Rex Garner Sprint TRI – My 1st TRI of 2017


With race season in full bloom, I decided to get out and participate in one. I signed up for Rex Garner. The Rex series has 3 races in Garner, Knightdale, and Wakefield. This year FS Series offered medals for completing each race. Previously you had to complete all 3 to get the medal. This new incentive is what motivated me to sign up. This would be my first triathlon that I would wear my TIFL TRI suit.

Let me give you some history of the TIFL TRI suit. In 2014, as an athlete with TIFL there are training days where sample TRI kits are available to try on. Unfortunately, they did not have the fluffy sizes available. I’ve mentioned this to a few folks. Thankfully my concerns reached the gear guru in Charlotte Laurie Hardin. In 2016, she sent a fluffy TIFL TRI suit via Angel Chappell-Jonas to Virginia Beach for me to try on. Angel gives me strict instructions on how to try the suit as she does not want me to rip the suit and then it will be mine regardless if it fits or not. You know the old saying “You break it you buy it”. My mom is with me in Virginia Beach for Shamrock. She watches me try on the TRI suit. Both legs are in and then I try to zip it up and there in lies the problem. My double decker pound cake is having an intense argument with the zipper. The zipper is winning. I realize that I can make the TRI suit work but I need to go visit the drill sergeant at Planet Fitness and put it in some real work. In 2016, I was signed up for Ramblin Rose Huntersville. I finally decided to purchase my very first TIFL TRI suit to race in at Huntersville. Unfortunately, the race was the same weekend that Tuskegee was playing FAMU in an HBCU classic game in Mobile. After a conversation with my dad who teased me about all the family that was coming down for the game, I decided to forgo racing and headed to the home-state. The TRI suit has been eagerly waiting to make an appearance since. On Sunday, July 23, the TRI suit made its first race appearance at the Rex Garner sprint.

One of my new TRI sisters, Terasina Tisdale Azor, asked me to ride with her on the Garner bike course to check it out before she decides to commit to the race. Always a mentor, I told her I would. We would meet on Sunday mornings to ride the course. Then we would be joined by other TRI sisters. I was familiar with the 10-mile bike course by race day because I had ridden it a few times.

Race morning arrived and I had woken up way before my alarm went off at 4:30am. This is typical race day behavior. The race director recommended that participants arrive at 5:30am for the race. Some folks were not understanding that recommendation since the race did not start until 7am. I’m one of those folks who like to arrive early so I can find a prime parking spot. Lazy Johanna doesn’t like to have to walk far after finishing a race. The other benefit of arriving early is you get 1st dibs on rack placement.

I arrive in Garner about 5:25am. I see one of my TRI sisters, Narjis Bennis, as I was parking. This was her first race. I was very excited for. As I got out the car, she told me “Jo if you didn’t show up, I was going home.” I just laughed. I told her we here now, no turning back. We grab all our stuff and head over to transition. We run into another TRI sister, Suzy Stiegelmeyer, this is her first TRI as well. I find my bib number on the bike rack and rack blue thunder and set up my towel.

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I grab my race bib and head over to get my timing chip and get body marked. What I like about this race is that Rex Wellness is open and they are allowing us to use their locker rooms. SCORE baby, no outside bathroom for me. I enjoy the AC inside Rex Wellness because it is already humid outside. This is going to be a hot one. Narjis and I head back over to transition. Folks are slowly rolling into transition. More of my TRI sisters are coming in and setting up their area. It is official race day. We are hanging out in transition until it closes. As I am putting some food in my system, one of my new TRI sisters, Juanyetta Beasley, walks over to me and hands me a copy of my book and a sharpie and asks me to sign it for her. Do you know how happy that made me 🙂 Just in case you have been living under a rock and not aware that Power of the Turtle is currently available in paperback and e-book on Amazon. Buy yours today. Book signings coming soon. Stay tuned.

It is starting to get close to 6:45 when the transition area will close so we grab our swim gear and head out of transition. I opt to walk barefoot because I am not trying to have my Oofos taken away from me. I love me some Oofos. They rock. Try you a pair today. As we are leaving transition, some ladies walk up to me and ask about the relay logistics. Just call me the race tour guide. I explain that transition closes at 6:45 but will open back up as soon as the first swimmer comes out. They were very thankful that I explained that to them. SN:the race meeting on Saturday is beneficial for first-time participants.

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The race director starts to make pre race announcements. They are allowing folks who feel they will need extra time to finish the course to swim first before the elites. Terasina and Narjis head in to start their swim time early. I should have done the same thing as I reflect back. You can’t cry over spilled milk. I hang outside the wellness center. We are around the back where you can see folks come out from the swim. This is pretty cool to see the other folks finish their swim. The waiting around is slightly nerve-racking. Rex pool is small so the swim portion takes some time. There are only 5 lanes compared to the 10 lanes I’m used to at Ramblin Rose Raleigh and Huntersville.

I decide to head on inside the wellness center and line up for the swim. There are still a lot of folks waiting to start the swim. I get in line and wait for my turn. We line up in the pool and walk through the pool to the end of the 1st lane. The race director indicated the pootemperaturere was in the 80s. Once I got in the pool the water was very cool and refreshing. I did not want to get out the pool. Soon I am at the end of the lane and the RD is telling me to start I am off to do the 250 yards. I was not ready for the bottleneck that is in the pool. I maneuver through the bottleneck but it is affecting my breathing. I push on through and then I am out the pool. Bye cool water. I head out of the pool area.

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I see Alexis, Clar and Kim cheering me on. I make my way to transition. I work to put on dry socks on completely wet feet. This is a true sport. Then I put on my cycling shoes, Camelback, helmet and cycling gloves. Blue thunder is off the rack. I head out of transition and towards the mount line. The volunteer tells me to mount my bike. Right as I get on, my chip strap comes off. It will not stay on. Hello swollen ankles!!. I grab the chip strap and slid in between the girls. It is not going anwhere now. I head out. Right turn out the parking lot and right turn onto Timber Drive. I’m still feeling cool from the pool. This is going to be great. Make the U turn at the end of Timber and head out on Timber. Garner PD is out in full force at each intersection holding back traffic. Thank you very much!! I cross over White Oak and head down the first downhill. I am a downhill enthusiast. I LOVE downhill. It rocks. I’m discovering that there are a few things I should do on the downhill to keep that momentum going to get me up the following hill.  I shall work on that in the future. I pass another intersection. The out portion of the bike course is shady which I am enjoying. I have water in my camelback, electrolytes in 1 bottle on the bike and pickle juice in a 2nd bottle on the bike. A sister is ready. I am rolling along on timber drive. I hear a car approaching in the left lane and i hear a cowbell ringing and I hear a voice yell “go jo”. It’s the TIFL bike course cheer van Alexis and Clar. Encouraging and motivating words help so much when you are out on the race. Thank you Alexis and Clar!! I know the intersections and landmarks. I finally see the Rite Aid, that’s the last intersection. I know the turnaround is coming. I get over into the left lane after I pass the Garner PD car. Special shout out to the female Garner PD who was putting motorists in check about waiting in the lane until we got over. That chick was hard-core and i loved it. I get into the left lane and head to the turnaround. I head back toward Rex Wellness. Alexis and Clar are on the corner taking pictures.

