Oh Hey, I Raced a 5K!

17 04 2015

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a fitness related post, but I can finally say that I’m back in the swing of things!

The last time I checked in about my fitness (or lack thereof) I was  just starting to get back to running. Yoga was my go-to workout, but I was definitely getting the itch for more cardio. Slowly but surely I’ve started to get in some swimming, biking and running. My mileage is still relatively low (for me), and I’m definitely not Ms. Consistent like I was last season, but I’m happy if I get in 4-5 workouts during the week.


Having some rad new SOAS gear also helps with the motivation.


Yes. Definitely helps.


You’ll be seeing a lot more of this awesome teal this season:-)


(get some gear for yourself- you won’t regret it!)

Anyhow, last weekend, I was looking for something to do. Most of my friends were out of town, so Meghann suggested I run the IronGirl Clearwater 5K. Without hesitation, I said ok! A 5K would be fun! My last time running there was a distant memory; had I remembered, I may not have been so quick to agree (hint: Florida runners go here to run the bridges aka Florida hills). Great.


Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early to get myself over to Clearwater for the 7:30 start. I was a little worried about parking, so I arrived close to 6:45. Parking was a breeze, so I had time to putz around, stretch and do a (half-hearted) warm up. I watched the half marathoners start at 7 and then milled into the corral for our 7:30 gun time. I really had no expectations for myself- I just wanted to have fun. I lined up close(ish) to the front and waited for the gun.


As soon as it sounded, I took off. I pressed play on my iPod and started to run.

Hmm…I’m not sure I have any other pace than my Ironman goal pace (5:30/km)…Steph, that’s way too slow for a 5K pace.

This is a 5K- you have to run FAST Steph.

This is gonna hurt…but it’s supposed to!

The pain will only last 25 minutes Steph. You did an Ironman, you can handle 25 minutes!

I quickly found my rhythm, and started passing some people right away. Before we had even hit the bridge, I noticed that I was near the front of the pack. Don’t get too excited now;  just take it one K at a time, left, right, left.

My first km ticked off and I saw a 4:XX.  Really?? Haven’t seen that pace in quite some time! Just keep it up, don’t die now!

I started up the bridge and felt pretty good. I actually passed someone, which gave me a little mental boost. Don’t let her catch you on the downhill Steph!

Before I knew it, I was actually at the top of the bridge! It wasn’t quite as tough as I remembered, but I knew I still had to come back over it, so I couldn’t get too excited. I took advantage of the downhill, and when another km clicked by with a 4 in front, I was getting pretty excited. But, I was also really nervous that I would crash and burn- my runs lately have been between 4-8K; with many more on the 4K end of that spectrum, and all the mileage after 3K feeling way more difficult than I wanted it to feel.  At the bottom of the bridge, there was a short straightaway before the turnaround. I looked over the median to see the girls who had made the turn already. 1…2…3…4…5…6…I couldn’t see the girls directly in the turn, but there were definitely a few there. I figured I was definitely in the top 15, but I might be able to squeak into the top ten if I can keep it up!

Right after the turn, we were hit with a headwind. This was both a blessing and a curse, since it made it feel cooler (stupid Florida humidity!) but it was a darn headwind. A little flat and then up the bridge we went. Oof. It was getting hard at this point. Really hard. My lungs were burning and my heart was pounding. Gosh I miss my Ironman fitness! I saw the girl in front of me, maybe 10 meters or so and I really wanted to catch her, but I didn’t want to end up passed out on the top of the Causeway bridge…so I pulled back a tad. Once I had reached the top of the bridge, my heart rate had settled some, and I knew it was time to bring it home. With only a km left (and some of that downhill), I kicked it into high gear. Lean forward Steph, take advantage of that bridge! 

As I headed down the bridge, the girl in front of me got closer. C’mon, do it Steph! I caught her at the bottom of the bridge, as we were making the turn onto Osceola Avenue. Yes! Now hold on Steph!

Down Osceola, and then a left onto Cleveland and into the finish chute! Yahoo! I did it! Finish lines are so fun!


I grabbed my bling and took a photo with Meghann while I waited for results to be posted.


I was so surprised to see that I had won my age group and was 11th OA! Totally unexpected, but totally awesome!


I mean, check out these awesome awards:


Wow! It was so much fun to race IronGirl. It was a beautiful morning (though a little on the humid side), a challenging course, and such an amazing event that empowers women. I loved watching women of all shapes and sizes cross that finish line! The race was super organized, the vendors and expo was great, and it was great motivation for me to keep getting back at it. (So much so, that I signed up for an OWS race this weekend! Oh, and I’m doing a triathlon relay at the end of the month!)

