Home » Races and Reports » Donna Half-Marathon Race Report

Donna Half-Marathon Race Report

Yeah….the race report is finally here 🙂


  • This will be another long post
  • You WILL get photos of Tu-Tu’s (and lots of em)

A few additional things to note before I begin:

  • My original goal was to PR, but a week before the race, I was diagnosed with a minor hip flexor strain.  As for finish times, our only goal was to actually finish.  Of course in my mind, I had a goal set and I am happy to say we smashed it!
  • Morgan’s real name is Jen, but she goes by Morgan.  I still think it might be a government thing.  And she asked for Morgan to be put on her bib so she is listed as Morgan Morgan.  I am cracking up even as I write this!
  • We had decided almost 5 months ago to run in Tu-Tu’s and we kept it a secret the whole time- we officially named ourselves Tu’-Tu’s for Ta-Ta’s!  We really thought a lot of people would be in them, but there were only a handful.  We (and I am not biased, I promise) totally had the best ones!  And we were totally excited that they didn’t bother us at all and we were able to keep them on the entire time!
  • We did not look up the race course before hand.  This would prove to make things suck a lot at times!  I recommend always looking up a race course.  Then you will know about bridges, inclines and beach running.  Just saying.
  • We realize now, after looking at photos, that we look all of 15 years old in our outfits and people probably loved us because they thought we were closer to the age of 10, rather than 30!.  Not only are we not wearing any make-up, but the Tu-Tu’s also makes us look even shorter than we already are! 

And the stats:

Time/Pace:  2:33:34/11:43

Overall: 1771/3716

Age: 193/346

Now I promise…the report…

Ok…so we left off on race morning, at about 5:30am.  For the vacation recap, go here.

We decided to leave early just incase there was a wait for the shuttle.  There wasn’t, but I am still happy we left early.  It was cold, but it also gave us plenty of time to pee a few times, meander around and get warmed up.  I use the word “warmed” lightly as it was only 40* when we arrived at the site.  Although 40* was much warmer than the weather in NJ, 40* is cold no matter how you look at it.  And there were some crazies with no shirts on.  As for Morgan and I…we milked it for as long as possible and finally gave up our long sleeves and checked our bag.  And then on with the Tu-Tu’s.  From the second we put them on, people were loving us!  Seriously.  At one point I said to Morgan that it felt like we were local celebs.  And getting our photo taken was easy as pie, because everyone was offering to take our pic.   So without further adieu…I give you…the pre-race Tu-Tu photos:


Pretty, pretty Tu-Tu

The race was super organized and they began getting the runners corralled at 6:45 (it was a 7:30 start). As we were heading to the start line we met some awesome people.  Not only did chatting with them make the time go by but it also helped us forget how cold we were.  We chatted it up with a guy who was not only running his first full marathon, but was doing it in a skirt!  He was awesome and once I got home I stalked looked up his time and he finished in a very respectable 4:44:33- go Jeremiah!  We also met two ladies who were also running the half.  The one woman said she wanted to “wrap me up and keep me warm” and I was like “I’m not stopping you!”  They also gave us their Ponchos to wrap ourselves in until the start and I have to say, it helped a lot!  In addition to the people we met, we also saw some other people who were dressed up.  I am not sure why, but there were folks dressed as banana’s, monkeys and there was a white spiderman!  Oh, and a lady who put her “Finish Breast Cancer” tatoo on upside down (FAIL).  Uh, did I mention…we were the cutest!


Running for our loved ones ♥

Our friend, Jeremiah!

Keeping me warm 🙂

Being cute is tough, but we do a good job!

As the sun came up and the temps started to rise (yeah!) we were at the start finally!  Morgan and I planned this trip/race for a really long time and we were giddy with excitement as we started.  Additionally, it was really breathtaking to see all the names of those people the runners were running for; we saw people running for both survivors and those who have passed and some people were running for themselves (awesome, right!).  There were mostly women, but men too.  It was an awe-inspiring moment to take it as we walked our way to the start line.

A video at the start line as we passed through!

And we were off!

Miles 1-4–> The first mile was uneventful, spent simply trying to dodge the crowd and warm up. Mile two started up a bridge…a very big incline up a bridge.  This was the first of many times Morgan and I laughed about how we should have looked up the race course.  It wasn’t long before my hip was screaming at me; the bridge pavement was uneven and it was difficult to run.  Morgan did a fantastic job of navigating me through people and up onto more even ground.  About halfway over the bridge we had our first Christy sighting! 

Notice the amazing sun in the background!!!!

