Race Recap: 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA marathon weekend

On February 9th, I ran and paced the 2020 DONNA Half Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida. This was my 6th time running a DONNA race, and 2nd time pacing at the race.

I headed up to Jacksonville on Saturday morning with my mom. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Orlando, so it’s not too bad. I always stay the night before the race, because I can’t imagine trying to drive up on race morning. It would be way too stressful for me.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

Race expo at the Morrocco Shrine Auditorium.

This year, the expo was at a different location than it was last year. It took place at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium, which was the original home of the race expo. This was a new location for me, as I had done in the race when the expo was at the Convention Center, or last year, at the old Kmart.

The expo seemed pretty small to me this year. Not a many vendors as past years. Packet pickup was easy (especially since my packet was at the Galloway Pacer table), and I got to see some familiar faces. It was great talking to John from sQoosh, as well as Amanda Napolitano, the race director. I also saw Donna Deegan briefly on my way out, which was nice.

After the expo, mom and I headed to the hotel to check in. That went well, and they were even great about allowing me a late checkout the next day. We did run back out to grab some dinner to bring back to the hotel. Nothing like a spaghetti dinner from Olive Garden to carb up! šŸ™‚

Everything seemed to be going well until I tried to get some rest. There seemed to be a family/group of friends staying across the hall and next door to that room that had no respect for others needing to sleep. Their loud talking, laughing and slamming doors woke me up repeatedly through the night. Calls to the front desk didn’t help either unfortunately.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

Trying to stay warm before the race.

Somehow, I got some rest (not much), and when my alarm went off at 4am, I was feeling okay. I suppose there wasn’t much else to do but make the best of it. I got dressed and headed out. I drove to the Morocco Shrine Auditorium, where race parking was this year. They had buses to take us to the Runners Village and starting area.

That went smoothly, and I arrived at Beaches Town Center with time to spare before I had to meet my fellow pacers at 6:30am. I went inside the One Ocean Hotel and stayed warm for a bit while I waited. During that time, I got to chat with a fellow runner also staying warm while waiting for friends.

After our group pacer photo, I met my co-pacer for the 3:20 finish time for the half marathon. Sherry was great, we chatted as we hit the port-o-lets and found our spot for our wave. As we waited, a few folks joined our pace group. One guy was running his first half marathon, and others it may not have been their first half, but they each had a story.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

With my co-pacer, Sherry before the race.

The National Anthem was sung, and before long, we were headed to the start. I love the start of the DONNA race. So many cheering faces! That first half mile is full of great folks! We settled into our pace and the miles began to fly by. Okay, maybe not all of them, but they sure went well. Sherry and I had a great group of folks in our pace group.

The only thing I regret is not getting more mile marker pictures and other fun photos on the course like I did the year before. Nonetheless, we had a good time. I love the DONNA because the miles just seem to be glide by with all the spectators cheering and the motivational signs.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

On course for a quick photo opp with some of our pace group.

We crossed the finish line in 3:19:17, which is a few seconds faster than we should have been, but great. With a 3:20 finish time goal, we did pretty well.

The highlight for me is the thank yous we got from some of our pace group. One really stands out though, the gentleman who was running his first half marathon asked if he could hug us. He then asked for a photo. He was all smiles about his new accomplishment. That made me feel so good. Like warm fuzzies good. That’s why I love being a group leader and pacer, helping people achieve their goals. There’s really nothing else like it. šŸ™‚

I hope to be back in 2021 pacing the DONNA Half Marathon. It truly is one of my favorite half marathon events to do.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

Happy Pacer Finishers!

Defining Happiness with Michelle Aguilar-Whitehead

Disclaimer: I am really excited to work with our sponsor, I AM SECOND, today to share this information with you!

If are like me and have been a fan of The Biggest Loser for it’s 17 seasons, you may remember Michelle Aguilar from season 6. Michelle was the big winner, after losing 110 pounds or just over 45% of her body weight. Her weight loss journey inspired millions.

Almost 16 years later, Michelle Aguilar-Whitehead’s life has changed dramatically since the reality show. She has married, and become a mother. Michelle no longer defines happiness based upon a number on the scale. Her faith and family are at the forefront of her life.

Michelle shares her story with I AM SECOND.

Training for Shamrock Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - Shamrock Marathon weekend

I’m excited to announce that I’m running the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach! The race will coincide with a BibRavePro Summit that weekend, which is going to be a great time.

