April 15, 2013

Iron Girl Half Marathon, Clearwater, Florida, April 14, 2013: race recap

Oh, Iron Girl Half Marathon. You made me nervous from the beginning. I worried about your mid-April race date and the set of two bridges I'd need to go over twice. Yeah, you had the potential to be a sweaty, hard mess.

Guess what? You were.

This was the most difficult half marathon I've ever run. I ran an extremely similar course in January, but it was, oh, 15 degrees cooler or so.

Race day was Sunday. GAH!

When we arrived a little after 6 a.m., we could feel the heat (and the humidity).

Me (and my shiny, sunblock face) and my running buddy, Lori

I was already really nervous for some reason (well, I guess that reason was the heat and humidity), and I really, really wanted to drop to the 5K (I don't even know that I could at that point, but it was fun to think about). You know I had to be super-duper nervous if I wanted to switch to the 5K. That is definitely not my favorite distance.

My nerves hit hard. After running seven half marathons this race season, you'd think that would have gone away by now (my last of the season). I think I was more nervous for this half than almost any before (even after training for half marathons since August and doing bridge-specific training for this race). I'm an irrational girl.

But, shortly, I found myself lining up for the half marathon start.

Mile 1 was difficult. It includes running up a gigantic bridge, and I felt the sweat quickly after beginning. I am proud to say that we did run up this entire thing.

The downhill and following miles made things seem a little better. Still hot, but manageable.

When anyone asked about my goal for this race, I said: "Just survive." I wasn't going for a specific time (neither was Lori, thank goodness), so we just wanted to complete this thing and end on a positive note.

We stopped at every water stop. Not stopping was not an option.

We ran up that second monster bridge before mile 5, and I think it was worst than the first, but we ran up the entire way. Woo-hoo.

Around mile 5, Lori stopped for a restroom break (in a nice beach restroom — good move on her part). We kept moving along after, but we felt like something weird happened after that bathroom break. Our Garmin watches were showing us hitting miles a little bit ahead of the mile marker before that point (pretty typical with some dodging and weaving and not following the course exactly). After that break, our watches were way behind the mile markers (like 0.1 to 0.2 miles behind).

This made my head hurt. I could not figure it out. I assumed it had something to do with the restroom stop, but I couldn't figure out why. Then, I assumed it must be because it was cloudy, and our GPS must have lost the signal for a bit. But, for the rest of the race, we'd see a mile marker, and our watches wouldn't hit that mile mark for another 0.1 to 0.2 miles. Really strange.

We took a gel at mile 6, and honestly, I don't remember much after this point. We kept running, and we kept getting hotter.

Unfortunately, the course is an out-and-back, so we had to go back over the bridges on our way to the finish. The second time around, we walked up both of them. Having a bridge at mile 12 is incredibly cruel, but it was nice to have a downhill to the finish.

My finish time: 2:48:35. Yes, that is my worst finish by nine seconds.

But, I really wasn't upset about it. I didn't have a goal, and I wanted to end on a positive note, and I did. I had fun despite the heat and the big bridges.

The race atmosphere was incredible, and it was so well organized. The water stops were plentiful. And, despite the heat and bridges, I loved it.

My previous worst time was a bitter, bitter half marathon. I'm surprised I continued running after that disaster. And, I totally didn't feel that way after this race, thank goodness.

It was fun meeting up with and seeing so many friends at this race. I finally got to meet this awesome girl. And, we found some of our running group friends after the race for photo ops.

With Christine, who rocked out the 5K (Please excuse my hair.
It gets fluffy with the humidity and sweat.)
We have Iron Cores.

After the photo ops, we hit up the food.

Yes, pancakes with bananas and a few chocolate chips.

Then, realized we forgot a photo.

I had to get out of my sweaty, nasty shirt at this point.

Our running group all wore the same shirts: peace, love, run symbols on the front and "Sole Sistahs Rockin' Blistahs" on the back. (I avoided the butt photo by being a sweaty, nasty mess, thank goodness.)

After all of this sweatiness, I needed steaming hot coffee. Yum.

This half marathon was my worst time-wise, but not attitude-wise. I managed to have fun, and I felt pretty good for what I accomplished on this day.

Is attitude more important than time? How did you feel when you got your worst time at a race? Did anyone else who ran Iron Girl come up with a short course (or is that just me — my watched showed 12.9 miles at the finish)?


  1. Congrats on finishing that beast! Oh man, the last time up and over the memorial causeway bridge I was with the 2:00 pace group - they were seriously awesome and drug me in to finish in 1:58, but at one point I though they were going to have to use that pacer sign to scrape me off the pavement. My watch showed that I was almost .25 AHEAD by mile 2, but then I ended .25 short (watch showed 12.78) at the finish. I think I lost signal a couple of times (obviously)!

  2. Aww, thanks Jina! It was fun trying to keep up with you guys, I would watch for your shirts.:) It was SO hot and sweaty and those bridges are not my friend by the end. But we did it, in all our hot, sweaty glory. So glad we finally met! :)

  3. My Garmin was behind the markers as well!! I thought that was so strange. My experience was pretty similar to yours - just wanted to survive it. The fourth bridge at mile 12 was sadistic. I also wish the water had been cold. But I have to say I was extremely impressed by - of all things - the toilet paper table!! - which was so nicely laid out. (I even took a picture of it!)
    So good to see you and Lori there!!

  4. Great attitude Jina! Especially under not-so-ideal conditions! Do you get much of a rest now before your next race?

    1. Thanks, Rose! My next half isn't until October, which is nice. It's too darn hot here, and I think I need a break. I do have a 10K-5K challenge (run the 10K, then run a 5K) on May 5, but that's the last on my schedule until the fall.

  5. You rock! The heat and humidity are tough conditions to run in. Great job! Love the shirts too!


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