Latest reviews by Deanne Avery

"Reflections on my first marathon - Asheville Marathon Race Recap - March 18, 2018"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

I did it!!!

Wow!! What a journey!!

I am still kind of in disbelief but I am a marathoner!!

I logged lots and lots and lots and lots of miles training for this marathon.

I did not begin my running journey to become a marathoner. That was never on my radar. I also never really planned to stick with running after my wedding (2014) either but here I am almost 4 years later still logging the miles.

As it turns out just three years after falling madly in love with my now husband I also fell madly in love with running! I have run 5k's, 10k's, 15k's, Half Marathons, a 25k and now I have added the Marathon to my list!!

In 2016 I ran the Asheville Half Marathon as my second half marathon. I ran the half marathon again in 2017.

As I approached turning 40 I decided that I would do the marathon distance in 2018 before I turned 40.

Asheville Marathon Weekend was highly anticipated and did not disappoint.

I had an AMAZING night at the Pre-Event Dinner where I sat with and enjoyed dinner and conversation with the guest speaker Mirna Valerio!! Mirna is seriously an amazing public speaker and her story is so inspiring!! She is so humble that I am not sure she fully realizes how inspiring she really is. She is one tough (hysterically funny) bad ass runner chick spreading her passion everywhere she goes!!

Saturday I had dinner with other runner girls at Vinnie's Italian Restaurant.

We stayed the night in Asheville the night before the Marathon which I highly highly recommend. It just makes everything so less stressful for me!

I have learned in my training that I need to wake up 2 hours before my long runs and this included the marathon. I got up super early, got dressed and had a small breakfast.

I had coffee, half a banana and half of a plain bagel!

I was so uncertain about what to wear. Throughout all of our training I wore the Skirt Sports Go the Distance Tights. On every single long run! I originally had planned to wear them. I also ordered a shirt from etsy that was Irish Green (fitting for St. Patrick's Day weekend) that said "26.2 is my Lucky Number" and I knew I would wear my custom green Knockarounds and of course my Crazy Compression Socks!! Race day was looking to be warm though and so I was not sure what to do. I packed my Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt and decided the night before the race that is what I would wear! I also threw in a tank top to wear under my long sleeve shirt just in case I heated up too much!

That morning as we headed out of our hotel room I decided immediately that I needed to go and change. I went back in, took off my skirt and put on my tights. I just was not sure how the skirt would do for me for 26.2 miles. I DID know for certain that the tights would do great because they had already on all of my other runs. I have run in skirts or shorts before for half marathons but this was different. This was a FULL. I am so glad I did change I had no issues at all with my clothing choice. I did end up taking off the long sleeve shirt at about my 22 and ran in the tank the rest of the way!

I also decided that I would carry my Nathan Hydration vest for the marathon. I debated this briefly but opted to go with and I am glad I did!! When training for the half I also carried my water in a hydration pack but never carried for the race. I actually wasn't initially worried so much about hydration; I knew there were great water stops along the course. I was most concerned about my fueling plan for the marathon. I had been following a very specific plan for my nutrition and I wanted to make sure I didn't steer off plan. I found however that I needed a lot more water than I think I would have taken at the aid stations. It was much warmer than it had been in my training runs and so I sipped on water about every 10 minutes. This pack has been great and I will continue to carry on my long runs! Life saver!!

Somehow I was not nearly as nervous as I typically am before a race. Usually I am fraught with emotion, nerves, adrenaline rushes, and bouts of fear. This time I felt fairly calm. I think this is the result of having so many incredible training runs all of which were beautiful and calm. I also think this is the best trained for an event I have ever been. I even missed one training run but I felt ready. I also did not set any lofty time goals which alleviated any self-inflicted pressure too. My goal was to finish and that's what I did!

We drove onto the estate and headed down to the start line! We hung out there for just a short time and then the crowd started to form and move toward the start line.

I thought briefly that I would start out with the 5:15 pace group. I asked the pacer what her plan was and she responded that she would be running a 3:1 interval. I have trained with a 5:1 and I decided I would stick to that plan. I ran fairly close to them for about 4 miles but then fell back and settled into my own comfortable pace. I may try out the 3:1 method for my next event and see what I think.

