After a crazy Friday night (no drinks involved), but only 4 hours of sleep and a lot of snoozing, I woke up with 20 minutes to get ready. So not typical of me! The lack of sleep is another whole story that involves a drunk boyfriend and his best friend (from out of town) having the night of their life and arriving home at almost 4AM .... Anyway ...
Back to Saturday morning. I met my friend Penny at 6AM to we headed to Clearwater with full intentions of doing a minimal of 20 minutes as a warm up (but up to 4 miles as my schedule said). Traffic was crazy and we got to Clearwater around 7AM. No biggie. We parked and started getting ready. As I went to attach my bib number to my shirt, I realized that there were no safety pins in the bag. Luckily, Penny brought four safety pins and gave me two of hers. Then, she went to put on her Garmin and realized that she didn't bring it! Luckily, mine was on my wrist but I felt horrible for her! Then, we both reach in our bags to get our ipods and she realizes that hers is almost dead. I can't find mine. Apparently, I left it at home. Of course. So far, crazy morning! But, the sun is shining and it's absolutely beautiful out so we decide we're going to make the most of the day! :)
We start walking to the beach and decide we'll hit up the restrooms and then warm up. No port-o-potties! There are restrooms, but a crazy line. Luckily, the line went by fast and we were warming up by 7:10. We warm up for about 1/2 a mile (clearly we didn't get in the 20 minutes) and walk to the start line. We make our way up to the very front (well about five seconds from the front) and get ready to start. We realize we haven't stretched - of course we haven't, we haven't done anything right this morning - so we stretch while we wait for the National Anthem.
Off we go. The 5K and 15K are together. It's a pretty neat event - only women and a lot of mother/daughter teams. There were quite a bit of young daughters, too! Clearwater isn't flat. It's an out and back course so we get to cross this hilly bridge twice. I thought about this ahead of time, but didn't realize that the rest of the course would be hilly, too. Kind of through me off, but oh well!
As we start, Penny's shin is hurting pretty bad. We don't even make it to mile one together (which was fine), but I was worried that it would be a long day for her. Mile One comes by fast, 7:40. As mile 2 begins, we head up the bridge. We don't even make it to the top of the bridge and the 5Kers get to turn around. I'm feeling great but thinking that it would be nice to be racing a 5K today. I keep going up the bridge and finally start coming down. Mile 2 is in the middle of the downpart of the bridge - 8:00 flat. I'm pretty excited that I don't go over 8min. even with the hill!
Mile 3 is pretty uneventful. I quickly realize that we get to do this loop twice. Nothing exciting. A lot of water and gatorade on the course, though. Mile 3: 7:54 (Penny must be feeling better because she passes me here). Mile 4: 7:55 I actually start to feel good after mile 4 and decide to pick it up a tad. Mile 5: 7:41
We begin to loop sometime during the next mile. So, I start passing runners and walkers left and right that are on their first loop. It's not a wide course at all. No biggie, though. A runner named Annie starts chatting with me. We run the next mile and a half together. I slow down a bit as my hamstrings are TIGHT! I'm not out of breath at all which is exciting but my legs are heavy and tight!! I did have a hard week of training, so I'm okay with this, but I really want to break my old time. Mile 6: 7:58 Mile 7: 8:05
After this, we begin to head back up the bridge. Oh my!!! I knew it was tough going up, but it was at the beginning of the race. This time around ... NO FUN!!! I keep going but actually find myself wanting to walk. Of course I'm not going to walk but no fun at all! My feet are burning (I'm wearing shoes with only 5 miles on them so I think it may be this ... still not sure). Mile 8 is 8:24. I tell myself that I need to pick up the pace when I see this. I only have 1.3 miles left. If I can finish a track workout with a 6:50 something every week, then certainly I can finish strong here. I start passing a couple of runners but I'm not picking up too much. I just wanted it done. Mile 9 is : 8:01 It's only .3 At about mile 8, I realize I can still break my PR, but I'm going to have to push. I wanted mile 9 to have been faster than a 8:01, but it's still possible so I decide to push this last .3 I go for it, knowing it's going to be tough.
.3 miles come and I still can't even see the finish line. I get a little upset, but I keep running. At this point, I realize there was no mile 9 sign either. There were mile markers for everything else, but zero clocks. I keep running, though I probably slow down a little bit here. I see minutes go by on my clock before I finally see the finish line. I decide to sprint a little at the end anyway.
Garmin read 9.56 and finish time was 1:15:55. Obviously, i didn't PR, but my .56 was ran at a 7:20 pace I missed it by exactly 2 minutes. I find Penny at the finish line. She was upset because she thought she was running well and came across in 1:13:28 (at Gasparilla I ran a 1:13:55 and she ran a 1:12:50). So, she didn't beat hers, either. She ran the entire course without a watch and there weren't any clocks.
I tell her about how off my Garmin is. We then decide to ask everyone else that have watches on. There garmins are all between 9.58 and 9.61
At Gasparilla, my Garmin read 9.3 miles exactly! So, I actually PR'ed by 9 seconds. I won't count it but I will use that to compare apples to apples and know that I'm improved in the last five weeks. After all this course was harder and I ran the 9.3 miles faster.
We get our print outs and her print out says she ran the 15K in 31 minutes. It takes us forever to fix this with the officials. It says her pace is 3:23. Hahahhahaha She had "won" the race. They give her the time that she says she crossed the finish line in and subtract 6 seconds because they had her start time recorded. It's good thing she's honest and didn't lie because they totally just switched her time!
I realize that Garmins are a little off. I've ran quite a bit of races with mine, but I've NEVER had one be almost 3 tenths of a mile off. That's more than a full lap around the track!! Oh well. I'm training for a marathon and it was a GREAT marathon paced run - if I want to look at it that way! You can't beat running races at the beach! It was such a beautiful day. Not too windy. Less than 70 degrees and beautiful blue skies. No matter how crazy of morning we had, I couldn't help but smile and feel lucky that I'm a runner! :)