There is five weeks until race day, and I’m beginning to feel great again with my training. I just ran and paced the 2020 DONNA Half Marathon last weekend (race recap coming soon), and I’ve got two 10k races coming up between now and the Shamrock Half Marathon.

My current plan is to run a 12 mile training run on March 14th, which is a week later than I’d like. However, I’ve got the Best Damn Race 10k on February 29th, and the Winter Park Road Race 10k on March 7th. While I could run an additional 6 miles before either of those races, I’d like to see what I can do pace-wise at both races. As long as I take the long training run easy, I will have 6 days to recover before the half marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m back working on my speed work again, as I did my first track workout in awhile last Thursday morning. Not sure how much improvement I can make on my half marathon time in five weeks, but I’m going to do my best! The track workouts will definitely make a difference the more I do them, I just need to be committed. šŸ™‚

The Girl's Got Sole - Shamrock Marathon weekend

I’m excited about Shamrock Marathon weekend, and getting to meet a number of other BibRavePros next month! I’ve only met a few others at this point, and there will be a lot of us converging upon Virginia Beach! Much fun shall be had!

The Biggest Loser on USA

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot

Have you been watching return of The Biggest Loser on USA? Having been a viewer of the series since the original during the second season back in 2005, I was looking forward to seeing how things would be with the show since there hasn’t been a season since 2016.

So far, I am liking the new format. They kept the basic idea of the show, but dropped things like food temptations which I always thought were kind of mean. While yes, we all need to learn to get through temptations with food when you are going through a weight loss journey, some of the challenges were rough. I recall rooms full of junk food, and even some of the strongest people can get weak when faced with their favorite cookie or cake.

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot

My favorite part of the reboot is that Bob Harper is the host. He is super encouraging to every single contestant. The sit-down discussion he has with everyone is so important. Losing weight is not just about how to eat better and working out. It’s an emotional struggle. Sure, you can teach them how to eat healthy and workout, but if you don’t get to the core of the problem, why each person is overweight and unhealthy, it just won’t be a permanent change.

As someone who lost 80lbs back in 2009/2010, and kept it off, I understand how hard it is to not only drop the weight, but to keep it off. I recall dealing with a lot of body image issues after my weight loss. I thought that if I lost weight, and got skinnier, my life would be so much better. It is so much more than that. But, that too is a part of the journey. That’s why it’s a full-circle thing. You need to work on every part to be successful.

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot on USA

Loving seeing how much teamwork and support for one another there is this season on The Biggest Loser. Yes, there are two teams competing against one another at challenges and at the weigh-ins, but everyone encourages and motivates each other along the way. Feeling supported while working toward a goal is important. It keeps you working harder and harder to reach it.

As far as the weigh-in itself goes, I appreciate that there is a yellow line this time around. The team with the least weight loss sends home the contestant with the least weight loss. While that always stinks, it is much better than having to have them vote for who to send home. It takes that burden off. What I wish they changed however, is the women having to go up there in their sports bra, and the men having to take off their shirt. I suppose it’s to be able to see a visual representation of the weight loss as time goes on, but I am sure it’s not the most comfortable thing to do. Heck, I wouldn’t want to weigh in front of others in my sports bra now!

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot on USA

The two new trainers seem very inspiring. I like them both, but like Erica a bit more at this point. Having lost 150 pounds, she understands where the contestants are, she can relate to them in that way. The blue team trainer, Steve Cook hasn’t had weight loss struggles, but he has dealt with body image issues. Both trainers want the best for the contestants, and to put their overall health first, and aren’t so focused on being skinny.

The Biggest Loser is a reality show about weight loss, and that’s what it’s always been. But, I do think they have made improvements in the reboot. I’m hoping these contestants get the foundation for success at home that they need with the gym membership, their own nutritionist, and a local support group.

Have you been watching The Biggest Loser reboot? If so, what are your thoughts?

Race Recap: 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k

The Girl's Got Sole - Lady Track Shack 5k race recap

This morning, I ran my 2nd race of the year, the 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k. I haven’t run this race since 2016, and its a race I did miss doing. The race supports breast cancer survivors and benefits the AdventHealth Breast Cancer Care Fund, which help save the lives of women who cannot afford mammograms.

