4/10/10

Iron Girl Clearwater 15K race report





5th year at Iron Girl Clearwater and each year tops the last!!!
I've been part of the Iron Girl team since June 2006. I actually started out with the Ironman corporation in Jan 2006 for a 6-month internship which I received shortly after finishing graduate school. I was still lost of what to do in life with my Master of Science in Exercise Physiology but with the Boston Marathon and Ironman Florida on my 2006 racing schedule, I really wanted to understand the inner-workings of multisport events..and where else than with Ironman! I learned SO much about events and I developed a great appreciation of HOW MUCH goes into putting together an event for 1000+ people. I just love the whole crew at Ironman and every chance I get to visit Judy at Irongirl (president) or the Ironman team, I jump right on it.
Judy has been my biggest mentor and a great friend. Based on her passion for all things in life, she has given me the best advice in my life and I credit a lot of my personal successes (racing and education) to her. I think we all have someone in our life who we look up to and I don't think there are enough notes/emails/phone calls to thank that person for being a role model, guide and friend to confide in.

My leg wasn't feeling the best this week and I blame it on recovery week. A lot goes on in our body during recovery week, typically due to the rebuilding of damaged tissues which is required to help us get stronger, faster and more power. My training is built around quality and not quantity but even with my "quality" training, I always look forward to an opportunity to rest my mind. But let me tell ya, as much as I enjoy a recovery week which reduces my volume and increases my recovery time during workouts, my body does some crazy things when I "rest". I am not much of a taper person but Karel and I thought we would give it a go for this race. I really wanted to keep my top 10 placing at Iron Girl Clearwater so I knew I would need to give a solid, 100% performance to be able to run fast in the first ever 15K distance (last few years it was a 10K).

I was really happy that my dad was coming with my mom (who walked the 5K with her aerobic buddies) and I to take pics and cheer us on. My parents are my #1 fans so they know me well and they know what to say...and perhaps, what not to say :) hehe
I love to smile and laugh before a race so if you are ever around me before an Ironman (which seem to give me the least amount of stress compared to shorter distance running and triathlon races) just say something silly to me because I am all about positive and happy vibes before a race.

The race venue was at Pier 60 in Clearwater beach (70.3 World Champ transition area) as opposed to Coachman park in Clearwater. What a beautiful venue! I am a lover of water (I hope one day I can give Campy a house by the water) so I just loved being so close (or right on) the beach.

The race started a few minutes after 7:30 and we were off. Starting at the front helps me start off the race with a faster-than expected pace. Although at one time I feared running too fast from the start, I have learned my body and what it can handle. So long as I'm not running 6 min/miles, I can take a 10-15 sec faster than expected pace for the first few miles.

I saw a few familiar faces on the course within the first mile but after a few exchanges of "hello" it was time to put on the game face..with a smile.

As I ran towards the Memorial Causeway to head towards downtown Clearwater, I passed a few women but kept my eyes on the 3 women ahead of me. I looked forward to the bridge to drop a few of the ladies who were on my tail and as I ran down the bridge, my leg started to feel a little weak.
Karel told me to not push through any type of pain and I needed that confirmation to remind myself that this is my lifestyle, not my job. I can push through the pain at IMWI (hopefully I will have minimized my leg problems by Sept) in an effort to get back to Kona for 2011, but right now in my season, no finish should come with an injury.
I had two loops in downtown Clearwater and luckily, there were a few slight inclines that relieved the pressure off my upper rt. hip/quad. The course was super entertaining with celebrity impersonators, men on stilts, bagpipers, a guy dressed as Barney and what race would be without Girl Scouts handing out Girl Scout Cookies?
I was loosing my mojo from miles 3.5-5 so I had no choice but to slow down. I was amazed that my "slow" pace was just under 7 min/miles (based on my comfort) but I questioned if I should slow down some more. After 10-20 sec. of running slow, my leg felt better and I was able to pick up the pace again.
The second lap was much more comfortable (well, compared to the first loop). I got into a good rhythm with my running, I wasn't experiencing fatigue and I was feeling steady. I have to say, passing all of the other Iron Girls on their 1st loop totally made my day. I was so inspired by the other women cheering me on that I forgot I was on my 2nd loop. There were a few times that I couldn't help but laugh because I could hear the strangest and funniest conversations by the women on the course. I had a few moments were I thought to myself "why do I torture myself by running so hard/fast? Look how much fun it is to run and chat with your friends!" Well, I guess for some of us we have our own ideas of "fun" :)
I really thought I would need to walk at this point in the race but I was feeling the energy from the other 800+ athletes on the course.
As I approached the bridge, I was so happy that I was almost done. Having gone from "how am I going to finish this" from miles 2-5, to "I can't believe I am in 4th overall" at mile 7, I was ready to get to the top of the bridge.
Once again, my legs love bridges and inclines so I welcomed the bridge. Looking behind me, I see a girl w/ excellent form chasing me down. I figured, I managed to hold on to my lead for this long, let's just see if I can make it to the bottom of the bridge before getting passed.
After looking at my watch and seeing that the course was long, I was battling with myself to maintain my pace. I was hurting for the last mile. I ran onto the grass, from the sidewalk, to give myself a little relief from my leg (which wasn't hurting but just starting to fatigue on me...just like the rest of my body). Shortly after passing mile marker 8, a girl passed me and in my head (I tried to say it out loud but words weren't coming out of my mouth) I just said to myself "go get it girl..you are doing great!".
I was hoping that others were slowing down because I was running out of gas. That last mile went on forever. Where is that stinking finish line? It was just the funniest feeling because my HR was controlled but I was giving my all to give that final push to finish the race.
Seeing that my garmin had the course at 9.5 miles, I was thrilled with my 1:06 finish time. Karel always tells me that I can't compare my times between races especially when courses differ, weather changes and the terrain presents changes in elevation. So, at the end of the day, I am in no way disappointed with my performance.
Overall stats:
5th overall female/out of 841
1st age group/out of 124
Clock finishing time: 1:06.12

My garmin stats:
Distance: 9.58 miles
Mile 1: 6:37
Mile 2: 6:58 (bridge)
Mile 3: 6:45
Mile 4: 6:51
Mile 5: 6:53
Mile 6: 6:55
Mile 7: 7:04 (bridge)
Mile 8: 7:06
Mile 9: 6:59
.58: 4:01 (6:59 pace)
Time: 1:06.17
Pace: 6:55 min/mile

As much as I was ready for the race to be other, it is always a crazy feeling when you cross the finish line. For me, I couldn't believe my pace. In my wildest dreams would I think I could run sub 7 min/miles. My mom was at the finish line and she was super proud. I quickly saw my dad and he was camera-ready.
My parents headed towards the post-race cafe (which is an amazing spread of post-race food from a catering company) and I needed to warm-down. I headed back on the course for a little jog (9:30 min/mile pace) about 1/2 mile until I saw one of my athletes, Andrea, who I am coaching for IMKY this Aug. I ran with her for a few minutes and gave her the little push (by picking up my pace to 9 min/miles) that we all need sometimes to get that PR we want so bad. Congrats Andrea on your PR!

What a great race. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in an Iron Girl event (Sorry guys, women only for the race. But guys can make great cheerers!) please sign up! One day I hope to do all of the Iron Girl events but for now, next on my Iron Girl schedule is Iron Girl Atlanta in June (Triathlon).


Congrats all Iron Girls!

Enjoy the pics!
*thanks dad!!
*sorry Campy-lovers. My BFF stayed home. However, my family (and Campy) have a BBQ (w/ Marni-friendly foods) to go to tomorrow on a 6-acre field....can't wait!