The 10th anniversary of The Donna Marathon to End Breast Cancer included a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon races with 10,000 people participating during the weekend events. Two weeks before the race, I invited my friend, Debby, to join me for the half marathon race on Sunday, February 12, 2017.

Debby-  “I started running at age 50 in 2006, using the Galloway run/walk method. I was signed up to do the Donna half marathon in 2010. I was having some issues with my right leg and discovered that I had a hard lump in my abdomen. It turned out to be a solitary fibrous tumor which was the size of a medium long sweet potato. I had the tumor removed at Moffitt Cancer Center, May, 2010, and started running the next spring and have not stopped since. Running this race was not on my radar. Because I run 4-5 miles three times a week, I thought it was something I could do.”

Susan – “I started running at age 27 in 1974. Over the years I have run many 5ks, 10ks, 2 half marathons, and attempted 1 marathon last year. I started training  for this race in October, 2016. Since I had been running 6 miles every other day all year, I just added one long run a week until I was up to a 10 mile run and then worked my way back down to 6 miles. I had scheduled my plastic surgery for January 10, 2017, so I anticipated taking 3 weeks off from running while I recovered. Even though I had healed faster than normal, my surgeon advised me to walk not run the race.”

We left at 5:45 am for our 45 minute drive to the race starting point in Ponte Vedra. It was 55 degrees and foggy when we lined up for our last potty break at 7 am.last-toilet-before-race

The first wave for the marathon and half marathon started at 7:30 am. We lined up at the sign for 3:30 hours which was our estimate of how long it would take us to finish.


As each wave took off, we moved closer.start-line

As we crossed the start line our chip automatically started our time. We had installed the racejoy app which gave us our time and allowed other people to follow our progress. Debby started running and that was the last time I saw her until the end of the race.


At mile 1, the sun was up, but it was still a little foggy and cool enough for a jacket. The route went north on A1A. mile-3

By mile 3 it had warmed up so a jacket wasn’t necessary. The long sleeve official Donna shirt was warm enough.  The best thing about the race were the spectators encouraging runners with signs, decorations, horns, and music. They also offered drinks, food, and picture opportunities.

photo-op-during-the-race       debby-at-donna        neighborhood-banddecorations-along-the-route

With the help of the entertainment the miles went by quickly. The route eventually turned south along A1A until we reached the ramp up onto the J.T.Butler expressway.on-the-jtb Proceeding west  we passed the inspirational banners that had been signed by racers during the Expo event prior to the race.empower-banner-on-bridge


after-the-raceA total of 864 marathoners and 3,842 half marathoners completed the race. Debby finished in 3:09:53, 59 out of 159 women in her age group. Susan finished in 3:52:16, 52 out of 79 women in her age group.

Debby –  “I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful experience I had at the Donna half marathon. The race was an interesting and easy course and I was able to do it without a lot of stress. I thought I was going to walk, but when we arrived at the start line, I ran. I did a 1:30 minute run / 30 second walk the entire race.”

Susan – “The Donna is the most fun race I have ever experienced. I was disappointed to not run the half marathon this year. However, after failing to complete the full marathon last year, I was thrilled to finally get a Donna Medal!”

We plan to use the Galloway run/walk method for The Donna Half Marathon, which will be the second week in February, 2018. We want to encourage all our family and friends to join us. You can walk, run, or run/walk. It is a fun race for a worthy cause and you get this big beautiful medal!


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