I have to start this post by saying that running a half marathon after *not* running for three weeks is not the smartest thing to do. I do not recommend it. But, I was registered for it and despite my lack of running prior, I was very excited about it.
Iron Girl is in Clearwater, very close to my home, and the course follows just about the same route I run on Sundays. It starts in Coachman Park, up over the Memorial Bridge and causeway to the beach, over the Sand Key Bridge, into Sand Key Park, then south on Gulf Blvd. for a bit before turning around and heading back again. Of course, this means that we have to run back over those same bridges to get to the finish line. It’s a bit of a challenge.
We lined up at the back of the start line and waited. I saw my friend Jessica fromTampa Mom Runs and we chatted for a minute. She was running with her adorable mom – how awesome is that?
Corinna and I started the race together before I took off over the first bridge. I knew that my run to walk ratio on this one would be very different, so I just went with it. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. I heard a women behind me at one point talking about how she met her time goal earlier this year and since then she’s been having fun. I realized that is exactly how I need to look at this race, my 10th half marathon. I had already PR’d twice this year with times I had never imagined, so I was going to have fun with this one and not worry about my time. Best decision ever.
I took a photo of Clearwater Beach as I ran by. It was a gorgeous day out, although a little warm. This is one of many reasons this is such a great course…
I made it over the Sand Key Bridge, also running it all the way over. Once I got into Sand Key Park, I knew I was going to have to make a pit stop at the bathroom. Rarely does this happen to me but my tummy was not happy and I was thankful there was a real bathroom in the park. When I came out of the bathroom, I just happened to see Corinna run by – perfect timing! I had been watching for her since I left her on Memorial Bridge but never spotted her. We would stick together the rest of the race and finish together.
From this point on, we did run / walk intervals. Corinna’s knee was bothering her and my foot was not happy with me. But we talked up a storm and that’s always fun too. When we finally headed back over the Memorial Bridge and made our way to the finish line, I think we were both ready to be done. I had fun but my foot was ready for me to stop.
I also wanted to mention that the Best Damn Race cheering squad was on the Memorial Bridge. Hubby joined them! It was nice to be cheered on in both directions on the bridge by the Best Damn cheering squad. Thanks to Jackie for letting me use this great photo she took…
As we approached the finish line, I saw Jessica again, as well as my friend Jackie who attends the same WW meeting that I do. She had run the 5K, so congrats to you Jackie! I was thankful for her because she took photos of us afterwards and it was fun to see her outside of our meeting. She’s been running and wants to build up to a half marathon. I know she can do it.
I ended up finishing a minute slower than last year and I am a-ok with that. There was a lot of walking, it was hot, and I was not prepared for this one. But, I had fun. I love this event and the course and can’t wait to do it again next year! The medal this year is so pretty and colorful. I love adding medals to my collection. And this one has my favorite bridge on it. Can’t beat that!
Rarely do I like the professional race photos. I’ve only bought a few when I first started racing. I tend to look like I am in pain or not happy when I’m running and that is far from the case. But this time, there are two that I absolutely love. The one of me waving at the finish line (to either Jessica or Jackie) is probably my most favorite finish line photo ever. This photo represent exactly how much I love to run. It just makes me happy!
It’s hard to believe I’ve completed 10 half marathons now. It seems so long ago that I did my very first one, but it was just in March of 2012. I’ve changed so much in these two years of racing. I decided to do a side-by-side photo of my first half and tenth half, and that change is evident. Besides the obvious difference in my weight, running all these half marathons (and other races) has brought about a self-confidence that I didn’t have before. Completing a half marathon is a big deal. Completing ten of them is an even bigger deal. I am so proud of myself.
So what is next? I am done with races for the spring and summer now. But I will continue to run and in July, I’ll start training for the Space Coast Marathon. The idea of running a full marathon is still very surreal to me, but I know the girl on the right in that photo can do it. Ten half marathons has proven this to me.
**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary entry to Iron Girl Clearwater – all opinions shared are my own.
How many half marathons have you run?
Sometimes, it seems like just yesterday I ran my very first half marathon. And all of a sudden, I am getting up at 3:20am on a Sunday to drive 60 miles to run my 9th half marathon. How did that happen? I’m always pretty competitive with myself and have some sort of goal in mind, usually with the hope of a PR. But after celebrating PRs at my last two half marathons in just the last 6 weeks alone, and then not running for the last two weeks, I knew this one was going to be for fun. I love the course and the views for this one. I also had the memory of this one being the first race last year where I finally broke 3 hours for a half marathon. After picking up my shirt and bib on Thursday, I was very excited to run this one again. I love the shirt and the colors!!