I’m back friends!

Race Report: Courage To Tri

26 08 2013

My alarm buzzed at 4:30 am. I rolled over to turn it off, groaning. Is it really time to get up? I had not gotten a good night’s sleep- I woke up just about every hour from 9:30pm to 12:30am. I just couldn’t get my brain to shut down. That and my obnoxious kitties running all over my apartment made it difficult to fall asleep.


IMG_8276(But they’re cute, so I forgave them).

I had prepped most of my gear the night before, I just needed to fill up my water bottles. Since the race was only a sprint, I figured I’d only need some electrolyte enhanced Skratch on the bike, and then I’d bring an extra water bottle just in case.  I filled one more water bottle for the drive, grabbed my overnight oats and hit the road.

I arrived at Sand Key Park around 5:30am, right when transition was opening. Parking was a breeze, but the meters we had been reminded to pay numerous times didn’t accept payments until 7:00am. Doh. I was an honest chickadee and paid my meter when I finished the race, but I’m sure I could have snuck out of the park without paying the $5 fee.

I had picked up my packet on Thursday, so I just needed to grab my timing chip and get body marked. Once in transition, I found my rack and started getting set up. My biggest complaint was that the parking lot where we were set up was gravelly. It HURT my bare feet, and definitely made it difficult to run. I probably sounded like a monkey as I hobbled in from the swim- ei ah ah oh!

I wasn’t early enough to grab the end spot on the rack, so I set up in the second space. I happened to be on the same rack as Maria, a fellow Tampa triathlete, and Beth was on the next rack over.

After I set up, I went for a short jog. One of my thoughts from the night before was to bring a mini flashlight or my head lamp because it would be dark. Did I remember that in the morning? No. So, I ran in the dark, careful not to trip on anything, or step in one of the puddles from the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve been getting.

I made it back just before transition closed, dropped my shoes, and then headed to the start.

I really wanted to get in a good swim warm up because I know I’m not really warm until I’ve done at least 400  yards or so, but it was still quite dark out, which freaked me out. So, I held off for as long as I could before saying screw in and diving in. I’d say I swam about 200 meters or so before getting out for the national anthem.


I’m pretty sure this picture was taken after the first wave went off (at 6:50am!)- the sun is still rising!

As the wave in front of mine started, we spotted some dolphins out in the water. They were swimming right along side the mass of white caps! They were probably within several feet of some of the swimmers. We joked that someone might get really lucky and catch the draft of a lifetime. How cool/freaky would it have been to be swimming that close to dolphins?

The dolphins started heading back towards the first buoy right before the horn sounded for my wave. I’m not sure if they swam with my wave too, but I was kinda sad I didn’t turn my head for a breath and see a fin. Anyhow, I was one of the first few swimmers to the first buoy- I spotted two guys (relay swimmers) and then I couldn’t tell if anyone else was nearby. I hopped onto the draft of one of the guys, but not for very long. He quickly faded, and I passed him, eyeing the next guy, who was at least three body lengths ahead of me. I didn’t spot any other yellow caps nearby, so I just kept gunning for the male swimmer ahead of me. I felt really strong, and by the last turn buoy, I had nearly caught him. On the way in, the water got shallow, then deep again and then shallow again. I should have started dolphin diving the first time it got shallow, but my hand didn’t touch bottom so I kept swimming. When I finally did start to dolphin, I was right next to the male swimmer. A few feet from the beach I stood up for the last time and ran right passed him. He got chicked. 🙂

1/3 mile swim: 5:53

T1 was LOOONG. We had to run the length of the beach to the parking lot, and then follow the path of the parking lot to the Swim In part of transition. My feet HURT by the time I got to my bike. So. Much. Gravel.  My shoes were already on the bike and everything I need for the ride is in my helmet (nutrition, sunglasses, watch) which ideally makes my transition pretty speedy. Unfortunately my transition time was a little slower than I would have liked because I struggled to get my watch on. Oh well.

T1: 3:31 (still fast enough to be 2nd in my age group though!)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the bike- I knew I had run the course before, but running and biking a course are two different things. I turned out of the park and immediately was between a bus on my right and a car on my left. Uh what? I don’t really know why there was so much traffic right there, but it seemed like the cops were dealing with it, so I kept moving. I really hoped the rest of the course would be less traffic-y! I’m glad I didn’t get too disoriented because I needed to keep my pace up for bridge number 1, which was right in front of me. I was feeling pretty strong and kept my goal in mind:  hold off Maria as long as I could. I knew she was a super speedy cyclist, so it was going to be tough.