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I yell out “Where’s the hype music?” You need tunes out here in these streets. I intentionally left my iPhone in transition because I am obeying all the USAT rules. I keep riding on Timber. I get to the 2nd to the last hill. I shall call it the McDonald’s hill. I see a lady stopped on the sidewalk. I decided to walk this hill. I ask if she’s ok. She is in need of water as she doesn’t have any with her. We walk up the hill. As I pass the Mickey D’s I really want to slide on in there and get a large sweet tea and a McGriddle. I have no cash on me and there are no detours today. Later MCD! After I make it to the top of the hill, Garner PD is holding traffic to get me across. The volunteer is congratulating me on making it up that hill. I get back on blue thunder and head on back. There is one last hill before the white oak intersection. I’ve been using a method of counting the sidewalk cracks as I pedal up the hill. This method is still working for me. I cross over White Oak. I see my TRI sister Cynthia Gary on the run course. I ask her “do you want to switch places?” She laughs at me. I pass the Burlington coat factory on my right and a volunteer tells me you are almost there. I really am. I make that last righ turn. I head up the slight incline I see the Tribe is there on the corner in full force cheering. Having folks cheer you on makes a huge difference. I make the last left turn and head to the dismount. I get off my bike. I am so HAPPY to be done with the bike course. I really felt the heat coming back after the turnaround. I rack my bike and put on my running shoes. I can feel how hot I am. It’s not good. I grab my cooling towel and put it on. Karen Young walks up to me and gives me some ice to put in my bra. I put on my visor and grab my other water bottle that has water in it. I eat some Cliff chews with the extra sodium because I know I have lost alot of water. I put on my race belt and somehow make my way out of transition and head out on the run course. As I start the run course I feel the full force of the hot temperatures. I get to the first corner and I am wheezing. This is the same thing that happened in Richmond twice and what happened in Nassau in January. A volunteer walks over to me and calls me down with my breathing. The tribe brings me a cool towel and water to cool me down. Alexis tells me “Jo i’m going to be inconegro and walk with you” I really appreciate it because I will probably not make it. We head out on the run course. It goes the same route as the beginning of the bike course. We make the turnaround and head down Timber. As we pass by the entrance to the Wellness center, Shelley walks over and joins us. I am grateful for the company. The 3 of us are walking together. As we pass the entrance to the movie theater, I tell Alexis tall drink is coming. He’s driving up on the other side of Timber. I tell him to park and come walk with us. The drill sergeant is going to push me to finish. He will not allow me to DNF or pass out. He will get a call from Alabama and it won’t be good. We walk a little bit further and I really feel like turning around. Tall drink makes it to us. Kim and Janet are out with us as well. I want to turn around. Tall drink tells me to “Come on”. He knows I hate those words. We head to the turnaround at White Oak. The volunteers have cool wet towels, water, ice and gatorade. They are a God send. Tall drink splashes me with ice cold water. I am so not ready for it. Man it feels good. We leave the turnaround and head back. Every now and then I get winded and have to stop. Garner PD rolls by and ask if I need a ride. I tell him no i am not getting in that car. Thanks for asking. FS Series SAG rides by and checks on us. I tell them no i am not getting in there. At this point, I could have gotten in the SAG but I have written that song before and I don’t want to sing the SAG song today. We keep walking with me taking breaks as I need them. We make it right across from the entrance to the wellness center. I want to make a beeline and head on back. Alexis tells me to walk to the next corner. I knew what that slick rascal was up to. I appreciate it. Thanks Alexis! Tall drink told me I was not cutting any corners today. Sometimes I don’t like him. We walk down to the end of Timber and make the turnaround. I look over and can see the finish line is till up. It is the absolute worst feeling to be the last one to finish a race and they have taken down the finish line. Or worst they are out of medals. Both have happened to me before. It’s in the book. Check it out :-).

We make the left into the Wellness center and we are going up the sidewalk.

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Would you believe all of the TRIBE is still there waiting for me??? They are cheering me on. I make that last left turn. Tall drink hangs over on the side. I hear them call my number. I am so happy to be almost done. I see Rhonda at the finish line. As I get closer, I decide to run it in. I have not DONE that since Chapel Hill in 2014. Who are we? Triathletes What do we do? Finish Strong. That’s exactly what I did I finished strong.

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Thank you to each and everyone in the tribe who was out there cheering me on and that walked with me during the HOTTEST 2 miles of my life!!!! It takes a tribe! Mine is the best!!

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Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk AKA Hot Summer 5K has arrived

One of my new TRI sisters Janet Zevallos posted about an upcoming 5K a few weeks ago on Facebook. She has been participating in Zero Prostate Cancer raceFullSizeRender in honor of her dad who lost his battle with prostate cancer. This is the first year the race is in Raleigh. I decided to participate in honor of her dad. A few more ladies of the #Tribe joined us Brandi Reach and the awesome sauce Shelley inhonor of her dad who lost his battle with prostate cancer. This is the first year the race is in Raleigh. I decided to participate in honor of her dad. A few more ladies of the #Tribe joined us Brandi Reach and the awesome sauce Shelley Stubin my fellow Minion lover. SN: We will both be seeing Despicable Me 3

Image result for despicable me 3at the sneak preview this week. Can you tell I’m excited? If you know me you know my LOVE for minions runs HIGH.

The race started at 8:15 am. For a summer race that is a smidge late but hey, I am not the race director. The parking directions indicate to park in the parking lot on the corner of blue ridge and macon pond road. What I didn’t realize is that the walk from the parking lot to the race site was about .6 miles. Lazy Johanna prefers to park in close proximation to race start/finish so I have a short walk after I’m done and I can make a mad dash for flip-flops.

As I am parking, I see my one of my team members Shelley pull in front of me. After we gather all our belongings, we make the TREK over to the race start. As we walk over I noticed other racers parking slightly closer. I’m telling Shelley we could have parked closer but we were being compliant. In the back of my mind, I’m already thinking about who I can get to drive me back to my car. Trust and believe I will find someone. Ask Angel Chappel-Jonas I have no shame in ordering an Uber/Lyft after a race to take my back. No shame at all.

We make it over to the race site, it’s looking pretty full for this being their inaugural race. I have already warmed up my legs and sweating like a “hooker in church” Princess and the frog reference. LOVE that movie!! I go cop a squat on a step so I can cool off some. Shelley goes to check out the sponsor tents.  After she comes back I go and make my mandatory pre-race bathroom visit. I don’t care how many races I do my stomach is always tripping before a race. After I come back, Shelley and I walk around and we spot Janet and Brandi. Janet has made a sign to honor her dad and is setting it up in the grass.

The kid’s dash is before the 5K and 1-mile race. These kids are no joke. There’s one kid who means business and finishes first. There is one kid who I think might have gotten confused on the directions and ended up having a head on collision with another kid. The other kid got up and finished. The other one was in such shock her mom came and got her. I felt bad for her because I bet she didn’t even want to be there. when you’re a kid you make zero decisions on how your weekend is going to be spent.

We start lining up about 8 am as the race is starting at 8:15 am. As with every race, we MUST take pre-race photos for the simple fact that most of my peeps are gone when I get back to the finish. Turns out this time they were there, more on that later.

We take off at 8:15. The start leaves out the parking lot slight uphill and we turn left on Ed Drive another slight uphill. I’m about to be done and we haven’t hit mile 1 yet. We pass a marker sign that said 3 miles. I didn’t understand this sign until later. It was saying 3 miles to beat cancer meaning we have 3 miles left to do. DUH!! I was delusional already from the heat.

