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?