Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Fall 2018 Race Schedule

I can't believe it is already August!  It seems the month of August always flies by and then fall starts and Christmas decorations hit stores and before you can blink we are ringing in the new year.  At least the second half of the year always feels that way for me because its usually jam packed with fun races.

I have a really great line-up of fall races- some are new and some are repeats but I am excited for every single one of them.

September 22- Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, BC, Canada
This will be my first international race.  I happened to luck out and have my name drawn among 9,000 other runners to experience a weekend of running and yoga put on by Lululemon.  Of all the races I could have run outside of the country, I think I picked a really great one to start with.  I had two other friends enter the lottery and they were also selected so it will definitely be a fun girls weekend with most likely a few too many beers.

October 7- Chicago Marathon in Chicago, IL
This will be my third consecutive year running the Chicago Marathon, however, I'm most excited about this year because it falls on my 30th birthday!  How many runners are fortunate enough to celebrate a milestone birthday while running a World Majors Marathon?  I can't wait to eat my weight in pizza post-race and drink all the champagne The Windy City has to offer.  This will be a 26.2 mile celebration for the books!

November 3rd- Charlotte Marathon in Charlotte, NC
I originally signed up for the full marathon thinking I would already be trained for a marathon and I would just need to maintain my training for four weeks.  Then I had the opportunity to sign up for the NYC Virtual Marathon which takes place the same weekend.  Not only do I get to run through a city that I love with my fellow Charlotte Marathon ambassadors, but the race will double as my qualification for guaranteed entry into the 2019 NYC Marathon.  Only 500 runners were given the opportunity to register for the virtual race and you can bet it sold out quickly!  If you were one of those runners, I highly suggest coming to Charlotte, NC to complete your race.  The Carolina Panthers play at home the following day and you will run the race of a lifetime through these streets.  Even if you're not running the NYC Virtual Race you should still come run Charlotte Marathon, Half Marathon or 5k!  Register here and let them know I'm the ambassador that referred you!

November 18- Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon in Norfolk, VA
I can honestly say this is my favorite half marathon.  I expected to fall in love with it before I even arrived in Norfolk, VA last year because the medals had a gorgeous mermaid design on them but I was completely surprised when I discovered mermaids all over the place!  This seaside town features statues of mermaids on nearly every block.  The course is flat and scenic with one of the best post race parties I've ever been to.  I surprised myself with a 4 minute PR last year and I plan to PR on this course again.  As a J&A Racing PR Crew Member, I am also the social ambassador for this race because my love for Norfolk Harbor is so real.  Come fall in love with this race and this town and register here.  You won't regret it!

December 1- Sea Island Half Marathon in Sea Island, GA
I spontaneously signed up to pace this race in 2017 with no idea what to expect.  It was my first time running a Resort Race and it was my first race in Georgia.  It was also my first time on the Georgia coast in at least a decade.  Maybe longer.  I completely underestimated this race and was blown away by everything all weekend.  The course was run on the completely private Sea Island but the post race party it what literally took my breath away.  After crossing the finish line and collecting your medal, you walk through the arches of Sea Island Resort and onto the oceanfront lawn with a hot catered brunch and open mimosa bar.  Between the live beach band, the chicken and waffles, and the Vineyard Vines premium swag, this race was worth every penny.  It is a top notch experience and for that reason they do not offer discounts, but you can use my code AMANDASI to be entered into a drawing for $100 of resort credit that weekend and register here.

December 8- Kiawah Island Half Marathon in Kiawah Island, SC
I ran this race last year after receiving a great discount in celebration of their 40th anniversary.  They offered the same flash special to runners for the 2018 race for $41 so I hopped on that opportunity again.  Kiawah Island is close enough to Charleston that you can spend the weekend enjoying low-country cuisine and shopping on King Street, too.  The same two girls flying to Vancouver with me are running this race so it will be another girls weekend full of running, shopping, and unlimited mimosas.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Seven Reasons to Register for Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon

Registration for the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon increases tonight at midnight! This race was my absolute favorite Half Marathon I’ve ever run (and I’ve done 35 so I’ve got experience in this area). It wasn’t difficult for me to come up with some of my favorite things about this race weekend. Here are seven reasons you should register for the 2018 Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon.

J&A races are known for all the extra swag they gift to runners. In addition to race shirts, I received a beanie last year. I’ve also received things like beach towels and backpacks at their other events.

I didn’t realize that the signature symbol for the city of Norfolk is the mermaid. They’re everywhere! I’m fascinated by mermaids so I couldn’t get enough of all the statues throughout the city.