I arrived early enough to find a free parking spot not far from the start / finish line, which is located at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, right on the water. You can see the John Ringling Causeway in the distance. I am partial to races along the water, so I just love this.
I had plenty of time to walk around and take care of business before the start. Thankfully there were plenty of port-o-potties. I also ran in to my friend Caitlyn before. We joked that we were both tired and not really ready for 13.1 miles, but we were going to do it. Just before it started, I also ran into Meghan and Nadine, who were running the relay. The race started just after 7 and we were off. Once again, I decided to not listen to music and enjoy the surroundings. The course heads south on Tamiami Trail and then over the John Ringling Causeway. This might be my favorite part of the course. I love running bridges, however hard it may be, and I looked forward to running around St. Armand’s Circle. After St. Armand’s Circle, as I was approaching the causeway, I caught up to Caitlyn. It was shortly after that I took my first walk break. I always try to run at least 4 miles before I walk because I feel like once I take a walk break, I want to take more. I was very happy to catch up to Caitlyn and we ended up running for about 4 miles together. It was fun to chit chat with her and the time passed quickly. Around mile 8, I ran ahead. The course took us past the Ringling Museum of Art and through a beautiful neighborhood along the water. I took several more walk breaks during this time. The sun was high and bright in the sky and it had warmed up quickly. I also had Gatorade at each hydration station, in addition to the water I had with me. Between Mile 11 and 12, I had this amazing view and I stopped to take a picture of it. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and I really don’t think I will ever get tired of such views.
Finally – FINALLY – I made it back out to Tamiami Trail. A very nice woman, who’s name I forgot (!!), was along side me as I was taking a quick walk break. She said we should run it in together. We did just that, talking for a little bit, and then when I turned around to thank her after we crossed the finish, she was gone. Runners are so friendly, I always enjoy that. I was ready – and happy – to be done. My time was far from my last half marathon 2 weeks ago, but it was still better than this same event last year. Regardless, I was very happy with how I did and my time. We can’t PR every time, and I enjoyed running with Caitlyn for several miles on this one.
After calling hubby to let him know how I did, I caught up with my fellow Best Damn Race Ambassadors so we could all go to breakfast.
Beth, Meghan, Katie, Me, Haley, and Nadine
Katie, Me, Nick, Haley, Meghan, and Nadine
We also took a Tampa Bay Bloggers photo since so many of us ran the race. Clearly, we love photos. I think we’re a fabulous bunch.
Beth, Meghan, Me, Caitlyn, Haley, Chrissy, Denise, Brad
Me and Caitlyn
I am very happy with how I ran and finished this race. It’s a great event, I love the shirt and medal, and the camaraderie is priceless. And here are my official results…
What is your favorite thing about running races and the running community?
**Disclaimer: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers network, I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared are my own
It’s been a whirlwind of races the past month. Between Best Damn Race Safety Harbor, then Gasparilla Distance Classic, and then Best Damn Race Orlando, I’ve been a busy little runner. The past week and a half though, since Best Damn Race Orlando, I have not been running at all. My back has been telling me to take it easy, and I have been. But I am itching to run. And even more so, I am so excited to run the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay this Sunday!
Last year I ran the Sarasota Half Marathon on a whim, after seeing the amazing dolphin medal. Besides loving medals, I love dolphins and when I saw the medal that was up for grabs, I knew I had to make it mine. I knew the race had a BIG bridge but I didn’t care. I was training for Iron Girl and figured if anything, it would be a great training run.
What it turned out to be, was the first half marathon I finished under 3 hours. I was a sweating, crying mess when I cross the finish line in 2:48:12, so darn proud of myself. It will always be a favorite running memory of mine.
I knew I had to do it again this year. It’s a beautiful course and there is another great medal with a bridge and dolphins. How could I pass this up?
I also know many runners who will be running this. That’s another thing that makes these events so fun…. Seeing your running / blogging friends who enjoy the events as much as you do!
This will be half marathon #9 for me. I’ve PR’d the last three that I’ve run. I am going to run this one for fun and enjoy the course and see what happens….
Will I see you out there? Let me know if you’re running!
This past Saturday morning, our alarm went off very early…. At 3am to be exact. hubby and I were headed to Orlando for the Best Damn Race. I was running the half marathon and hubby was running the 10K. I was very excited to take part in this event in a new city.
