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Follow as I run a half marathon a month, completing the 50 states! 

Celebration Half, Celebration FL-Jan 29, 2017

This was the 4th Annual Celebration Marathon weekend located right outside of Disney in the charming little community of Celebration, FL which hosts both a marathon and half marathon with a total field of approximately 2,100 runners.

The buzz was brewing about this race at one of the previous races I had done in Central, FL the prior year, so I had to check it out. Online I had found information that they offered discount codes to running clubs/organizations, so I sent off an email and I quickly received a PinkFeet discount code!

Celebration is an easy drive from Jacksonville, so we drove in the afternoon before and stayed at the Radisson Celebration. This is a 3star property so I was a little hesitant, but with the travel agent rate, there was nothing in comparison in price. I honestly wasn't disappointed, except for the fact that after explaining my traveling companion was running the full marathon and would need a shower before driving home, and would probably be finishing after the late 1p check out, the representative told us the pool had a shower, however we later learned it was an OUTDOOR shower! Thankfully a quick complaint and we were let back into the room for another hour.

There was lots of communication on the Celebration Marathon Facebook page, website, and emails, except there seemed to be a couple of different email lists, as I was left out on one of final emails.

Packet Pick Up was a breeze. We were given the typical resuable drawstring bag but also given a pretty awesome traveling mug as well as a lite up arm band and race rag!

The Expo was held in 2 small rooms and had enough vendor options in case you forgot to pack some sort of race supplies
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We decided on Disney Springs for our evening entertainment and dinner which was just a short drive from Celebration. This place is packed full of restaurants, bars, and tons of shopping! We had dinner at Portobello which had amazingly tasteful food and fun friendly staff.

Race day came and it was cold (40s) and rainy. Weather in January in Florida is so unpredictable. It could be warm one year and freezing the next. The rain is the part that threw us off, not sure on how much colder it will feel because of being wet and what clothes will keep us the most dry, etc.Thankfully we had ponchos and mylar blanket as we waited for the start (actually, my friend ran her entire marathon in hers).

There wasn't a designated parking lot or shuttle for this race. They did warn ahead of time, to plan to walk up to 1.5 mile to the starting area. We arrived about an hour before start and were able to secure a neighborhood spot on the street just a block away.
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Because it was raining and cold, we waited in the car for a while before heading over to check out the starting area. Most people were huddled under the one building there that protected you from the elements. There were plenty of porta potties and we had no issue waiting. There was a dj, but really we just wanted to get this thing started.
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This is a loop course, with the Start and Finish just 1 block from each other. I truly did enjoy the course. The neighborhoods are very pretty (and look brand new) and we ran through a lot of parks. There were a lot of sidewalk and boardwalk running, but I never felt over crowded and the wooden boardwalks were not as slippery with trail shoes on. The half and full marathons run the same course up until about M12 when the full marathon continues on and basically does another loop.

Everything was well stocked and properly manned. They even offered GU on course.
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Because of the rain, its hard to tell if this race would usually have more spectators. There are a lot of areas where spectators just wouldn't be (like in the parks/boardwalks), however there was also a lot of neighborhood running too. There were a handful of supporters out and my favorite was a little girl sitting at her door step with about 5 of her stuffed animals lined up, all cheering us on!

I started very slow as I needed a warm up being in the cold rain. I ran with my mylar for about a mile, then the poncho for another mile. By mile 3, I was able to take my jacket off, but I still had arm warmers on. About half way through I was able to take the arm warmers off and felt good and thought this was perfect racing weather! Then it started raining again. I pulled my arm warmers back on, but never needed my jacket again. I think with the gradual increase of speed helped me feel good. We also started towards the back and I think mentally it made me feel confident passing so many people. My runs were longer than normal and my walks much shorter. I did not use a pace alert and instead just ran by feel. There were a lot of people doing the run/walk and there were official pacers as well. I ended up finishing with my fastest time of the year, but still 5 minutes short of a PR.
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Right after receiving your medal, you were given a tiny wrap, cup of pasta, and a brownie. There were also Cliff bars readily available.

The Finish Line was pretty hoppin as the half marathoners finished, but because there were less than 500 full marathoners, it became pretty sparse over time. When I had finished, it was still drizzling and I was soaked and cold. I decided since I had to wait for my friend to finish the full marathon anyways, I would go back to the hotel and shower, put on warm clothes and come back.