The weather was perfect, clear skies all day!

The first 11 miles were gorgeous as always.

At around mile 11 the marathoners split off from the half marathoners. There was a brief moment around mile 5 that I thought to myself "If this is too hard I can always drop down to the half". I actually do not know if that is an option or not, I didn't even consider that during any of my training. I was immediately disappointed in myself for thinking that and right away responded to that naysayer in my head with "no that is not an option".

As I approached this turning point I had the sudden realization that I was doing this!! I saw a girl I knew working the turn and shouted to her "decisions decisions" pointing back and forth between the two ways and she quickly shouted back to me "You've got this, marathoner’s turn left!” I cried... I'm crying again as I recall that moment. I hadn't anticipated the magnitude of the turning point. The point of no return.

It was in this moment that I gained great strength. I took a deep breath and committed to the finish.

This portion of the course is a portion of the property I had never seen. It felt as though I was sneaking into a secret forest, land less traveled, and it was spectacular.

Just a bit before mile 13 as I ran up a hill I saw two pigs to my left and I said hello. They perked up and called to me to come take a selfie! LOL! Seriously in that moment they seemed to be rooting for me (pun intended lol).

Mile 13... Half way there.

Miles 13 - 20 were pretty great. I felt good. I felt strong. The scenery was AMAZING! We ran through the Biltmore Countryside and Vineyards.

I ran the Dam Hill at around mile 16 or so.

At mile 20 I cried again. That was the furthest I had gone before. I acknowledged in that moment that each step I took from there to the finish would be new for me. I knew that I was pushing myself beyond what I knew into the unknown.

Just past mile 20 there was this incredible wall!! I cried more! I totally broke through and then kept on going.

The hardest part of the race for me was at about mile 21. We come to a crossroad just below the finish to run out away from the finish and then back. This was the longest 5 miles of the race! In part this could be because I had never run that far before and in part it was because I was so so close yet running the opposite way!

The day had warmed up quite a bit and I stopped for a minute to peel off my long sleeved shirt. It was 61 but I swear it felt like 81!

I was so happy to see some familiar faces out along that stretch cheering the runners on and encouraging me.

At around mile 24 I met up with a friend from Fleet Feet and chatted with them a bit and then pushed on ahead!

Mile 25-26 was the hardest. It was a long stretch that I could see and even though I was so close I felt so far away. I have realized this "thing" about myself that I plan to somehow work on (once I figure out how). I am finding that in almost all of my distance races I pull back during the last mile. I ran that mile 3 minutes slower than my average pace on every other mile. I walked A LOT of that mile. In hind sight I feel like I easily could have pushed myself just a bit harder and I typically feel the same way about each of my races. I slow way down in the last mile and I know I still have it in me to run on. Maybe it's actually that I don't want it to be over at all.

With less than a mile to go I caught up to another runner girl and talked to her a bit. She shared with me that this was her second marathon and I shared that it was my first! We talked and laughed and I cried some more lol!! As soon as we could see the finish we decided that together we would sprint in! I am not sure if I pushed her or if she pushed me but I sure am glad we found each other!! We congratulated each other and went on to find our people.

I got my medal and a blanket and headed to grab a beer. I saw a friend and went to sit with her to cheer in another friend!

I rang the PR Bell, had a Jell-O shot with friends and we grabbed more beer.

We went back to sit and cheer in the remaining finishers! It was a great day!!

After the race we grabbed pizza at a local hot spot Mod in Asheville and headed home.

The Asheville Marathon is incredible and will be one that I will run forever and ever!

Asheville Marathon truly was an amazing experience. I love everything about this event and now after having run the marathon I love it even more! I highly highly highly recommend the Asheville Marathon!! Join me in 2019 as I run the marathon there again!!

The marathon is magical. The marathon is powerful. I fully intend to do that again!!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
"Yeti or Not 25K ~ Race Recap"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

Oh boy… Where do I begin…

As you know I am in the midst of Marathon Training (and yes I think I am crazy too considering I had never run a mile before 2013).

