Monday, April 22, 2013

Iron Girl to the Core

I am so behind in updating my exciting race experience!  Life has completely gotten in the way of things.  So here goes.......

I was provided the opportunity to participate in this year's Clearwater Iron Girl race through the Tampa Bay Bloggers.  I did the Iron Girl 5K two years ago and had a blast so I was definitely looking forward to participating again this year.  I convinced my brother's girlfriend to run it with me too (knowing she'd leave me in the dust).  I had grand plans of really training for this race and blowing my RnR time out of the water. Well, let's face it, I'm a loser.  I might have ran once prior to the race.  And if I did, it obviously wasn't memorable or worth it.  So I went in to this event knowing that I was going to be HORRIBLE (which I was).

I opted to wait until Saturday to pick up my packet so I could scope out the expo.  Noah's been showing interest in running and races so I figured I'd bring him along.  We parked, walked to the expo, and figured out a game plan.  I went to get my bib first then Noah was distracted by giveaways.  I had to convince him I needed to pick up my shirt and bag first before we did anything else.  Once I got those 2 things, we headed off to have some fun.  First stop was the Athleta booth for awesome hair ties and poster making.  Noah wanted to make a poster for us, even if he wasn't going to be able to use it for the race.
Then we wandered around, picking up anything free he could get his hands on.  He might have picked up a racing bug!  His favorite booth, by far, was the Polar booth.  The boy snagged everything!  He even made me pour our bottle of water into his new Polar water bottle.  He asked if he could take a watch too but I quickly prevented that small case of theft from happening.
Shortly after, we headed back home.  Em was all shades of jealous since he got so much stuff.  I went to bed somewhat early knowing I had an early wake up call the next day.

My alarm went off and I started to get ready.  I was debuting a new running skirt and I was a little anxious about it (I'm blessed with thighs that touch and rub together.  I usually don't run in shorts because of it but I wanted a cute skirt.  I apologize to anyone who had to see my legs running around out there because I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight.  Plus I was reminded around mile 2 why I wear capris to legs were hurting so bad!!!!  I won't be wearing a skirt in a LONG time. Let's just put it that way).  But I was stoked to be rocking my Asics.  They're so bright!!!  I must have gotten a million compliments on them and my feet felt amazing!  My brother's gf picked me up and we headed down to find parking.  It was a little bit of a hassle but we managed to find a nice spot in a garage a few blocks from Coachman Park.  We parked, grabbed our gear, and headed down to the Park. Somehow I missed all the TBB girls (I'll meet you soon!) but the atmosphere was awesome!  That's the one great thing about women's only events.  There is so much excitement, inspiration, and strength present.  We watched the half marathoners take off.  Let me just say that the Fab 50 group was out in full force!  These women were unbelievable.  They're running races better than I am and I'm 20 years younger.  True inspirations!!!  When they called for the 5K runners to the chute, we started to make our way down.  We did run into a friend of my dad's who was there to support his wife and daughter.  It was nice to start the race with a familiar face.

We took our place towards the very end of the pack and waited for the start. This course was no joke.  Hills right off the bat.  I was feeling pretty good up until I turned the corner and saw the bridge.  I knew the bridge would be part of the course, I just didn't know how quickly it would get to me.  Or that we were literally running over it and then back over it again.  Note to self for next time.....practice this bridge a few times.  I made it up pretty good and going down it was a breeze.  I had the worst taste in my mouth so I grabbed a cup of water.  Well I tried to drink and run at the same bueno.  I almost choked so I stopped drinking right away and tried my best not to keep coughing.  From that moment on, I was a mess.  The way back up the bridge again was the WORST.  I didn't think I'd ever make it up there.  I did have to walk a bit too. But when I go to the top, I saw a familiar face, and that's exactly what I needed.  Meghan was supposed to run with us (well in the half) but was sidelined with an injury.  I think she's a rock star for coming out and supporting every one.  I needed to see a familiar face with a "you can do it...there's no more bridges" at that moment in time because I was about ready to quit.  I was ready to walk the rest of the way.  But I didn't.  I found some energy and finished up the race.
Yep...that's the bridge.  
I met up with Sharon and we ran into my dad's friend and his family.  I actually finished right behind his daughter and got to witness the cutest thing.  He saw her at the 3 mile marker.  He caught her attention, snapped a quick picture of her, and took off running towards the finish line.  He ran along the fence as far as he could cheering her on.  It was amazing.  And it gave me a little push to the finish. One day I hope that I'll have the same kind of cheerleader waiting for me at the end of a race.  (Yeah I'm talking to you Hubs.  I know you've been to both my half marathons but a 5K is just as important. Just sayin.......).  We said our goodbyes and headed to the breakfast tent.  While I couldn't eat the pancakes thanks to my gluten allergy, I did load up on the banana and strawberry toppings.  We sat in the grass by the pond and had a great breakfast.

Then we got a crazy idea.....let's go to the top of the bridge and take a picture.  Probably not the best idea we've ever had.  We tried our best to get there but realized that in order to get up there from where we were, we'd have to walk up a ramp that the half marathoners were coming down.  That just seemed like a horribly rude thing to do so we got as close as we could without going up.  Then we cheered on the runners for a while.  They were almost to the finish line.  Once again we saw all the Fab 50 gals who were just chugging along like it was no big deal.  I plan on being one of them in 20 years.  As we were leaving, the 2:45 pacers were coming up.  They kept telling the runners around them to pick it up and not finish after them.  They kept encouraging everyone around them.  I was so thankful for them and I wasn't even running.  Just to know that there are complete strangers out there wanting you to do better than you think you're capable of doing is just amazing.  These 2 girls were awesome.  I can only imagine what the other pacers were like!

While I am not happy with my time, I can't complain about finishing a race that had horrible bridge running.  I wasn't the last one to cross the finish line.  And it gives me a good starting point.  I'm determined to improve upon this performance.  I've already beat my time in one of my runs this week.  I know that one day I'll get into the time range that I want to be in.  I know I'll be able to run up and down that stinking bridge without stopping.  So until then, I'm just going to relish in the fact that I'm an Iron Girl to the Core!!!
Picture courtesy of Sharon

Disclaimer: I was provided an entry to the race in exchange for sharing my experience.  All the opinions are my own and I totally recommend this race series to any and everyone!!!!  


  1. What brand skirt did you wear? the only ones I can wear are lululemon. I hate how expensive they are, but have the grippies so they don't ride up!

  2. I'm so impressed with your running! I think you did a great job! Congrats! :)