The concept of the after party was a great idea. They gave punch cards to each runner and you got a sample of food or drink at each of the 10 (?) tents, in which two were the Columbia...perfect! You also received 2 beers and a mimosa.

The only way I would see to improve that, is to give the punch card in your packet pick up, or to mark your bib when you get one. It seems you could have easily gone back and got more than one card, or passed your bib to a nonrunner and get one as well. I only say this, because by the time my friend came through, a couple of the tents had run out of food.

There also were complimentary massages at the Finish. I usually do not partake in these because I feel like my muscles are too tired and I dont want anyone touching me, or the lines are always too long. However,we were able to walk right up and lay down. I was already refreshed from going back to the hotel and showering, so it worked out perfectly! It was probably one of the best massages Ive ever had! She definitely knew what she was doing for a runner and even gave recommendations for masseuse and book!
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The medals are super cute! The full and half are the same, but the full being larger
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The shirts are gender specific and short sleeve. I would have liked it to have matched the medal. I am not sure where a tree came from.
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I would highly recommend this race. The registration fee and what you received for it, was definitely well worth it! ....especially still being in the Disney area, but not having to put up with the outrageous Disney prices! You are still very close to Disney and can make this an extended weekend to visit the parks.

Half Marathon #70
I am on a 10 year mission to run a half marathon a month as well as run one in each of the 50 states, all to help spread the word of breast caner prevention, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle. Please consider making a DONATION today to show your support. 100% net proceeds go towards the Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation.

Hillsborough River Half Marathon-Dec 10, 2016

This was the 5th Annual Hillsborough River Marathon, Half Marathon, and Quarter Marathon held in Hillsborough River State Park just outside of Tampa directed by Endeavor Racing Inc. They host mainly trail races and their theme is 'Dare Greatly.' I was hooked as soon as it mentioned the course was within the state park where you could also camp.

I was super excited as I kept hearing great things about their events. However, this was one of the few, or maybe only, time I walked away feeling a little ripped off.

The campground is great and is pretty large and spread out. They accommodate Rvs and tents, so if you are looking for quiet, Id suggest to maybe inquire who is reserved next to you and/or ask where the more remote/less reserved portion is. I unfortunately was next to an obnoxious family that stayed up past midnight with screaming kids and movies projecting with surround sound outside. There are bathhouses that also have laundry facilities. They are also pet friendly

The park itself has multiple trails to walk, run, bike, mostly along the river as well. There are playgrounds for the kids, and one of the largest pools I have ever seen for a campground! They rent all sorts of different styles of bikes and kayaks to explore. The only thing I didnt like is the main road is one way and is a very large (and slowly driven 10mph) circle. If you pass something, or forget something, you have to loop all the way around again. I must have driven that loop 20x in the 24hours i was there. There is a small independent cafe where you can grab a bite to eat and last minute supplies.

There was an Endeaver Facebook page as well as the event itself. I did a mail in option for registration to save on the fee, but never received any email confirmation until the week of the race. Most communication was done on Facebook, including the last minute cancellation of food. (say what?!)

There was an option for packet pick up the day before the race or morning of. Because I was already there, I opted for the day before. Unfortunately though, they did not have the chips yet, so we all had to come back early before the race anyways.

The 3 different races started at 3 different times, which I liked, but unfortunately the fast marathoners had to come running through our half marathon line up because we were about 10 minutes late getting started. The gentleman tried to gather us and run through the directions of the course on a megaphone, but it was very hard to heard.

It was a cold morning, temps right below 50, so it was hard to tell how hot this Florida race was going to end up being. I finally decided on short sleeves, pants, gloves, and ear warmer/headband and was perfect.

The course itself had 2 loops in the beginning on pavement and 2 loops in the middle on the trail. The start and finish was walking distance from each other. The trail itself was a mixture of gravel, sand, tall grass, tree roots, branches, etc. I never felt it was too out of control and a lot of it was very hard packed.

There were about 3-4 aid stations with water/gatorade and one station had mms, gummie candies, fruit.

Being a trail race, there were no spectators to cheer you on. There were a couple points were cars were able to share the road though.

