Athleta Iron Girl Half Marathon Clearwater 2012, mile by mile

April 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Well, I did it. I survived. My hip hurts, but honestly everything below my waist hurts. Walking 13.1 miles is not nothing. It was pretty intense, actually.

Just as with most of my races, and definitely my first and second half marathons, I have a thousand thoughts and a hundred pictures that I want to put on the blog. I’m also exhausted, so this is the simplest first list of photos and thoughts that I could whip together for this race. Here goes…

I picked Kathy up at 5:15 a.m. and we headed back to Clearwater, exactly to the area we went to yesterday for the expo. We also scoped out parking and a meeting spot yesterday, and made it there this morning before our designated meeting time of 6:15 a.m.

IRunMommies:

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Some were running the half marathon and some were running the 5K. It was several ladies’ first race, or first race at this distance. Everyone finished, and I know that my friend Jenny set a PR of 2:02 for the half. That is so impressive considering the course included two massive bridges, high winds and rain. Way to go Jenny!

Of course as soon as we took a group photo and a few people dispersed, a couple more IRunMommies rolled in.

My friend Nikki, who was going to walk/run the half despite having a cold and not feeling that well. She finished before me! Nikki is definitely an Iron Girl. She has done like a billion half-marathons…this year alone.

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It’s awesome to have this group to meet up with at races. It’s also fun to hear people say “Go IRunMommies!” when they see our uniforms.

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Soon it was time to head down for the 7 a.m. start of the half just beneath the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge.

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The plan was for Kathy, myself, and my friend Mitzi to walk the entire 13.1 miles together. I met up with Kathy at the back of the queue, but somehow we had lost sight of Mitzi amongst the large crowd.

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They sang the National Anthem and started the race. We made our way up to the starting line, but still hadn’t seen Mitzi despite scanning the sidelines.

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My friend took this picture just past the start, and we were all in “Have you seen Mitzi?” mode:

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Luckily, at about half a mile we saw her walking the course in the wrong direction, back towards us. Glad we found you Mitzi!

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The first part of the race was all through downtown Clearwater and then Belleair.

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Belleair is some pretty nice real estate.

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At this point the weather was awesome. Some sun, some clouds, nice and cool.

For the first couple of miles my hip felt great. Almost normal. I took two ibuprofen when I first woke up this morning and then one more right when we got to Clearwater. The previous week’s rest and all the ibuprofen had me feeling pretty good. However, past three miles I did start to notice my hip beginning to hurt just a little. No biggie.

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We did walk through a few sprinkles here and there. Some parts of the course were a little crazy through Belleair, including a ridiculous one block down and back up a steep hill. Turn right, walk down the huge hill, turn around, walk back up the huge hill, resume course. I guess they needed that extra 1/10 of a mile.

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Past mile six we entered Belleair Bluffs and approached the first of the two big bridges we had to face. By now my hip was definitely protesting and my legs were feeling pretty tired. We really kept tabs on our pace and tried to keep it close to 15 minute miles, which is not just a casual stroll.

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On top of the Belleair Causeway Bridge! See the storm off in the distance on the right behind me? We would meet it shortly.

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At the end of the bridge we turned right onto the long stretch of Gulf Boulevard.

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At about 8.5 miles I felt like I was more than ready to be DONE. My legs were hurting everywhere and my hip was screaming at me. But, we had 4.6 miles to go and so we did.

Mitzi likes the number nine.

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My friends were very indulgent of my ridiculous picture-taking.

We hit one pretty good-sized downpour before the Sand Key Bridge. I think it was the same shower that we could see from the top of the Belleair Causeway. It didn’t last too long, however. In all, the weather was really good today.

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Way off in the distance in the next photo you can see the beginning of the Sand Key Bridge.

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At the top of the Sand Key Bridge, with the Clearwater Memorial Causeway off in the distance just above Mitzi’s head:

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We were buffeted by lots of strong winds today, sometimes at our backs which was nice, but sometimes almost knocking us off of our feet. The winds were extremely high at the tops of the bridges.

Ahhh, downhill into Clearwater Beach, and onto roads which did not appear to be closed to cars at all. I don’t ever remember dodging cars in any other race like we had to for this one.

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Somehow we made it through the traffic to the last portion of the race on the beach walk, right along the Gulf of Mexico. My legs felt detached from my body by this point. For the last couple of miles I could not make my legs walk “fast” any more. I either had to walk slowly or jog. So Kathy and Mitzi would get ahead of me, then I would jog to catch up. Jogging really felt like a relief to my legs at that point, although my hip didn’t like it at all.

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Chad took this photo of us approaching the finish line together:

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Give me that medal!

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As painful as it was, it was also a lot of fun to spend three and a half hours with these ladies, braving the elements and pushing our physical limits.

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I was very happy to see the family at the finish line. Thank you so much Chad for driving out to Clearwater early today, despite the rain and wind and crowds.

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This bling is sweet. I think it’s my second favorite medal, with the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Pete Half Marathon medal being my favorite so far.

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Here are my official results:

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Under 3 1/2, so…yay! Whatever. We were just trying to stay ahead of the four hour cut-off. At the beginning of the race the straggler van was dogging us.

Whew. I did it. Half marathon #3 is in the bag.

Other posts about this race:

Iron Girl Clearwater 2012 Expo

The Iron Girl Clearwater 2012, between the mile markers

The Iron Girl Clearwater 2012, spectator’s perspective