I love talking to other marathoners for tips. Colleagues of mine, a father son duo, shared with me that they did a 20 mile race as one of their training runs.

That got me really thinking, 20 miles seems ridiculous to me and so doing that distance as a race might entice me. Having a reward for that kind of mileage like a medal, a t-shirt, food is pretty attractive. LOL! The only 20 milers around though are in the fall, perfect for a fall marathon but not so helpful for a spring marathon. In my search however I found the Yeti or Not 25K and my wheels started turning. It just so happened that I would need a 15 mile run that weekend and a 25K is 15.5 miles!

A few weeks later I saw a fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador share in her Strava Feed that she had run the course. I reached out to her to ask a little about the course and race and after hearing all she had to say I decided to sign up!!! I asked Carly to join me and she was undecided. The very next week another Skirt Sister offered me a free entry but since I had already registered I asked if I could offer to Carly!! Peer Pressure is sooooo much easier when there is a free race entry as the bargaining tool lol!!

All agreed and Carly was signed up to run it with me and I am soooooo glad she was!!

We decided that we were using this as a training run so we were NOT going to race it.

I as always figure out my race day gear and clothes the night before, see the list of all my gear (and more pictures) on my blog post!!

The forecast showed it was expected to be a low of 20 and high of 40, my absolute favorite temps to run in!

We planned to leave at 6:30 am. The event was about a 2 hour drive away. The race started at 10am and packet pickup would begin at 8:30am. I realized once we got into Hendersonville that I had left my Garmin at home!!! Ugggg.... Thank goodness for Strava!!

We got there and grabbed our packets. We got our bib, a Subaru shopping bag (which is awesome for trips to Aldi), a couple of flyers for upcoming races, a $10 off coupon for a running store and our long sleeve tech t-shirt. I’m not sure how I feel about the shirt it’s pretty thin and super transparent. I would not wear it without something else under it. Other than that it’s fine.

We hung out in the car for the next bit and then got out about 20 minutes before race start.

I did not get the normal pre-race gitters. I think because I had it in my mind that I was not racing.

We met a few new runners and chatted a bit (trail runners are freaking awesome) and then met up with our fellow Skirt Sister Laura.

We started the race and felt pretty good. The first five miles we kept telling our selves we needed to take it down a notch. Then we would tell ourselves to drop it down a gear. So on and so on. We were certain we did not want to race it. That was kind of tough because we let a lot of folks go on as we held back. I had to remind myself that this race was not a goal. The marathon is my goal. I did not want to risk a twisted ankle or worse that would interfere with me meeting the marathon goal.

The course was extremely hilly and technical for me I almost wiped out several times and I almost lost Carly down a small waterfall!!

The hills of the mountains are not like the hills of the Foothills/Piedmont. The trails of the mountains are not like the trails of the Foothills/Piedmont either.

The farthest I have run on trail has been the South of the Mountain 5K. So three miles on trail that is pretty cleared, flat and truly rolling compared to fifteen and a half miles of trails that are not cleared at all, rooty, rocky and hilly is a huge difference.

It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have done to date. I really had no idea what to expect. It took us 4 hours to complete. My last long run was 18 miles in less time than that!!

All that to then say: But I loved it!

I’m so glad we didn’t go out to race it. The course was breathtaking and I was able to fully enjoy it! I felt so connected to God and to self being out there in the woods. I felt so much energy from the tress and I could feel my lungs cleansing themselves in the fresh mountain air. There were several creek crossings and I felt a charge from the creeks and then as we ran around Summit Lake I felt a balancing effect and I felt completely refreshed. All around us as we ran we could hear the rushing of the water in the streams and waterfalls. It was incredible. DuPont State Forest has six or more waterfalls and it is this forest that we ran 15.5 miles!

Life is so symbolic, as I think about the roaring majesty of the waterfall I acknowledge that as I began my running journey running only one mile even she began her journey as only a small stream.

Toward the end of the run there were parts that I would run ahead a bit and both Carly and I would be in our own groove meeting up at intervals. I was running along and stopped a minute to make sure we were still staying close to one another when I saw the biggest most vibrant red cardinal. The cardinal swooped down and perched directly above me on a broken branch of a tree. He peered over to look at me.

