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?

Doc’s Skincare Product Review- Sunscreen and Chamois Cream

It’s possible I have the most sensitive skin on the planet.

And living in Florida where it’s hot and sunny year round, that can be more than a bit of a challenge.  Sunscreen is absolutely crucial, but nearly every brand I’ve ever used causes my skin to break out in either adolescent acne, or a rash that can range from looking like bug bites all the way to chicken pox.

See?  This was the result of a bad sunscreen experience about a year back.

allergic reaction rash

Another “fun” side effect of having such sensitive skin is that products that are designed to prevent chaffage can also cause a rash or irritation that causes my bum to look more like a baboon’s than a normal human.

In fact, my husband has dubbed the effect “hyena ass.”  I’m not posting a picture of that, you’ll need to use your imagination.  It’s bad.

So when I interviewed Coner Mullervy for Trail and Tarmac and he mentioned Doc’s SkinCare chamois cream as being his absolute favorite, I decided to do a bit of research.

From Doc’s website:

At Doc’s Skincare, we’re committed to making the highest quality and longest lasting natural skincare products for serious athletes who demand the most from their bodies.

They just developed their latest product, a SPF 30 sunscreen, and are well known for their natural Chamois Cream,  that can also be used to prevent chaffage on other parts of your body.

Naturally, I had to try both.  Here’s what I thought.

Doc’s Natural Sunscreen

The Claim:  Broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection with safe minerals

Decrease your risk of sun damage, skin cancer and premature aging with the all natural minerals.  Doc’s Natural Sunscreen safely and effectively blocks damaging UVA & UVB using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Decrease your exposure to bizarre and harmful chemicals found in store brands.

Docs Sunscreen

What I Thought:

This stuff is absolutely incredible.  It’s a spreadable formula (rather than a lot of the sprayable ones on the market), that’s very liquid-y and absorbs easily.  The sunscreen is fragrance free, and the consistency makes it easy to apply, see where you’ve applied.  It blends quickly and doesn’t leave any sticky, oily, or crunchy residue.

I’ve used this nearly a dozen times now, on everything from short 30 minute runs to 3 hour rides.  Most recently I wore it this past weekend during a half marathon where I was outside for a total of 5 hours without applying (not recommended).

Not only have I not sunburned even once, but my skin has remained pimple free and not irritated in the least.

The best part?  This isn’t one of those sunscreens that makes sweat pour off of you into your eyes and then burns like hell.

I’m a sweaty girl no matter what, but this stuff stays put and definitely does the job.

Doc’s Natural Chamois Cream

The Claim:  Naturally formulated chamois cream with tea tree oil

Longer lasting, natural protection against chafing. No toxic chemicals that penetrate your skin. No petroleum-products to clog your pores and eat up your padded cycling shorts. Just safe, natural & proven ingredients to protect your butt and enhance your performance. Doc’s Natural Chamois Cream with tea tree oil is the chamois cream alternative with over 95% all-natural ingredients.  And this stuff is guaranteed!

Docs chamois cream

What I Thought:

I’ll admit, once I opened this bad boy up, I was skeptical.  One of the ingredients is natural tea tree oil, which smells a little medicinal and ever so slightly like a really mild Vick’s Vapo Rub, and I couldn’t really imagine rubbing that all over my lady bits.

But hey, I’ll try anything once, so on a particularly hot ride last weekend I slathered up and set out for 45 miles in the 90 degree heat.

The formula of this cream is just that, creamy.  It reminds me of a whipped shea butter type product, only not oily at all.  It was just slightly tingly, but not unpleasant, and the sensation went away almost immediately.

45 sweaty miles later I peeled off my favorite spandex tri shorts and inspected the goods.

First thing I noticed right off the bat, my bottom wasn’t nearly as red as it usually gets.  While I could still see where my saddle had been positioned, I wasn’t dealing with baboon butt right off the bat.

Where I REALLY noticed the difference though, was over the next few days.  Typically following a long ride I can expect some serious irritation on the nether bits that will sometimes even blossom into a bit of a rash complete with clogged pores.  After use Doc’s Chamois Cream, nothing.  My skin looked normal!