I met some of my runner friends before the race and we ran a couple of miles to warm up. Then, after an obligatory restroom stop, we headed over to the race start. There, we met some other friends and got ready to run the race. It was a rainy morning, and while it seemed to dry up during our initial two mile run, the rain picked back up not long after the race began.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Lady Track Shack race recap

Some of the girls post-race

I felt good heading out of the start. Didn’t get to finish my 6amrun Marathon drink, so I was drinking it during the run. This was my second run trying out the new supplement. I’ve been impressed so far (also used it for a bike workout a few days prior), so I was hoping it would keep me going for the 5k.

By mile two, the rain was a bit harder coming down, but I didn’t let it bother me. The only thing that was slowing me down was the amount of runners/walkers on the course, and watching my footing during the brick road sections. The bricks are already a challenge, but when they are wet, extra care is important.

The Girl's Got Sole - Lady Track Shack 5k race recap

With friends, Colleen and Jackie.

While I had started the race with a couple of my runner friends, I sort of took off on my own and listened to music on my Aftershokz Aeropex headphones. Nothing like some TobyMac or Newsboys to get you moving! I was glad that I had the music, because when I’m running solo, it helps keep me motivated.

Seeing the finish line ahead, I sprinted toward it and crossed in 41:12. When I looked at my Garmin, I had negative splits. That made me happy. Splits were mile 1 – 13:30, mile 2 – 13:01, mile 3 – 12:40. So, while I know I can do better at my 5k time, this was good for me right now. It gives me motivation to beat that time for my next 5k. With my breathing issues calming back down (thank goodness), I can’t wait to get my pace back down in the coming months.

This is a fun 5k for the ladies, Yes, it a women-only race! I hope to run it again next year. Always a great time for a good cause!

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k

Orange Mud Ambassador

The Girl's Got Sole - Orange Mud Ambassador

I’m happy to announce that I’m now representing Orange Mud as a brand ambassador! I am a part of the 2020 Orange Mud Dirt Unit, which is what they call their ambassador team.

If you don’t know much about the Orange Mud brand, the company was founded on the premise of the hydration pack. Creator and founder Josh Sprague, created the first prototype for what would be the HydraQuiver pack in his garage. From that, Orange Mud was born! The company’s philosophy is to simply make the most efficient, well-crafted gear.

My first experience with Orange Mud was the Orange Mud HydraQuiver pack, then later the transition towel. What really made me love the gear was my recent experience with a pack I almost never run without, the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro. I got to review it last year and I run all of my long runs with it. I haven’t gone back to a hydration belt since last May. It was a game-changer for me. And, the transition towel is my other favorite, never leaves my car (except to wash it).

They make awesome gear for runners, cyclists, hikers, and endurance athletes of all kinds. You can check out what they have to offer on their website. Use my discount code, F15SHANNONCHENOWETH to save 15% off! I look forward to a great year with the Orange Mud team! šŸ™‚

Race Recap: 2020 Park Ave 5k

The Girl's Got Sole - Park Ave 5k race recap

The 2020 Park Ave 5k took place on January 18th. Oddly enough, I had never run this race before. I run on Park Avenue and the surrounding areas regularly with my training group, but I just have never run this particular 5k race. So, I was excited about doing a local 5k I hadn’t done before.

On race morning, I met up with some of my Galloway running friends early to get in 3 easy miles. Then, I headed over to the Park Avenue area. Since I was up so early to run beforehand, I lucked out with a great parking location. I waited in my car for a bit since I was so early (and it was a bit cold).

As it got closer to the race start time, I headed out. I quickly met up with some of my runner friends as well as other Orlando Galloway runners. We hung out for a bit, used the restroom, and took a group pic before heading over to the starting area.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Park Ave 5k race recap

Orlando Galloway group before the race.

Since I had just gotten my new tech “toy,” my ASAKSO camera (like a GoPro), I decided to try to run with it and take video during some of the race. That was kind of fun, but it also slowed me down a bit. I also later learned that with the weather-proof plastic housing on the camera, it’s difficult to get good sound. So, fun video resulted, but iffy sound. (I will post the link below)

Once the race started, I was excited, as I decided to have fun over speed. So, I just enjoyed the race and filmed some of it. My pace was okay, but wasn’t as fast as I could have been if I wasn’t playing videographer. LOL! But hey, sometimes, that’s okay too.

The Girl's Got Sole - Park Ave 5k race recap

In the end, I finished the race in 42:27. Which really isn’t too bad. My splits were: mile 1 – 13:41, mile 2 – 13:25, mile 3 – 13:25. I had a good time, and that’s what I came out for (and to burn some calories too of course šŸ™‚ ).

