Monday, April 22, 2013

Iron core finally uncovered!

Predawn Potty Pic before their FIRST half ever!!
 I woke up ready for a bridge challenge, or two..or maybe three or four!! I was so excited to be running the Iron Girl half marathon for the first time. I always opted for the 5k, but this time I wanted a long run over some bridges! Race day ritual always includes multiple potty visits before the start, where I found some Iron Girlfriends before their first ever half marathon. Jen was nervous and emotional, but ready to rock some bridges. We made it to the start just as the gun went off, exhilarated!

Pit stop to hug my sis at .3m!
I gave hugs and kisses and went on my way, promising that I would come look for them after I finished. Always encourage people along the way, whether you know them or not. It will come back to you a hundred-fold! I love cheering people on, it has always motivated me! As I reached .3 miles I hear hoots and hollers and see my sis and some Strider friends and had to stop for a quick hug before my lil' sis ran her 5k and ran on.

The Memorial Causeway is NO joke for sure. If you ever want some bridge training and you live within an hour of this bridge, DO IT!! You can have many thoughts as you look to the top of that bridge at any mile, 'I will never make it' or 'Let's rock this mountain!' I chose the latter and relaxed my shoulders back, taking a deep breath, and bounded up that bridge. And just like a kid running down a hill, I smiled and did some controlled falling, a.k.a. getting a great quad workout!

The morning scenery was delicious as we ran toward the beach and along Gulf Blvd, over the Sand Key bridge. Yes, another bridge to challenge all those Iron Girls powering their way over these obstacles. It is like life, we can stop and complain about the obstacles OR we can power through them with confidence that we WILL make it to the top feeling like a conqueror! It felt amazing and again I was exhilarated.

After running through Sand Key Park and to the turn around on Gulf Blvd, I was on my way 'home'. However, I made sure to STOP at the top of the Sand Key bridge and stare into God's beauty for a quick prayer and a good morning to my father, who's presence I could feel along the way. Walking through the water stations always helps me revive my energy and made the difference as I climbed the Memorial Causeway for the finish.

Smiling at my Strider family zealously cheering me on!!
As I came off the swirly decline, we were directed onto a sidewalk. I increased my speed, but was slowed by someone taking the whole sidewalk. So, of course, I said "Come on girl, let's do this!" We both sped up as we were directed back out onto the road to the finish line shoot. I finished in under 2 hours, making my goal, and stopped my Garmin - only to look down at a registered distance of under 13 miles. The distance was my only complaint about Iron Girl, everything else (packet pick up, race day organization, course marshals, finish line announcer, and post-race celebration) was near perfect.

Running with Jen & Leah to finish strong!!
I reset my watch, accepted my medal, grabbed some water, said hello to my Strider family, cheered for them when called for age group awards, and made my way backward on the course to find my pre-race potty line They were both amazingly tough as we climbed the Causeway for the last time, running the swirly decline, and encouraging Jen all the way. We were met by my sistas to bring them to the finish line triumphant! Iron Girls!!

Post race gathering at Frenchy's on the Beach, but not until after some shenanigans in Rachel's van...but what happens in the van, stays in the van!! We emerged in our bathing suits and ready for FOOD! To celebrate accomplishments of all these beautiful ladies, I had the pleasure of sharing some white sangria. It was delicious and a must make for ladies weekend! So many awesome journeys taken and stories written that Sunday morning in Clearwater and I am very proud to have been a part of all of it. WE ARE IRON GIRLS!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

First time for everything...Guppy's Beach 5k recap

Never tell yourself, "One day I will get to do that!" Instead, get out there and try something new and exciting. Don't tell yourself to do it "when and if" it is possible. MAKE it possible!! I remember telling myself in 2006, when I first started running races, that I would love to try out a beach run. Here it is 6 years later and I finally had the chance to experience what I have been missing all these years. Here is my blast recap:

Third place Women's Overall!!

I drove into the parking lot and saw my brother, who Ninja registered for the race. He likes to surprise people like that. It was certainly a pleasant surprise, as was meeting up with a few more friends at the finish line. As I prepared for the race to begin, I did a little warming up. It was cool enough to warrant a long sleeve shirt for this FL girl. The shirt/number pick-up was smooth and the volunteers were cheery despite the breezy weather. This is the first year the race is chip-timed, which made me a happier runner. We all lined up on the packed sand, due to the previous days' rain, and had to start through a 8 ft wide start shoot, which was also the finishing shoot. I thought at first it would be a problem, but that was not the case.

I started southbound alone the shore with a few hundred runners and easily found my rhythm. The hairpin turn slowed me a bit, but I was well on my way to at least an age group win. I did not pay attention to how many females were ahead of me, since stepping on a sand hole could have tweaked something. One water station at the turnaround was provided. The last mile I looked behind me and noticed a large gap and allowed myself to slow by about 10 seconds/mile. I dug deep for that last 20-30 feet sand pit and crossed the finish as the third female overall, first in my age group, and 17th over all runners.

I only had to wait a couple minutes before I turned and saw my brother barreling toward the finishing sand pit. He ran a 5k PR on the flippin' beach. Dang Aaron! I was so excited for him and hope he remembers that he placed 5th in his age group. I also had a chance to cheer on Laura and Ben, who will be getting married soon, as they came across the finish line. It is always good to see people you know at the races.

My take home prize!
Chase bank provided the water and coozies and post race foods included bananas, oranges, bagels, and loads of cookies. Yes (eyes rolling) I did take home extra bananas, oh and a few cookies for the kids. The race awards for overall categories were personalized with a few touches of paint. I always enjoy the awards ceremony, but I certainly would like to hear the times along with the awarded runner's name! My brother and I had a chance to hang out a bit and chat about the race and our planned future races.