We turn right onto Blue Ridge Road. As we head down blue ridge I spy with my little eye folks making a turnaround. I’m confused but then I noticed their race bibs have green lettering indicating they are only doing 1 mile. I almost want to join them. I am all about getting my miles in these days. I have about 3 challenges I’m doing (glutton for punishment) NCRC 1000 mile club, IronKiwi summer splash challenge (virtual IronMan challenge) and last but certainly not least Run the Year 2017(yes 2017 miles in one year, did I mention that the drill sergeant has already hit 2017, I told him the next time I see him I’m going to tdrip him up lol).

We turn right into the neighborhoods. We make a left and the Garmin beeps so I know we have just passed mile 1 andIi check to see what my time is and its 19ish. Sweet Christmas!! After that I really start to feel the heat. Don’t ask me why I didn’t bring my frog tog or something that could have cooled me off. You think about this stuff when you are out on the race course when it’s already too late. That’s how life goes sometimes. I druding along the course. This thang has some hills in it which I was warned by Janet and Shelley last weekend after they did a course preview. I’ve been racing in Raleigh since 2008 so i’m never really surprised about the hills. They are everywhere. I keep pushing on. Turn and turn. What i think is the most disrespectful part of the course is that we go right pass a community pool. I can see someone swimming laps in the pool. My inner fish wants to jump in and join them. That’s not an option so I keep walking. Turn left at the pool up another hill. Did these things grow like gremlins out here or what?? This next hill is right past the water stop. The garmin beeps that I just crossed mile 2, my pace has gotten slower which i knew it had because i was hot. We turn right back into another neighborhood. A guy and little girl pass me. The guy asks me if i want some company. I’m slightly dehydrated at this point so speaking is really limited. I think I managed to say yes. He joins me. He’s walking with his neice and he was told he was doing this race by his sister. Hilarious. It helps to have some company. I start to feel the heat and i’m starting to bob and weave. He asks me if I’m ok I’m like no. I go and sit on the curb. There is a cop pacing behind us and ask if i can get in. He tells me no and tells me he will send the SAG for me. Raleigh PD is not like Richmond PD. Richmond PD lets me get in the car and recover. Oh well. Malcolm from Chicago is the kind stranger who waits with me until the SAG shows up.

IMG_3287The bike SAG comes up to us and ask how i’m doing. He calls for the SAG as the cop apparently forgot. I look down the street and ask him if that’s the SAG. It is. He brings us over some water and ask me I want to ride back. Deep down I really did but I was starting to feel better and told him I’m going to walk. I pop up with Malcolm’s help and get back on the course. We walk together. The bike volunteer rides back and forth to check us on. He tells me his only concern is that I finish. I told him me too. We make a left and then we head out of the neighborhood Thank God!! Then I see blue ridge road. Woo hoo!! We make a left on blue ridge and I know we are getting close. Bike volunteer tells us they are waiting for us at the finish and they are going to play eye of the tiger. He even plays it on his phone. Malcolm and i start talking about music. He tells me that’s one of his favorite songs along with Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m like no way. God sent this dude to help me get through this race. I LOVE bohemian rhapsody. He tells me he knows all the words plus the guitar parts. we start singing it. I tell him I have never met another black person who loves that song. NEVER!!! I remember being at Angel Clark house with Andrea Parmer around 1992 or 1993 watching Wayne’s World. That scene came on when the song comes on and i am singing along. They both looked at me like i was crazy. Hilarious I can remember that like it was yesterday. Great memory. We sing as much as the song as we both can remember. Bike volunteer tells us the next street is our turn. Why does that street seem so far away to me? We come up on Ed Drive. We make the left and I feel so excited that we are headed to the finish line. I told malcolm that i am used to have a full entourage when i finish a race because i’m the last one. He told me not today i want the entourage so you have to go finish before me. This dude is funny. We head down Ed and we can see the race site coming up. I see Shelley because we are both wearing neon pink tops so we are hard to miss. They are all still there waiting for me. I LOVE it!! We make that LAST right turn and head to the finish line. Shelley walks in with me.

She tells me they wondered if i got lost like they did but she figured i was waiting for the cop or some cute fireman to escort me in. This chick is funny. I cross the finish line. I have never been so HAPPY to finish a race in my life.


My 1st eBook is now available for download

I’ve been blogging for a few years. I really enjoy it. I had a conversation with my best friend about a year and some change ago. From that conversation, I decided to try my hand at writing a book. I started putting it together. I went back and started from the beginning until now. The end product is Power of the Turtle. It is now available for download on Amazon, Nook, Lulu, Kobo, and iBooks.

I wanted to share my experience of being the last one to cross the finish line. Many don’t want to be the last one. They feel there is shame in that place. I embrace it. My motto is “finish and finish upright.”

To all my turtles out there, this book is for you. To all my fellow fluffy folks who think I can’t do it, yes you can. If I can do it, you can do it. You never know what you can do until you get out and TRI(did you see what I did there).

Check out the book. Feel free to leave a review. Thank you to all who have been there with me and who have encouraged and motivated me through the years.

Power of The Turtle

The hottest 5K I’ve ever done in February

The 37th Annual Run for the Roses 5K was held on February 12 on the campus of Dorothea Dix. It is one of the oldest 5K races in the Triangle. All female finishers receive a long-stemmed rose. I love supporting local races. This is one that I have been supporting either as a volunteer or a participant since I joined North Carolina Road Runners Club in 2008 with the Women’s Beginner Running group. My participation in the race pretty much guarantees that there will be one rose given to me in honor of Valentine’s Day. I feel like the dude in the downy unstoppable commercial. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is .

The race started at 2pm. Since the race is part of the 2nd empire series, there will be loads of runners showing up. I like getting a good parking spot at Dix. I told tall drink I would meet him there about 12:30pm. I was home watching Mission:Impossible Rogue Nation (SN:i love this movie). Once it ended I decided to go ahead and head on over. I was parked about 12:10pm. As I am getting my gear out the car, guess who pulls up beside me, Maureen Bowen. This chick completely amazes me. She is doing Umstead 100 in less than 2 months. What is Umstead 100? It’s an ultra marathon. 100 miles. 8-12.5 mile loops that go through Umstead. I am normally there in a volunteer capacity. Don’t get excited thinking I’m ready for an ultra. Nah pimp the kid struggles with 13.1 miles. I have not EVEN begun to think about crossing into the dark side. She’s amazing!!!

We head into the gym where registration is being held. I picked up tall drink’s bib at packet pickup but until I pulled it out my car, I didn’t realize it wasn’t his. They gave me the wrong person. I go in and return it and get his bib. The correct bib is showing no shirt. I let tall drink handle that. He registered by the extended deadline so he should get a shirt. That AIN’T my battle and i AIN’T giving up mine either. I’m selfish like that about my long sleeve tech shirts. They don’t come around very often.

I’m hanging around the gym chatting with some of my fellow NCRC peeps. Barbara Stone-Newton thanks me for telling her about the indoor TRI. She really enjoyed it. She tells me her neighbor does half IronMan and is trying to convince her to do one. She has no interest. I tell her I don’t blame her. I’m just trying to get to the finish line of White Lake in the fall and Aruba the month after.

I head outside to check out the vendors. Amber and Pam are manning the nOg run club table. St. Paddys 8K is coming up on March 25 and Flip Flop 1K is coming on June 10. I tell them that’s the day before Ramblin Rose. They tell me they are thinking about doing the race. I talk about how the race dates got changed. With it being in June it’s going to be HOT as fire. I spy out of the corner of my eye a lil ugly dude (for my lil ron ron fans) AKA tall drink. I give him his bib and he heads inside to deal with his no shirt. He comes back out in like 2 minutes with his shirt. I knew he would get his shirt. We check out the rest of the vendors. I introduce him to Mark Allred, the owner of New Balance AKA my FAV running store because they have large and wide sizes woo hoo!!

