My alarm went off at 4am. I cried. Actually, I sat there for a good 10 minutes checking email and reading blogs (if you want to check out a wonderful post — read Stephanie’s — nothing to do about running, but it helped me wake up). Paula texted me (even though she was just outside my room – ha) to get my ass ready. If she insisted.
We got up, ate breakfast, and were out the door by 5:15. Amazingly, I didn’t forget anything and we were on time. Paula drove the 2 miles to same park they had the Expo and parked her car. There were 3 trolleys waiting when we got there. We hopped on one immediately and we were at Pier 60 within minutes. I’m REALLY glad we got there early because a) we heard it was nightmare later on (not enough trolleys) and b) we got to use the bathrooms (and not porta potties) twice. We did have about an hour and 15 minutes to spare, but it was nice not stressing about anything.
Around 6:45 we moved towards the start line and….took picures. We were pretty close to the front, but there weren’t corrals (not sure if this was a problem for the ladies closer to the back). The race started on time (exactly 7am!) and we were off.
Because we were close to the start, there wasn’t that usual wall of people to run through. It was SO nice! The first mile I really had to pull back the reigns on my speed. I get waaaay too excited! I saw Meghann and Katy (it was like a celebrity siting!) and was tempted to keep up with them – but made myself slow down.
Good thing I did because right after Mile 1, we hit Bridge #1 (of 3). This causeway was not terribly steep (there’s still a pretty good incline though), but it was really long. I did appreciate the nice downhill though 🙂 Once that was over I felt relieved. Bridge #1 – Check.
After that we ran into Belleair, which is actually where the condo is. In fact, we ran right past the Country Club where we are staying. This area is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. I would pay money to run here. There were a lot of little rolling hills and then around mile 5 we started a slow, gradual climb.
I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was averaging a 9:20ish pace – I think. I honestly did not look at my Garmin for pace (just mileage) for the majority of the race. It was nice!
Around Mile 7 we hit Bridge#2. She was a mean nasty bridge — the Belleair Causeway Bridge. This bridge was hella steep and it kicked my ass. I considered walking at several points (many people around me were), but I kept trucking. Again, the downhill was fantastic – but short lived. We hit a small climb right afterward and then crossed another bridge (which I STUPIDLY thought was Bridge #3. WRONG.).
Miles 8-11 were pretty boring. I slowed down a lot during this time and struggled to push forward. There were a few ladies I kept playing frogger with (I’d pass them, they’d pass me, etc) and I could tell that they felt the same way I did. It also started to get really warm and humid. We were running down Gulf Blvd., but couldn’t see the ocean. It was just hotel after hotel.
At Mile 11 I saw a bridge. I thought to myself, “Surely we turn before this bridge because we’ve already ran over 3 of them.” WRONG AGAIN. This bridge (I don’t even know the name of it) is what I like to call the SNEAK ATTACK. I’m not going to say this bridge broke me (it didn’t really), but it slowed me down and I did walk for about 30 seconds. I started running againg when this 70ish year-old women came zooming past me. Man, she REALLY schooled me. She also motivated and inspired me. I wanted to scream — “You go girl!” To her.
After the bridge I hit the final mile and somehow managed to speed up. It was kinda cool – there was only one or two people around me and I felt like everyone was just cheering for ME. I loved it. Ha ha. The best moment was right before the finish — I heard people screaming my name and I KNEW it was Tiffany and her mom Connie. I heard them before I saw them — but I was thrilled that they stayed and cheered for us! It was pretty freakin’ awesome.
I then crossed the finish line. Official time: 2:05:30.
I FINISHED!!!! I am an Iron Girl. I finished 7 Half Marathons in 7 months!!!
After the race and I finally found Paula (I completely missed her finish) we met up with Tiffany and Connie — for, you guessed it, more pictures!
We then walked around/grabbed food and then waited in line for the trolley (about 20-30 minutes – not too bad). We then headed back to the condo for some cold showers (there was screaming, but it was necessary we SMELLED SO BAD). We loaded the car (and I forgot stuff – awesome), hit up Starbucks (Paula had her FIRST ever Starbucks drink) and headed back to O-town where I foam rolled away all (or at least most) of my aches and pains.
Overall – I really enjoyed the race. I always have fun with Paula before and after. I don’t know that I will run this one again — unless it’s like labor/delivery. Bridge anemesia. I do recommend though. This course is GORGEOUS. This course is also REALLY REALLY hard. I earned that Iron Girl title.
And now…I’m ready to take a break. I’m still going to run (my blog wouldn’t named crazy RUNNING legs if not!), but I’m going to take it easy for a few months. I might even consider doing a little tri training with Tracy 🙂
Have you ever been relieved to finish something you REALLY enjoyed?? I love racing – I really do – but it’s definitely time for a break!