Not quite ready to shout their praises just yet, I’ve it three more times since, on rides both long and short with similar results.  The addition of this cream made for really comfortable riding conditions, and have kept my nether region in tip top shape from a chafing perspective.

My ONLY caution- if you are someone who saves your… ahem… bits, defiantly don’t apply it right after shaving.

That pleasant tingle?  Kind of a raging furnace if you happened to cut yourself and give yourself razor burn.

Otherwise, two thumbs up on this product!  I’ve also started using it on hot spots on the bottom of my feet, and under the strap for my heart rate monitor (typical areas that chafe a bit for me), and have had great results.

So moral of the story, if you’ve never tried Chamois Cream, TRY THIS ONE.  Chances are, you’ll love it!


So readers, now it’s your turn.  Do you suffer from hyena ass?  What sorts of products do you use to help with chafing?  Favorite brand of sunscreen?  Respond in the comments!

 

Repeat after me: It’s ok to take a rest day

rest day

My workouts have been awesome lately.  I’ve had several solid weeks of training, and have managed to fit in not only my runs in preparation for the upcoming half marathon I’ll be doing, but several rides, and weight training 5x per week.

My diet has been, uh, ok I guess, but given my activity level I’m getting away with eating a lot of things I normally wouldn’t and still maintaining my weight.  Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can probably tell you, gaining it back is among one of my biggest fears, so I’m happy that I seem to be holding pretty steady.

Yesterday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed just like every other day, but within about 10 minutes of getting out of bed my energy was zapped.

My entire body hurt.  I mean, I’ve been sore daily for the past several weeks and the level of ouch was about normal, but for some reason, yesterday it was hitting me particularly hard how sore I was.

And I was tiered.  Even after my usual cup of coffee in the morning I was still dragging, and just didn’t have it in me.

I made the executive decision to skip my morning Yoga class, and it was a good one.

By 3 o’clock I was ready for a nap, and my body told me without hesitation that I would not be riding that night.

I won’t lie, I tried to pep talk myself into it.

I mean, it’s only Wednesday.  I can’t skip a workout this early in the week.

And I ate rice with lunch.  RICE!  That’s carbs, I need to work that off, right?

And what about cross training?  I mean, riding my bike is great cross training for this run I’m doing and I don’t want to take a step backwards in my fitness, do I?

And oh my god, the CALORIES!  If I don’t workout how am I going to burn at least 500 calories over what I eat so I can continue losing weight?

So yeah, I’m more than a little crazy.  But after a few hours of playing this game with myself I finally said ENOUGH.

My body needed rest.  Even today, I’ve decided to postpone my long run for the week (9 miles) until tomorrow to give my body just a little more time to recover.

Sure, there’s a million reasons for me to train, but sometimes we also need to realize when our bodies are actually trying to tell us something.

There’s a definite difference between being lazy or unmotivated, and legitimately needing rest and recovery.  It took me awhile yesterday to realize and understand, I’m on the recovery end of that spectrum.

So the moral of the story for today, kittens, is that it’s ok to take a rest day.  Learn from my inner struggle and listen to your body.  It’s the best way to prevent getting burned out, prevent injury, and ensure that you love your training every day.

Anyone else have a hard time taking an unplanned day off?  How do you cope?

Does it still count as running if turtles are lapping me?

Here’s a surprise.  I can run over 3 miles and not pewp my pants.  At least, that appears to be the case so far.

On Wednesday, this happened:

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Now, I’m not actually sure that it counts as running since I’ve seen little old ladies in my neighborhood power walk faster than a 14:20 mile, but whatever, I got it done.

It was beautiful and sunny and a day that couldn’t be missed, and I was grateful to spend so much of it outside.  Sweating.   And smiling.  But sweating none the less.

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Why am I doing all this running, you ask?  (Or maybe you didn’t, but hey you’re reading and I’m enlightening so go with it…)

Because this girl is officially signed up for the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater coming up on April 11th!

iron girl

While I haven’t been posting about it much, I’ve been diligently following Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program for novices, and am really starting to get excited for the race.