I’m starting to feel the heat from the sun and go back inside the gym to cool off. Tall drink tell me it’s cold in there. Bye Felipe we will have plenty of heat on the course. We hang out in the gym until time to head out for the race. As we are waiting in the gym, one of the new TIFL athletes Shelley Staubin and her friend who she has persuaded to do Ramblin Rose with. Bless her heart. She asks me about the course. She wants to know about the hills. I tell her you don’t want me to tell you how many there are because there are too many to count. Her facial expression is priceless. We all head outside. We have about 30 minutes before the race starts. While we are waiting I see a fellow runner Celeste Brown. I haven’t seen her since the start of the Bahamas race last month. One of my TRI sisters, Cynthia, finds us. I didn’t even know she was doing the race.FYI:Cynthia is a beast. We started off walking together at Jingle Bell back in December. Next thing I know this chick catches a 2nd wind and rolls out. Reminds me of how tall drink left a sister at the beginning of Tobacco Road last year. I haven’t let him forget it ever since. He swears fore God that if he has to put a chair at the finish line, he ain’t leaving until i get there. That dude is funny to me.

Brad Broyles is the race MC and he announces the race is about to start. We go line up for the race. I tell Shelley that I tend to line up in the back so I don’t get caught up with the speed of the fast folks. I’ve done that before and I almost tapped out before the race got started. At 2pm, we are off. Garmin is turned on. Playlist is going. I’m headed across the start line. Crowd starts to pass me. Then all of a sudden someone walks up beside me. It’s my own personal sweeper, Lisa Howell. I turn my music down and we chat. We have been here before when she was sweeping Women’s distance festival in 2013 and i was recovering from surgery. She tells me she is enjoying retirement for all of 2 months. Jobs are calling her already. She hasn’t had time to fully enjoy it yet. We pass by the max and i feel like it’s so sad to see my car sitting there when i could so easily hop on in and head home. I don’t. I see the lead cyclist on the other side of the road and he’s leading the top 3 finishers. There is a brother in the lead. Woo hoo!! We are passing runners as they head to the other side of the course. We turn left onto Umstead. Pam Matz is working the corner. We cross over the overpass. I’m reminded this is the beginning of Rock n Roll Raleigh 5K which i will be doing again in April with my mom, tall drink and Donna.  We all signed up last year after we finished the race. It’s so much cheaper when you sign up a year out. We head up Umstead which is a slight incline and this was the path of Women’s distance festival in 2013. I always remember the hills. We turn right and go around a building. Then we turn back onto Umstead. We head back down and we finally cross mile 1. I feel like we have done 2 miles at this point. It’s the heat I tell you. It’s making me delirious. We turn right onto Ruggles. We tell Pam it’s the last time we will see you. We pass the Max again. Damn shame passing my car for a 2nd time and I don’t go hop it and kick this race to the curb. I keep on walking. We make a left and Frank Hagg is working the corner keeping the roads clear of cars. Chester is there with him. We head up another hill. We see runners make the last turn towards the finish line. How I wish it was me. We pass the water stop. Louise Gardino is manning it and passes me some water. We head toward the rest of the course. The 1st part is downhill. What goes down must come up. As we make the right turn, another TRI sister is out here, Maureen Waters. She tells when we see her again we will only have less than 1/2 mile to go. Yeah! We head down the road you can see downtown Raleigh skyline. It’s really nice. I tell Lisa this park of Dix must be popular because there are a lot of cars parked on the street. Folks are in the grass playing games and stuff. We head up another hill and turn right. We go down again and I hear cheers coming from Maureen Bowen. I told you this chick was amazing. She’s moving and shaking. I need that energy. We just pass mile 2. Thank God!! 1.1 miles left to go. Lisa tells her we are the end of the race and to join us on the walk back to the finish. We turn left onto Tate. Tate could give Carrington a good run for its money. This rascal is Mountain. I have to stop like 2 times to get my breathing controlled to make it to the top. Lisa and Maureen are right there with me encouraging me the entire time. We get to the top, course monitor tells us to turn right around another HILL. Good lord this place is full of them. I know this because I have done this race the last 3-4 years. He joins the party and walks with us. My body has been feeling really weird out here on the course but i pushed through. Later I tell tall drink that I didn’t think i was going to make it. We get up another hill and pick up another course monitor, another one of my TRI sisters whose name I can’t remember to save my life who is blowing a whistle to cheer me on. She tells us she needs a cowbell. I tell her you are not an official course monitor unless you have a cowbell. Those are the “rules”. My sense of humor is still intact so I might be ok. We keep on walking. We pick up Carolyn Quaterman who working another corner. We make a right and head up the LAST hill. I take a break again. The heat is kicking tail. We pass Maureen again and she joins us. We pass the water stop again. They give me a cold water. It tastes great. There is only 1 more turn left. We make the right and the finish is within reach. I see tall drink and Donna on the side. He tells me almost came out there to get me. I tell him you probably should have. Donna says Jo he was coming to get you. I tell her I believe you. As I am getting closer to the finish line, I see a guy come towards me and hands me a rose. Run for the Roses is done. This is my 1st race since Bahamas. I haven’t talked about Bahamas. It was a DNF. I continue to repeat in my mind how it could have ended differently. I have come to accept that it happened how it was supposed to happen. It has made me more motivated to train better for Shamrock.


Diva Ambassador

Happy Friday! As some of you may know I was selected to be a Diva Ambassador for the North Myrtle Beach race series. The race will be held on May 7, 2017 in  North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Feel free to read more about the race here.

A very nice benefit of being an Ambassador is the Diva swag.


I’m pretty fond of the Diva visor and the the pink sparkly backpack. The race is about 4 months away. If you are planning to participate in the race, feel free to acquire Diva “in training” apparel. The gear can be purchased here.

My business, Healthy At Any Size, is sponsoring a virtual race New Beginning 5K 2017. I am giving away a free entry to the Diva race to one lucky person who is registered for the virtual race. Sign up here. The virtual race comes with a medal and race shirt. Shirt sizes are guaranteed if you register by January 13.


Commitment Day 5K 2017

January 1 is the first day of the new year. What better way to celebrate the new year than with a 5K. Lifetime Fitness sponsors Commitment Day races at all their locations across the US on January 1. I participated in the Commitment day race in 2016 at the Cary location. When registration opened for the 2017 race I decided to do the race at the Raleigh location primarily because it’s close to the house. The Raleigh gym is my home base. I was traveling back from Alabama during packet pickup early in the week. I asked my race partner in crime AKA Tall drink to pick up my packet when he picked up his. Being the very kind person that he is he did.