Since first running the inaugural race in Safety Harbor in 2013, I have been a huge fan of this event. I was even more thrilled when last year, I was selected as a Best Damn Race Ambassador. Seeing it grow and going to another city was a lot of fun. One of the reasons I love this event is because it is put on by a runner, for runners. The race director, Nick, puts his heart and soul into it and it shows.
So, despite the early hour our alarm went off, I was excited to hit the road and run 13.1 miles on a new route. It was still dark when we arrived in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola Park and we picked up our race packets and had time to walk around and visit with others before the race started.
The Best Damn Race Director, Nick Katy of www.katywidrick.com
The race started and ended at Lake Eola Park. What a pretty setting it was and on a gorgeous day! It was a crisp 52 degrees when we arrived – perfect weather for running. The sun started to come up just before the 10K started. I saw hubby off and then waited for the half marathon to start 30 minutes later.
Before I knew it, it was time for the half to start, my 8th half marathon. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to listen to music or not, I haven’t in awhile. I decided I definitely didn’t need to, I wanted to enjoy the new-to-me route and the scenery. It’s also fun to listen to other runners.
Since I just ran the Gasparilla 15K and 8K the weekend before and my legs were still tired, I didn’t really have a time goal in mind. I knew I finished in 2:18:59 at Best Damn Race Safety Harbor on February 1st, and it would be great to beat that, but I knew it would be tough. Ultimately, I wanted to finish under 2:30 as a worst case.
The first couple of miles were along cobblestone streets. This can be tricky to run on and I have to pay attention to my footing to make sure I don’t’ twist my foot or step wrong. I ran the first 4 miles without a walk break, feeling great. I grabbed some Gatorade at mile 4 and then took off running again. We rounded the corner and under an overpass and then saw we would run around Lake Underhill. This was a really pretty view and it was neat to see runners as they made their way around it. I should have taken a picture, but at the time I didn’t think about it.
During the run around the lake, I also made my way up to the 2:15 pace group. I couldn’t believe it. I stayed with them for about a mile and then they got ahead of me. I would end up keeping them in my sight the rest of the race but never caught back up to them.
After rounding the lake, we made our way through a residential neighborhood and passed right along side those ahead of us, back tracking. It was here that I saw Meghann (Meals and Miles), Michelle (Crazy Running Legs), and Haley (Running With Diapers). It’s fun to see other runners that you know, wave and say hi, and get a little encouragement.
By this time, I had taken several walk breaks and my legs were killing me. Every bit of the 14.2 miles I ran the weekend before had caught up to me and I was so sore. I knew I had to listen to my body and walk if I needed to. There is no shame in that. Besides, I wanted to be able to finish strong.
Around mile 9, I looked at my watch and did some math to see how far off I would be from my Safety Harbor time. I knew the 2:15 pace group was ahead of me and I had no idea how far behind me the 2:30 pace group was. I was just thankful that they remained behind me the whole time. It was here that I realized, unless I was completely screwing up the math, that I could possibly beat my previous time, even if just by seconds. This helped to light a fire under me and I tried to walk less and run more.
Just after the 10 mile mark, we merged with the 5K runners. I joked with a couple of women running beside me how fresh they all looked compared to us. They were also moving much quicker. This, of course, was a little pick me up and got me moving a little quicker.
The final long stretch along South Street was fun because it was downhill and we could see the skyscrapers. There were spectators along here, and the closer we got to the last two turns, it was louder and louder. Finally, I rounded the last corner and saw the street lined with spectators. The finish line was in view and no matter how many times I’ve run a race, that just never gets old. It is so exciting to see after you’ve been running your heart out for a couple hours.
I also knew by this time that I had definitely beat my last time. I was a little worried by how much though because the mileage on my watch was off. I just hoped that my time was close to the chip time at the end.
I ran across the finish line with all my heart, excited by another PR. There is nothing like that feeling. I hurt, I ached, and I was starving, but I did it. Half marathon #8 was complete and most exciting of all, I would get to ring the PR bell again! I beat my last time by 2 1/2 minutes!
I was also very excited to learn that hubby did awesome on his first every 10k! I was super proud of him and so glad that he took part in this awesome race with me. We were also able to take some great photos on Lake Eola. It could not have been a prettier day…
I am very happy with my time and pace on this one. The first six miles were obviously my best and I knew that. To run in the 9’s is huge for me. It felt comfortable and was not a huge struggle to do it.
I can’t say enough about this event. I will absolutely run it again in 2015. I look forward to seeing it grow and will enjoy running the great courses and enjoying the great perks it offers runners. Thank you Best Damn Race for two wonderful races this year!