As we ran down the other side of the bridge it was hard not to take in the spectacular views we had from where we were running.  The day was turning out to be gorgeous and the sun was shining bright.  My only regret is that I passed up water at mile 2 because it was a long way until the next stop.  They said it would be every mile, so I thought I was okay to hold off, but every miles was notsomuch every mile and I was feeling parched!  As we headed down the expressway there were lots of spectators, and FINALLY a water stop and at one point Morgan snapped this photo of me that I love, love, love:

Feet movin, pony-tail swinging…

The fourth mile went through some neighborhood streets and was super crowded.  Morgan stopped to take off her socks while I ran ahead (clearly super speedy would catch up!).  She found me and got me back on pace…apparently I had taken off!  I must say, even though the splits ended up all over the place (for different reasons) Morgan made a valiant effort to keep me on pace.  Oh, and while she was on her way to find me, she snapped this great photo that says it all:

Miles 5-7–> Mile 5 began a decent onto the beach…another surprise and another reason to look at the race course.  Look, I am going to be totally honest.  I was NOT happy.  I had never run on the beach and did not want to start at that moment.  But hell, what was I going to do but keep on moving.  Morgan was fantastic through these miles, keeping me positive and smiling even though I was not loving it.  There were signs we had signed at the expo the day before aligned down the beach and as we approached them Morgan was reading them to me outloud…strength, endurance, hope, love…etc.  Of course, I didn’t have my glasses so I kind of needed her to read them.  Plus she seriously had Inspector Gadget eyes- not kidding she could read these things a quarter mile away!  I kept reading what I thought they were and I was wrong every time!  We took some photos on the beach…it was to beautiful to pass up!  At one point someone asked if I would take their photo and I was like “sure, gives me a walk break excuse!” and Morgan was like “I heard that” and next thing I know we are off and running again!  At mile 7 we turned off but the marathoners had to keep at it on the sand!

Morgan: “Jill, Smile you love this” Jill: “Uh, yea I love this”

One of the many signs along the beach; this is the one I signed for my Mom-Mom

Another favorite photo of mine.

Enjoying every moment!!!!

Miles 8-10–> As we headed from the beach back to pavement, this was the first thing I saw:

I was also feeling some sand in my socks.  I tried to ignore it but about a half mile in, I couldn’t take it.  Morgan insisted I take a second to get comfortable so I took off my shoes and socks and got the sand out!  Ahhhh, much better!  At least my feet were better.  My hip was a different story and Morgan knew I was struggling so she started singing to me to get my mind off of the pain.  We sang silly songs (animaniacs, elephant song, etc…) throughout all of mile nine.  As we came to the end of mile we hit a jackpot of GU, bananas and fig newtons.  Morgan took some fig newtons while I opted for a banana.  I was so hungry I was about to eat it with the peel on!  It was the best banana ever and at one point I think I even said, “If I end up throwing this banana up, it will still be the best banana ever” because I was THAT happy to be eating!  Just about halfway through mile ten, the marathon leaders went past us…they are friggen fast!  We heard the sirens coming so Morgan got ready and snapped this photo:

Miles 11-12.5–> Seeing the leaders gave me a surge of energy, but unfortunately I was letting my mind get the best of me at this point.  I could see the bridge coming and I was starting to freak out about my hip, the incline and the uneven pavement.  And even though I think Morgan wanted to bop me over the head, she was so awesome and reassuring with me.  She kept me positive and even though we both knew what was coming she refused to let me get down on myself.  Mile 11 was long…and I struggled, but we were so close and we both knew we would be seeing Christy again soon.  I walked. A lot.  Way more than I would have liked, or that I am proud of, but I had to listen to my body and take a break.  Morgan allowed me to walk, stop and stretch and then, when I was ready, we ran again.  Morgan kept reminding me that we would get to Christy soon and that would be my “prize” to stop and take some photos!  And so we ran and ran and ran and then Morgan spotted Christy!!!  It was an awesome moment!  I got a huge lift and sprinted up the rest of the incline all the way to Christy who was waiting with a special sign just for us!

Too friggen cute- love her!

Looking rough but feeling recharged!

Miles 12.5-13.1–>  As we left Christy, “Born to Run” was playing and we screamed the lyrics with our arms in the air…half running and half dancing just having a good time.  Then there was a huge line of supporters and I began to get really emotional.  Everything was hitting me; I was thinking my Mom-Mom and how much she had been through and my Pops who I was really missing and how far I had come since my journey began and how proud I was to be running for a great cause.  I totally dropped some tears!  And then it was there…not far away was the finish.  It was a slow go, a trot more than a run…but my peppy little Morgan went from Positive Pepster to Drill Sergeant and got my ass moving!  As happy as I was to see the finish, we were beyond disappointed at the lack of cheering at the finish line.  Sparse spectating at best and almost no clapping or cheering.  Luckily we were all excited and after I yelled out “hey how about some cheers” people got yelling!  And as we approached the finish line we held hands and ran across! 