I’m not a big party person on New Year’s eve. I attended watch night service at church and then headed home afterwards to chill and relax before the race. Race morning showed up and I heard the rain earlier in the morning while I was still sleep. I checked the weather and saw that it was still ice cold outside plus rain. I layered up and packed my rain poncho. Once a Girl Scout always a Girl Scout, there is always a rain jacket in my trunk. Once I arrived at the gym, I went ahead and put on my rain jacket. I met tall drink at the gym. He signed up for the race thanks to my gentle persuasion especially when I told him there was a medal, he was in. We like bling and we can not lie. As I walk towards the gym entrance, I see one of my TRI sisters Cynthia Gary walking to the entrance as well. She tells me she has to go and pick up her packet. We walk into the gym together. I wait inside for tall drink to come in. Then we walk inside where most folks are hanging out since it is raining outside and it is much warmer inside. As we were hanging out at the entrance I run into one of my Galloway running peeps Meredith Le Vind. I make my way to the locker room to see a man about a horse and I see Alexis Barbarin and Claudia Gunter sitting in the lounge area. More tribe members show up and find us in the lounge area. It’s getting close to the start time, we head out towards the entrance to make our way to the back of the club where the race start/finish is located. As we are waiting around for the race to begin, Sharon Johnson, TIFL Raleigh president, mentions that we should get a picture. If you know my tribe, we love taking group pictures at events. It’s what we do.


I can tell by the crowd that some folks opted to stay home and not push through the cold and rain. We start to line up for the race. The announcer is making pre-race announcements. I can’t hear a word he’s saying. We all hope the course is marked and no one gets lost. Then we are off. The course goes out the back road out the gym. We pass behind Lafayette village, French inspired shopping center. We turn right onto Honeycutt. The cops have the right lane blocked off for us. I notice I have my personal entourage behind, Raleigh PD cruiser. As I get close to the turn, he pulls up beside me and tells me he has turn around to provide relief to another cruiser coming up from the park. He points out where the course turns. I head down Honeycutt and I see more cops at the turn. I turn left into the park and there is the greenway entrance. There is a course monitor who points to follow the greenway. I am on the greenway. The pavement is wet and slippery. I keep thinking had I been running I would have probably ended up at Wake Med with an injury because I am seriously accident prone just ask the bruises that show up. I finally hear the Garmin beep which means I have reached 1 mile. Hallejuah. As I making my way on the greenway, the course monitor volunteer is walking alongside me. I learn later that she was attempting to talk to me and I was ignoring her. That’s her version. I never heard her say anything. Then again I did have my headphones on. I noticed as I turned onto the greenway there is a white truck following me. I’m not concerned because I saw it pull into the park right after I got onto the greenway. Since it is on the greenway I’m going to assume it is a park and recreation official vehicle because those are the only ones allowed on the greenway. I come up on a MOUNTAIN. I can’t even call it a hill because it went straight up. I took it slow and steady. I could tell after I got to the top that it took a lot out of me because my pace has slowed up. I take in some water from my camel back because a sister is sweating profusely in 40 degree weather. I keep making my way through the greenway. I notice the mile makers have increased a least a ½ mile. I’m thinking I’m at the ½ way point of this race. The greenway runs along 540. I’ve never been on this greenway before. I can see an exit sign for Six Forks. I’m trying to figure out how the course will get back to Lifetime. The greenway finally ends in a neighborhood. There are 2 cops there and a lonely teenager manning the water stop aid station. Poor thing he must have been the only one to show up. I take the cup of water and keep moving. The cops tell me I don’t have that much further to go. I make the left turn and head through the neighborhood. The street connects to Strickland. The cop follows me in the right lane. I turn left on Strickland. Now I know where I am. Strickland runs into Falls of Neuse. Lifetime is about 3 blocks on the left. I’m on Strickland and I see a school coming up on the right. I notice this truck pulls into the parking lot. I’m looking to see if it has a bike rack on the back because if it does I know who this is. Guess who it is? Tall drink. He called me to check on me because he had finished the race and was about to leave. I told him we didn’t get a New Years race day picture. This lil ugly dude(Lil Ron Ron fans will get that reference) comes and finds me on the course. He crosses the street and asks me if I’m ok. I tell him I’m ok. He tells me to get my phone out so I can take the picture I just harassed him about lol.img_1256

He heads back to his truck. I keep moving up Strickland. I’m headed towards the shopping center. I see a lady waving towards me. It’s Harriet, she’s a trainer at the Plantation Point Lifetime. She tells me you got it from here. I tell her of course, my car is parked at the gym. She decides to walk back with me to the finish. Her and her kids join me. The cop car is still following me on Strickland. Harriet tells me that’s a good thing that they are out here. I tell her yeah because what if something happens. You should have someone. She tells me that there was no sweeper for this race and there really should have been. Every race needs a sweeper. We turn left onto Falls of Neuse. I can see the gym. Cops are on both corners of Lafayette. Harriet tells me she needed them where she was because folks were not happy about not being able to turn into the shopping center while the runners were on the course. Cops tells us to turn left. We turn left and there is only 1 more turn left. We turn left into the back entrance of the gym. We pass a sign that reads “pain relief here”. Harriet says isn’t that timely. I tell her year and my podiatrist is in that same building. My primary care physician is about 2 miles down the road. She says that’s convenient. Oh yeah. As we are getting closer to the finish line, mother nature decides it’s time for the REAL rain to show up. It’s coming down hard. I tell Harriet I’m glad the finish line is up. She tells me it better me. I tell her I’ve been at races where it was already taken down. I tell her my worst fear is to get back and there are no medals. I have heard that happens. She’s surprised. As I get closer to the finish line, I see a lady in a green poncho on the other side of the finish line. As I get closer I realize it’s one of my TRI sisters Sharon. She tells me that she was waiting for me to finish since the others waited for her to finish. I cross the finish line.


The volunteer hands me my medal


and I stop my Garmin. 1st race of 2017 is done. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to a few folks, tall drink for checking on me during the race and finding me near the end to check on me, Harriet who walked with me at the end and Sharon for being there at the finish line when I crossed. It takes a village to finish a race. Mine ROCKS!!!


New Beginning 5K 2017

Healthy At Any Size presents New Beginning 5K 2017. This is a virtual race that you can complete anywhere you want. Complete the 5K at your local gym, local park, in your neighborhood, with your family or with your friends. 2017 is a New Year New Beginning! New beginning 5K will allow you to take the first step to becoming a healthier version of yourself. The cost is $30. Registration includes a race shirt and a finishers medal. Post pictures on social media with your medal and race shirt using #NewBeginning5K201755914_medal



Last race of 2016, woo hoo!!

Suggly Sweater 5K

December 17, 2016

Holly Spring, NC


Suggly Sweater 5K is my last race of 2016. I looked back over my list of races for this year and this was my 10th 5K. Holy Smokes batman I have been doing a lot of races. Who knew? I did because I keep a running list so I know what I have coming up and what I have done. I won’t even mention the half marathons, 10K, 8K and triathlons. This has been a busy year for me in terms of races. I’m blessed to have been able to do it all. I’m looking forward to 2017 and everything that awaits me.

I saw an advertisement for the Suggly Sweater race at Omega Sports in Cary when I was picking up my race packet for Holly Spring 5K. What caught my attention was that it was a local 5K and there was a medal. If you know me, you know how I feel about medals. Shockingly I did not take a picture of the sign. After I got home I kept trying to rack my memory on what the name of the race was. To my own surprise and through the helpfulness of Google I could find it. Cost was $35 which wasn’t too bad in my opinion. I went ahead and signed up. Of course, I decided to share the race on social media in case some of my fellow race peeps might be interested in joining me.

The race was held on December 17 at Sug Farm Park in holly Springs. I have lived in Wake county for over 18 years. There are still parts of it that I have never heard of. This gets added to the list. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the major city in the county. There are others including Cary, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. When I venture into the neighboring towns, it boggles me to see how much they have going on. When I drove to Holly Springs in November for the Inaugural half-marathon and 5K I was really impressed with the baseball stadium the race was held at. Who knew Holly Springs had it going on like that? I live in my corner of Northeast Raleigh and that’s about it.

