John!

After the expo, mom and I headed to check into the hotel. Once we took care of that, I drove us to Olive Garden to get some to-go, and finally settled into our room. Carb-loading is the best with spaghetti! I have to admit that it’s one of my favorite pre-race meals. Dinner was eaten, and enjoyed, evening before the race routine done, and I got into bed for the night.

Race morning and that darned wake-up alarm came far too soon, but I was happy to get up and dressed. Out the door I went, at about 5am. This year, parking was at the UNF campus, which was a 15 minute drive from the hotel. I got there pretty quickly, but the actual parking itself took a bit longer than it should have. Since it was the first year the DONNA had this shuttle/parking arrangement, I’m sure it will only improve next year. Once you get on the bus, it’s another 15 minute drive to the race start and village.

I had a nice chat with a fellow runner while I was on the bus, I love talking with other runners. It also helped make the time pass by and before we knew it, we were at the starting area Okay, really a block or so away from it, but we were close by. Once off the bus, I followed the stream of runners and then headed right over to the pacer tent.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA race pacers

DONNA race pacers pre-race!

Most of my morning before the race start was spent at the pacer tent. I did make a port-o-let run and on my way back to the pacer area, I spotted Amanda Napolitano (Race Director) and Donna Deegan. I was able to say hello and give both hugs before the race. It was great, as always seeing them both.

I was pacing the 3:30 finish for this race, which is a bit slower than I am used to going, but I figured I would just enjoy the experience. My co-pacer I learned was a new pacer, and this ended up being the first time he had been a pacer. Shawn, who is a Jacksonville local, and Galloway Training group runner, was a lot of fun to pace with.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA half marathon

We had a great group of runners with us from the start of the race, and a few ended up sticking with us until the finish! We had a first-time half marathoner, as well as a second-time half marathoner, and breast cancer survivor in our pace group.

It was a blast pacing this race! I honestly had more fun at DONNA pacing than I do pacing at Disney. Don’t get me wrong, Disney is fun, but I think I just have a great connection at this race, and it’s not as crowded on course. Also, the community is amazing for this race, I love that so much!

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA half marathon

The first half of the race was great, I knew we were going a bit faster than we should have, but Shawn and I worked on slowing things down at each mile. Taking some fun selfies of the group helped not only pass some time, but we had a lot of fun doing the pics!

With the DONNA’s new course, it really brought out the very best of Jacksonville. I’ve done the marathon at DONNA twice, and this time, with the course change, the half marathoners got to experience some of the same neighborhoods that the marathoners only did previously. A stand out is Ocean Drive, what a great bunch of folks!

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA half marathon

Crossing the finish line, I was so happy to have completed another DONNA race. I can’t wait to go back next year! It’s race like no other, and best run with lots of friends! šŸ™‚

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA half marathon finisher

Workout Recap W/E 2/9

Last week was full of ups and downs, but it ended with a big up! Sunday was the 26.2 with Donna race, so it’s not included in this recap, but I spent Saturday driving up to Jacksonville and at the expo. I loved how my week ended. šŸ™‚

The Girl's Got Sole - Workout Recap


Sunday, February 3rd – Hit the gym for a bike workout. Was feeling a bit off, but got my workout done.

The Girl's Got Sole - Sunday bike workout

Monday, February 4th – REST DAY. Was not feeling well, ended up making this a rest day.

Tuesday, February 5th – I wanted to run, but I was not feeling great. This was the day I realized I might be getting sick. But, I then felt okay later, so decided to hit the gym after work. Go figure, I’m crazy. LOL!

The Girl's Got Sole - Tuesday gym workout

Wednesday, February 6th – REST DAY. The day I thought my race weekend might be in jeopardy. That afternoon, I realized my room air purifier needed a new filter…so, off the machine went. Things began to improve! Yay!

Thursday, February 7th – I ran! My nose was still a bit stuffy, and I wasn’t yet 100%, but I think I was dealing with allergies/cold issues. It felt great to get a run in.

The Girl's Got Sole - Thursday morning run

Friday, February 8th – Gym workout before work. Since I wouldn’t be running on Saturday morning, I wanted to get in a workout. I never like missing more than one day of fitness.

