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#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.


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.


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.


 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.

Exercise Journals Can Provided Motivation and Inspiration

SLide_25I keep an exercise journal, especially when I am training for a new adventure. Eleven weeks ago, just after my thirty-ninth birthday I jumped back into a vigorous training schedule for one of the biggest physical challenges I have taken on.

On August 30th after a summer hiatus to allow my knee some time to heal I reentered the training program that Olympic runner Jeff Galloway designed for folks talking on the runDisney Dopey Challenge. The Dopey Challenge is a four-day running event that takes place at Walt Disney World where you run a 5k (3.1 Miles) on Thursday, a 10k (6.2 Miles) o Friday, a half marathon (13.1 Miles) on Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 Miles) on Sunday for a grand total of 48.6 Miles over the four-day event.

Some people would say that you had to be Dopey to take on a challenge like this. I’ll reserve my opinion on that for the blog I write after I complete it and let you know what I think then.

Since I’d kept my cardio endurance levels up through the summer by spending time on an elliptical and riding a bike jumping back into that training program on at the end of August with a 9 Mile run was surprisingly easy for me. I made a few rookie running mistakes, like forgetting sunblock and not eating before I left. Silly things that an experienced runner and fitness instructor like myself should know better than to do. But when you get out of practice and out of your routine it’s easy to forget some of the little things.

Back to the point…my exercise journal from that first day

“9 Miles, 15k, First long run of the season. Knee OK. Lots of newbie mistakes though!”

My mileage has just kept going up from there. There have been a few entries where you could tell that I was struggling.

“Having a hard time not doing cardio on OFF days but sticking to the plan. Glad I have my classes to keep me distracted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays that I’m not doing runs.” 9/02

“Took the day of since my heels are still so hurting so bad. Figure today’s 45 min run isn’t worth jeopardizing this weekends 15 Mile run with soreness or additional blisters. Hopefully a good choice.” 10/01

“The stress of trying to figure out what I am going to do about the Dopey Challenge is really starting to get to me. I’m not sure that A) I can even afford to go to Disney World for as long as I need to do this event or B) That my body can handle it.” 10/05

About this time I saw a Podiatrist and started a routine that would help alleviate the pain I was experiencing in my ankles. I made the decision to stop trying to do all the exercises with my classes while training for this very challenging event. I decided that instead of trying to do everything and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything well, I’d start focusing on just trying to make sure that my training schedule became the most important part of my fitness routine.

JPBullCityI started making sure I designed classes for my students that didn’t require me to do all the exercises with them while still making sure that they got a challenging enough workout.

I also start taking my interval times down as my mileage started going up. I was so sore and had such a hard time recovering from the 9 Minutes / 1 Minutes that I started going back down to my old fall back of 4 Minutes / 1 Minute — then I started playing with 3 Minutes / 1 Minutes and finally 2 Minutes / 1 Minute.

I ran my 17 Mile run in Raleigh, NC at the Bull City Race Fest putting in 4 Miles before the start, running 3 Miles with my one of my best friends, Jeff Newell from Defying Obesity running 2 Minutes and walking 1 Minute and was amazed when I got to the finish line and didn’t feel like I was going to pass out! I even came home with some steam left in me!

I love being able to go back and look at my journal entries and see how much the changes affected by performance and my state of mind.

“My 45 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday seem to be getting easier! Maybe because I’m not killing myself everyday and giving my body more time to rest and recover than I was.” 10/26

“Ran 10 Miles with Ronda instead of my 6 today. Happy Halloween to me! We were fast! Finished just before dark.” 10/31

Just a couple of weeks ago I completed my longest run to date of 20 Miles. My friend Ronda ran the first 13.1 Miles with me and once again I surprised myself. When I had finished the 20 Miles I found myself thinking “I could run another 6.2 Miles and do a Marathon, if there was a medal waiting for me.” Once again, I didn’t feel like I was going to die or that I had pushed my body farther than it could go.

Keeping an exercise journal helps me feel accomplished. It helps me stay on track, helps me keep up with my training schedule and helps me hold myself accountable for the training that I need to do in order to make sure that my body is capable of the task that I am challenging it to do.

But it also helps me look back and see what I am doing right and how the changes I make either positively or negatively impact my training.

My blog has worked the same way. There are a lot of days when I go back and read a blog post about what I was doing in the gym way back when and it makes me smile and feel so accomplished when I compare it to what I can do now.

No matter where you are in your weight loss journey I recommend keeping an exercise journal. Jot down what you’re doing and how it is making you feel and hold on to it. Sometimes just going back and reviewing it can help provide the incentive and motivation you need to get back on track or get that workout that you’re debating in for the day. DSSPostSig

 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: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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