As I woke up on Saturday morning for the race, I check my phone and see there was slick road conditions overnight that caused serious crashes on the roads. I slowly go into panic mode. I wonder if the roads are safe and if I should just stay home and miss the race. I really don’t want to miss the race primarily because it’s my last race and it’s the last race report I’m going to put in the book. SN: I’m working on a book about my race adventures. I text 2 of my TRI sisters Tiffany Davis and Ebony Haywood to see what they think. Neither responds. I call tall drink to see what he thinks. He isn’t really fazed by the weather. I decided to go ahead and get ready and head down US-1 to Holly Springs. By the time, I get dressed and get my stuff together, Ebony texts me that she’s in route to the race. Tiffany is barely among the wake. I head out on the TREK from my neck of the woods down to Holly Springs. It’s a good 35 minute drive. I really must love races because I’m really not about the commute life anymore. I head toward the park entrance and I can tell from the line of cars heading into the parking area that the weather is having absolutely no impact of the attendance. Folks are rolling in like normal. Did I mention that the temperature is a COLD 32 degrees outside. Baby it’s cold outside. I’m really wondering why I didn’t put on like 1 more layer just in case.

As I park in the parking area, I sit and wait in the car. I call tall drink. He can hear it in my voice that I’m not in a good race mode. My mind is all over the place thinking about other stuff. I tend to over stress over things. He reminds me to have a good race and have fun. I gather up my camel back and my phone and head over to the race HQ. The wind is kicking up and making the 32 degrees feel like 22 degrees. I’m starting to rethink doing races in December. Ebony and Kathy are already at the race sitting in Kathy’s car. Claudia Mello is also at the race as well. I wait by the entrance to race HQ for them. I see Tiffany walking up. We walk around trying to stay warm. It really isn’t working. We walk past a table that has a snow waiver that you can sign if you plan on using any of the snow shops that have set up. No thank you. We walk past 1 of the snow stations. They have ice shooting into a machine making real snow. The snow is COLD. I’ll pass. Kids are enjoying it. I see a few heaters under one of the tents where folks are hovering around it to stay warm. I tell Tiffany it reminds me of Charleston 5K. She tells me it’s just like Rock N Roll Raleigh. I tell her you know I wasn’t there I sent my replacement. Kathy and Ebony finds us. We get a pre-race group picture. Then we head over to the start line.


The start of the race is in the field. I don’t even remember hearing anyone saying GO. I look up and see folks in front of us take off. We start moving towards the start line and we all set our Garmins once we cross the timing mat. GARMINS unite!! The race goes around the outer perimeter of the field. The terrain is very unbalanced and I’m trying my best not to fall because I am seriously accident prone just check out the mysterious bruises that show up on my arms and legs. I really can’t tell you where they came from either. Maybe I’m in an imaginary abusive relationship with my bed that I don’t know about. You gotta admit that was funny. We are making our way around the field. As we go down the side of the field, Tiffany says what goes down must come up. Then we start to walk up the field. We make our way around the front side of the field. There are some signs and markings that tell us where to go. We pass around the start/finish line and head around the field again. Tiffany tells me the first finishers are already headed to the finish. Overachievers!! I mean that in complete love. We head back down the side of the field. There is a sign that says 2 and right. We turn right and we are on trail again and then we pass mile 1 marker. Garmin beeps and mile 1 is at 21:51. I’ll take it. We keep moving through the trail and have mercy we finally are on the greenway. Tiffany and I both rejoice that we are on solid ground. The trail was killing my feet and tearing up Tiffany’s hip and knees. It’s hard out here for the Aruba TRI queens (nickname that tall drink has given us since we are signed up to do Challenge Aruba in October 2017). The greenway is very desolate. There are no course monitors out there. Tiffany mentions what if I was out here by myself. This is the prime spot for a predator to attack. Well I be she is right. As just as soon as she said that we see 3 teenagers who are course monitors. I tell Tiffany she talked them up. They tells us to keep up the good work. After we pass them we finally see a water stop. We were wondering if there was any kind of support out here on this course. I take a water cup and it’s ice cold and feels good to my throat. I am sweating like a sinner in church. Even in 30 degree weather I am sweating. We pass the water stop and keep on pushing on. I tell Tiffany the greenway reminds me of the greenway in Cary where the commitment day race went on. The greenway is running behind new houses that are being built. It’s hilly. We keep pushing through. We come to one hill. We both take a pause before we attack it. My lower back is starting to talk to me and not in a good way. My feet are doing very well. That’s normally where my issues are. We make it up the hill. We are coming around the side of a field. We have passed mile marker 2 awhile back. As we head out the greenway, we see cop cars at the entrance. It dawns on me that we are headed back to the park entrance. That means we are almost done. We turn onto the street. We tell the cops we are the last ones on the course. We see cars leaving as we head to the finish. I hear someone yell “Jo”. Guess who it is? Meredith Cuomo one of my TRI sisters. I didn’t even know she was even out here doing the race. We keep walking towards the park. Some cars honk at us as they are leaving. Some folks are giving us virtual high 5s as we pass them. It’s stuff like that gives me that extra boost of energy to keep on moving. My phone rings and it’s tall drink checking on us. I tell him we are headed to finish. Tiffany yells out we have .5 miles left to go. He tells me to call when we finish because he wants to know our time. SN: Tall drink has been designated our personal drill sergeant to get us ready for Aruba. We cross into the park and pass the parking area. I tell Tiffany this is the part that sucks when you pass by your car but you can’t get it in just yet. As we get closer to the turn to the finish, I spy with my little eye 2 of our TRI sisters up ahead Ebony and Kathy. I would like to call them Ebony & Ivory but someone make think that’s offensive. I tell Tiffany that’s what I’m talking about, sisterhood and support. We turn onto the field and head to the finish line. I see another TRI sister on the side, Claudia Mello. She heads to the finish line and is taking pictures of us. We cross the finish line posing. We have finished the race.


It was so much better having someone with me this time. Thank you Tiffany Davis for signing up and doing this race with me. Racing is so much fun with a friend.





You’re jingling baby, go head baby

I like participating in local races. Jingle bell run is a Christmas themed race that supports the Arthritis foundation.


Folks really get into dressing up. I’ve been participating in this race for at least 5 years that I can recall. I love the race shirts they are so festive. I feel deep down in my spirit that the race could use a finisher’s medal. I’m just saying. Then again, I am a medal chick. A nice Christmas medal would look good on the medal rack. I shall send them an email with my suggestion.

The race started at 10:30am. The race is held at Saint Mary’s School. There is no parking on campus. I knew the parking would be limited. I left the house with the goal of being parked before 9am. As I turned onto the side street by the school, I could tell that I was not the only one who was getting there early. I turned onto the 1st side street by the school and found a parking spot, I spy with my little eye one of my TRI sisters and running buddies Lille Thompson-Ebron. As we start walking towards the race headquarters, I run into one of my NCRC buddies Terri Saylor. We made our way to the entrance of Saint Mary’s. I mention to Lillie and Terri that the race registration used to be in the cafeteria where we could use the indoor restroom facilities which is a big difference from the portable facilities. I feel that something has happened that has now required the race to be completed outside. That’s my inner conspiracy theorist coming out.

