Five half-marathons, two 8Ks, and five 5Ks later, I have found my inner #fitfemale. I have challenged myself in ways I never thought possible. I didn’t start running until I was 36 and that was only for a bit. I played tennis and softball when I was very young, but I never ran in school. I was in band which meant I didn’t have to take PE, which thankfully meant no running. I used to joke that I would only run if being chased and I bet even that would not have been very fast.
That crazy idea I had at the end of 2011 to run a half marathon changed me. I thought I was crazy for wanting to do it, it would be a one-time thing and that would be it. Running my first half marathon at age 40 in February 2012 just seemed like a fun thing to try. I never imagined it would be the experience that it was and that of all things, I would go and run for fun. Every race since then has been just as rewarding.
Running has become a necessity. Of course there are days where it’s the last thing I want to do. But I know that it’s exactly what I need to do. As much for my well-being and my sanity as my waistline and health. It has made me stronger in so many ways. It has become a huge part of my most recent Weight Watchers journey.
When you run a half marathon, or challenge yourself to run every day of the month, or do bridge training week after week, you realize how strong you really are and how bright that fire is inside of you. You realize that anything is possible. In a world that is full of drama, chaos, and uncertainty, it is one of a handful of things I can control.
I take away something good from every single run, even the hard ones. It’s an instant mood lifter, a huge boost of confidence, and it has the ability to calm my anxiety and nerves. If something is bothering me and has me feeling overwhelmed, a good run will suddenly make anything seem possible and manageable. I wish my inner #ftifemale was around several years ago when I had to take an anti-depressant, but that was another time.
Yesterday, I had a first. I went for my afternoon run, 2.06 miles. And this happened… I ran a 9:48 mile. I have never run that fast. I may not run that fast again tomorrow or the next day, but it’s just another reminder that anything is possible.
If you think you can’t run, you are wrong. I am proof of that. Throw on those shoes and go for a run and see how it changes your life. It has changed mine.
Have you celebrated your inner #fitfemale? Or is there an inspirational #fitfemale you’d like to share with me? Also, be sure to visit the Fit Female Campaign over at WomenRaces.com to read posts and share your own!
Here we are, mid-April and my spring race season is officially over. It’s now 90 degrees outside and summer is here. Perfect time to give an update on my #11in2013 update.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about the races / runs I planned to do this year. Nine of them, to be exact, with the a tenth to be determined. #10in2013 because my goal for the year.
It seemed like a challenge, since three of them were in the same month but I was up for it. The day before Gasparilla, I decided to add in one more, the Sarasota Half Marathon, because I couldn’t resist the fabulous medal. When I registered for that one, I changed my goal for the year to #11in2013. And as of this past Sunday, I have 6 of the 11 completed. These four and a half months have been a whirlwind and also brought me a new half marathon PR!
01/12/13 – Glow Run 5K, St. Petersburg, FL – 44:16
02/02/13 – Best Damn Race 5K, Safety Harbor, FL - 39:21
02/10/13 – Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, FL - 3:02:53
02/24/13 – Gasparilla Distance Classic 8K, Tampa, FL - 1:05:58
03/17/13 – Sarasota Half Marathon, Sarasota, FL – 2:48:12 (PR!!!!!)
04/14/13 – Iron Girl Half Marathon, Clearwater, FL - 2:48:32
Another thing it brought me… Half Fanatic status! When I registered for Sarasota, I realized that three half marathons in 90 days was in my reach and as long as I completed it and Iron Girl, I would qualify. Three half marathons in 64 days, to be exact. I love the challenge of the half marathon distance and I think it may be my favorite race distance. Yes, I am half crazy.
I was so excited to receive the email with my Half Fanatic number…. You have to love an email that starts like this…
Nanci, at last you have found refuge, a place where you can call home, where the Fanatical can feel Normal again, and once again be treated like a normal human being.