I got to the bottom of the bridge and took a sip of my Skratch. As soon as it hit my tongue I had to spit it out. I can not tell you how gross it was. When I prepared the Skratch, I decided to mix pineapple and raspberry. I also decided to try out this electrolyte powder I had purchased to help with my headaches.


When preparing it, I read the instructions, which said to use 1-3 scoops per hour in a water bottle. Ok, but what size scoop? I shook the container and didn’t hear anything that sounded like a scoop, so I decided to just guess. I used a normal cereal spoon and put almost a full spoonful in my water bottle. When I looked at the nutritional information, I noticed that there were 150 servings in the container. Hm. I think I might have used too much. I didn’t bother to taste the Skratch until that moment on the bike. BAD IDEA. Lesson learned. I hoped I could choke down a few more sips along the ride, but worried I would run out of gas because I didn’t have proper hydration.

Anyhow, we wound around the touristy part of Clearwater beach and then headed out the long stretch to the big Causeway bridge. I got a little uneasy when I saw the flashing lights of a police car and three cyclists on the ground off to the side of the road. As I passed, it appeared that the man was unconscious and the other two were his concerned teammates. I said a little prayer for them and kept moving.

Bridge number 2 was a tough climb up, but very fun on the way down. I wanted to yell “WHEEE!” 🙂 We wound through Bellair Bluffs, and I kept passing people from the earlier waves. Before I knew it, we were on the last bridge of the day. There was a slight downhill right before the bridge, so I was able to get my speed up before switching to a lower gear. It was kind of fun to see one of those “Your Speed: XX” signs on the side of the road and to see what it was picking up. 30mph was the speed limit, and it flashed  30 as someone’s speed as a group flew by 🙂

Just as I began my descent, I was passed by Maria. Aw man, I was hoping I could have held her off for the entire bike ride! I tried to keep her in my line of sight for as long as I could, but I eventually lost her somewhere on those last few miles. The last few miles were a straightaway on Gulf Blvd and I could feel myself getting tired. I really wanted some Gatorade or water at this point! Gah!

I had a terrible ending to my bike leg- I usually try to get out of my shoes and ride barefoot on top of my shoes until I get to the dismount line, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was only out of my right shoe when I spotted the volunteers telling us to slow down for the dismount. EEK! I somehow quickly got out of my left shoe and immediately hopped off the bike and ran into transition.

13 mile bike: 38:18, 20.4mph

I spotted Maria in transition and realized I wasn’t too far behind her. Maybe an age group place was in my future! I racked my bike and put down my helmet on the handle bars, which then proceeded to fall on the ground. I felt obligated to pick it up so I jogged around to the other side of the rack to grab it. While on the ground, I grabbed my water bottled and gulped down some water. I was so thankful I had left a water bottle in transition (except I would have been happier if it had been on the bike with me!).

Out I went, 1:16 later.

I had been looking forward to the run all day. I knew I had gotten in some good track and tempo runs over the past few weeks, so I was hopeful I’d see the fruits of my labor today. The run course was mostly on the asphalt parking lot, but a portion of it, right at the beginning, was on the hard sand of the beach. The toughest part was right when you first got on the beach and right when you left the beach- that’s where the sand got soft and my legs wondered what I was doing to them. My goal had been to run sub 5:00 kilometers (I’ve been starting to make the transition to training in the metric system), but when I looked at my watch I noticed I was slightly over 5:00. And I wasn’t getting any faster. My legs were heavy and they were not listening to me when I told them to go faster! As I was coming off of the beach, I was passed by a girl in my age group. She was MOVING. There was no way I was catching her. There was still hope for an age group award, as long as no one else in my division passed me.

I just kept reminding myself that this was only a 5K. Put one foot in front of the other. I was really starting to feel the humidity, so I grabbed water at each water stop and threw it on myself. After what seemed like forever, I could see the finish line. I tried to turn it up and sprint to the end, but my legs just didn’t have it in them. I was just happy to be done.

3.1 mile run: 24:38

Final time: 1:13:46, 3rd place Age Group


All in all, I was happy with my race. I had a great swim and bike, and my run really wasn’t all that bad. For an inaugural race, I was quite pleased with the logistics and organization. Outspokin put on a great race- I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Miles 4 Hope, Moving Towards a Cure

24 09 2012

On Saturday, I participated in my first bike “race.” To say that it was a “race” is not exactly accurate; it was a charity ride for Miles for Hope, an organization that “is dedicated to raising awareness, funding of cutting edge brain tumor research and clinical trials and to providing travel assistance to qualified patients. Through our work, we intend on finding not only treatments that provide a better quality of life for those suffering with brain cancer, but to find a cure for it.” Moving Towards a Cure, the name of Sunday’s event, included a 5 and 10K run/walk, and a 25, 50, and 100K cycle.