I was too busy being still in his presence to take a photo but, as I sometimes do, this is my doodle of him watching quietly over me.

I stood there in awe at how close he was to me and I felt so immediately thankful to God for that moment. I felt protected, watched over, loved, remembered, and I was completely flooded with emotion. After a few moments the he flew off and immediately I hear this song beautifully in my mind:

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

I took a few minutes to walk and cry and collect myself before returning to my stride.

Mother Nature really puts me in touch with all the feels!

This race consisted of gorgeous trail, tons of hills, actually mostly hills and it was certainly a challenge. For anyone looking for a cool 25K I recommend giving it a go!

There is a cool medal at the end and some yummy soup too!

I am not sure if I will do the Yeti again or not. I am not sure we were really Yeti for the Yeti lol! I am so glad we did not race it. I think if we had we probably would have finished in 3:30ish. I know to never say never, who knows what the future holds but for now I am checking the 25K off my list and moving on to the next. I will say however that after completing this event and that course I feel like there isn’t anything I couldn’t do!

I really am loving this journey to marathon! My journey is not the typical "pile on the miles" journey. In addition to piling on the miles we are seeking adventure making it that much more fun!

The next journey awaits!!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
"The Most Festive 5K"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

The annual Night of Light 5K and Family Faith Run/Walk is a beautifully festive event that takes place in downtown Morganton.

The evening run takes place the first Saturday in December and is geared toward giving families a fun activity to participate in together while celebrating the holiday season and benefiting local nonprofit organizations. The open-race route begins and ends at FUMC, located at 200 N. King St., Morganton, NC.

Families are encouraged to come dressed in their most festive holiday-themed gear and join us for a holly jolly good time.

Awards are given to the runners who have the most festive attire. A competition also is held between local schools, which ever one brings the most participants will receive an award. Age Group and Overall Awards are also given to 5K Participants.

5K participants receive a long sleeved race t-shirt and a participation medal.

The race has the greatest post race party with so many goodies and yummy food and hold a great awards ceremony with age group awards and door prizes galore!

This race is a great way to kick off the Holiday Season.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
"Detroit Free Press Chemical Bank International Half Marathon - October 15, 2017 - Race Recap"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

So I shared the first part of our big trip and the first October race in my last post and then looooong pause... Ooops, again the days quickly slipped away! Here is the rest of my October story:

We drove to Detroit on Friday, went to the Expo, Ran the 5K on Saturday, toured around Detroit and then planned to run the 40th Anniversary of the Detroit Free Press Chemical Bank International Half Marathon on Sunday!

Since we would have to get up super early on Sunday we decided to stay in Saturday night. Kathleen's brother in law cooked for us and we enjoyed a pasta dish with some bread for dinner. It was delicious, he was a fabulous cook. I realized however after dinner that I had not taken in enough water that day and made an effort to finish off a bottle of water before bed. I also realized that I had not taken in enough water on our ten hour car ride the day before either...

I got my Flat Deanne ready and felt pretty good about the upcoming race.

We then went to bed to rest up for the race. I did not sleep very well and was up back and fourth to the bathroom quite a lot. I didn't think too much about that though because I tend to be nervous before a big event. I really do not "race" races so why I get so worked up I have no idea! Once I get to the race I am usually fine, I think it is the anticipation that gets me.

I had been worrying for a few days before the race about leg cramps. I had a colleague of mine suggest I grab a few mustard packs and I did. I had no idea how mustard might help but I was desperate to grab a few packs in route to Detroit just in case! I finally snagged a few at the Target down the street from where we were staying the day before the race.

That morning we got up, got dresses, drank some coffee, checked to make sure we had everything we needed, checked again to make sure we had everything we needed, checked once more to make sure we had everything we needed and then headed out.

The weather was looking quite questionable but we decided not to let that worry us too much until we got the URGENT: Sunday Race Update email. Ehhhh... Not much we could do about it so we decided to make the best of it! I had packed my rain jacket but decided not to take it. I decided would rather not have it and it rain a bit then to have it and it not rain and have to carry it for 13.1 miles. I figured I would find shelter if needed.