Lesson: Do NOT procrastinate with something you truly want to do...because your true desire to do IT will be shown by "if/when" you do it!! Try something new!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shortened Hare Race 5k with my lil' princess

My lil' princess insisted on running this race because she likes the XC feel of it and all the spoils at the end. The packet pick up was a little confusing because they assigned Shay an elite number and already gave someone her chip. making us wait to get an unclaimed chip. The chip table seemed a bit chaotic and the race started very late.

The course was a double loop, with the second loop taking a slightly different route before ending at the USF Bulls track & field. However, the leaders veered from the intended 5k course and cut off .4 miles leading us toward the track just after we passed 2 miles on my Garmin, registering only 2.69 miles at the finish. I did a few more laps waiting for Shay. She did such a great job

The director of the Hare Race always has loads of sponsors, providing muffins, cookies, bananas, granola bars, cookies, danishes, muffins, etc. You get the picture. Shay enjoys post race spoils just as much as her Momma! Suddenly I realized the awards ceremony was being held behind the bleacher outside of the entry way. I don't even remember them announcing the start of it. We made our way over just in time. They announced me as #1 in my age group and Shay asked about hers. She came in 5th in her age group. I am so proud of her accomplishments!!

Lesson: Sometimes you just have to let your kids do their own thing and trust they will do their best!! (Lil' Miss Independent!)

Lost in Trout Creek

Ready for the trail!!
On that beautiful morning, I decided I would rather run a 15k with my younger brother, Aaron, than stay at home in bed. I registered on race morning to spend just under two hours with him for his VERY first trail run. He likes adventure I'd suppose, never running a trail race, let alone a trail run. He was excited for his first attempt and seemingly happy to have me there. I was excited because I knew I would be having a blast, which ended up being an understatement!

The sign-in for me was easy, and as a race day registrant I did not get the awesome race packet Aaron walked off with. The white cotton shirt has a beautifully designed trout on the front. Potty stop two times before the start of the race, gum in mouth, and water bottle strapped onto my hand. We were ready to go.

This way to the bananas!!
The first 20 yards we ran up a 45 degree hill and onto the berm of packed shell and dirt. There were only 4 water stops along the way, but I came prepared. Along the trail we went, and I talked to Aaron to distract him from the challenge of running in the woods, over roots and tree limbs. He was concentrating on not tripping until...."OHHH" and I quickly turned to see him in a ballerina pose with one hand almost on the ground. I instantly started laughing. Needless to say I had a great ab workout that day.

As long as I ran, he just kept following me!

It was extremely windy up on the berm and Aaron had me laughing yet again by being his normal comical self. Those of you who know Aaron, know what I am saying. My abs were solid by the end of the race. We stopped for photos, walked along the lake, and enjoyed cold water from an energetic family. We finished in just under 2 hours and found that many runners had already left the park. The awards were given and most of the food was gone, but they did have some bananas (wink, wink). Unfortunately, they did not provide food for vegetarians. The food provided was rice covered in a meat sauce, leaving me only eating bananas for my post race nutrition. Those of you who have seen me at the end of a race know that I LOVE to acquire a serious amount of bananas and I did!

Lesson: Sometime, even though you may really want to do something for yourself, sacrifice that for doing something for someone else and accept the JOY that comes with your sacrifice seven fold!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Strawberry Classic 10k Recap

Yep! First Place age group medal is real!
I cannot recall how many times I  have set my alarm before the crack of dawn to get ready for a race an hour away from my home. You know I was excited to run in my neck of the woods. I woke up less than an hour before the start of the Strawberry Classic 10k start time. The Tampa Bay Runners leader, Ron Tiller, put on a great race, including an inaugural 15k race, and a fabulous after party to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation with loads of bananas and strawberries, but I get ahead of myself.

My daughter wanted to run this race, but had a softball game a few hours after she would have finished. Instead, she came to cheer on the Striders. She and my sister, Rachel, are my biggest fans - I just know it. Lol. My brother, Aaron, participated as the Strider's self-pronounced professional photographer and gets plenty of "thank yous" for capturing some of the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of our running.

I started out the race feeling okay, but found that I couldn't hang with a few friends. I ran 2 miles having to go potty and finally found a port-o-potty. I am so happy I do not have the intense, "I will die if I have to go into one of those!" phobia of port-o-potties (like my OCD sis - j/k Rachel, you know I love you!). I was running about a 1/4 mile behind the pack for those 2 miles, but lost them after the potty. I was upset and decided I was not racing anymore. It was then that I settled into my rhythm. I looked up at mile 5 and saw a couple of my peeps. I remember thinking stay strong and breath and had I not then my actions would have responded to that voice in my head that told me, "You're tired, slow down!" I finished within 8 seconds of the friends I was chasing, in 51:47.

As I crossed the finish line, I was disgusted with my race attempt and finishing time. I wanted something under 50 minutes and to take home age group bling. It felt like all this slipped away from me as I crossed the line, tired and out of breath. I threw myself a huge pity party, even as my favorite cheerleader (my daughter) met me at the finish line with a huge smile. The disappointment in myself melted away as she hugged me, sweaty and stinky as I was. How could I remain upset? I softened my mood and we went to check the results. OMGOSH, the first place in my age group medal now rests on my medal shelf. And, I was given a box full of bananas to take home...ahh, the spoils of racing!

Lesson: It is what it is, so do what you can and everything will work out fine!