As we are at the entrance of Saint Mary’s, we look for a sunny spot to warm up in while we wait for the race start. We are super doper early for the race. As we are waiting around, I see my partner in crime Melanie Shaw walking towards me.15317950_10210374622457637_4110113098078189695_n

She told me that I am the reason she started walking and doing 5Ks about a year ago. It always amazes me when someone tells me that because I never really think about that when I am out doing races. I just do them primarily for the exercise and the medals. What can I tell you I like bling and I cannot lie. Melanie tells me she has met some new friends. We are friendly people. We met folks everywhere we go.dab

My bladder has been acting nervous all morning. I make a beeline for the outdoor facilities. We go and hang out with the new peeps over on a bleacher in the sun near the entrance. As I walk back I hear someone call my name. It’s Debbie Hockstra, one of my former NCRC Women’s beginner running peeps. She tells me that is so motivated to see me doing races and she bets there are others who are if they aren’t already. She tells me that folks should realize that a race is possible instead of thinking that it isn’t. I tell her about Melanie. She says that’s what I’m talking about. You motivate folks and you don’t even realize it. True I really don’t.

Another 1 of my TRI sisters Cynthia Gary meets up with us. We keep running into more of the TRI tribe, Kathy Beasley and Patty Cooper, Renee Weinchinger and Valerie McGlynn and Beth Griffin and last but not least Meredith Cuomo. TIFL reunited and it feels so good.



The 1 mile starts at 10am. Lillie asks me if I want to switch from the 5K. she’s funny. I do like a 1 mile race, easy peasy. We go line up after the one mile starts. We are passing the corrals. 8-10 minute mile, 10-12 minute mile. I tell Lillie that is so far off from where I am. She says Jo if you get back to running you could get there. I tell her I really want to get to a consistent 18:00/mile pace. That is my goal that I have set for myself. We head to the last corral which is 15 minute/strollers & walkers. Melanie asked me “Does that say 15 minutes to do a mile?” I tell her yes but it also says walkers and that’s what we are. We head to the back of the corral and wait for the race start. 10:30 has come and gone. We are starting to get antsy. We look up and see folks moving and we head to the start. I tell Cynthia I’m not starting my Garmin until we cross the timing mat. We cross the timing mat and I start the Garmin and RunKeeper. I’m also signed up for 2 5K challenges on RunKeeper, might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone. We head down Hillsborough street. In case you are not aware, Hillsborough street is HILLY. We are up and down the street. We come up on the Alexander YMCA and across the street is a guy in full attire playing the bagpipes. I recognize him from afar, it’s Ashby Spratley, my former honeybadger group pace leader from Galloway. As we are walking I meet a lady who’s name I didn’t get it until we were almost done lol. As we are walking and talking, I find out she has done triathlons. Isn’t that a coinky dink. Get this she has done open water triathlon. I tell her that she is officially badass because I like the pool and I cannot lie. She did Outer Banks triathlon back in September and she did not train. Double badass. Who in the world does an open water tri and does not train?? This badass lady. She tells me that she injured herself by running on the beach. She has had a knee brace on ever since and is wearing it right now. She wanted to do the race because she had committed to so her and the knee brace made the race. AMAZING!! We are walking and talking, before we know it we have passed the 1 mile mark. I hear a kid behind me tell his mom “we’ve only gone 1 mile” Bless their heart. I notice there is a lot of development on Hillsborough Street. It’s apparent I have not been on this end in a long time. I see one my FAV Galloway peeps Meri Meri who is a course monitor. She high-five’s me. This is probably the 1st race in a long time that I’m actually enjoying the race, course and just having a good time. That’s exactly what tall drink told me to do today, have fun and enjoy the race. I can see ahead that we are getting close to the turnaround, woo hoo!! As we get closer I notice this new building with stores and restaurants below it. I’m like there’s the new Pieology place that my movie peeps were talking about the other night. Then I see an IHOP. I’m thinking so that’s why they closed the other one down. Melanie asks me where is the turnaround and I tell her it’s right by the cop car. We all make the turnaround and head back to the finish. The pace car has been tailing us the whole time. Cynthia told me at the start that I like having a cop tail me. She’s funny. I tell her it’s important that they are back there just in case something happens. I have needed them both times I’ve done Richmond. Thank you Raleigh PD for being out there with us turtles today!! As we are heading back, the cop tells the course monitors they are done. They start walking back with us. We pass Meri and she joins us. As we pass other corners, she lets course monitors know they are done. We pick up more course monitors. Meri calls it a course monitor parade. I tell me new friend who’s name is Laura that we are passing the bell tower, major landmark down.15327451_10210374623577665_9108135011361906358_n

Right before we passed the bell tower, volunteers are holding up the 2 mile marker signs. They tell us we have 1 mile left to go. We pass the traffic circle right by the bell tower. We pass the doubletree hotel. Meri mentions that Ashby was out here. We both wonder if he still is. We don’t see him. We pass by the YMCA again. I know we are getting really close to the finish. We pass Ashe avenue which leads to Pullen Park. We are almost there. Since I know the route I know we really are. We pass another traffic circle. We have an uphill finish. Isn’t that nice? I look up and I see an angel coming to me. I yell out EBONY!! It’s 1 of my TRI sisters Ebony Haywood. She tells me I came out to support you and see you finish the race. That’s what I’m talking about. Sisterhood and support. You can’t buy this. No you can not. She tells me that I am probably going to beat my Holly Springs time. I can see the time clock in the distance. I see 68 minutes. I’m thinking we probably crossed a few minutes after that. Cynthia and Lillie are right behind the finish. They are cheering me on as well. We cross over the finish line. I stopped the Garmin and RunKeeper. Finish time 1:06:47 with a pace of 21:02/mile. My treadmill workouts have been paying off. Jingle Bell Run is in the books.


Richmond Half Marathon AKA Half #10

I participated in the Richmond half marathon for the first time in 2015. A few days after finishing the race, I signed up for the 2016 race primarily because I was pretty much hooked on this race due to the finisher swag they give out. They offered a sweet race registration price of $60. The same registration deal is currently active right now for the 2017 race. I’ll save you some time and tell you that I will be signing up before the deal ends on the 17th.

My mom has drunk the Kool-Aid along with the rest of us. She was signed up for the race as well. She flew up to Raleigh on Thursday. We drove up to Richmond on Friday. We headed straight to the race expo after making a pit stop at Cracker Barrel.15036521_10210167317475142_6048282878101291974_n

My partner in crime AKA my trainer AKA tall drink whose government name is Gregory Clanton was already at the expo waiting on us. We met up with him at the expo. We made the rounds after picking up our shirt and bib.


While perusing the various vendors at the expo, we run into the Click It Hot booth. I see the same guy that I have run into at the last 3 races. He recognizes me. He tells mom and tall drink about their products. I am already a fan as I bought the handheld pads about 2 weeks at the Wicked expo. He persuades my mom in buying the large pad. I mention how I left mine in the fridge at home. He gives me one for free and my mom one as well. Thank you very kindly. Just in case you are interested, here is their website I highly recommend them.

After we finish up at the expo, we go check into the hotel, hit the pasta buffet at the hotel. That buffet was on point. Pasta, salad, and dessert. Shout out to Crowne Plaza for providing all the hotel guests doing the race with a bag of free goodies including banana, bottle of water and granola bar. Breakfast is served and we didn’t have to make a grocery store run.

