Iron Girl Half Marathon: Hellish Hills

Iron Girl Half Marathon 2011 01

10 Things I am now in possession of:

  1. A new Half Marathon PR (2:01:48)
  2. A new medal
  3. A blister the size of Brazil on the ball of my left foot
  4. A toenail on my left foot that may not survive the night
  5. A nagging pain in my left knee that may be related to #3 and #4
  6. Some of my very favorite race photos ever, courtesy of Ms. Meals and Miles (see her absolutely breathtaking post about this race here and hundreds more photos on the Meals and Miles FB page)
  7. An amazing experience to remember with some of my favorite blogging buddies (Meghann, Kelly, Amber, Ben, Megan)
  8. A hatred of all hills
  9. Sand in places we shouldn’t speak of
  10. A raging hunger

But let’s back up — shall we? And be warned…this is a picture heavy post. After all, it’s not every day you run 13.1 miles (at least without rabid dogs chasing you).

I arrived in Tampa on Saturday night to crash with Meghann and the should-be-sainted Derek. After a less than stellar experience at a little Italian joint, we headed home to hit the air mattresses, because we had a 3:50am wakeup call. After a ‘nana and peanut butter, we were ready to run.

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Now, let it be known that I *did* know we were going to run over bridges, but despite multiple attempts from Meghann and Kelly to warn me about how big they were, I really didn’t get it until I saw this from the parking lot.

Flash forward to what it would look like on the course…

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Yeah, I think Kelly summed it up about right.

This was an incredibly challenging course — not only did we run up, over and down THREE of those big bridges, we faced several smaller hills on the rest of the run. We were rewarded by beautiful views of the beach and some amazing neighborhoods, but it was hard for me to really appreciate the environment when I was cursing the world with every step.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a good race (uh…a 10-minute PR? I’m fine with that). In fact, I’d go as far as to say the first 6.5 miles were glorious — some of my best ever. I ran between 8:15-8:30 during that stretch and felt really strong.

I even (gulp) PASSED Meghann at one very brief point.

Iron Girl Half Marathon 2011 11

But I knew I’d gone out too fast, and used a bathroom break at miles 6.5 to try and bring myself back. It worked, and for the next couple of miles, I felt pretty good.

Miles 8.5-11? That’s a different story. I hit a mental wall of epic proportions. I took three walking breaks during those miles, and while they were short, they were a bit heartbreaking. I’d felt so good only moments before, and by the time I got to mile 9, I was ready to walk the rest of the way. Honestly, knowing that you’d all been tweeting me and supporting me through my training was a major factor in keeping my tired and sore legs moving.

(That, and the fact that I risked major cramping and took water and gatorade at the later aid stations…something I should have done the entire race because it made a big difference in my giddy-up.)

Mile 11 took us up and down that third and final bridge, and honestly? It set up a pretty miserable last mile. I started taking it .1 at a time. When 12.0 became 12.1, I felt good. Better when 12.1 became 12.2 and so on. After what felt like AGES, I made it to the finishing chute and crossed the finish line.

Don’t be fooled — I may have looked like this:

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But I felt like this (can you tell I didn’t know there was a camera?):


Luckily, we were close enough to the beach to recuperate with some really fun post-run photos:

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(The outtakes of this shoot are priceless, so make sure you go “like” the Meals and Miles page on Facebook and check ’em out)

Final thoughts?

I am incredibly proud of both my finish (maybe more BECAUSE it was so tough?) and my PR, but I’m glad the race is over.

I love setting goals and pushing my body to achieve them, but this is just too long a distance for me to *really* enjoy. I had an amazing weekend with friends (seriously…I could talk to these guys every day, all day, and not be bored) and another great experience under my belt. It’s time to start thinking about triathlon season and getting in shape for some fun races ahead…

Love to these friends for life!

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  1. says

    So proud of you for pushing through!!! I don’t think anyone should be feeling “great” for any half marathon regardless of their speed. It is a race. It is supposed to hurt. That is how you know you are pushing yourself, and you pushed your way to a new PR!!! Whoop!!!

  2. says

    Congratulations Katy! Hilly halfs are really tough to push through. Glad you have a wicked PR plus the satisfaction of pushing through a tough course.

  3. says

    Way to go Katy and congrats on the PR!! Awesome! :)
    I also ran this morning and those bridges were indeed crazy.
    I love the post race pictures too!

  4. says

    You ROCK!!! Great job. Those bridges do look brutal. And the details of your toenail and blister sum up how hardcore you were with this race. Way to go on the PR and everything, Katy! I love how happy you look at the end with your medal. :)

  5. says

    Congrats on a great race and a brand-spanking new PR despite all the nasty hills!!! You totally kicked some major booty.

