Returning to Iron Girl for the 2015 race had been on my mind upon crossing the finish line last year. Iron Girl was my first ever half marathon. As the year progressed on I registered for Best Damn Race Cape Coral and then a few months later the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge as part of the Princess Half Marathon weekend. The Disney Challenge was about eight weeks after BDR Cape Coral, and Iron Girl was about six weeks after Disney.
When registration first opened for Iron Girl last November, I knew I wanted to run it and had full intentions of running it as long as my training progressed well and no injuries occurred. I opted to wait out the registration until after completing the Glass Slipper Challenge. I knew paying an additional $20 for the registration at a later date would be more cost effective than locking in at the early registration rate and then an injury sidelining me and more importantly making my bank account cry with medical expenses and missing out on a race I had paid for.
After Glass Slipper I took a full week off training, registered for Iron Girl the Saturday after the Princess Half and was back into training mode by Monday. About a week later my best running friend, Montana over a Pretty Lil Mudder, had messaged me and said she was considering running Iron Girl as her first half.
Then my other running friend Sam had message me saying she wanted to to Iron Girl. I was so excited and looking forward to having my friends out on the course with me, even if we weren’t all running it together.
I waited to pick up my packet till Saturday, when Montana was coming up. The pick up process was quick and easy, though the swag bag was the worst I have received to date and then I was less than impressed with the shirt. What did my registration fee go towards? Surely, the securing of the course couldn’t cost that much when a couple thousand were running this race; and water had been donated and Pollo Tropical had donated their food for the post race party. The expo wasn’t anything to ride home about, Montana and I were in and out in less than 20 minutes.
The morning of the run I was up shortly after 5am and got my running outfit on. When it comes to the races, I always like to stand out and I knew a women centric race they would be wearing the race colors and a lot of pink. Therefore I opted for highlighter yellow shorts and a black tank with that same highlighter color pattern print. Then I made my bagel with peanut butter and a bottle of water. It was pretty warm the day prior and I knew looking at the forecast earlier in the week it was going to be in low 70s, high 80s, so I wanted to make sure I was hydrated after not consuming anything for the 7 hours I slept.
We arrived to the the race location shortly after 6am and found pretty close parking without being caught in all the traffic after the race. Montana and I did our last minute prep in the car and then headed over to the porta potties. My mom and step dad were coming out to the start and so was my best friend, Court, so when we were done we went in search of them. I spotted Sam and Danny among the crowd in the process and stopped to say hi to them. We found my parents and I had them snatch this shot of Montana and I pre-race.
Next thing we knew the announcer was asking us to begin lining up in the corral. I opted to start towards the back to avoid going out to fast, which did help. The first mile came in at 10:27. We were up and over the first bridge where I caught up to Sam. I gave her a wave and a friendly smile and continued on. Montana caught up to me shortly before the first water stop. Next thing I knew I was with the 2:20 pacers and I was feeling good, really good actually. I kept feeling myself move ahead of them but knew that if I went any faster it could hurt me in the end with a burn out. Next thing I knew passed them just before mile 3 – oops.
Mile 4 and 5 went by pretty fast. I stopped to use the bathroom about mile 5.5 inside Sand Key Park. The 2:20 pacers had passed me and the 2:30 was just ahead when I got back on course. Just after the mile 6 marker, I was hit with a nasty side stitch. The pain was unbearable it hurt to even stand, I tried to walk it out, walking almost half a mile before I decided to just bite the bullet and push through by going into run/walk intervals. Sure enough the pain subsided a few running intervals in. Mile 7 was the turnaround to head back to the finish, the course guide said there would be Girl Scout cookies roughly mile 7-7.5 but sadly there was none, not even a table set up for them – what the heck Iron Girl?! Just before mile 8 I caught back up with the 2:30 pacers and pace direct with them for about a mile, mile and a half, until we hit the Sand Key Bridge for the second time. It was hot and I was just ready to be done with the race. I remember going up the bridge, in a speed walk mode, questioning why in the world I decided to do this race. I remember my thought started to turn negative and that was what was not going to push me for the last bit which was a 5K.
On the decline down from Sand Key I caught back up to the 2:30 pace group and stayed neck and neck with them all the way up until mile 11.5. By that point my right calf started to cramp up, I decided to push through with 1:1 run/walk ratios. I took some Omeosport to help with the cramping and it did.
Unfortunately the cramping came back on as I was coming down the finish chute to the point where my foot even locked up, fearing I was going to collapse I slowed to a a quick walk for 5 seconds or so to get my foot and leg to unlock and then gave it my all coming in at 2:28:08, watch time, chip time was 2:30:40. Because I stopped to use the bathroom I am going by my watch time and not chip, though chip is still a PR…I did it! I crushed goal A) which was to beat my previous time of 2:37:52 for this event, 2:32:43 for my overall PR AND break 2:30. Had my leg cramping not given me such a problem, my chip time would have been under 2:30.
I collected my water, medal and immediately took some more Omeosport to alleviate the pain I was having. I went off in search of Court and some close friends who, the mom and daughter, did the Mom/Daughter 5K team. They congratulated me and told me how they did in the 5K before we parted ways. I caught up with Court who was at the start of the finish chute where we waited for Montana and Sam.
While I was waiting for them, I was surprised with a visit from my dad and grandma. They hadn’t made it out to a race yet, so it was really nice to have them there and witness such an accomplishment of mine.
Montana came in not too long after me. I happened to see both her and Sam after the turnaround so I had an idea of where they stood behind me. Montana came in about 10 mins after me, a very good time for a first time half marathoner! Sam had texted to say her right leg was giving her pain about mile 11, but she fought through and still crossed the finish line under three hours.
I can’t say that I am all for running this race again next year, like I was feeling last year upon cross the finish line. The weather this year was just awful. I didn’t even want to look at my weather app before and during the run, but it had to have closing in on a near 100% humidity. Not to mention, I was less than impressed with what we received in return for what we had paid.
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