Unfortunately I didnt realized until too late that I did not bring breakfast food. The cafe was already closed and the park was in the middle of nowhere, so not sure how far a store was. I took my chance and prayed the Cafe would be open before the race. Unfortunately it was not. I had one pack of GU gummies on me for the entire race. Thankfully I actually felt fine. I did grab the mms one my first loop and craved them the next several miles until I came back to them. I felt strong running the entire course. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down as this was not a road race and no one needs to break anything with this being The Donna marathon training season! On the hard packed section was when I was able to make up my speed, and then the section with the tree roots, I just kept it slow and steady.

The night before the race there was an email post that the breakfast buffet at the finish was cancelled because of vendor/management of the park issues. Though disappointed, I was ok, because they said they would have regular race food after. Unfortunately, after I crossed the finish line, there was only water and apples left. Completely unacceptable.  At this point I was starving and upset. I had to walk over the cafe and spend $10 on a (fabulous) breakfast burrito.


For this being on the smaller and more inexpensive side of races, the shirt and medal represent exactly that. I would have preferred a tech shirt vs cotton. I do like the uniqueness to the wooden medal being a trail race.

For an mid registration of $57, here is what the race promised (and what is still on their website)
   • Custom Race Shirt
   • Post-Race Buffet and Drinks
   • Awards for all Finishers 
   • Post-Race Raffles
   • Park Entry Fee
No food, no drinks, no raffles. For $57 I got to run a trail that is open to the public, no traffic diverted, no city official regulating or securing the course, a generic unisex cotton tshirt, an inexpensively made medal. Where exactly did the money go??

Update-The race director did respond right away and apparently there was only a break in time where they were out of refreshments and offered a discount to those affected for next years race.

Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy camping and exploring the State Park and I did enjoy running the course. The race director seemed genuine in his response, so hopefully future races will not be impacted the same way.


I am on a 10 year mission to run a half marathon a month as well as run one in each of the 50 states, all to help spread the word of breast caner prevention, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle. Please consider making a DONATION today to show your support. 100% net proceeds go towards the Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation.

13.1 Fort Lauderdale-Nov 13, 2016

Run 13.1 Race Series hosts races in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, also being part of the Florida Storm Series which is a 3, 4, or 5 race challenge throughout the year. They pride themselves on their after race/finisher experience.

The A to B course takes you through the neighborhoods of Las Olas which were beautifully shaded and drops you off at an out and back along the gorgeous white sand beaches!

The packet pick up was at a local running store which made it convenient to pick up last minute running supplies. However, when asking volunteers questions about the race course/parking they did not know any of the answers

Because this is an A to B course, you have to park (AND PAY-GASP!) for start and then take a shuttle back after the finish. There were 4 parking garages that were listed as options to park near the Start. Please do your research ahead of time on parking, or look around. I ended up following a large group to a lot and we had to pay $15. Walking over to the start, there was another lot only charging $5!!! This really should be communicated better from the race director for those of us that are out of town and do not usually deal with parking fees!

To catch the shuttle back to the Start area was pretty much a mess. It was a long walk first of all to even find the buses. Then, they drove what seemed forever to get just a couple of miles away. At this point it seemed running back would have been faster. Then, the driver dropped us off in the middle of nowhere (because there wasnt just one parking lot for Start) and most of us had no idea where we were. I do not understand why they couldnt at least drop us off at the Starting Line and then it would look familiar. I couldnt get a signal, so I literally walked in circles around the blocks trying to find my car. No bueno.


The race started right after sunrise, so it was cool to still be able to see the full moon waking up and getting ready. The porta potty situation was insane. There were about 20 of them for thousands of runners and the line (no lie) went straight through the Starting Line up. The announcer kept trying to get us to line up for start, but there were more people facing the opposite way (towards the porta potties) than towards the Starting line. Then because of the U Shape line up of the porta potties, people were sneaking in the side and cutting the outrageously long line. Which, in turn lead to people yelling at each other. Not a good way to start your morning!

This super early start helps control the heat of Southern Florida, but it still came out when we were in the pure sun along the beach. I felt good the entire race until those last few miles.

At the Finish Area, Michelob Ultra provided a bag of goodies with your beer, which included a visor and sunglasses! There also were free race photos that were sent to you, or posted on Facebook.

After you cross the finish line, you could literally kick off your sneakers and put your toes in the sand (or ocean!) There was Pollo Tropical for food, as well as lots of samples of nutrition bars. Michelob Ultra provided you with one beer, but you could not leave the beer area to visit the vendors they had set up. There was even entertainment to enjoy.

