IronGirl Clearwater Half Marathon Race Report

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This is the first race I’ve ever done where I slept like a baby the night before the event.

Granted, that’s probably because two nights before the event I went out with the hubs and got completely wine wasted, stayed up till 3 a.m., had to wake up for work at 6 that morning and didn’t let myself take a nap, but I digress.

All things considered, that was actually, apparently, a really smart idea.  I fell into bed the night before the race by 8:30, and when my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

The drive from my home to Clearwater was uneventful, and by the time I arrived and found parking, the sun was starting to peek out over the horizon and the day was shaping up to be a beautiful one.

Oh, and I had drank so much water and coffee that I had to poo and pee like, immediately.  So I made good friends with a port-o-potty.  And YAY, that was the only time I had to get friendly with that stinky receptacle for the day.  10 points for me.

This is what I look like at 5 a.m.  I'm smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.
This is what I look like at 5 a.m. I’m smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.

I had done this half marathon before, back in 2011, which was the first year they had it.  The course had changed since then, and I was excited to learn we’d be running along the water, and over and back two of the most beautiful bridges along the way.

Going into the race I knew there would be steep bridge repeats, four total, but I hadn’t really planned for how that last one beginning at the 12 mile marker would feel.

And honestly, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t think too much about it on the front end.

Starting line... 321 GO!
Starting line… 321 GO!

The race was amazing.  We started right on time, and within less than a mile the herd had thinned out and there was room to find your groove.  I even hooked up with a friend of mine, Erin, and we took a running selfie!  She and I hung together for a mile or two before her speedy needs got the best of her and she took off. Go girl!

This is what a running selfie looks like!
This is what a running selfie looks like!

All in all, the race was perfect.  Miles 1-10 felt amazing.  My 5k time was right on target of my goal pace, and my 10k was trending just a bit ahead of where I expected it to be.  My legs and lungs felt great, and I stuck with a cup or two of water at every aid station.  The course was beautiful, and the volunteers were amazing.

Mile 10 marked the first of the two return trips across the bridges.  On the way over I had run up each, but for the first time in the race outside of taking in some water, I slowed and walked up the bridge.  My heart rate stayed under control, but my quads were starting to really not love life.

Check out that view!
Check out that view!

This bridge is the steeper of the two, and after only about a half mile I was on top.  I enjoyed the view for just a moment, looking across the water to the next bridge that awaited me, and started running my way down.

By mile 11 my legs were questioning my sanity, and I started with run/walk intervals.  After checking my pace on my trusty Garmin I realized that I was on target to PR by nearly 10 minutes, if I could just keep my last two miles under 14 minutes each.  Given that I had kept well under that pace up until that point, I knew I could do it.

I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it's not even a bit blurry... what's that tell ya?
I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it’s not even a bit blurry… what’s that tell ya?

Then we hit mile 12, and you know how people say the “wheels came off?”  Yeah, I totally understand that saying now.  It felt like one minute I was chugging along and the next I was lucky to be walking.  My quads were cramping so intensely every step was actually painful to the point that I’m certain I cried out a few times, and the last bridge was really an exercise in will power.

Never once did I think I would quit, but it was absolutely hard to convince myself to keep going.

In the end, that last mile took me 25 minutes.  I didn’t PR, in fact, I finished about 8 minutes slower than the last time I did the race.

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My husband had been tracking me on my Garmin, and when I called him after I finished the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m so sorry!”

He fully expected me to be devastated, as I had been so close to a huge PR.

Funny this was, and is, that I’m not.  Sure, it would have been awesome if my increased strength, fitness, and solid training had resulted in a mile 1 to mile 13.1 strong and amazing race.  But it didn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m not super proud of my effort.

I haven’t raced in years due to a stressful work environment, and a ton of weight gain.  This is the first time since 2011 I’ve even been in good enough shape to consider doing a half marathon.

The last time I ran this race I did it “just to finish.”  This time, I actually trained and pushed myself to finish faster than before.

finisher medal

Clearly, there were some gaps in my training, and knowing that is going to make me even more prepared for the rest of my races this season.  But I’ve gotta tell ya, even with that last excruciating mile, I am damn proud of my effort.

So MEOW kittens!

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Did anyone else have races this weekend?  How did they go?  What did YOU learn for next time?


I got called “beefy”… and I liked it!

Holidays with my family are always interesting.  They usually start with Jello shots and Bloody Mary’s by 10 a.m., and once we hit the vodka soaked gummy bears with lunch, things quickly go downhill from there.

Though sometimes there are a few little gems that sparkle brighter than those darn twinkle lights on the tree, and this year it was my dad that totally rocked my world.

Prior to the holidays, I hadn’t seen my Sister since July.  Apparently, before hubs and I got there on Christmas Eve my dad and sis were talking about me, and the topic of my fitness came up.  When my sis had last seen me I had been doing Crossfit for nearly a year, but I know that in the last few months my body has continued to change.  It’s also been swimsuit season, and most every time I had seen my parentals had been in tank tops and bathing suits through the summer.

So as the story goes, my dad was describing my new physique to my sis and told her how “beefy” I was getting.

This was followed by saying I was “thick” and “strong” and “girl has some muscles.”

When my sis got a little bombed and recounted the tale to me, my dad was quick to jump in that he meant it as a compliment.  Little did he know, I thought it was about the most darn awesome thing that he could say about me!

So yeah, I’m beefy bitches.  Like that?  Because I do.


Would someone hand me my cape please?

wonder woman

You know what’s pretty sweet?  When you’re actually able to do something that means something with the fitness you’ve built.

Last night, after much deliberation and even more bitching and whining, I decided to join my cycling group for a ride.  I had bailed on a colleague/cyclist/friend of mine a few times, and didn’t want to be “that girl” again.  I also needed the spin to loosen my legs from the torturous lunges that had been inflicted on me that morning.

So I went.

Boy am I glad I did.  At about 10 miles in friend hit what we think was a large rock.  Or an armadillo humping a porcupine.  Either way, it did something not so good to his tire.  Usually, when there is an issue with a tire, it’s actually just a flat tube and is easy to change out.  We all carry spares and in 5 minutes can be back on the road.

In this instance, the monstrosity he hit actually ripped open part of the tire, causing an issue that wasn’t easily fixed.

He was a trooper and continued riding, even though there was this bulging thing happening and it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride.  But at 10 miles in, and 10 miles away from home, he didn’t have much of a choice.

At 15 miles in, on the ONLY sweet downhill we get on the whole route, it went from bad to worse.  The tire pretty much exploded, and while there were no fantastic flying-over- the-handlebars gymnastics, the bike was no longer rideable.  There wasn’t a tire repair kit in the world that was going to bring that back to life, and we were still 5 miles out from our cars if we went straight back, and 10 miles left in the usual ride.

*Cue superhero music*

I have a bike rack on my car that can hold more than one bike, and decided that if I wanted to call him a friend I couldn’t just make him walk 5 miles back with his flat tire and cycling cleats on.  I took off without the group (which is much harder riding), and rode the FASTEST 5 miles OF MY LIFE.

Every time my legs got tiered or I got a little gassed I just reminded myself that someone was stranded on the side of the road waiting for me, it was getting dark out, and he would undoubtedly do the same for me.

So I pushed on.

In the end, I averaged over 20 mph on those last 5 miles, which is faster than I am typically able to ride with a group.

And my friend didn’t get raped and murdered by some backwoods hillbilly that thought his spandex were pretty.

So it was a win win all the way around.