Kathleen's sister was a race volunteer so she was able to drive us pretty close to the starting corrals. It was such a wonderful bonus to have her sister there with us for these races! She was so much fun and such a tremendous help! She is a runner too so she just knew what we needed!

We got to the corrals and thankfully found the porta potties pretty quickly!! Both Kathleen and I were having some serious stomach issues. Making me wonder at this point if it was something more than nerves.

We then headed over and got into our corral. I could feel the energy in the air! I was perfect running weather to me cool but not cold. We anxiously awaited the start.

You know they had some Eminem paying through the streets! It was a pretty increadible experience.

There were 3,137 people running the marathon, 541 people ran the Marathon relay. There were 11,456 people who finished the International Half Marathon with me and 1,408 people who ran the US Only Half Marathon.

The Detroit Free Press stated that "A total of 26,377 people registered for this weekend's lineup of races"

We had decided since we both were feeling meeh to run a 5:1 plan, so 5 minute run and 1 minute walk. It was also feeling pretty muggy. We inched closer and closer to the start over the next 16 minutes or so before we got to the start.

Miles 1 through 3 were pretty non descript until we began to approach Ambassador Bridge!

At Mile 3 we were met by Border Patrol which was a bit intimidating. I was all like “OMG how cool is this, hi Boarder Guards” and they were all straight faced with their big guns protecting our countries. This is not exactly a photo op… Ooops…

We crossed Ambassador Bridge and entered into Canada! It was incredible!

Canada was great! Super friendly and encouraging of the runners, tons of crowd support!

Kathleen and I stayed together the first 5 miles but her stomach was really bothering her and she urged me to go on. I was feeling pretty good at that point so I kept running. I felt like I was at a pace I could manage the entire course despite my own tummy troubles.

Mile 7 through 8 was the underwater mile. I had no idea what to expect. I have of course never run an entire mile under water before... This was also our route back to the USA from Canada! It was interesting but super hot and muggy.

Another first for me was running in a half marathon, underwater between Canada and the USA with a dog!

How cool is this!! The underwater boarder!!

I have to admit I struggled in this tunnel so I was super excited to see daylight and fresh air!

Side note: Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt!

Back in the US and greeted by crowds of cheering people! It was overwhelming and unexpected!!

Another side note: As runners we need to ALL remember to THANK the race volunteers! They have this to deal with for hours and hours!

At this point I was going soooooo slow... I had debilitating leg cramps starting in the tunnel. I tried the mustard packs and by packs I mean I ate like four packs hoping for some relief and got NONE...

I took a LOT of walk breaks and even took several STOP breaks. At several points I wasn't sure I was going to finish.

Detroit Free Press warned runners of High Humidity in advance of the race.

Free Press Marathon officials warn runners to brace for high humidity

The fact that I am prone to leg cramping and always have been coupled with two days prior to the race not taking in adequate water and the high humidity this race was doomed.

Detroit Free Press reported after the race that "Numerous runners had to stop or drop out of Sunday's races amid the morning's unusually humid and warm weather in the low 70s. Some managed to reach the finish line, only to then require wheelchairs to make it through the chute. However, there were no reports of serious medical conditions."

Detroit marathon 2017

Luckily I was able to walk it out and I truly enjoyed the rest of the race! The experience was amazing!

There were small bands all along the route.

We ran through Mexican Town and Corktown.

Of course my all time favorite sign was this one! #8Mile

The finish was great! Again soooo many cheerleaders and people it was a bit overwhelming! After the finish there was a little way to walk grab your medal, walk a bit farther and they gave out marathon blankets, walk a bot farther and they gave a plastic draw string bag full of recovery fuel including water, banana, trail mix, bar, pretzels, etc. Very well organized. I grabbed my goodies and waited for Kathleen!

My finishing time for this race was my all time absolute worst but with all the times I had to stop and all my leg issues there is no wonder. I still had an amazing time. I highly highly recommend this race!!! If I lived closer to Detroit I would absolutely run this on again but chances are since I am so far away I wont. There are sooooo many races I want to run all over the place! If you are in Detroit, however, I suggest you give this one go! It was awesome!

We came, we saw, we ran!! On to the next!