The gender tech shirt is unique with not only the map of the course, but the runners and palm trees in the design. I just wish it wasnt a weird green color.

This medal is one of my favorites, being a spinner with the moon and sun, which is cool because the race took place during the full moon phase. Im not quite sure though, why the moon is in the resting position up top, instead of the sun, since we ran during the day, not night?

Overall, the best thing about the race was running along the gorgeous white sands of Fort Lauderdale. For the price of registration, I would want things to be a little more included (parking) and organized (shuttle).

I drove down from Jacksonville, but ended up staying in Hollywood, FL due to a comp agent stay. This was only 20 minutes away, so was a breeze to and from. The Diplomat hotel is run by Hilton and has some cute rooms. The tall building will give you excellent views of the sunset on one side and sunrise on the other. Both sides will give you water views. They are connected to a convention center and have a huge self parking garage as well as valet. There is a marina where the local water taxi stops and also the trolley stop is right outside the door. The multi leveled pools will give you a great view of the beach, which is on the smaller side and could get packed. I would recommend this hotel if you are looking to get to a more quiet side of South FL.


I am on a 10 year mission to run a half marathon a month as well as run one in each of the 50 states, all to help spread the word of breast caner prevention, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle. Please consider making a DONATION today to show your support. 100% net proceeds go towards the Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation.

Key Biscayne Half Marathon-Oct 2, 2016

The Key Biscayne half marathon and 10k is hosted by MultiRace, the 'Race Happy' group that puts on several races and triathlons throughout South Florida. This years race benefited the Camillus House which helps the homeless.

Key Biscayne is only minutes away from downtown Miami and South Beach, but this peaceful little island is worlds away from the hustle and bustle. The island is home to several active biking pathways, Bill Baggs State Park and Lighthouse which is one of the top US beaches, as well as popular Crandon Beach park.

There is a toll to access the causeway to Key Biscayne, but every moment spent there is worth it.

Probably due to all the different events MultiRace hosts, there wasn't a lot of information being shared the weeks leading up to the race. Facebook questions did not seem to be addressed promptly, and the website even had the prior years information still listed.

There was a new start/finish at the old abandoned Marine Stadium parking lot. The first two miles takes you up and over the steep Rikenbacker Causeway twice. You then head to Crandon Beach Park where you have views of lush foliage, wildlife, and white sand beaches. You then pass by the Stadium around mile 10 and do an out and back on a dirt path in the woods around the bay.

Stations were well stocked with plenty of volunteers. There were not spectators besides the volunteers. Key Biscayne has a ton of bicyclists and have awesome bike lanes for them. Still confused as why, but the race course blocked the regular bike lane, and instead put up cones on the opposite side of the street for the bikers to ride in. Unfortunately this was not communicated well to the runners, so a ton of runners would run on that side of the cones and the bicyclists would head straight into them and yell to get out of the way..... not a pretty experience.

The race starts an hour before sunrise which is absolutely perfect for Southern Florida. Even still, temps were in the 80s and humid. It took a lot of energy with the bridge being the first part of the race. I took it nice and slow in the back of the pack. Once we headed towards Crandon Park, the wind picked up and it started to sprinkle right as the sun was rising. It was absolutely perfect for me! Unfortunately it didn't last long, and the sun came out in full force, but that also meant a rainbow made its appearance! Thankfully the course was in as much shade as possible on this island and there was only a few spots where we were in pure sun. Around M10, we passed right by the finish line to head into the woods to do an off road out and back around the bay.

I knew the heat was going to take its toll on me, so I just took the race nice and easy with a 1x1. My Goal=Just Finish. I carried my Camelpak and took water and Gatorade at every station. With the race being so early, it was hard to eat breakfast, so I relied on gels packs every 30minutes that were provided at the stations. This turned out to be a mistake as I am not used to that much gel in 13miles, plus the mixture of flavors, one being peanut butter, made me nauseous around M9.

The simplistic finish line had bagels, watermelon, bananas, muffins, chips and muscle milk. No alcohol, no entertainment.

After my fast friends received their awards, we headed across the street  to jump into the bay with the Miami skyline and the bridge we just tackled into he background! Lunch was had a tiki bar at Whiskey Joes next door.