Love it! I am Half Fanatic #3972 (Neptune), which is the lowest level, but still a Half Fanatic nonetheless. I earned that status. And, if I keep it up, maybe one day I’ll work my way up to the next level! Interested in learning more about Half Fanatics? Visit their website!
I am actually sad that all these races are done with and I am anxious for the fall to get here so they will start up again. Here’s what I have planned!
10/05/13 – 15th Annual Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure 5K
11/24/13 – Women’s Running Series Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, FL
11/28/13 – Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot, Clearwater, FL
- 11/30/13 – Pretty Muddy Mud Run 5K, Tampa, FL
- 12/??/13 – Color Run, St. Petersburg, FL
Do you like to plan your races ahead of time or do you just wing it? How many do you plan to do this year?
On Saturday, my friend Corinna and I went to the Iron Girl Expo to pick up our race goodies. Picking up race stuff never gets old…
What a great day yesterday was, even with the alarm going off at 4:30 in the morning. Even though I live close to this race, I still wanted to take time eating my typical race morning breakfast (English muffin with peanut butter, and a banana). I also knew I need to drink water early since it was supposed to be warm and humid. How many of you customize your iPhone alarm for clever sayings? So fun…
I parked not far from Coachman Park and walked over. It was still dark and I got a great picture of Memorial Bridge all lit up….
I met up with my friend Corinna and then we found some of the lovely ladies of Tampa Bay Bloggers for a quick group picture. We were missing a few but we it was still fun to get a picture.
Tampa Bay Bloggers
One of my blogger friends, Xi, wanted to start with me and run over the Memorial Bridge so she waited with us at the start line, in the back. One thing I have learned is that it’s best to start in the back because it’s going to be crowded anyway. Starting in the back lets the crowd thin out some.
Before we knew it, it was time to start and we were off! Just past the start line, I passed Janet and Patti, two fabulous ladies from the 3 Day crew. A quick hello and a hug and I kept on going. Around the corner, past the courthouse, and there it was… Memorial Bridge, my old friend. I was determined to run all the way over it. And I did.
After we made it over the bridge, Corinna and Xi went on their way and I got into a pretty good rhythm. Just after Memorial Bridge and Mile 1, I spotted pink at the first water station and saw the 3 Day girls. Carol was a welcome site with Gatorade and cheered me on as I ran by.
The run over the rest of the causeway, around the round-about, and along Gulf Blvd. went by pretty quick. I caught up to another blogger friend, Jina, and her friend Lori and we chatted for a few. Just after Mile 3, I got ahead of the 3:00 pace group and I was determined to stay ahead of them. As I approached Sand Key Bridge, around Mile 4, I walked for a minute, knowing that beast of a bridge would be harder. And it was, but I ran all the way to the top of it, walked for a minute, and then ran down it. Two bridges done.
I was not really a fan of the run through Sand Key Park, I much more preferred running along Gulf Blvd., so I was happy when I finally made it back out there. We continued to head south for awhile and then turned around to head back again just before Mile 7. I made a pit stop at the porta-potty knowing I would be better off if I did, not having to think about it anymore. Around Mile 9, we approached Sand Key Bridge again. Again I walked for a couple minutes and then started to run up it. I gave it everything I had running up it but I only made it up about 3/4 to the top and had to walk, otherwise I was going to not make it at all. That really is one beast of a bridge. Finally to the top, I ran down and got back into a good rhythm of running with short walk breaks as we worked our way back towards Memorial Causeway.
At Mile 11, I hit a wall and it became a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge. I was already thinking about going back over the Memorial Bridge and I ended up walking a lot of the causeway. I knew I was still ahead of the 3:00 pace group and would finish just under 3:00.
Just before Mile 12, I spotted the wonderful 3 Day crew again, and again took a cup of Gatorade from Carol. She told me I was doing great and that was a nice little push to finish strong. I was hurting at this point but I was going to try my best to run up one last time. I hit the bridge running and made it up about a 1/3 of the way and had to walk. I was swearing at that damn bridge. I ran a couple more times as I worked my way up it, remembering all the times I went out there for bridge repeats and never gave up then. FINALLY, I made it to the top and then ran all the way down, not finishing until I reached the finish line.