The Girl's Got Sole - Gym bike workout

Saturday, February 9th – REST DAY. Driving up to Jacksonville for the race.

I was blessed that whatever I had been dealing with cold/allergies calmed down, and I felt a lot better by Friday. Was really glad I didn’t have to cancel running the DONNA! Race recap coming later this week!

Monday Musings 2/4/19

The Girl's Got Sole - Monday Musings

Happy first Monday of February. I’m viewing this month as sort of a reboot, or restart of the year. January was a tough month, so hoping I can get things back on track this month.

I’ve got the DONNA Half Marathon on Sunday in Jacksonville. I’m looking forward to pacing the race, and having a good time. Pacing the 3:30 finish is actually going to be a good thing, considering I’ve been still feeling tired and not completely back to my usual energy-levels.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA race

My mom had knee surgery last Thursday for a torn meniscus. I was concerned about her on Friday and went to see her. She was having a tough time of it, and was in a lot of pain. Thankfully, she called me on Saturday morning, and was doing a lot better. She had gotten the pain meds late Friday and finally took them after dinner. I’m so happy that she is doing and feeling better, even though her recovery may take a few weeks.

I struggled the last week or so with my eating. I did okay some days, while others not so much. Putting it out there because I want to be honest with myself and those who support me. It’s a journey that’s not always easy, but I will never give up. Being strong and achieving my goals is important to me.

The Girl's Got Sole - Weight Loss journey

Hope you are looking forward to a great month as much as I am! šŸ™‚

Skirt Sports Ambassador 2019

The Girl's Got Sole - Skirt Sports Ambassador

I’m happy to announce that I’m back for my 5th year as a Skirt Sports Ambassador! I’ve been blessed to be a part of this incredible brand and group of women since 2014 and I can’t imagine my life without Skirt Sports in it.

Skirt Sports celebrates real women of all shapres, sizes, ages, ethnic backgrounds and athletic abilities. The brand makes products for real bodies that range from size XS to 3X. The Skirt Sports community accepts everyone throughout their journey for a happy, healthy life.

It’s about more than a brand of amazing clothing, it’s about a awesome community of women support one another in every aspect of their life. No matter whether you are just starting your fitness journey, are returning from a break, or are a seasoned athlete, Skirt Sports supports everyone.

Being a Skirt Sports Ambassador is being a part of a sisterhood that you can always rely on. We boost one another up and my fellow Skirt Sisters have my back when I need a pick me up. Oh, and of course, we help make the important decisions, like which skirt to wear for your Sunday race. šŸ™‚

The Girl's Got Sole - Skirt Sports Ambassador

We are all #womenwhomove! Walkers, runners, triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, surfers, yogis, whatever gets you moving! I love seeing the range of fitness activities that my fellow sisters are a part of. And, just when you think you could never do something, like cross fit, your sisters are there to help fill you with the motivation and confidence you need to step out of your comfort zone.

Head over to SkirtSports.com and check out some awesome skirts and other stuff you can add to your workout collection. Use my code SSA977Sha to save 15% off your order. Skirt Sports gear is not only cute, but super functional and you’ll love it!

Also, you can join the Women Who Move challenge group on Facebook. There, you can join over women who are committing to a fitness goal this year. It’s a great inspiring community!

Fibro Sucks

January has been what I’m describing as a crappy month. Right after the new year, my employer announced that we had required over-time of 4-hours each week, no exceptions. If we didn’t work the hours, we would suffer disciplinary action. This meant attendance points which would eventually result in potentially losing your job after so many down the line.

The Girl's Got Sole - Fibro Sucks

So, I got a doctor’s note to excuse me from the required OT, since I can now make it through my 40-hour work week, but having to work an extra 4 hours a week would not fly with my exhaustion. Thanks to the Savella, I’ve been doing better, but there are still days that after working my regular shift, all I want to do is lay down and take a nap. Fibro has a funny way of making your life harder.

I was informed that the doctor’s note was not acceptable, and that I needed more to excuse me from the required OT. So, thus began I back and forth chat with my company’s HR Department. Nothing I could say helped my case of getting the required OT lifted. That first week, I did the 4 hours, and I’ve since been suffering from it and the stress the situation brought on.