I got up bright and early to drive over to Clearwater’s Coachman Park, where I checked in and grabbed my race number and the map of the 100K course.

I went back to my car to prep my bike and gather my nutrition. I didn’t really know how this whole thing worked-there was no cutoff to be out of transition, there was no pre-race meeting, and I didn’t have my normal pre-race jitters. People were just casually getting their stuff together and riding over to the start line.

I had signed up with Team A-Train, a friend’s tri team, so I kept my eye out for some of them. Soon, I spotted Beth and Nick, so we rode over to the start line together.

Nick, Brad, Beth

There were quite a few cyclists, but I had no way of knowing who was doing the 100K or who was doing the 25K.

After a few minutes of waiting around (we had already missed the Star Spangled Banner; we could hear it when we were at the cars), they started all the cyclists. I was a little nervous because there were so many cyclists out of the gate, but everyone was really good at communicating “On your left!” “Car back!” and as far as I could tell, there were no crashes.

I hadn’t studied the course all that closely, but I knew that I’d ride some of the bridges I ran with Meghann when I was marathon training. Shortly after we started, we crossed our first bridge.

What a way to burn those legs right off the bat! Once over the bridge, there’s a straightaway that takes you directly towards the beach. When you can’t go any further straight, there’s a traffic circle. For the race, there was a police man directing traffic on the circle. There were also little arrows painted on the ground, yellow, green, and orange, to indicate the different distances. The circle also had a sign on the grass with an arrow pointing to the right. When we got to the circle, I saw the sign on the grass first, so I had planned to go right. Unfortunately, the police officer told us to go left. Well, it’s pretty hard (and dangerous) to make a last minute decision to go one way or another, so I continued to go right, as the sign directed. I also saw a green arrow on the ground, and figured I must be going in the right direction. I was with a few of the A-Train team, but the rest of the group had gone left. We slowed down to figure out what to do. A few other cyclists went past us, and we tried yelling out to them to ask what distance they were going. None of them seemed to hear us, and sped on by. It was right about now that I wish I had brought that map, instead of leaving it in my car! Thankfully one of my teammates who had also gone right, brought her map. We checked it out, and realized that the green arrows weren’t for the 100K. We needed to follow the yellow arrows. So, we turned around and got back on track.

Pete, our fearless leader, was waiting for us just on the other side of the circle. The rest of the group was way far ahead, but we figured we’d all catch up at the rest stop. The four of us, Pete, Brad, me and Miranda rode together for the 30 miles until the turnaround.

As expected, the rest of our group was waiting for us there!

I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie and refilled my water bottle before we hit the road again.

10 miles or so after the turnaround, we powered through a bridge. On the other side, we took a head count and realized we were missing one of our teammates. Someone said they had seen him on top of the bridge, looking like he had started to cramp up. So, we stopped, and two guys went back to see if he was okay. A few minutes later, the three of them returned. The missing teammate had cramped up on the bridge, and had to stop. Before we started up again, someone gave him two packets of mustard.


I was really confused, but apparently mustard packets are a super quick cure for muscle cramps (as is pickle juice)- who knew?! Within a few minutes of starting back up on our ride, his legs were feeling better! Mental note- snag a few mustard packets next time I’m at a ball game!

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful; we stayed together as a group, chatted about life, and just enjoyed being out on this beautiful day! I really appreciated the team aspect of this event; I loved that we stayed together and made sure everyone was doing okay.

Less than four hours after starting the ride, we crossed the finish line! It was a little anticlimactic, as many of the runners and other cyclists had already finished and cleared out hours before. My first thought was actually, Wow, are we the last ones?

But, we did it! We grabbed some post race food:

Burger and potato salad, with a coke.

Post-ride drink of champions!

We snapped a few photos, and enjoyed the company of new and old friends:-)

Oh, and I can’t forget about the post race (kids) entertainment!

An inflatable waterslide!

What goes up…

must come down!

What a fun group of people!

Team A Train Rocks!

Overall, it was a great day. The weather was perfect, I had great people to ride with, I was riding for a great cause, and I didn’t have any nutrition problems. I guess I could have hoped for a little clarity in directions, but I guess in a ride like this, the onus is on the riders to know where to go, and not volunteers at every turn. But, lesson learned, and I can’t wait to do another one!

Question of the Day: Have you ever done a charity ride?