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A PR at the #BIGASSMEDALS Series : Race Recap

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Last Saturday I had the privilege of running in the Run Oak Island event, the first of four events in the Big Ass Medal series that I wrote about last week.

Let me first clarify why I say privilege. The ability to run is not something that is granted to everyone. There are many out there that for whatever reason are limited in the activity that they can participate in. As someone who has the disease of obesity, there was a time that my disease prevented me from being able to run.

Now, as someone who is in recovery from obesity every time I am out there running at event I remember a day when my body was physically incapable of doing so and for that reason alone any running event I participate in is a privilege to me.

So let’s talk about this event. The most important thing first…I broke a personal record and ran my fastest half marathon ever by completing the 13.1 miles in 2 hours 24 minutes and 18 seconds. As a runner, achieving a new personal record is always an accomplishment and the best part is that to achieve one the only person you ever have to compete with is yourself.

I attribute this personal record to a few things. First of all the race route itself was extremely flat. There were not a lot of hills to deal with and that always makes for a much faster time. The one or two hills we did have were not monumental. The only time I saw my time coming down due to a hill was when we were coming up and over a bridge just in time to come down, turn around and go up and over the bridge again between mile nine and mile ten. Those two inclines did cause me to pull one of the slowest split times I got that day with an 11 minute and 59 second mile.

The overall environment of the route was pretty. It was a gorgeous beach town run through Oak Island and I definitely want to go back and see more of the town in the summer. The mile markers were consistent and visible and that’s always a big plus because you want to know each mile that you accomplish.

As scenic and beautiful as it was it was, nothing was going to distract from the fact that it was 29 degrees outside and one of the coldest races I have ever ran. I was wearing a top and bottom base layer, my favorite RawThreads bamboo hoodie, a long sports jacket over that and I had on a pair of gloves and three, yes three, layers on my head: a base layer, a knit hoodie and a ball cap. Until mile 5 I carried 2 hand warmers in each of my hands trying to keep my fingers from hurting and feeling numb.

BigAssMedalMoral of the story: I am not really a cold weather runner but there is little I won’t do for a really bad ass big ass medal.

The medal by far made the event worth it. It is one of the coolest and biggest medals I have added to my collection and I really hope that I will be able to collect all four of them.

When I stopped by to see Johnna Terragna with Coast Race Productions after the race and introduce myself she told me that they had also decided that since there might have been some people who couldn’t make it to this event that would regret missing the first medal they were going to open up the option of doing a virtual run to get it.

This is a great opportunity! Whether you hadn’t heard about the series or you are someone like me who really wasn’t made to run in temperatures below 50 and opted to stay in bed that day instead, you can still get the first medal in the series by running 13.1 miles on your own another day and submitting your time. That means it’s not too late to start your #BigAssMedal collection! You can do this first race virtually if you missed it and then run the other three later this year.

Because my dear running friend Ronda Rhodes owns a construction company and is familiar with the costs involved in dumping the porta-potties that they have to put on job sites, it was a little disheartening to see all of the runners using job site porta-potties that day. I’ll say two things about that – first, as runners we are not entitled to just use whatever we run across. If it’s not intended for us to use we shouldn’t use it. Second, I think that for a 13.1 mile distance the race event needs to make sure that a couple of the water stations have porta-potties for those that need to use them.

Ronda and I made it through the entire race without having to stop to use a porta-john, which is a first for me. I am confident that is one of the reasons that I was able to shave so much time off my personal record.

I can’t really say much about the after party other than I was grateful for a cold beer and a piece of warm pizza to pick the cheese and pepperoni off when I got there because and both tasted better than words can describe. The first thing I eat after running a long distance always tastes like the most amazing thing I have ever had. “Oh my gosh this is the best pizza EVER.” 

I didn’t stay at the after party long because it was still cold enough that more than anything I wanted to get in the car and turn the heated seats on.