The shirt and medal match, but are also very generic without dates. Overall awards also looked exactly the same. All of them had a lighthouse, but we never saw the lighthouse on the course.

If you love running in heat, then Key Biscayne is one to check out. You can not beat the views and the course has a variety of scenery. Make a long weekend out of it and you can celebrate the night away in Miami, or kick back and relax on the sandy white shore.

I stayed at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, a 90 year old luxury property, located just 10minutes from Miami. This property has so much history, being an old WW11 hospital, and also where Al Capones bodyguard was shot and stories have it his ghost haunts the property. The Olympic sized pool used to host famous diving shows and the platforms remain today. Make sure you check out their list of daily activities and sign up for one of the chefs cooking classes!

For the best sunset view, head into Bill Baggs State Park to the southernmost point. You will find several fisherman and a walking path. The sun will technically set behind Miami skyline, but the distance makes it seem over water.

Biscayne National Park is a close drive away, where you can find some awesome snorkeling. The park operates a boat ride to the different islands on the weekend, or you can take a guide to explore.

I am on a 10 year mission to run a half marathon a month as well as run one in each of the 50 states, all to help spread the word of breast cancer prevention, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle. Please consider making a DONATION today to show your support. 100% net proceeds go towards the Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation.

Gulf Beach Half-Milton, CT-Sep 17, 2016

This was the 6th Annual Gulf Beach half marathon located in coastal Milford, CT sponsored by Shoreline Sharks Multisport Team of New England.

The course is an out and back which starts at Gulf Beach, an otherwise 'member only' section of CT coastline that runs through the coastal neighborhoods, down the Silver Sands State Park boardwalk, thru Walnut Beach, towards the Connecticut Audubon and then back. This flat course keeps an almost constant coastal view.

You had 2 options to pick up your packet, the day before in town at a sports machine shop, or before the race. I opted for the day before so I could sleep in. Race morning seemed to be controlled and not delayed if you wait til then. All we received was a bib and shirt

I went to sleep and woke up a little uneasy about parking. I had driven the area the day before, and it was even announced that there were only about 300 parking spots for about 3,000 runners and the rest would be side streets, but make sure to mind the laws as you would be ticketed. Ummmm, that leaves an out of towner a little worried. Luckily I got one of the last parking spots and was also able to stay warm in my car and literally have the start area right in front of me.

There was plenty of porta potties and no lines.

It was a very simple start. I did not even hear a national anthem. They closed the road literally minutes before, laid down the timing strip, and then we were off.

All the stations seemed to be prepared and stocked with water and Gatorade with plenty of volunteers. They even handed out GU at every station.

The only spectators you will see are the ones at the end of their driveway and on the beach trying to figure out what is going on. If you are a slower running, the boardwalk starts to fill out with people strolling and you have to call out that you are running by.

It was a nice cool morning and ended up being a beautiful blue sky day, however, temps rose very quickly with no shade into the 70s. I maintained a 3x1 for about 6 miles and went down slowly to a 2x1 and then a 1x1, feeling good the entire time.

Running on coastal road usually means dealing with roads that are not in the best of shape due to erosion, storms and flooding. This is true for any beach town, and was the case here.  Unfortunately I witnessed someone almost fall in front of me, another runner complaining to her friend she was running slower because she was scared of falling, and then someone that was actually on the ground with an ambulance. This is a probably a course to go out and enjoy the scenery instead of trying to zip through and get a PR.

All of the roads were also open to traffic. I have no idea why the race starts so late at 8am. The sun rose at 630. If they can not get authority to close the streets, at least start the race earlier so we have less traffic to deal with. It was mostly neighborhood roads, but the cars that did come thru, most were not happy. Besides being honked at, we had drivers that would not even move over. And unfortunately there was no authority to control them.

We finished at the same Gulf Beach which was nice to jump into and soak the legs! (its rocky, bring water shoes!) We were given our medal and opportunity for half a Subway sandwich, bag of chips, and cookie. Unfortunately the sandwich was smashed and soggy and I literally counted 10 chips in my bag. There were cold bagels as well (without spread) and they ran out of bananas. I did not see anything to drink besides water.

The gender specific shirt matches the medal, but unfortunately both lack the date. I do like the medal with its unique twisted cord instead of ribbon. The design is simple yet creative. You can engrave the date on the medal on the back with your finish time, but you can't do anything about the shirt.