This race starts downtown and takes you through a beautiful, waterside course. Everything was beautiful and historic. I’d also like to mention that the course is flat- I got my PR here!

Challenge yourself to run the Get Nauti Challenge by adding the 5k on Saturday and receive a total of three medals! The challenge medal is quite honestly the most gorgeous medal I’ve ever earned.

I shut this party down and stayed until last call both days. With a live band, photo booth, and Blue Moon on tap, there’s so much to love about this after party.

Join the J&A Training Team to take part in a 16 week training program with fellow runners. This training team will support you through the entire training process and provide you with the motivation to knock out every long run. You can learn more here.

$1 from every registration is donated to the We Promise Foundation. You find more information on this charity here.

Are you convinced? Then hurry over the the website and register now. Save up to $15 when you register before midnight!

2018 Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon Registration

Live, Love, Run


Friday, January 12, 2018

Princess Half Marathon Weekend: What to Wear

It's no surprise that Princess Half Marathon Weekend is my favorite runDisney event of the year.  It was my first Half Marathon in 2014 and I love the female empowerment that comes along with women's races.  One thing I look forward to the most is packing and planning all my outfits for each day because of the fun photo opportunities.

I recently partnered with Raw Threads as a brand rep.  Their tops are super soft and made of bamboo and organic cotton.  I can't get enough!  These are my favorite tops to wear while running.

All items from the Good Girls and Mantra collection are currently 20% with the code below!  This offer expires 1.17.18.

Good Girls

I wore the Belle racer for the 2017 Princess Half Marathon and received so many compliments.  This design is still available.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, shoes and outdoor

Belle with Rose Racer

Below are some tops I selected for the upcoming weekend.

Health and Fitness Expo 
For the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Expo, I wore a cute Run Like a Princess street V with leggings.  This design is available in multiple colors and cuts.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Run Like a Princess Tops

Disney Princess 5k 
If you haven't seen the race medals yet, the 5k is Tangled-inspired.

2018 Disney Princess 5K Medal

I came up with two picks for the 5k in the event there is warm or cooler weather. The first is this simple "Believe in yourself" racer and the second is a comfortable "Best Day Ever" hoodie.
Believe in Yourself (Rapunzel) Racer - Raw Threads Athletics

Believe in Yourself (Rapunzel) Racer

best day ever hoodie

Best Day Ever Hoodie

Disney Enchanted 10k 
This year's 10k medal is Brave-inspired so I selected a few options for you to channel your inner Merida.

I love the Caribbean Sea color of this racer.

Red Hair Don't Care (Warrior) Racer
Red Hair Don't Care (Warrior) Racer

In the event of colder temperatures, I also love this Brave pullover option.

I am Brave Bywater Hi-Lo Pullover

I am Brave Bywater Hi-Low Pullover

Disney Princess Half Marathon
The Half Marathon medals features Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs.

2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Medal

I have another Raw Threads racer in gunmetal and I love it.  I selected this simple design in gunmetal for the Half Marathon.

Snow Watercolors Racer
Snow Watercolors Racer

I've also selected this tank for anyone running the Fairy Tale Challenge.  The Equilibrium Tank is my favorite cut.  It's comfortable and suitable for pretty much any activity.

19.3 Couture Equilibrium Tank - Raw Threads Athletics

19.3 Couture Equilibrium Tank

What will you be wearing to the races?  I can't wait to see all your Raw Threads choices!  Good luck, princesses!



Sunday, November 12, 2017

17 Half Marathons in 2017

In 2017, I wanted to do something I've never done before and that involves running 17 Half Marathons in one year.  I thought this would be a fun way to celebrate my favorite race distance and allow me the opportunity to check out a few new races I've been wanting to run.  I'm going to share with you my race progress for my 17 in '17!

0. Walt Disney World Half Marathon- January 7th
Due to thunderstorms, this race was cancelled.  I've run it in the past as part of the Dopey Challenge (as I was registered to do so in 2017 too) and it's one of my favorite courses.  It takes runners through two parks, Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  2017 was the 20th anniversary of the WDW Half Marathon.

1. Charleston Half Marathon- January 14th
The 7th Annual Charleston Half Marathon and Marathon took place during Charleston Restaurant Week.  Despite having completed a marathon on January 8th, I decided to take on the Charleston Half Marathon six days later.  It certainly wasn't a fast time for me, but I enjoyed the views of King Street and the finish line party with shrimp and grits and mimosas.