I’m really grateful for a nice flat terrain run that allowed me to push for a personal record, for the beautiful scenery that I got to take in and for the exposure to a town I never would have known I wanted to spend more time in.  

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But if I had to thank Coast Race Production for just one thing it would definitely be the medal. The medal alone inspires me to want to run the other three races and knowing that it will be a lot warmer in June has me really excited about participating in Run Sunset Beach on May 21!

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

#BIGASSMEDAL Series Impresses in a Big Way

11I pick my running events for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I pick a race for the location it takes me to. Sometimes I pick it based on how cool the medal I get at the end is. Many times I pick my races based on what I can afford and how much they are asking for registration. Sometimes I pick a race based on the story behind the event. It’s rare that one single event offers me more than one of those reasons.

But recently I heard about the #BigAssMedal Race Series put on by Coastal Race Productions and I was impressed. I mean REALLY impressed.

First of all of the runs in this series sound amazing! You hit several different beach areas in North Carolina. Since moving here two years ago I have really only experienced Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach so the prospect of running around Oak Island, Sunset Beach, Holden Beach and Ocean Isle Beach in a four series event has me excited by the expectation of some sweet beach scenery.

Even more amazing than the locations on this four event series is the medals. They didn’t call it the #BigAssMedal series for nothing. The medals individually are huge. I’m talking bigger than a soda can huge. Even better, if you run all four races they medals have magnets in them so they join together to make one big ass medal with matching background art that forms a large-scale scenic image.  

I have to say that I love the fact that just in case you are not in town for one of the events you are also given the option to do one of the runs as a virtual run and not be missing a piece of your medal series. Kudos to the race organizers for thinking of that option.

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Not sold yet? Well here is the part that sold me. The price. You can register for ALL four races in the series for $199 as long as you register before February 11th, 2016 after that it goes down to $149 because you will only be able to do 3 of the 4 races in the event.

The events are spread out throughout the year which is nice. You’ve got something to look forward throughout the entire year. The first event  Run Oak Island is on February 13th, followed by Run Sunset Beach on May 21st, Run Holden Beach on September 10th and Run Ocean Isle Beach on October 2nd.

These days a lot of half marathon events will cost you between $85-$195 so paying $199 for all four races is one heck of a deal.

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Johnna Terragna & son-in-law David Hutnik

I had the opportunity to read an article the other day about the history behind Coastal Race Productions [see article] and one of the Co-founders Johnna Terragna, a woman who battled Cancer and won and then found her love of running. It wasn’t always easy for her though, reading about how she had to crawl across the finish line of her first Marathon nearly brought tears to eyes.

When I asked Johnna about why her and her son-in-law started the Big Ass Medal series she told me a little about how they wanted to help the community by bringing in business during slow seasons, encourage healthy lifestyles and help people meet their goals and live more positive and victorious lives.

But what she said next was what really touched my heart. “What gets me jazzed up about the whole thing it’s not necessarily the front-runners but the people mid pack or last that are carrying heavy burdens or are really pushing themselves to change!  I lived very defeated for a long time – I had been in a very unhealthy abusive marriage for the better part of my life – I like to say Cancer changed my life but running saved it!”

As a victim of sexual, physical and verbal abuse on many levels and someone who has fought my own battle with the disease of Obesity, I understand exactly what Johnna is talking about. Running has given me an emotional outlet and helped me overcome my addiction to food and tendency to use it as a method of dealing with my feelings.

Running has helped me deal with the grief of my father’s death without relapsing back into that addiction. I’ve been the person in the back carrying a bunch of emotional baggage and having the physical burden of my weight as an additional challenge on top of that. I know just what she is talking about.

Getting to know the co-founder of Coastal Race Production and a little bit of history about this series has made running it even more important to me. When I run these events I’m going to run in honor of everyone out there that has been emotionally, physically or verbally abused. If there is one message that I would give to anyone that finds themselves in a situation like that, running as fast and as far away from it as you can is the best thing you will ever do for yours.

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 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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