This is a Beautiful course, there's no doubt about that! If you are looking for a simplistic race to get in some miles and enjoy the scenery, this would be one to experience.


Connecticut is very diverse! I flew into Hartford and stayed in the small historic town of Litchfield Hills for the first two nights as I had a comp agent stay at Winvian Farm. Now this is an awesome experience if you ever have the opportunity! They have 18 different cottages that are all different themes, such as treehouse, lighthouse, stable, greenhouse, helicopter, camping, and the one I stayed in 'music.' Set in a woodsy sprawl of land, I even had visitors during my stay!

All of the surrounding towns are so small and historic I felt like I was in another time era. It was fun to explore the old buildings and lots of New England style homes and farm lands! There are  hiking opportunities and even waterfalls all throughout the state to explore. I stopped at Kent Falls and unfortunately it was a little dry because of the season, but it was still a nice little incline hike to stretch the legs. Covered Bridges can be found in this area as well such as Bulls Bridge and West Cornwall.

When I finally made it to Milford, I was back into city, but still a small one at that. If you come for this race, I would recommend checking out the surrounding cities. There didn't seem like much to do in Milford. I stayed at the Homewood Suites off the interstate which was very accommodating with a full kitchen set up. Fairfield seemed to have a nice little area with bars and restaurants. Brick and Wood was an awesome pizzeria to check out.

If you like camping or have an RV, you must stay at Hammonasset State Park! I was debating back and forth and they sold out before I could make up my mind. Boy did I regret it once I went! This is a huge stretch of nice soft sand beach and a large campground. With the layout of the land, you actually get to see the sunset over water!  Check out Chow in the area if you want some really tasty eclectic food!

13.1- 2:27
HM #66

I am running a half marathon a month as well as running in each of the 50 states all to help spread the word of breast cancer prevention, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle. Please consider making a DONATION today to show your support. 100% net proceeds go towards the Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation.

Mesa Falls, Ashton ID-Aug 27, 2016


This was the 20th Anniversary of the Mesa Falls Marathon, Half Marathon and 5k located in Ashton, ID, population of aprx 1,100. Ashton is located right off the Scenic Byway of Mesa Falls, an hour south of West Yellowstone and an hour and half west of Grand Teton National Park. What other perfect location can you ask for to make a beautiful week long vacation?

 I have run my fair share if small town races (I usually prefer them over the larger over priced/underwhelming ones), and this one has got to be one of the smallest with a total field of about 500 runners. However, with the same race director all 20 years, the support is not lacking. This was proven as they convinced Olympian Ryan Hall and wife Sara to come run this course consistently ranked among the top 50 best races of America. 

I have to say though, I believe most of the hype in the reviews are regarding the marathon course and not the half. I partially blame myself because (as usual) I did not analyze the course map. Needless to say I was quite disappointed when I did not see waterfalls, wild animals nor the promised Grand Teton range in the distance.

You see, the Marathon and Half Marathon run the same course, but the Marathon starts 13 more miles deeper into the Targhee National Forest (ie, more woods, more wildlife, more falls, more mountains). The marathoners start 2 hours before of the half marathoners, and meet up at the half marathon start, which is their half way point.

From Targhee National Forest at approximately 6,000 ft, the course takes you on a gravel path next to the river and woods for about 3 miles, then onto an open road with an intense climb for the next couple miles. Once you've reached the top, the remainder of the course is on a 'flat,' open to traffic road with views of grain fields. (flat meaning rolling hills for us southern folk). You then run through downtown Ashton and finish at a park.

I really loved the first 3 miles along the river next to the woods. I scouted for wildlife, but was unsuccessful. I kept a slow and steady pace with a 30sec walk break at each mile. Once onto the road and approaching the killer hill, I just kept my head down and chugged along. I noticed a 50states shirt ahead of me, which made me keep a consistent pace so I could reach her and see what number state she was on. From then on, approximately M6, I started to fade. I made sure to run the flats and downhills, and took the walk breaks on the inclines. Although we started with long sleeves and gloves, the heat rose very quickly by this point with no shade. The entire race I was behind these 2 girls who looked strong and consistent, so I let them be my hares, until the last mile I pushed it on home to get it over with. The altitude did not affect me as much as running the hills, probably because I grew up traveling and skiing mountains. Unfortunately August is 'fire season' (who knew?) and there was a local fire and several in the distance in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. This distant haze unfortunately affected our views of the normal mountain range. I am not sure that it affected my breathing, as I never smelled smoked.