    It looks like the race was a fun time. I wish IronGirl would bring a half marathon to the DC/MD area. They have a tri up here, but I’m rather partial to my road races. :)

    Congrats again on an awesome race!

  6. says

    Congratulations on your PR and on finishing the race ~ it’s so rewarding to push yourself and finish!! I love the 2 beach shots – definitely memories you will cherish forever. Hope your poor feet recuperate asap :-)

  7. says

    Wow- this just seems like a dreadful experience to go through;) However, I’m sure that crossing that finish line felt amazing!! I hope tomorrow morning doesn’t bring too much sore-ness!

  8. says

    Katy!!!!!!! You are amazing, oh my goodness! What a race! So proud of you! Those bridges… yowza! Can’t wait to give you a hug of congratulations and meet you in a few weeks =)

  9. says

    Ahh…so bummed I didn’t meet you at the race but WAY TO GO on the PR! The half course is BRUTAL. My mom did the 15K last year and had to do the bridge once so I couldn’t imagine doing it 3 times! Great job today!!

  10. says

    Congrats on a great race!! DUDE. Those bridges were killer! It was kinda strange seeing you in person (although, you may not have realized it was me) – but I’m glad I did!

    I saw your “Katy” shirt right after the start and didn’t even attempt to keep up with you. So glad you kicked ass.

    Cheers to being DONE with that half!

  11. says

    Great job Katy! Those bridges look awful! I know the feeling in the last couple miles when you are just like, “Why did I sign up for this?” but that feeling quickly disappears after you finish!

  12. says

    Great race!! I had such a great time spending the weekend with everyone. It was also a pleasure to meet you! Thank you for all the blogging 101.=)

  13. says

    Wow, great timing. Love the pics.

    Yikes to that blister though, ow!

    This was my first half and I beat my goal time by 8+ min.

    Great times, can’t wait for the next one.

    Congrats on your PR and time. That’s HUGE!

  14. says

    Holy Crapsticks Batman that PR time ROCKS! I was weeping for you at the site of that bridge (nevermind 3 like that). Being a prairie girl, I don’t know what hills are…I really don’t. I DO however know what blisters are and am currently nursing one of similar size on my big toe. Boo.

    Congrats on a fantastic run!

  15. says

    congrats for setting a PR on this course! from reading eevryone’s race reports it sounds like an absolute beast!! you girls make me want to be a part of the florida blogging scene!

  16. says

    YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All of you do!! Congrats to you and everyone else! I love the pic of you on the beach jumping! U are seriously the sweetest, prettiest, and kick – butt girl! I wish we lived closer, I would love hanging out with you all the time!

    Congrats girl!!!! xoxoxoxox <3

  17. says

    Congrats on the PR! That’s amazing with all those bridges. :-) I saw you briefly with my friend (Michelle @ Crazy Running Legs) after the race so I thought I’d stop by to say hi and tell you what a great job you did. That was a TOUGH course!

  18. says

    Congratulations Katy!!!! I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago that was super hilly, but probably not nearly as bad as yours. I was SO happy when it was over, though I also PRed by 5.5 minutes it was kind of torturous for several of the miles. Since then, I ran a 10 mile race and a 5k, and they both felt like breezes compared to the 13.1!

  19. says

    Congrats on a great race! The weather was less than ideal, and the course was killer! Obviously you know I ran the 5k, but I have run 2 of those bridges before. One in a race, and once because a friend and I got a wild hair and thought it might be fun ..stupid. You guys got a lot of great pictures! Looks like you had a great time after the race!

  20. says

    You rock Katy! That’s a great time — and WITH a potty break? Plus you probably didn’t train for those hills properly if you didn’t realize how bad they were going to be … Way to go!

  21. says

    You did amazing Katy! I was proud to cheer all you girls on yesterday. My vocal cords hurt so bad. Being a runner i know that when people are yelling at me and telling me to push through it,and that im doing an awesome job just makes me go faster. I was trying my hardest to push all you girls at the last 500 feet lol

  22. says

    Thanks for all of the wonderful conversation this weekend! I am really looking forward to your post! You seriously rocked out at this race. I saw you tweeting earlier about already wanting to run another one. I KNOW you can hit that sub 2 hour half marathon! Imagine what you could do if there weren’t 50 million bridges.

  23. says

    You are amaaaaaazing! Sorry this congratulations was so late – totally random but my ordination was the weekend. While you were running I was kneeling at the bottom of a pile of clergy laying their hands on me! Both totally epic if you ask me. :)

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