13.1 Run and Done!

Victory Dance!

Friends Forever- brought together through blogging, Tu-Tu’s, and 13.1 miles ♥

After some ice for Morgan (her knees took a beating on the uneven pavement!) and stretching/massage for my hip we hit the food and began gorging on pretty much everything in sight.  Especially the most amazing sugar cookies ever.  Morgan even had me go back for seconds for us (I took one for the team..I owed her!!) to eat on the way back to the shuttles!  We boarded up…headed back…showered, ice bathed, packed and said good-bye to Jacksonville.

Overall, this was an amazing time.  I am so glad I got the opportunity to run this race and even happier to have done so with Morgan.  There is no way I could possibly convey what it meant to me, to run this race for my Mom-Mom, especially in the wake of my grandfathers passing.  It wasn’t a PR but it was my most proud race to date!

I leave you with one last Tu-Tu photo:

Team Tu-Tu’s for Ta-Ta’s


31 thoughts on “Donna Half-Marathon Race Report

  1. YAY!!!!!!! Team Tu-tu’s for Ta-ta’s was an absolute and complete SUCCESS!!!! Great recap girly and well worth the wait! I get goosebumps everytime I think about the whole run, all the people running around us, etc… Such an inspirational and emotional race, I’m so glad we did it and even more so, glad that we ran it for fun and got the opportunity to soak it all in! Lessons learned though for sure: READ THE RACE COURSE!!! LOL! FAIL! Oh good times, good times! I’m so glad you had a great trip and even more glad you didn’t want to kill my peppy ass throughout the run! You did great and can’t wait to see you shatter your PR at your next Half!

  2. “My only regret is that I passed up water at mile 2 because it was a long way until the next stop.”
    See you needed your water delivery boy from your last half…lol!
    “It wasn’t a PR but it was my most proud race to date!”
    What do you mean no PR….
    Proud Race = “PR”….way to go!
    See ya at the Rutgers Unite Half?

  3. That was a great race recap! So glad you and Morgan did so awesome! I can’t believe they had you running on the beach! Out here in California they would be up in arms because I am sure it is NOT enviornmentally friendly 🙂
    Loved the tu-tu’s! You ladies were amazing!

  4. Oh my… you’re so right, you guys are super cute! What a great recap!

    I’m with you, I’d be a little surprised to run on sand. (In fact, I was surprised to read that here, didn’t know they would do that in a race!) I’d probably have to stop to get sand out of my shoes. It definitely sounds like this is a race to just experience and enjoy, as opposed to shooting for top performance!

    Love your tu-tus…. they’re awesome!

  5. OMG! Those pictures are AWESOME!

    Love your team name!

    Question: You run long runs with compression sox/calf sox? Does that Help? I love my compression sox but I use them after I run not during 😕 I’ve been wanting to try them for during but been a little hesitant.

  6. That was probably THE best race report I have ever read. You and Morgan should be very proud of yourselves for not only having fun running for a great cause, but also for doing so well. You two toughed it out and completed the race with a respectable time. You almost motivate me to run with a tu-tu. Notice I said “almost”… Congrats, and thanks for making my day with your race recap.

  7. The waiting is the hardest part
    Every day you see one more card
    You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
    The waiting is the hardest part
    Tom Petty: The Waiting

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist… 🙂

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  9. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love your outfits and all the photos. that race course looks soooo awesome and inspiring. SUNSHINE and the beach!!!!!!!!!!! so cool!!! congrats. this was a bigger meaning race and i am glad you could be a part of it and give it your own meaning, too.

  10. What a great race report, loved every word of it. I’ve read the piece about Born to run out loud to my hub. We’re both Springsteen fan’s 🙂

    Really great report and you’ve had so much fun Jill.

  11. I love that you wore tutus! I will have to do something like that for the Chicago Marathon, so my husband can find me! I also like the banana costumes, and the monkey might be fun…

    Great time for running with an injured hip!

    What is that neat-o tattoo on your back? I think you talked about it, but I forgot.

    I cannot believe you had to run ON THE BEACH!!! That is hardcore! I do love the beach photos though 😉 (Well, ALL the photos!)

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