My mom was ahead of the finish line, cheering me on. It’s always nice to see someone you know out there supporting you. Thanks Mommy!
I tried not to look at my watch the last mile but when I crossed the finish line, I knew that I was really close to my time for Sarasota Half Marathon last month. And for the first time ever, I didn’t cry crossing the finish line. It’s only taken me 5 times for that not to happen. I was happy, tired, sore, worn out, and very proud of myself. And I was wondering how close I was to my last time.
Corinna found me, she had finished a few minutes before me, and we drank water and took photos. As we were leaving, I checked the cool Iron Girl app for my finish time and it finally showed up… I finished 20 seconds slower than Sarasota. 20 SECONDS! This was amazing to me. Sarasota was a clear, cool morning and only one bridge. Iron Girl was a warm, humid, windy morning with 2 bridges and I still had a great time. I can’t even explain how proud I am of myself. I was also wondering what my time would be if it was a flat course… Thank goodness my next half is almost flat, I can’t wait to see what my time is then.
This one was HARD, the hardest I’ve done to date. If I had not done bridge training, I’m not sure how it would have played out. But I was ready and excited for those bridges… I was fine going over them the first time, the second time was significantly harder. I did the best I could. And now, I am an Iron Girl!
My split times are pretty good. Bridges in Mile 1, Mile 4, Mile 9, and Mile 12 didn’t affect my times too bad… It sure felt harder than it appears in numbers.
Even more exciting? Completing the Iron Girl qualifies me as a Half Fanatic for completing 3 half marathons within 90 days. See, I am crazy!! More on Half Fanatics once I get that all squared away…
Don’t ever think you can’t do something. I am living proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to. If you had told me last year after completing my first half marathon that I would keep doing them and even do 3 in 3 months time, I would have told you that you are crazy. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything!
What is the hardest half marathon or race you’ve ever done?
When I signed up for the Iron Girl Half Marathon I was already thinking about the bridges that would set this race apart from any other I had done. Not just one, but two big bridges. I had walked them before, but I had never run over them. I openly admitted that I was afraid of those bridges.
At the beginning of March, I decided it was time to tackle those bridges and that started a weekly workout that I hope to continue. Hubby and I went out to Memorial Bridge 5 times and Sand Key Bridge 2 times over the last 5 weeks. We would run the full length of the bridge, over and back, 3 times. The very first time at Memorial Bridge set the tone for every other time. We walked and ran it and, being totally honest, I huffed and puffed my way over that bridge. It was hard. And then I started to question how I would handle the Iron Girl because of that. Those thoughts turned into determination and each time we went out there, I got stronger and better and by the time we finished up this last week, I was *almost* running over the whole thing. Our times got better and better each time, with the exception of the last time thanks to it being hot and humid out. Ironically, that is how it’s supposed to be on Sunday for race day.
Sand Key Bridge
I am the worst at following any kind of set training plan, so the fact that I kept up with this over 5 weeks is huge. Things always have a way of happening or getting in the way when I try to make a plan but this worked out well. We would go on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday after work. The Wednesday ones were harder since it was after working all day and for the most part, warmer than the morning runs.
I am also thankful to hubby for going out there with me. I told him he didn’t have to, but he stuck with me the whole 5 weeks. He pushed me when I needed it and reminded me every time that I could do it. Thank you, honey!
So, I think I am as ready as I’m going to be for Sunday. It’s supposed to warm and humid with a good chance of rain. This will be the warmest race I’ll have done and the hardest. But I am going to give it every thing I have. Here’s the route for the race…. It starts and ends at Coachman Park, over the causeway, along the beach, over Sand Key, and then back. Bring it on!
(Source: Iron Girl)
Are you running an Iron Girl event this year? Tell me where and what kind of training you’re doing!