After the 5k race, there was lots of food to sample! There were many local restaurants out, so it was quite the post-race celebration. I enjoyed sampling a breakfast bowl from Create Your Nature, and a granola-type bite from Dandelion Communitea Cafe. Both were delicious.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Park Ave 5k race recap

Definitely a race to run again. I’m not big into paying to run many 5ks anymore, but I enjoyed this one. And, I got a cool medal! It was a nice race to kick off 2020 with.

I’m a Fibro Fighter

The Girl's Got Sole - Fibro Fighter

It’s time for a bit of a health update. The new year has brought a new challenge with my Fibromyalgia. Due to changes with my medical insurance, the medication I was on successfully was going to cost me over $200 a month to stay on. I ended up being off of any medication for my Fibromyalgia for just over a week.

After appealing with my insurance, and my doctor (who is thankfully really great), even with a copay assistance, the cost was still around $200 a month. There is no way that I can afford to pay that kind of copay. So, the medication I was doing so well on for over a year was no longer going to be an option.

My doctor and I discussed other options during my appointment late last week. It unfortunately came down to Cymbalta (which I pretty much refuse to get back on after how awful it was for me), or a slightly different drug, Effexor XR. The latter is similar to Cymbalta, which I am not too keen about from previous experience, but there really aren’t many options for those of us with Fibromyalgia. The Savella I was on is so new to the market, that it’s almost out of reach financially for most people (guess I was lucky before in only paying $35 a month).

The Girl's Got Sole - Fibro Fighter

So, as of Saturday morning, I have started a new drug therapy. I’m keeping my head up about it, and hoping for the best. My body has been feeling weak and achy since I had no medication in my system for 8 days. I have noticed I feel more draggy and exhausted again. I suppose it’s going to be a fight between me and the fibro. While the disease may bring me down at times, I have no plans to let it win. I will continue to get back up and be a fighter.

My life, my goals are important to me. So important that no matter how I feel, I will continue to show up and get things done. Some days, I may need to rest more, while others I may feel like I can do anything. Going to take it one day at a time and know that with God all things are possible, He makes me strong!

One month until Hot Chocolate ATL!

The Girl's Got Sole - Hot Chocolate Atlanta

Disclaimer: I am promoting the Hot Chocolate Atlanta 15k/5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

One month from today, the Hot Chocolate series is back in Atlanta! This is a fun 15k/5k race sponsored by Allstate. All participates receive an awesome goodie bag that includes a Hot Chocolate navy full-zip fleece-lined jacket with hood, finisher medal and of course chocolate!

If you’ve never done a Hot Chocolate race, you’re in for a real treat! The race features marshmallow sweet stations along the course, and an awesome Finisher Mug! But, the event isn’t ALL about the chocolate (though, let’s be honest, that’s reason enough), participants get a USATF sanctioned course, preferred start corrals for qualified runners, and wave starts for larger events.Not to mention complimentary training programs powered by McMillian Running, Live Runner Updates for family & friends during the event, and results posted online in real-time. The Hot Chocolate Atlanta race benefits Make-A-Wish which creates live-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

The Girl's Got Sole - Hot Chocolate Atlanta

All 15k and 5k finishers receive an official Hot Chocolate Atlanta medal to celebrate your race achievement. The 15k medal features a chocolate bar lookalike, wrapped in silver with a shimmering finisher ribbon. The 5k medal features the race’s silver mug, on a matching finisher ribbon.

Head over and register today for the 2020 Hot Chocolate Atlanta 15k/5k races! Price increases in two weeks. Use discount code BRHCATL20 to get a free Hot Chocolate running hat!

One Word for 2020

The Girl's Got Sole - One Word for 2020

Do you have a word for 2020? One word you can focus on each and every day? This word helps center your goals, both long and short term for the year.

Last year, my word was FAITH. I wanted to work on making my faith in God be the center of everything in my life. It was about listening to Him, and His path for me.

This year, it took me some time to decide on a word, but I’m going with STRONG. It is defined by Your Dictionary as The definition of strong refers to someone or something who can exert a lot of power or force, or is the ability to do a task very well. And, defined by Dictionary.com as having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust: mentally powerful or vigorous: or of great moral power, firmness, or courage.

For me, being strong is a mental and physical thing. Right off, I think of the word as being strong in my running and being able to do hard things. It’s a combination of physical, mental and emotional strength. This will go well with a number of my goals for the year.

The Girl's Got Sole - One Word for 2020

Do you have a word for 2020?