Stress can cause a flare-up, and boy did it. I had the hardest time the following week, as I worked to get what I was told an FMLA exception in place. Now, I had FMLA last year, but it was to be used during my regular workday, so I honestly wasn’t sure why we had to go that route. But, it seemed it was my only option.

Fast-forward to this week, and it’s been a roller-coaster. My family practice doctor, who gave me the note and has worked with me on getting onto the Savella doesn’t want to deal with the FMLA paperwork. I have seen a Rheumatologist last year, twice, but they left me with a bad taste in my mouth after refusing to take me off of Cymbalta and all. Seeing as how I’ve been a patient of my general doctor for like 30 years, so I always go back to them for most of my health care needs. It’s difficult to find a good doctor who listens, and they have been great. The paperwork for FMLA to excuse me for these four-hours is so long that they referred me back out to a Rheumatologist.

The Girl's Got Sole - Fibro Sucks

It took me until today to finally get with the specialist that they recommended. I found out that they have no open appointments until March 13th. Over a month away! I need to get this FMLA paperwork done by February 11th, so that’s a problem. At this point, I doubt that’s going to happen, but I definitely cannot wait until March.

After crying my eyes out, I got back on the phone today and called around in search of a new Rheumatologist on my own. These days, you have to be your own advocate and take care of yourself, period. I thankfully found a doctor who could take me on February 13th, a whole month before the recommended doctor could. It’s still a potential issue with the impending deadline of February 11th, but I’m hopeful they can extend that for me.

This whole month has been rough because of this stress I didn’t expect to have to deal with. I had been doing pretty well without a flare-up for awhile, nothing through the holidays. That all changed with the stress having to deal with getting medically excused from the over-time requirement. I have felt discriminated against for having a chronic illness, and that truly sucks.

The Girl's Got Sole - Too blessed to be stressed

I’m going to do my best to calm my body back down, and hope I can get this flare-up to take a hike. Especially since I’ve got a half marathon on the 10th. Praying that things go a lot better in February than they did in January, because I don’t know if I can take another cruddy month right now. I need to remember that with faith in God, I can get through this.

Two Weeks Till DONNA!

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA marathon weekend

In two weeks, I will be running the 26.2 with Donna Marathon Weekend in Jacksonville. I will be pacing the 3:30 finish for the half marathon. If you have been following my running adventures for the last few years, you’ll know that the DONNA is a race that is close to my heart.

In 2013, I ran my first marathon at the 26.2 with Donna, and it forever changed my life. Not only because it was the race that I became a marathoner, but it was also a race I fell in love with. Crossing that finish line changed my life, and I later was blessed with becoming an ambassador for the 2014 DONNA race weekend.

The 2019 DONNA will be the 5th time I ran the race weekend. Following my 2013 marathon, I ran the half marathon in 2014, the full marathon again in 2015, and the half marathon in 2017 for the 10-year race anniversary. The DONNA is a race like no other, and it all benefits breast cancer research and helping those in need of financial assistance while fighting breast cancer through The Donna Foundation.

Since I ran the WDW Half Marathon on January 12th, I didn’t get in my long run for DONNA until this weekend. On Saturday morning, I ran 10 miles, followed by a one-mile walk. I was pretty tired and I think my recent fibro flare-up didn’t help. But, I was happy to get in a good long run, and feel prepared for the half on February 10th.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA race weekend

I was actually going to originally pace the 3:15 finish at DONNA, but am looking forward to going a bit slower with the 3:30 pace group. It’s going to be nice to enjoy the course at an easier pace. The DONNA always has some of the best spectators lining the neighborhood streets, so I’m looking forward to it.

The race also means more to me since I have friends who are breast cancer survivors, or are currently fighting the horrible disease. We really need to find a cure for cancer, and this race helps fund needed research for breast cancer. Running the DONNA is more than running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, it’s about finding a cure.

If you are still looking for a great race to run next month, I can’t recommend the Breast Cancer Marathon race weekend more. You’re supporting an amazing cause, and the race is a blast. Learn more about the race here.