Saturday morning shows up in like 5 minutes. Mom and I head out and make the 5-block trek to the start line which really feels so much longer. It’s a cold 35 degrees outside. I’m cold natured so I have lost count on how many layers I have on. I’m that one person who does not throw away her layers. My clothes cost $$ and they going back home with me. We head to corral K which is at the back of the bus literally. The wind is blowing which is making it feel so much colder. We notice folks are huddled in the archway of buildings to block the wind, very smart. I meet a fellow BGR lady who is doing the race as well. This is her 1st half marathon. I remember what that is like. She asks me what my game plan is, in other words, am I doing intervals? If so what are they. Probably for the last few years I don’t have a race game plan, I just show up and put 1 foot in front of the other and do my best to not be carried out on a stretcher. A few of my TIFL sisters are doing the race as well. They find me and mom in the corral. Shout out to the TRI tribe who was at Richmond, Monica Oliver, Ebony Haywood, Cynthia Gary and Kathy Beasley.


Ebony tells me “Jo is that tall drink from the blog?” I tell her yeah and have you seen him. She tells me he was waiting on some corner. I later tell tall drink that he’s blog famous 🙂


Race starts at 7:30am. We line up in the corral and move towards the start line as the corrals are released out onto the course. Our corral crosses the start line about 12 minutes after the start. I start the Garmin and off we go. The race goes down Broad street in downtown Richmond. Mom, myself and tall drink are walking together. Mom decides to pick up her pace and moves further ahead of us. I tend to get into a weird zone during a race. I’m not real talkative. I’m really inside my head contemplating why I even sign up for this torture. It’s an internal debate that happens during every race. Tall drink keeps checking on me which is a good thing. You never know if my body has decided to tap out. We pass mile 2 and there is a water stop and bathroom. Potty pit stop, yes please!! Pit stop is complete, we keep going. We come up on the turn. The cops are there directing folks. Marathon goes left. Half marathon goes right. I knew where we were going. I told tall drink missing your turn and being on the marathon course is not a mistake you want to make. We turn right. I know we are headed towards the baseball stadium which is the home of the flying squirrels. I passed their booth at the race expo, that’s how I know the team name. There is an aid station outside the stadium. They have music playing. I tell tall drink you see my mom down there. They are playing Michael Jackson and my mom is dancing up a storm. My mom is having a ball. We pass the stadium. I mention to tall drink that this is where the race expo was held the day before. We go under I-95 and head into a neighborhood. We turn right into the neighborhood and there is a loop and then we come out the neighborhood. I start noticing the names of the streets, Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest. I’m like was Robin Hood from Richmond. I must google this later. We are out the neighborhood and make on the main street. All of a sudden I hear a car coming, I’m thinking here comes the 1st marathon finisher. Then we hear the bike leads yell out “marathon finisher” Tall drink ask me about it. I tell him that is the 1st marathon finisher passing us. Soon after we see more marathoners passing us. YES, the marathoners are coming!! They are flying like the wind bullseye. I’m starting to feel a little hunger coming on. I reach out for a granola bar. I unwrap it and wouldn’t you know 2/3 of the bar fall on the ground. That hurt me to my core. Tall drink tells you are not picking that up. I really wanted to and ask for God to bless it. I was outvoted. I eat what’s left of my granola bar and keep it moving. We head towards the half marathon turn into the park. This is where I lost the course last year. Good times. As we go into the park, there is a partition up and I see other half marathoners coming out the park. I see 2 of my tri sisters, Cynthia and Kathy. Folks are giving me High-Fives. Amazing how such a small gesture can give you a major boost of energy. It really did. We are in the park and it must run past I-95 because you can see cars on the highway. We are moving through the park and we pass the 6-mile mark and the timing mat. I’m really starting to feel overheated and dehydrated. Pretty much the same way I felt at this same mile marker a year ago. I stop and if tall drink wasn’t standing by me I probably would have hit the ground. I drink some water and work on getting my breathing under control. The SAG car is behind us. My mom walks up to him and tells him I’m not doing so good. He pulls up and I am told to get in. I get in and we drive further up on the course. I tell the cop about being out here last year and getting lost. GUESS WHAT!!! He tells me that was him. I’m like hey buddy!! This is the same cop who got lost with me last year. It’s a small world after all. As we pass course monitors through the park, he lets them know there are still folks on the course. Last year, them rascals hauled tail and left their post too early. You see I’m still bitter about that a whole year later. We actually find the turn we missed last year. No way on God’s green earth we would have seen it last year. We make our way out the park and back to the turn. I get out and get back on the course. I’m feeling so much better. I stop at the aid station and get something of everything they have. I’ve been sweating so I know I need to replenish my fluids. Of course, the Garmin is all confused about the mileage because I didn’t stop it when I got in the car. Oh well. According to, the course I am at mile 8, I have 5.1 miles left to go. HALLEJUAH!! This part of the course is fun primarily because the neighborhoods go all out. They have unofficial aid stations through here with coca-cola, beer, candy, chips. You name it. I pass on the beer. I take some of the candy. Tall drink calls to check up on me, I tell him I’m doing ok. He tells me they will catch up with me shortly. I keep putting 1 foot in front of the other. Pretty soon I am out of the neighborhood and I am on a main street. I turn right and I pass the campus of Virginia Union University #HBCULove. I remember passing here last year and I was really struggling. I was talking to tall drink on the phone for motivation. Then I heard an angel who’s name is Kat Collier yell out my name. Her energy gave me life. She was like “jo we only have 2 miles left to go”. I want to get some of that energy the marathoners have. I’m working on getting there. I pass VUU. Marathoners are on the left. Half marathoners are on the right. All of a sudden someone runs up to me, guess who it is, 1 of my TRI sisters Miya Caswell who is doing the marathon.


She tells me later that seeing me energized her to get to the finish line. That’s exactly what she did for me. She takes off running back on the marathon side. A few minutes later, guess who walks up to me up out of the blue, tall drink. I’m like where is my mom. He points behind us and there is my mom heading towards us. My mom who is 65 years old is coming on down the course doing her 2nd half marathon. Did you hear me??


My 65-year old mother is doing a half marathon. Yes, my mom is better than yours!! The 3 of us are back together on the course. We head up another hill. Tall drink asks me if there are any more. I tell him I don’t remember all these hills. We are coming back into downtown. We cross over Broad street. We turn left, there is this group out cheering. I’m going to say they may have been intoxicated because they were really really loud. I could be mistaken. The red solo cups could prove I was right. They were giving out High-Fives which I was getting some of. High-fives = super energy power when you are out on the race course. I really know that we don’t have that much further to go. We pass through Virginia Commonwealth University campus AGAIN. I know we are getting close. I see a lady come up to us. She asks me if I did the race last year. Guess who it is? The run coach who I met last year who thought it was my first race and I decided to mess with her and tell her I had done the dolphin challenge back in March at Virginia Beach. Don’t let the fluff fool you? I get in my miles just like everyone else. She tells me she just met my mom who came all the way from Alabama. I’m like yeah that’s my mom. She tells me that I’m doing better than last year. Last year it was much later when she saw me. I was oblivious to how much time had passed on the course. I never know. I wear a Garmin. We are going through downtown streets. Folks are telling us we only have a few more turns left. I know for a fact that we do. We make the last left turn. I tell tall drink that we are headed to the finish. I tell him to look ahead and he sees the downhill finish. I hear a group of folks yell my name and it’s some of my nOg & Galloway peeps who have finished the race and headed out. We are coming down the hill. I tell tall drink we just passed my hotel. I tell him that’s just disrespectful that I’m passing right by my hotel but I can’t go in yet. We go down the hill and I hear the announcer call our names. We cross the finish line. Thank God I made it to the finish line. Half marathon #10 is done.