2. Race 13.1 Wilmington- February 19th
This was my third time participating in a Race 13.1 event.  It was also my first race since starting Whole30 on January 16th.  In that time I had lost 20 pounds so I was excited to run my first race post Whole30.

3. Princess Half Marathon- February 26th
This weekend was my fourth consecutive year running Disney's Princess Half Marathon.  I ran all events over the weekend- the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon. Because this was my first Half Marathon ever, it will always hold a special place in my heart.  I don't foresee myself ever missing this race in an upcoming year because it means so much to me.  The course runs through Cinderella's castle... how magical is that?

4. Shamrock Half Marathon- March 19th
Shamrock weekend takes place in Virginia Beach and features a two day running event ranging from kids races to a Marathon.  I completed the Dolphin Challenge which consists of an 8k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday.  This was my first time running a J&A racing event and I have fallen in love.  I met Shalane Flanagan, Elyse Kopecky, and Bart Yasso this weekend.  Despite the chilly temperatures, I really enjoyed this race and all the swag I received!

5. Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon- April 2nd
This is m second time running RNR Raleigh and it's my favorite race in my home state of North Carolina.  It's a hilly course, but Raleigh has great crowd support and beautiful scenery.  Despite a few slower times in the beginning of the year, this race ended up being my second best time and I ran it five minutes faster than my 2016 time.

6. Rock N Roll Nashville Half Marathon- April 29th
I have wanted to run this race for years.  When I finally registered, I decided "Go big or go home" and signed up for the marathon.  All week we were expecting extremely high temperatures so the night before the race I made the decision to bump down to the Half Marathon.  I don't regret this decision at all.  My body doesn't perform as well in the heat and this was a slow race for me.  I loved exploring Nashville- it was such a great city!

7. Carolina Brewsfest Half Marathon- May 13th
This race is a Junction 311 event in High Point, NC that features a craft beer festival afterwards with over 100 beers on tap.  I ran this race in 2016 and really enjoyed the festival so I came back this year as a pacer.  It was my first time ever pacing a race so I signed up for the 3:00 pace group.  I had fun pacing and I would definitely do it again.

8. Race 13.1 Greensboro- May 14th
Yes, you read that date correctly.  I ran two Half Marathons in two days and I was fortunate enough that they were both just minutes from my house and I didn't need to travel.  There is nothing like coming straight home to your own bed immediately after a race!  I really enjoyed Race 13.1 Greensboro in 2016, but 2017 was a different experience for me.  Although the new course ran right next to my Temple, I much preferred the 2016 course.

9. Race 13.1 Raleigh- June 3rd
At this point, I'm no stranger to Race 13.1 events.  I've run with them in Durham, but this was my first Raleigh race with this series.  I really enjoyed this race and we had great weather.  They host a spring and fall race in Raleigh.

10. Run and Ride Carowinds Half Marathon- September 10th
I have run this race for the past three years.  It runs through Cedar Fair's Carowinds in Charlotte, NC but the race crosses over the SC border, too.  Twice I have PR'd on this course, this year beating my PR by 23 seconds.  I'll take it!  The course goes through the park and loops around twice, which I don't love but registration includes a ticket to the park.  They've added more swag and character photo opportunities so I fall in love with this race more and more each year.

11. Georgetown Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon- October 28th
This was my first race after Chicago and I couldn't have picked a more beautiful course.  This race starts in the Historic District of Georgetown, SC and runs across bridges on both Black and Waccamaw Rivers.  The starting line was really easy to get to and I loved the laid back post race celebration.  They offer a 12k distance and I think I'd really like to come back and run that one since 12k's are so rare.

12. Wine & Dine Half Marathon- November 5th
I've run this race four times now because I love the theme and the post-race party at Epcot.  There were great photo stops for this race that I had to take advantage of.  Even with three photo stops and a bathroom stop, this was my fastest Wine & Dine Half Marathon time.  It was a humid run but I loved every minute of it!

13. Charlotte Half Marathon- November 11th
I love visiting Charlotte, NC because I'm a Carolina Panthers fan and I loved running in this city.  The course and expo were great and I really enjoyed running past Bank of America stadium.  I had a lot of fun at the post- race party, too.

14. Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon- November 19th
This is another J&A Racing event and as many of you know I am an ambassador for J&A Racing.  I loved everything about this race weekend and can't say enough positive things about Norfolk Harbor.  I ran the Get Nauti Challenge which included the 5k on Saturday.  Both days there were waterside views and amazing medals with one of the most fun post-race parties I've been to.  I left Norfolk with a new 4 minute PR and a very happy heart.

