Yesterday I ran the Clearwater Iron Girl Half Marathon for the very first time. I typically run the 5K but since I’m marathon training the longer distance seemed like a good idea when I registered. Of course as the days went by and I started thinking about how warm it would be and I talked myself into the idea of not really racing it. There were two bridges that you crossed over and back (so four bridges really) and then there was the heat…
I picked up my packet on Saturday afternoon after watching the S.O. tear it up at a sprint tri. They do a great job at this expo. Think lots of fun women’s running gear plus the usual fun running vendors. Packet pick up was a breeze and I had my shirt and bag with in two minutes.

On race morning I woke up early and had oatmeal. This is a big deal because I’ve been struggling to eat before long runs and races so I figured I’d give the oatmeal a go and see how my stomach felt. Fortunately the race is only about 15 minutes from where I live so I got good parking and immediately headed to the porta potties. As a shout out to the race organizers, they did a fantastic job of having TONS of porta potties. (After my first “evacuation” I was good to go. Oatmeal is my new pre-race breakfast.)

I ran into a few friends prior to the race start and we chatted about goals and it being warm out and I told them my plan of taking it easy. Again, I figured there was no reason for me to go out hard and crash and burn like at Gate River, which was still looming in my brain. (I’m so good at letting things go…)

At around 6:45 I headed over to the start line with my Tribal Multisport teammate Kelly. As we stood there talking, without warning, it seemed the race had started and I said, “Well that was fast.” Only to realize that it was a false start. It seems the front of the pack tried to take off with a charity group. We all chuckled and backed up. Then, right at 7 AM we heard the horn and were off.

Kelly took off like lightning and I told myself to relax and take it easy. I’m not really racing this, I told myself. Before the first mile was over my friend Lee ran up next to me and she and I ran our second mile over the first bridge at 8:38. I immediately told her I was going to slow down and it was hot. So off she went and I slowed it down. I was passed several times at this point.

I ran along and tried to keep it just under a 9:00/mile. I didn’t want the 2:00 pace group to catch me because I felt like coming under 2:00 was a good enough goal for the day. I allowed myself to pick up the pace around six when I took a gel. Part of the course runs through a “park” called Sand Key. It sort of sucks in there because there isn’t much of a breeze but it was good to see the runners in front and behind of me for the first time. I saw the 1:50 pace group up ahead and the 2:00 behind so I felt fine with where I was positioned.

At mile eight I felt really good. It must have been the gel. I cheered for others and smiled and commented to spectators about their signs. There were plenty of aid stations and I drank water at every single one. I was having fun and started passing a few women here and there. Then I hit the 3rd bridge and passed a few more ladies. I always have the goal of running up the bridges. Even if I’m not sure what I was could be classified as a run.

I started getting hot right after I got over this bridge. Fortunately this is my home turf so I knew every crack in the sidewalk and every landmark and exactly how far I had to go to get to that final bridge. I continued to play pass that person to motivate myself along.

It started getting tough around mile 10. I think the “goal of running up the bridges” (Yes, I did just quote myself.) was starting to sink in. My quads were quite grumbly and on the way up bridge number four I slowed significantly. As I Three Little Pig Wolfed (huffed and puffed) my way up the bridge I spotted a familiar figure at the top. The S.O. was out on his recovery run and was running the race backward to catch me. I was really happy to see him.

It was all downhill after that and the S.O. tried to give me coaching tips as we ran but I told him to hold those until after the race. Heh.

I saw the finish line and picked up the pace. I came in at 1:55 and some change. I do love the sparkly iron girl medals, even if I did wear black in a sea of pink.

I’m saying “Why is it so hot?” Bridge behind me can suck it.

After the race I grabbed a banana and talked with some friends. I had a major hankering for pancakes so the S.O. and I headed off to a local diner.

Post race “ussie”

So here’s the thing about this race…

I quit before I even started. In texting with Coach Jon after the race I told him I didn’t race it and he asked why. I explained it was hot and there were bridges. When he told me “we treat every race as a race and give our best effort” I got offended. I responded with my reasoning that I thought starting a race at “good race conditions” pace would have been a mistake. And like a good coach he saw right through me. His response was spot on. He agreed on adjusting efforts based on weather conditions but not giving up all together before I even started. So yeah, I did let those factors get to me and those lingering thoughts of Gate River made me wimp out and use the bridges and heat (which wasn’t exactly un-race-able weather) as an excuse.

So after thinking about it last night I gave in this morning and told him the truth. (Even though I’d venture a guess he knew that already. Dammit.) I’m still working on run confidence and I think I may have left it somewhere in Chattanooga.

I supposed admitting your problem is the first step. I’ve got a couple months to find and regain this run confidence and I intend to do it. If I have to start writing mantras on my arms and listen to the Rocky Theme on repeat then so be it. I just need someone to dress up as an old man and squirt water in my face as I run. Any takers?