Full review with more pictures at

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
"My very first Half Marathon! #runlikeadiva Divas Half Marathon Myrtle Beach Race Recap"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

What a sense of accomplishment! I completed my very first half marathon yesterday morning!! What a journey!!

I have shared before that before a race I typically have a bout of anxiety, actually my last race was a 5K and every time I thought about signing up for another race I just couldn't do it! I was afraid of that feeling. So on Friday, two days before race day the anxiousness showed up and started to settle in. My heart raced and my belly grumbled all afternoon and evening. Saturday morning I woke up bright and early, loaded the car and picked up my race buddies and set out for our 5 hour drive to the beach! I tried hard to hide my angst around my seasoned runner friends but the heart palpitations and nervous belly were in full force! Saturday night I barely slept and spent much of the morning back and forth to the bathroom... I was seriously stressing.

I was not stressed about the race it's self, I didn't register with the intent of winning. This was my first half. I had run long so I wasn't overly concerned about the distance either. I can't pinpoint what was working me up so much, maybe just the excitement of it all and the mass crowd that I was about to be a part of! After a cup of coffee I walked out side, witnessed the sunrise over the ocean and finally felt a calm come over me.

We all got dressed, geared up and walked to the starting line of the Divas Half-Marathon Race! I was blown away! This particular race had a 5K and a half. We arrived just as the 5K took off, there was so much energy, it was invigorating.

Run Like a Diva

We then got into corral with the other 2,160 half marathoners and within minutes we were off!

The first three miles I ran my heart out! I know now that I started off too fast! I was pacing between 8:54 and 9:34 for the first 4 miles (my 5K pace is right at 9:00) then I started to tire and slowed down drastically. By 6 miles I was at a 10:12 pace and around 11 miles I was pacing 11:17 and I finished with an 11:27 pace.

While I know I could have done better I am happy with this! I came in with a 2hr 30 min time which put me at 213 out of 444 people in my age division and 960 overall out of 2,160 half marathoners!!!!!! Top 50%!! For my first half that's not too shabby!! Especially considering I hadn't made it past a 10 mile run before this half!!

I realized by about mile 6 that my Runtastic, the app I have used for two years to map my runs, was off in distance. It started running ahead by .25 miles, then by .5 miles and at the end, at 13.1 miles my app said I had run 14.39 miles... Ooops... So what this tells me is when I thought I had run 10.35 miles a couple weeks ago (my last long run before this race) I had actually probably only ran 9.5! I have my Garmin now which is much more accurate and I am going to give Strava a try!

Now if I could have a do over, or at lease certainly for the next race, I will pace myself better and try hard to start out at a 9:30-10:00 min mile, actually it would probably be best for me to pace at a 10:00 min mile out of the gate and sustain that through the race. I used up a lot of my energy in the beginning where I wished I had saved it up for the finish!

In addition at about mile 10 and throughout the remainder of the race I had the most severe foot and calf cramps that I had ever experienced in my life! I had to stop several times and stretch and walk them out. It was excruciating, I am going to do some research to try and determine what went wrong here. Was I not hydrated enough? I did stop and almost every aid station for water and a couple of times I had Gatorade. I have been taking a Magnesium supplement and making sure I consume plenty of potassium. I am just not sure what I did wrong but I will work to figure it out! I also had issues with my IT band again but honestly dealing with the severe cramping was way worse! At mile 12 I wasn't sure that I'd even be able to run across the finish I was in so much pain. I rounded the corner however, saw the finish and ran for it!

Run Like a Diva

I completely expected to have an emotional finish, this was huge for me, but I was in so much discomfort that I couldn't feel much else! LOL! I earned that pain though and I am proud of it! I am so proud of this milestone in life! I never in a million years thought I would ever run a half marathon! April 2013 I ran 1 mile and here I am April 2015 running 13.1!!

Such a celebration at the end of this race!! Near the finish you are crowned and given a feather boa and at the finish your are donned with your Diva metal! I highly recommend this series if you haven't already done one! We had an amazing time! The metals were also awesome! Tiaras!! Such a blast!

Run like a diva

Login or sign up to leave a comment.