You had the option to pick up your packet (a potato sack) the night before (also with a pasta party and speech from Ryan and Sara Hall) or race morning. Because we were staying in Yellowstone, we waited for race morning. Because there is a shuttle to the start location, we had to wake up extra early. Fortunately, the half does not start until 8a, so it felt like normal time to wake for a race despite the 50minute drive. Picking up our packets at the Elementary School took less than a minute, and then we were offered breakfast with oatmeal, cereal, donuts, bagels, fruit, coffee, milk, etc. We waited for one of the later shuttles, since once you got up to the start location, there is nothing to do but wait in the cold. Thankfully when we did arrive, we were allowed to wait on the bus, which also had a bathroom.

There were 4 porta potties, 2 regular bathrooms, and the bus had a bathroom. There was a tent with water, gu, and other supplies. Other than that, it was just wait. It was a simple start, and unique 'run one lap around the parking lot to make up for the .1 distance.' Gear/bag drop basically was leave your bag on the bus and they will take it to the Finish

These were spaced out a little more than my liking, but they were full of all kinds of options. So much so, I even stopped a couple times to decide what exactly I wanted! Gatorade, water, bananas, grapes, gels, and bars. Clothing was also allowed to be dropped at these zones and they transported it back to the finish for you to claim.

There were only a handful of spectators on the course, but the ones there were very friendly.

The finish was in a park across the street from the Elementary school where we parked. Pizza, fruit, and chocolate milk was provided. Massages were offered, but there was only 1 table which left the wait time too long for us to stay. There was no music nor adult beverages to celebrate. Once we caught our breath and grabbed our bags, we took off.

A huge plus with this race is the motel next door, The Anglers Lodge provided showers for runners for $5. It basically was your own room to take your time and refresh. This was much appreciated before our hour and half drive to Grand Teton!

We were also given a ticket for a free huckleberry shake at the local diner 511 Main. Unfortunately, we went to have lunch as well, but were quickly scooted out after trying to get a table twice with two different people saying they were too full. We grabbed the shakes that were readily available at the door and headed out of town.

The shirt is a long sleeve gender specific tech shirt thankfully without sponsor logos splattered all over the back.

The medal is a great concept that was unfortunately poorly produced. I love the wood concept, and I don't even mind the plain ribbon, but the blurred image is not even recognizable. :(

This is a perfect 'mid point' race location if you are looking to do the National Parks and love small town, small field races.

We flew into Salt Lake City for the cheapest nonstop airfare.
From there, if you are visiting Grand Teton National Park first, make sure to take the scenic route 89 to Logan, Bear Lake, Afton. You will pass the beautiful Bear Lake as well as several Nationals Forests and small towns. (we actually did this for our return route back to SLC)

Since we were doing Yellowstone first, and I wanted to explore more of Idaho since that was where our race was, we took the 'nothing but grain fields' I-15N. We decided to cut up the long drive with a stop in Lava Hot Springs. Here you will find fun (and cold) white water tubing down the Portneuf River. (note, there is an area near the start where the hot springs run into the river and create a little pool you can sit in. This is your 'free' option of hot springs. Or you can pay to visit the Pools or a spa.)

We stayed at the small boutique, Harkness hotel, a historic bank, turn post office, turn hotel, about 10 minutes away. The gift shop still has the bank vault door and there are historic pictures of the building throughout. It was quite an experience as both of us woke in the middle of the night at different times feeling 'energy' in the room. When questioning the property if there had ever been reports of sightings, we came up empty, but who knows? Check it out for yourself!

We took the scenic route the next day and headed to Shoshone Falls (known to be larger than Niagara Falls) and Craters of the Moon National Preserve. (note, if your gps takes you down a gravel/lava road, turn around!) Shoshone Falls has a park and a couple trails if you want to stay and picnic. When leaving make sure to go over the Perrine Bridge and look for base jumpers leaping off the bridge! When you arrive to Craters of the Moon, pick up your cave permit from the Visitor Center and explore underground! (note, you can not have any clothing or equipment on you that you wore in another cave in the past 11 months). We explored the Indian Cave which let you enter at one point, scramble over boulders, and out another. Unfortunately we did not see any bats, but it was a unique experience to see the lava fields in the middle of nowhere.