Monday Musings 1/21/19

The Girl's Got Sole - Monday Musings

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Monday Musings post, so decided it was about time to remedy that! Mondays aren’t typically my favorite day, considering it means going back to work, but I’m trying to keep positive this year about that. I mean, it is one day closer to the next weekend, right? šŸ™‚

Last week was a bit exhausting for me. We are on required over-time at work right now, and while the extra money is always nice, my health suffers from it. I’ve just started to get better about 40-hour work weeks again in the last 3 months, so having to work an hour 4 hours can be hard on me due to my Fibromyalgia. I guess between working, working out 5 days a week, and just life in general, I tend to get more tired on some days. Hoping to get a medical release from having to do the extra hours, so that will help.

My plan for this week is to get back into track workouts on Thursday morning. I want to work on my speed again, and the track really is the best place to do it. I also want to try a strength and/or core class at the gym this week. My gym does 30 minute classes, so I want to give them a go.

My nutrition went a bit off on Saturday, so I’m getting that back on track right away. I’m stocked up on protein powder (I also ordered thew new Vega Cold Brew protein powder, which I can’t wait to try), almond milk and fruit for daily smoothies. I also have a good supply of oatmeal and protein bars. I know what can keep me successful and am going to make sure I keep myself stocked up on those items.

The Girl's Got Sole - Monday Musings

It’s starting to get pretty cold here in Florida lately. Last night, we got down to the 30s, which is very cold for us Florida folks. I like the cooler temps, but for me, that means mid-50s to 60s. Anything below 50 degrees is too cold for me! Guess I’m way too used to the warmer temps for the most part.

I’m looking forward to a good week, hopeful that my energy-levels will come back up again. I think between the OT at work, and running the WDW Half last weekend, it drained me a bit.

Have a great week!

Do it Like a Local in the 305!

The Girl's Got Sole - 305 Half Marathon & 5k

Disclaimer: Iā€™m promoting 305 Half Marathon & 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Come on down to Miami and get the Ultimate Miami Experience at the 305 Half Marathon & 5k on March 3rd! The race formerly known at the 13.1 Miami Beach & 5K, takes runners and walkers on a fast, coastal route through the Miami Beach area. The race welcomes over 3,000 participants each year to the event.

The Girl's Got Sole - 305 Half Marathon & 5K

Registration includes a 305-inspired finisher medal, high-quality tech performance shirt, complimentary digital race photos, event timing and race day tracking by Athlinks, Cafecitos on race morning, amazing ocean views on course, an enhanced post-race finish festival that includes music & entertainment, as well as vendors offering samples and more!

If you want to run, but the half marathon distance isn’t your thing, sign up for the 5k! You’ll finish at the same finish line as the half marathoners, and enjoy beautiful views of Miami Beach along the 3.1 mile course. 5K runners/walker also receive free race-day photos, a finisher medal, and a tech performance race shirt.

Registration through 12/23 for the half marathon is $110, but you can save $10 off by using discount code BIBRAVE305. Use the same code, BIBRAVE305 to save $5 off the 5K, which is $45 through 2/23. Head over to https://www.305halfmarathon.com/ and register to run the half marathon or 5k.


Race Recap: 2019 WDW Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon recap

On Saturday, January 12th, I ran the 2019 WDW Half Marathon. It was my 37th half marathon, and I ran it as a pacer for the 3:15 finish time. As far as runDisney races go, this was my 7th race at Disney (not counting the 2017 WDW Half that was cancelled due to weather).

Even though I’m now living in Winter Garden, which is about 40 minutes away from Disney, I opted to stay in Kissimmee with my parents race weekend. That made my drive via Osceola Parkway about 30 minutes. Not too bad really, less for the early race time of course. šŸ™‚

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon expo

With runDisney events, the races start at 5:30am, so you have to arrive on property by 4am. This means a way too early wake up call. I’m a bit used to it from training for my marathons here in Orlando, and doing other Disney races, but it’s never truly a fun thing at the time that the alarm goes off.

I picked up my race packet the day before, and it’s a very in and out experience at Wide World of Sports. You pick up your bib in one building, then walk over to the expo for your shirt and any merchandise you may want to buy. I don’t even print my race waiver until I get to pickup that day, and never have any real wait involved in getting over to a computer to get it printed. Super fast and easy.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon recap

On race morning, I had my alarm set for 2:40am. Got up, dressed and was out the door a bit after 3am. Parking at EPCOT was a little slow momentarily, but Disney parking attendants got folks moving and parked fine. I then grabbed my stuff and began my walk over to the race starting area.

