Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am an Iron Girl! Race Recap: Iron Girl Half Marathon

I did it!  I did it!  I have completed my second half marathon and got a new PR to go with it!  It was humid, hot day, with a pretty although at times crazy course (three big bridges!).  
But let's go back a bit...
My mom, step dad, and I left midday Saturday and drove over to Clearwater.  We were hungry after the two hour drive and stopped at a deli to get some lunch.  Honestly, most of the food we had in Clearwater was not that great, just kind of blah so not much to share on that part.  Maybe we just went to the wrong places?  I don't know.  

The goodie bag contents with the cute race shirt!
After lunch we headed to Coachman Park for the expo and picked up our race bibs and goodie bags.  It was a small expo, but we walked around checking out the tents.  They had some very cute IronGirl gear, but I decided it was probably best to save my money for Chicago.  I also entered a few drawings, so maybe I will win something cool.  *fingers crossed!*  While there I stopped at the Athleta tent to say hello to Sarah Frey who is the Iron Girl Athlete Services and Marketing Coordinator.  We have been communicating a bit on Twitter and it was so nice to meet her in person.  She is super friendly, positive, and encouraging.  (Katy did a post on her blog about Sarah you should check out!)  
On the Hotel Balcony
We then headed over to the beach.  It is still Spring Break for some people, so it was crazy busy and touristy with lots of traffic, which was a bit of a bummer.  Not really my scene, I like a more quiet, relaxed kind of beach experience.  I have to say however, that the beach was quite beautiful - white sand and clear blue water!  

Later after another disappointing meal, we headed out to the beach again to sit, read, and watch the sunset, which was pretty awesome.  

After an OK night of sleep, considering I was in a bed not my own, we got up to get ready to run!  Luckily we were literally a block from start line, so we got to sleep in a little.  I had a bottle of water and Clif bar and got all of my gear together.  As we were leaving the room though I realized I was missing something, my knee straps!!  I went back in the room and quickly grabbed them so we could make it to the start.  Thank goodness I remembered it could have been a pretty painful run, if I had forgotten them!
My mom and I made our ways into the starting area and wished each other luck as we separated (she is a faster runner than I am so she went up further).  The race had only 1640 runners which was small compared to the 27,000 I shared the road with in the Disney Half (the recaps are here and here.)  Unfortunately there were no corrals, which would have been nice pacing wise.  But before I knew it the race had begun.  I started my Garmin a bit too soon, but other than that the race started well.  I was keeping a pretty good pace, in fact maybe a bit too fast to start off with.  I knew I would need the energy near the end of the race, so I tried to slow it down a bit.  The energy of the race got to me though and I was still going a little fast than usual. 
After the first mile the first big bridge was in sight.  I tried to run up it some, but decided to walk to the top and run all the way down.  I put in my headphones and listened to my playlist as I enjoyed the view climbing the bridge.  I felt really good for probably the first six mile of the race, my pace was on time for a new PR, and the course itself was nice as we ran by the water, a golf course, and pretty houses.  There were a few spectators along the course who cheered on us Iron Girl runners.  I was determined this time around to not stop to go to the bathroom or stretch unless I felt like I really needed too.  I know that was part of the reason the Disney half took some time to complete.  

I ate my Honey Stingers at miles three, six, nine, and twelve.  I tried to keep my run/walk ratio around 4/1 but it varied throughout the race depending on how I was feeling.  Some run segments were a little longer or faster.  I walked through every water station as well.  

As I was walking up the second big bridge some of the women around me, said, "Oh no!" and began to run and I as I turned my head to look back I saw the three hour pacer on our tails.  I decided to pick it up a bit and found a comfortable pace to run up the bridge.  I knew my pace had slowed some, but I was still on track for three hours.  The pacer, Ben, said he was a bit ahead of pace, so I continued forward.  I ended up chatting and running with him for awhile.  He was a nice guy and encouraged me to keep it up.  He eventually passed me, but I knew I was still OK for getting in around three.  (He had to stop twice to get back on pace again as well - I knew he was going too fast!)  
Miles 11-12 were kind of rough I was definitely feeling the time and distance in my legs.  I made an effort to focus on my music and said to myself that I could do this.  The last bridge   may have been the shortest, but I think it was the steepest and hardest.  I ended up walking to top, but pushed myself to get a good run down it.  The last mile was upon me and I made sure to run as much as I could for the last bit.  After one last walk break to prepare my for the finish line I gave it my all and ran through the finish.  I heard my mom and step dad cheering me on and I crossed the line with a smile on my face!  I slowed down to catch my breath, grabbed some water and had my medal put around my neck.  I looked at my Garmin and although it was off a bit because of the start I thought I may have finished very close to three hours.  
Sprinting to the finish!

I continued to walk and headed over to the medical tent to get some ice for my knees.  Then mom and I got our free breakfast bag.  I looked for the other bloggers who had run the race, but had no luck spotting them although I did chat with Sarah again.  We didn't hang out long after the race, because our check out was at 11AM.  I stretched when I got back to the room and after a shower we were back on the road home.  We stopped and got some Einstein's bagels for the trip as well.  I pulled on my compression socks and napped for most the way home.  

Once we got home I checked the race results online and found that I finished the race with a time of 3:00:18!  That is a new PR for me, which is pretty crazy considering the insane bridges on the course.  That is about 14 minutes faster than my first half time.  It kind of stinks that I was 18 seconds away from an even three, but I think I can beat that on my next half, because I have a feeling there will be another!  I am not nearly as sore as I was last time, but I do have a slight headache.  I am drinking lots of water and hopefully some food will help it.  Now that we are home my plan is to relax and catch up with shows on the DVR.  
I am an Iron Girl!
Congrats to all the other Iron Girl racers today!