15. Skinny Turkey Half Marathon- November 23rd
I've never run a race, let alone a Half Marathon on Thanksgiving so I was excited to run this one!  This was the only Half Marathon near me on Thanksgiving Day.  The course was extremely hilly and went through neighborhoods in North Raleigh.  My time was 23 minutes slower than Norfolk Harbor three days prior.  They can't all be PR's but this was definitely a slow race for me.  I think I'll stay local and run a 5k for Thanksgiving next year.

Upcoming Races

16. Sea Island Half Marathon- December 2nd
This race will be my first of the Resort Race Series and I'll be pacing the 3:00 group.  This race is limited to only 1,000 runners and goes through the property of Sea Island Resort on the coast of Georgia.  The race is followed by a Vineyard Vines champagne brunch which is obviously something I'm excited about.

17. Kiawah Island Half Marathon- December 9th
I registered for this race last December because they were running a special to commemorate their 40th anniversary.  I've heard nothing about great things about this race and will jump on any opportunity to spend a weekend in Charleston, SC.

Assuming everything goes smoothly over the next twoweeks, it looks like I will reach my goal of 17 Half Marathons in 2017.  Several people have asked if I plan to do 18 Half Marathons in 2018.  Since I love exploring new cities by running races, I've actually decided that next year's race goal will be to run 18 new races in 2018.  I like finding rare race distances such as the 15k, so I will be looking for a lot of various distances as I finalize my 2018 racing calendar.  I'm really pleased with my decision to try 18 new races next year and look forward to your suggestions on races I should try!  Please share some of your favorites as I'm open to suggestions.

I look forward to seeing you at my remaining 2017 races and all the new 2018 races!  Full blog recaps for my 2017 races will be available soon



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chicago Marathon Training: Final Week

Wow!  This summer has flown by!  The past 17 weeks have been challenging and hot but Chicago Marathon is only one week away.  I'll be sharing with you the workouts I did to prepare for this year's Chicago Marathon.  You can see my other two training updates below.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week One
Chicago Marathon Training: Week Two and Three

To say that training didn't go as planned would be a huge understatement.  I unfortunately lost a toenail in the middle of July- my first ever toenail casualty.  The pressure of my running shoes against my nail-less toe hurt on training runs greater than 4 or 5 miles.  I used a lot of Aaptiv workouts on the treadmill during my early weeks of marathon training.

After a lot of discouraging pace runs, I picked up Pure Barre at the end of July for cross training.  This has been one of the best decisions I've made in a long time.  Directly from their website, "Pure Barre is a total body workout that utilizes the ballet barre to perform small, isometric movements, which burn fat, sculpt muscles and create long, lean physiques."  Pure Barre is definitely not a replacement for running, but it complements my training schedule and doesn't require shoes!  It was a great way to workout for 55 minutes without bothering my right big toe.  I definitely already see a difference in my muscles.  I've been going to Pure Barre about five times a week and am currently participating in my studio's 30 in 45 Challenge. 

In August, the OrangeTheory Fitness studio near my house opened.  You would think I'm crazy to not only have an unlimited membership at Pure Barre, but also OrangeTheory Fitness.  The classes are so different, and I feel that they both benefit my running in various ways.  I also attend OrangeTheory Fitness 4-5 times a week (yes, that means I've done many two-a-days in August and September).  The treadmill intervals have definitely helped with my speed.  When I started OTF, my maximum all out pace was 7.0 MPH.  This week, I got up to 8.0 MPH.  I love pushing myself on the treadmill and the trainers definitely encourage me to do better. 

So with all these fitness classes, where has that left my running?  Well, I ran a Half Marathon in early September.  I toed the starting line with a "just finish" mindset and ended up beating my PR by 23 seconds.  This race was by no means a push pace.  I set out with a run/walk ratio of 4:00/1:00 and maintained it the entire 13.1 miles.  I stayed under 12:30 min/mile the entire time, but I don't know if I will be able to keep that up in Chicago.  

My goal has changed from a 12:00 pace to a 13:00 pace.  I didn't get enough long runs in this summer to feel confident enough to pull off my original goal.  I'm surprisingly OK with that, too.  There will be many other Chicago Marathons in my future.  If I get in next year, I will be running the 2018 Chicago Marathon on my 30th birthday.  This year the race happens to fall the day after my birthday so I'm just going to enjoy the weekend in The Windy City celebrating my last birthday in my 20's.  I have a feeling there will be lots of champagne and kombucha consumed this weekend and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

If you'd like to leave me a message to see at miles 13 and 26, use the link below and search "Amanda Donnelly."  I'm going to need all the on-course encouragement I can get!