While nearly 7 miles didn’t feel good by any stretch, it felt possible.  And even the last mile or two I was still jogging with frequent walk breaks.  My legs were tiered, but not completely spent, and I am starting to build the confidence that I will be able to keep moving forward for over 13 miles.

With just over six weeks left until race day, this is where things get serious.  My long runs increase a mile every week, so the next few weeks have me peaking at the 10 mile mark.  I’m also supplementing heavily with cycling, which is amazing for cross training my cardiovascular system while giving my knees and ankles a break.

And, of course, I’m still weight training every day.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt this strong and healthy. Here’s hoping before race day I also start feeling a bit fast.

My goal for this event is to finish in under 3:15 with a stretch goal of finishing in under 3.  The last time I did this event was in 2011 (good God has it been that long?!) and I finished in 3 hours and 47 seconds.  My cardio isn’t as strong this time around, but who knows what improvements 6 weeks will bring?

And let’s face it, I’m really just in it for the t-shirt and medal anyway.

iron girl medalAre any of my readers training for a spring race?  What are you running?  How is your training going?  Fill me in dudes and dudettes! 

March Goals

goals

Holy crap it’s March already.

Well, I mean, it’s almost March already.  It’s close enough that it’s time to take a minute and plan out my goals and decide exactly what I want to achieve for the month.

I’ve learned a lot of things along the way on this journey of mine, not just about weight loss but about overall success, and the most important thing is that I function better with goals and a plan.

Not having a traditional 9-5 job anymore means that I need to be especially motivated every day, and for me, the best way to do that is to have a clear idea of what I want to accomplish for the month.  From there I break it down into manageable chunks, and get it done!

March is going to be a big month for me from both a fitness and a professional standpoint.  I have my first official race of the season coming up on April 11th, so training will be particularly important, and I have a few professional ducks I want to get in a row to continue to advance my career as a health and wellness writer.

Here’s a break down of the big picture of what I’m going to accomplish next month.

March Wellness Goals:

  • Follow my half marathon training plan in preparation for the Iron Girl Clearwater 13.1 race on April 11th.  Generally speaking, this means 3 runs per week with my long run increasing in distance to 11 miles by the end of the month.
  • Maintain my strength training schedule.  Generally speaking this means 5x per week lifting weights.
  • Continue incorporating yoga a minimum of 1x per week with a stretch goal of 2x per week during the month.
  • On non-running days, ride my bike (2x per week).  The focus this month is continuing to build my base for the season, longest rides will be in the 40-50 mile range.  Continue to increase my strength, speed, and comfort riding with a group.
  • Continue to hone my nutritional efforts with a goal of a bit more fat/weight loss overall.  This means 5-6 meals per day to fuel my workouts, heavy on the veggies and protein, and no more than 1 “cheat meal” per week.  Booze no more than 1x per week.

March Professional Goals

  • Develop editorial calendar for my personal blog and post a minimum of 3x per week.  (Ya’ll may have noticed I’ve been slacking lately, and it’s because I have so much paid work coming in I get distracted).
  • Continue to work to develop my niche as a fitness/health/wellness/beauty blogger with a totally questionable sense of humor, and focus my personal writing in those areas.
  • Begin studying for and register for my personal trainer certification.  (As a fitness blogger, it would be awesome to have some creds to back it up, right?)
  • Explore other certification options that may be relevant to my professional development, and opportunities that might exist with these certifications (i.e., group exercise- are there opportunities to teach classes locally?  Yoga?  New OrangeTheory opening soon…)
  • Continue to grow my social followings with the goal of becoming a FitFluential Ambassador.  Goals- 50 more followers on Instagram for the month and 100 more on Twitter.  Do you follow me?  You totally should, I’m hilarious.  Check out the side bar to follow my pages!

While there’s a thousand more things I would love to accomplish, these are the goals I’ve set my sights on for March.

So now it’s your turn!  What are you going to accomplish this month?  Share your #1 goal with me, and upcoming race you have, or heck, anything else you want to chat about.

I want to know people!