• About Allison

    I am a 26-year-old married Michigan gal living in Sarasota, Florida. This blog is a chronicle of my journey toward a healthier lifestyle! I started running in January 2009 and began to change my eating habits in May 2009. Now, I am dedicated to training smart and eating right. Join me as I seek to balance running and eating healthy, local foods with my crazy work life and hilarious home life.

    Contact me: allisonisactive@gmail.com

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Race Report: Aflac Iron Girl Clearwater 15k

Another distance bites the dust: my first 15k is under my belt!  (My tactical hydration system belt, that is.)

I had some worries going into this race; namely that I took time off to let my sore knee heal after my back-to-back half marathons in March.  I’ve been running one or two times each week along with walking and biking, but my longest running distance since the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 14 has been about 4.5 miles.  I was hoping I could go 9.3 in this hot weather after taking time off!

Our day began at 4:00 A.M. so we could make the drive to Clearwater (about 90 minutes).  I got dressed, packed my bag, and ate an English muffin with peanut butter.  I also packed an apple, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, and some pineapple in the Vera Bradley cooler my parents got me for a birthday gift in case I needed a second breakfast.  🙂

We were off to Clearwater by 4:30 A.M. and only stopped to ask for directions once!  Upon arriving at the host hotel and packet pick-up location (Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach – beautiful!) we parked in the garage (ended up costing $13.75 – YIKES!) and went inside to get my race packet.

Lines for packet pick-up were short and I got my race number, chip, t-shirt, and goodies in no time!  The shirts are adorable – high quality women’s tech shirts in light pink with a nice design.  I will definitely be wearing it in addition to the Iron Girl shirt I got just for signing up.  I love races where I get a shirt I’ll actually wear!

Inside the hotel, we met up with my friend Karen who would be running with me, along with her entourage: two of her (must faster) running friends, her buddies Jen and Tracy, along with her parents and sister.  I just brought Mike, but between us, we had quite the support crew!  The longest distance Karen has ever run since beginning her journey in January 2010 had been 6 miles, and she was so excited to go for the 15k!

Look at that beautiful beach background!

Jen and Tracy are pretending to run with us; maybe we’ll talk them into the next one?!

After collecting our whole crew, pinning our numbers, and taking some silly pictures, Karen and I hopped into the corral.  There were no times posted that we could see, so we just lined up toward the middle of the pack and waited for the countdown and the quack of the Aflac duck to start the race.

We immediately started in with our 2/1 ratios.  I usually rely on Whitney or Sue’s watches, but I picked up my own interval timing watch at Target last night.  The first challenge of the course came at mile 1: the causeway!  It was a short but steep hill and we kept up our usual intervals.  The crowd was, well, crowded, but after the 5k runners turned around, the field was much, much thinner!

Miles 2 through 7 involved two loops through the neighborhoods of Clearwater.  Karen and I entertained ourselves by chatting about our classrooms (we are both teachers and used to teach together!), to the volunteers and performers on the course (steel drum bands, bagpipers, and stilt walkers), and with other runners on the course.  I saw at least one WISH team member and we ran about a mile with another 2/1 interval runner.  This was a girls only race and all the women were so friendly and positive!

Although the neighborhoods in Clearwater gave us some beautiful houses to look at, the had a drawback: hills!  I found this course to be full of long, gradual hills and smaller, steeper hills through the downtown area.  Add that to the causeway and one other small bridge, and it was a pretty hilly course!

After our second neighborhood loop, it was time to head over the causeway back to Clearwater beach for the finish.  By mile 6, Karen was seting new personal distance records with every step she took, but was also having some blister issues with her feet.  We were both feeling great since we’d been munching on GU Chomps and refilling my water bottles at the water stops, but she had a BAD blister.  We took an extra walk break over the causeway, and we both tried to pick up the pace around mile 8 into the finish.

Karen was such a trooper!  Even with a major blister and sore knees, she trucked it over the finish line.  We weren’t around any other runners and the finish and almost got lost, but followed the course and finished strong!  We saw our friends and family at the finish and gave them a big wave.

Our offical time was 2:05:30.  We were very cautious with our pace at the beginning and were speedier the second time through the loop.  I’m proud that my knees held up and that, aside from being very hot and a somewhat hungry at the finish, I felt good throughout the race.  I’m also so, so proud of Karen – she just started running in January and she’s already done a 15k!  This girl will be running marathons in no time.  I’d love to tackle another 15k with Karen on a cooler day, on a flatter course, and with no blisters!  I know we’d shave many minutes off our already great time.

The first thing we did after the finish was grab our pretty medals from volunteers and snag some water.

Then, we headed to the medical tent.  Karen thought her blister might be bleeding and we thought it should get cleaned up and bandaged.  It hadn’t burst yet, but it looked painful!  We sat and stretched a bit before grabbing our support team and heading to the free breakfast tent. 

One mistake I made during this race was not to bring enough fuel.  I usually bring a back up GU and I didn’t this time around.  Karen and I split my GU Chomps, which should have kept me happy, but my tummy was rumbling at the finish line!  At the breakfast tent, I ate a banana nut muffin and an everything bagel (no real bananas left) and was STILL starving, but feeling better.  I ended up eating some cereal and pineapple on the way home and then ate a leftover chicken enchilada after my shower.

Overall, I was very happy with the Aflac Iron Girl event.  It was very well organized, the shirt were great, and the course was fun and challenging, too.  I thought that if parking were free and there had been more, better entertainment on the course, it would have been even better.  If you live or are traveling near an Iron Girl event, I highly suggest it!

This is my last race for a while (I think…) until a potential trail race in Michigan this summer, and it was a fun way to end my racing season!

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10 Responses

  1. Good work on the run! Nice race recap, sounds like it was a really fun event. Do you have any pictures of the shirts you got? I think that’s my favorite part of the races…the shirt designs…

    Congrats!

  2. I’ll get a shirt picture soon – I’m sure I’ll run in it this week. 🙂 It’s so cute!

  3. Congratulations on your first 15K! Love those medals you got.

  4. Awesome! Great finish and you had fun too. What more could you ask for?

    Keep up the practice runs and a marathon is in your future! Love you!!

  5. Allison, I found your blog through the Disboards. I just finished a C25K, and my ultimate goal is the Princess Half. I was wondering about your intervals. When you say 2/1, is that minutes or miles?

    Thanks!

  6. P.S. Since you mentioned a watch, I guess I figured out that it is minutes. Is this similar to Jeff Galloway’s training plans?

  7. Yes! I began running intervals last summer when I read about interval training in Jeff Galloway’s books and in John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield’s book Marathoning for Mortals. I started doing intervals of run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute, but in September, I joined a Galloway half marathon training program at my local Fleet Feet store. Their program used 2 minute run and 1 minute walk intervals, and I discovered that was my “happy place” when it came to intervals! I have a watch (Timex brand from Target) that I can program to beep at those intervals. Gym Boss timers are good for intervals, too, and can be programmed to beep or vibrate.

    I trained for and completed my first 5k in March 2009 and a year later ran the Princess Half, so your goal is completely reasonable. If I did it, anybody can do it!

  8. The medals are totally cute. I like how a lot of events geared toward women feature medals… I guess they know how many of us are it it for the bling! 🙂

  9. Congrats, Allison!! We are so proud of you for another great run.

  10. Way to go on your race! Sounds like you had a great time.
    🙂
    Check out my blog sometime, I’m a new runner, so I need to keep in touch with all ya’ll experienced runners out there! 🙂

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