On Sunday morning, the alarm clock went off at 5:30 and we lazily rolled out of bed. It was way earlier than either of us enjoy waking up but I had a race to get ready for. Within 30 minutes, we were out the door and on our way to Clearwater for the Iron Girl 5k. My race didn’t start until 7:30 but we knew that parking could be an issue so we wanted to have plenty of time to find a spot.
We made it to Clearwater in record time and headed straight for our favorite parking lot. It is right next door to a Starbucks, which happened to be open at 6:30 in the morning! Score! I ate one of my favorite pre-race breakfasts (chocolate BelVita cookies) and headed inside to use the bathroom and grab Pete a coffee. The line for the bathroom was a bit long but I didn’t mind waiting for a real bathroom.
At 7:00, I left Pete and started making my way towards the starting line. I wanted to get in some pre-race stretching and I wanted to find a good spot in the starting corral. As I headed to start line, I watched the half marathon runners go by and felt the excitement of the race environment. When I got to the starting line and found a spot in the starting corral, I glanced at the Memorial Bridge that I would be running over soon. That is a difficult bridge to conquer!
Mile 1 – 11:56 min/mile pace
Right at 7:30 AM, the air horn went off and the race was under way! I went into this race with one goal in mind … to beat my previous time for this race (40:37). I knew that the bridge was going to hurt but I also wanted to push myself and see what I could do. As I ran across the starting line at Coachmen Park, I knew that I was going to have a good race. I knew that I was to need some energy in my legs for the bridge so I tried to keep my pace steady and not too fast.
After running through a little bit of downtown Clearwater, I could see the uphill of the bridge coming up. Even though my legs felt pretty good, I decided to walk the uphill and run the downhill. My legs thanked me for that especially since I had killed them the day before at the gym. Just before the crest of the bridge, I spotted the Mile 1 Marker.
Mile 2 – 12:21 min/mile pace
Once I crested the bridge, I started running again and really made up some time. Even though I don’t like running this bridge, it has some spectacular views of Clearwater and the beach. As I came down the bridge, I could see the turn around point in front of me. I still had a little bit to go though. After I came off the bridge, I took a quick walk break as I went through the water stop. Sooner than I expected, I was turning around and heading back towards the bridge. I took a deep breath and started making my way up the bridge. Mentally, I wasn’t thrilled that I walked up the bridge (both ways) but I think my legs were pretty grateful. At the top of the bridge, I passed the Mile 2 Marker and I was in the home stretch.
Mile 3 – 11:44 min/mile pace
As I started running down the bridge, I started thinking about my finishing time. I knew that I was going to beat my time goal so I began wondering how fast I could actually finish the race. I really wanted to beat my time from the Grand Prix 5k that I ran two weeks ago. As I glanced at my average pace, I tried to do math in my head and figured out that I would be really close to a 36:XX finish time. Unfortunately, I ended up taking a few walk breaks during the final mile of the race. My endurance has definitely fallen off during my break from running.
When I made the final turn of the race, I spotted the finish line and kicked up my pace. I wanted to finish the race strong and see what I could do. I crossed the finish line and felt absolutely awesome as I did it! This race was challenging and inspiring. I made my way through the finisher’s chute, collecting my medal and grabbing something to eat. Then I headed back to the car where Pete was waiting for me. All in all, I had an awesome race and I beat my previous time for this race by 3:25!
One thing that I really love about the Iron Girl race series is that they truly celebrate the spirit of every woman. I may not enjoy running the bridges but it always challenges me to be a better runner and push myself harder. I will definitely continue to run this race year after year. Who knows, maybe next year I will run the half marathon again.
Iron Girl Clearwater 5k by the numbers
- Official Finish Time – 37:12 minutes
- Average Pace – 12:00 min/mile pace
- Division Place – 118 out of 251
- Overall Place – 1047 out of 2410