With the Iron Girl this weekend here in Clearwater, I find myself in the midst of yet another race week and as with every other one I’ve done, I’m so excited. In all honestly, I didn’t think this type of excitement would go on forever. I figured the first few races would and then the excitement would die down a little. That is so not the case for me.
The Iron Girl Half Marathon will be my 6th event for the year and my third half marathon. Who am I? When did I become this person who loves to get out there and run and sign up for races? Years ago, if you had asked me to run, I would have laughed. I swore the only way I would have run was if I was being chased. I used to be a walker, I would walk my heart out 5 days a week. I enjoyed it and it was what I needed at that time. In 2006 I temporarily became a runner. I was losing weight and it was easier to run. I eased my way into it and realized I could do it. But it wasn’t the same then as it is now. I didn’t crave it, I never signed up for races, and I didn’t feel the need to talk about it all the time.
In 2011 I jumped back into it, completely out of shape. It became my therapy and for the little bit of time I was able to do it, I enjoyed it. I slowly worked my way back into it. At the end of 2011, I decided it would run a race. I had no idea that it would lead to this.
I signed up for a small local 5K with my friend Terrie and we did it together. I huffed and puffed my way through it. This was weeks leading up to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, which Terrie was also doing and we were spending most Saturday mornings walking together to get ready. Neither one of us was prepared to really run it, we just wanted to finish it.
I will never forget my first half marathon. I was all kinds of nervous the morning of, wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. But I got totally wrapped up in the excitement of it and gave it my all. Somewhere along the way, I knew I wanted to run more of it than I thought. I finished 19 minutes faster than I guesstimated I would, cried I don’t know how many times during the race and as I crossed the finish line, and I don’t think I have ever been so proud of myself as I was at that moment. I was in pain, I hurt so bad, and I was already wondering when I could do it again.
My next race was just three weeks later, the Gasparilla 5+3K, also with Terrie. I loved that we were doing these together and cheering each other on. I was just as proud of her as I was myself. It was another great event and I knew that I wanted to do another and do better.
In the fall, I did my first mud run ever and my second half marathon, after dealing with sciatica. It had been my goal since the minute I crossed the finish line of my first half, to beat that time at my second. That didn’t happen but I was just so proud that I finished after being injured. I was also happy to know that the thrill of doing a half was still there.
2013 started with the Glow Run 5K and the Best Damn Race 5K (on my birthday!). Then I came full circle, running the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon again. This year, I was determined to set a PR, and I did. More excitement, more living in the moment and being so proud of myself. I did the Gasparilla 8K again this year, and then I was randomly signing up for the Sarasota Half Marathon because of the amazing dolphin medal. Oh yeah, and this one had a bridge. Days before, I told hubby that it was just my goal to finish, that the bridge was really going to mess with my time and I’d be lucky to get in under the 4 hour time limit. I never in a million years expected to PR at that race. Never. Another proud moment, more crying, this time with less pain afterwards.
And now here I am, just days away from my 5th half marathon in just over a year. Still just as excited as every other one. And this one I’ve actually put some training in for, running the bridges a couple times a week, determined not to let those bridges get the best of me on race day. Hubby has been a trooper, keeping me company and pushing me a little more and more each time.
I run for stress relief. I run to get in shape. I run to feel better. I run because I love food. I run because it’s cheaper than therapy. I run because I can. I run because it makes me feel strong. I run because i t makes me proud.
Slowly but surely I have convinced myself that I am a runner. I. Am. A. Runner. No, I don’t run a 10 minute mile and no, I don’t run the whole time. But I’m getting more consistent with my pace and I’m running more than I walk. I am tackling the bridges to prove that I can. I’m getting stronger and better. And I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
After Sunday, I’ll officially be an Iron Girl. I’ll also be a Half Fanatic for having completed 3 half marathons within 90 days. It’s a wonderful thing to be proud of yourself, and most of all, it’s a huge motivator to keep going…
Why do you run? What motivates you? Tag #irunbecause and share!