Jacksonville is home to so many awesome races, but the 26.2 with Donna has always ranked at the top of the list. The race benefits the Donna Foundation, which was founded by Donna Deegan, a three-time survivor of breast cancer. It raises funds for breast cancer research and for women living with the disease. There's a 5K, half marathon, full marathon, relay, and ultra marathon.
In previous years, I've run the 5K and the half marathon. This year, since I'm too busted up (iTBS is lame) to do the half or the full, I decided to do something different - spectate! Many of my friends were running the full or the half, so it was a great opportunity to go soak up some inspiration...and give out brownies to runners!
The cool thing (well, one of the cool things) about the Donna race is that it's actually a full weekend of events. This year it started off on Friday for the "Social Shakeout Run."
I've done this run for the last 3 years - you get to run with Donna, Tim Deegan, the race ambassadors, and some of the other race celebs, including Joan Benoit Samuelson (the first winner of the Olympic women's marathon!!) and Jeff Galloway. This year we met up at Southern Grounds and ran part of the marathon course through Atlantic Beach. It's always fun to see the houses that have already been decorated for the race - if I lived on the race route, I would have pink stuff everywhere.
For race day, my friends and I went out on the course to spectate! I've always wanted to spectate the race before, but I wasn't sure what parking would be like. It's actually really easy to park and hop on the course - so note that for next year! We loaded up the dogs, signs, and brownies, and headed over to watch.
We were positioned at about 8th Street South, right near the 8(?) mile mark. It was really fun to see so much pink on the course, and our signs got a lot of compliments (although I didn't land any Valentines dates...)
Next year the 26.2 with Donna is turning 10! Have you ever run it? Have you ever spectated a race before?
Coffee is life. No, really. I think at my peak level of addiction, I was having about 4 cups of coffee per day. I love everything coffee or coffee flavored: ice cream, milkshakes, espresso beans, etc. For several weeks, I was going to Starbucks every day during my lunch break. I'm one of those people who can't function without my morning cup, and I'm not even sorry for it (maybe a little).
I'm actually struggling to get through this post without a cup in my hand.
List item #24, much like a few other bucket list items, can't be done in just one post. While I would love to visit all the local shops in one day and consume 14 cups of coffee, I think it's best for my health to split them up, one by one. Plus, I truly believe coffee shops are something that need to be experienced on their own. Each one has its own setting, specialties, and treats. Visiting all in one day sounds fun, but they will all get mashed together in one big caffeine frenzy.
First on the list is Southern Grounds, a new coffee shop located in Neptune Beach. According to the promotional material for its opening (which was only about a week ago!), Southern Grounds is "an amazing and warm spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, glass of wine or beer and some sandwiches and small bites."
I headed there Friday morning, as part of the 26.2 with Donna Social Shakeout Run (more on that in a later post). After parking near The Courtyard (if you don't live in/have never been to Neptune Beach, the Courtyard is a quaint little area with a bunch of shops like Southern Grounds), I realized that I had been there before...sorta. Southern Grounds is located in the same building where Lillie's Coffee Bar used to be. There's a small outdoor seating area, which is a quiet spot to have your coffee before the rest of the beach wakes up.
After walking through the door, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't smell like coffee. When I go to Starbucks, all I can smell is roasted beans. It was a little bizarre, but not a big deal.
Southern Grounds had 4 roasts to choose from. They were also really awesome and accommodating for our group of runners, and gave us free cups for coffee. I went with the House Blend, and then immediately realized that I hate House Blend, so I stuck with the Frequency Blend. The coffee was really good, especially with the cup of cream and sugar I added (whoops). I also added a touch of the El Diablo Dark Roast to top off the cup, which I think gave it a little more buzz.
I'm a baker, so I'm always interested in trying baked things from other places. Southern Grounds put out two trays of muffins and scones for the runners, which was a nice touch for those of us who chose to stay and socialize. I had a chocolate chip (the only flavor that matters) muffin, and it was pretty perfect. At my next coffee shop stop, I should try to order something a little different. Just, you know, still with chocolate.
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!