We finally then arrived to Yellowstone Under Canvas, our glamping home for the next 3 nights. This is located very close to West Yellowstone entrance. This was our 2nd 'Under Canvas' experience, as we did Moab, UT while running the Thelma and Louise in 2015. This one was probably a notch higher in luxury in regards to it was on the same property as Bar n Ranch lodge which allowed us to utilize the common area (wifi) and restaurant. Yellowstone Under Canvas also had 2 areas with community bonfires (unfortunately we were under a fire ban during our stay) and a huge tent with indoor gas fireplace and sofas to mingle. The bathrooms were also nicer and larger. There are also 2 huge event tents if you are looking to bring a group.

We spent 2 days inside Yellowstone National Park and were easily able to see just about all of it driving and getting out to do small hikes. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is a must see with the beautiful canyon and waterfalls. Of course Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic geysers are must dos as well, but if you want to avoid crowds, go earlier in the day. Grand Prismatics colors only really pop when the sun is hitting it perfectly. While waiting for Old Faithful to start, grab snacks and a drink and prop yourself into one of the rocking chairs at the Museum that face directly to Old Faithful. It was advised to go to Hayden and Lamar valleys early to see the wildlife, but to be honest, we saw most of the wildlife all day and even in the middle of the street throughout the rest of the park! Bison literally own this park and we easily spotted them everywhere. Elk and deer were the next popular.

After the half marathon, we tried another glamping experience at Moose Creek Ranch in Victor ID. We fell in love as soon as we arrived! The setup here was more cabin like with wooden walls, but still the canvas tent and wood fire stove inside and your own bonfire pit at your porch. It is situated right on a creek which is a wonderful sound as you drift to sleep. There is a community lodge with wifi, tv, pool table, fireplace, and couches to lounge. Outside you have horse stables and the most manicured lawn to sit in a swing and enjoy! Weddings are very popular here so make sure you book well in advance!

This small town of Victor surprised us with all its offerings! Driving in, we stopped at Grand Teton Distillery and tasted several potato vodkas and moonshine! Once the sun goes down, pop into the drive in theater called Spud. You cant miss it with the large potato sitting roadside! Also you don't want to miss Big Hole BBQ where you will have the most mouth watering bbq. Enjoy it upstairs on their patio! Scratch has 'wicked good' breakfast and a nice outdoor patio as well.

Our last 2 nights we stayed in Teton Village at Hotel Terra and toured Grand Teton National park and the town of Jackson. Hotel Terra is located right next to 2 gondolas to take you up 3,000+ft to fantastic views of Jackson Hole. (if you are on a budget take the free one, Bridger, which takes you to Piste restaurant and bar which has happy hour.) End your night at Hotel Terras large rooftop hot tub under the stars! There is also an infinity pool overlooking the village. Check the community website for local events in Teton Village. The night we arrived, there was a free concert happening!

We spent 2 days inside Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton is completely different than Yellowstone. You wont see nearly as much wildlife roaming the streets like Yellowstone, but you will see moose in the waters along the road. You will definitely want to plan a hike, otherwise you can drive it in just a couple hours (or less). We chose to take the boat across Jenny Lake to the Inspiration Point hike and beyond to Cascade Canyon. Even though we had seen the mountain range from the road, getting into it is a whole other moving experience!

The town of Jackson is where you will find all the touristy shops and restaurants, as well as the four huge antler arches!

TIPS-Make sure to purchase bear spray (you never know). They also do rent it inside the park, if that is easier for you. Make a cooler with lunch and make it an entire day in the park. The restaurants inside Yellowstone are not spectacular and over priced. Grand Teton does not have any. Make sure you smell proof your items with double ziplock bags, including trash.
Bring your binoculars as well. Although a lot of animals are up close, you can scout even more from a distance.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton are so close to each other, you might as well do them in the same trip. Two days in both parks was plenty of time for us. Extend it if you are planning more extensive, long hikes. Yellowstone is much larger and can take hours to get from one side to the other, unlike Grand Teton you pretty much have the same mountain view at any point of the park. Yellowstone was definitely an awesome and vastly unique experience in each corner of the park so if you were to stay at one park longer than the other, I would chose Yellowstone.

13.1 -2:39
State #29
HM #65

I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today! Www.donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2017-marathon/melissajohnson