I arrived at the Galloway tent by 4am and greeted my fellow pacers. During WDW Marathon Weekend, runDisney provides a tent for Galloway training program members, and it’s great. We have a couple of port-o-lets, some tables and chairs, coffee and other refreshments available. The perk of this tent is one of my favorite things about running Marathon Weekend.

At about 4:25ish, my co-pacer and I left the tent and began the walk to the starting corrals. It is a walk, but also kind of a good little warm up before the race. The only downside is, we were in corral G, so once we got to our designated corral, we would have almost an hour of waiting before we crossed the start line.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon pacers

I crossed the starting line at about 6:15, and was ready to go. We already had a good number of folks running with our pace group, so that was nice. I was definitely happy to start the race, so I’m sure we got out of the gate a little fast, which happens with races. It didn’t take long though to settle into our comfortable pace of just under 15 minutes per mile.

When pacing, I love getting to know some of the runners. I get the chance to talk to the ones that run near me, and I got to know a few of them a bit during the 13.1 miles. Some of them were Florida locals, while others travel down to Florida for runDisney race events. The one thing I notice during Marathon Weekend is that we always have a few Dopey and Goofy runners in the group. I love hearing if this is their first challenge weekend, marathon or what have you.

I felt great the first half of the race, and we had a great pace going. Did start feeling a bit more tired by the time mile 8ish came along. It was also feeling a bit warmer out temperature-wise, so I’m sure that made a difference. That starting temp of low 50s began getting warmer as the morning wore on. It was definitely a good weather morning though, couldn’t have asked for better honestly. In 2018, it was super cold, and Wine & Dine was hot, so 50s-60s was great IMO.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon

The only real mental and physical challenge I faced was the last two miles of the race. I have been dealing with this weird rush of adrenaline at the end of my half marathons the last few months. It’s like too much energy surging through me or something. I’m now carrying my inhaler since I have exercise-induced asthma in the winter months, and used it when I was feeling off. I also worked on calming my breathing as much as I could during those brief periods. Most of all, I prayed.

I prayed for God to continue to give me the strength that I know I have with His help to push through. I have done amazing things through Christ who strengthens me. So, while I don’t understand why I have started to have this issue the last few months, I know that I can get through it with God’s help. I’m also keeping my doctor aware of it, so I’m staying smart about it. I am thinking it may be my new Fibromyalgia medication that I started last October.

My co-pacer and I crossed the finish line at 3:15:16 per the official results. I was so happy, that finish line always puts a smile on my face! I was so focused this race on achieving my goal (after my Wine & Dine issues), that it made me feel amazing. Definitely a high to hit your goal at a race, no matter what it may be.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 WDW Half Marathon recap

I love running the WDW Half Marathon, and hope to run and pace it again in 2020. I think it’s my favorite runDisney race weekend. šŸ™‚

2019 NYC Marathon Lottery is Open!

The 2019 TCS NYC Marathon lottery is now open! The lottery period begins today, January 14th, and closes on February 14th (drawing is on February 27th). Will you be applying to run the Big Apple on November 3rd?

The Girl's Got Sole - 2019 TCS NYC Marathon lottery

After being blessed with getting into the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon and 2017 TCS NYC Marathon races, I can tell you it is a race like no other. Running through those five boroughs is an experience that can’t be compared to any other feeling in the world. It is truly the best race in my opinion… well, other than the Boston Marathon anyway. Of course, I have yet to run Boston, and I’m a New York girl. šŸ™‚

If you get into the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon, you will be amoung over 50,000 runners hitting those amazing NYC streets. In 2018, there were 50,773 finishers surrounded by over a million spectators along the course. You truly feel like a celebrity when you run the NYC Marathon.

Other ways to get into the TCS NYC Marathon are through the NYRR 9+1 program, achieve a qualifying time, or via a charity partner. Running for the NYRR Team for Kids charity can get you entry today.

The Girl's Got Sole - Apply to run the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon

So, are you applying this year? Good luck to everyone entering the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon lottery!