Messages of Inspiration


Monday, June 26, 2017

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Two and Three

I missed my update last week because I was at the beach so I'm going to recap weeks two and three of my Chicago Marathon training. As I mentioned in my first post, I'm using Hal Higdon Novice 2 and my goal pace is 12:00 minute miles. This will be my fourth marathon but it's the first time I have a time goal. If you missed my week one training update, you can catch up here. 

Week 2 included the same 2 three mile runs and a five mile run that week one included. There is no speed work included in the guide I'm following, but I'm going to occasionally incorporate it in just as an added benefit. This week I got rained out and took one of my three mile runs inside on the treadmill and I used a workout on the Aaptiv app. Aaptiv is an app with a ton of different workouts but I've only used it for treadmill runs. My favorite is Brit is Back, a speed workout set to different songs by my queen, Britney Spears. The workout is only 2.5 miles but can easily be bumped up to 3 miles by increasing every interval by .2 MPH and resuming the 5.0 MPH pace during recovery. This workout actually feels really good for me and my training because I have to hold my goal pace during recovery, despite being tired and out of breath from intervals. 

I hate that I did this, but I skipped my 9 mile run on Saturday because I was at the beach. The guilt I feel from skipping a long run early on is enough to ensure I don't skip another long run. The plan allows room for flexibility but it highly encourages not skipping or adjusting the long runs. 

Week three started out with a great track run. I ran my first mile in 9:52 and it's honestly been a month or two since I ran a sub 10:00 mile. I also found out during week three that I was selected as an ambassador for Asheville Marathon! I've never run Asheville Marathon before but I've read about the beautiful scenic course set on Biltmore Estate. I'm really excited for the scenery and Biltmore wine. As an ambassador, I've been given a friends and family discounts to share until July 31st. This rate is the absolute lowest I'll be able to share with you as a race ambassador and it's super simple to redeem. Register here and use the codes below for 15% off all distances and challenges. 


This plan also requires cross training once a week. I've currently been playing tennis and using Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide workouts on days I don't run, but I'll soon be switching to Orange Theory Fitness classes. I signed up for a membership in January for a studio opening soon by my house. I'm really excited to see how OTF classes will improve my running. I've heard wonderful things and loved the preview class I got to take at another studio in town. 

I'll kick things up in week four with an 11 mile run and I'm excited to see how that goes! I'll check in with you next Monday! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Chicago Marathon Training: Week One

I'm currently training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon and wanted to share my progress weekly. I am 17 weeks out now and selected Hal Higdon's Novice 2 program. Having completed three marathons, I still feel like a beginner. This program is designed for beginners who have run an occasional 5k or half marathon and have been running at least a year. I felt like the Intermediate 1 program would've left me burnt out in the first month since it requires six days a week. Novice 2 requires five days of training per week. A long run and a day of cross training are included in every week of the Novice 2 plan. Below is the full schedule.

My first run was on Tuesday and consisted of an easy 3 miles on the track. I didn't intend for this to be a progressive run but the songs kept getting better and it just happened that way.

My Wednesday run was intended to be a 5 mile pace run. I got pulled over on my way to the track and by the time the officer let me go, I only had enough time to go home and run a 5k on my own. We had kickball playoffs that night and after winning our first game we ended up having a double header. It was probably best that I didn't run the 5 miles I was scheduled that day, anyways.

I ended up doing my 5 mile pace run on Friday. My goal pace for Chicago is 12:00. I started my first lap on the track at a 10:34 pace. I was feeling good on Friday so I had to add in a few walk breaks to get down to a 12:00 pace. I ended up running an average 11:51 pace. I'm going to re-evaluate my goal around week 7 and figure out if an 11:30 pace may be achievable. For now, I'm shooting for 12:00 though.

My last run of the week was an 8 mile pace run on Sunday evening. Everything about this run was bad for me. I know they say "the only bad run is the one you don't do" but I can't imagine this run helped me at all. I was slower than my goal pace and wasn't feeling well. Waiting until Sunday evening wasn't the best idea so I will not be making that mistake next week.

Other than Sunday's long run, I feel really good about my first week of Chicago Marathon training. After running this race in 2016, it easily became my favorite race. Knowing everything I have to look forward to in Chicago is motivation to train harder and smarter this year. 17 more weeks!