We’re finally home! And back to 30 degree temps and snow. Oh well, it was nice to escape from it for a week! But anyways, it’s time for the race recap! The Clearwater Distance Classic was on Sunday, and my mom and I got up bright and early around 5 am to make the 7:05 start. We were surprised by how dark it was at the start, but I think we forgot it was mid-winter and that it’s still dark early in the mornings, even in Florida. We were both excited to run, having not run a long race since the Rochester Marathon in September. Right at 7:05 the gun sounded, and everyone was off! And I mean, everyone. This race offered a 50k, marathon, half marathon, or 5-mile distance, and everyone started at the same time. This made it a little hectic and crowded at the start, but not terrible. Everyone just seemed happy to be running! The race took us into the edge of downtown Clearwater, and then across the first much-anticipated bridge! On the website, they described this as possibly Florida’s most challenging half marathon because of the steepness and difficulty of these bridges, which provide great views of the Gulf of Mexico and Clearwater Bay. Being from hilly New England, my mom had scoffed at this. “Bridges?! How bad can they be?” Well, pretty dang steep to be honest.
The only good news was that the first one came somewhere around mile 2, so we still had plenty of gas in the tank. The views from the bridge were wonderful – all sky and ocean and impressive silhouettes of the hotels in the distance. Once we crossed the bridge, we started seeing signs for Hope and Winter – the famous dolphins from the Dolphin Tale movies who live in the nearby aquarium. One runner shouted out across the bay area “HI HOPE AND WINTER!!” 🙂 There were also jokes about all the beeps from GPS watches being understood by the dolphins nearby.
My mom and I kept running, maintaining a pretty comfortable pace right around 9:30-ish/mile. We passed some beautiful beaches, finally reaching the turn-around point in this out-and-back course. At this point, I was really starting to feel it. My hamstring was twinging, but it was actually my knee on the same leg that was starting to really hurt. I was so happy to just be doing 13.1 miles that day; I couldn’t imagine running a marathon with my knee hurting the way it was. My mom and I have definitely run more challenging courses in the past – the Mad Half in Vermont had tons of hills! But this race felt the toughest for me, both physically and mentally, and I got progressively grumpier mile by mile. After crossing the bridge back towards the end of the course, we had to run down this spiral walkway that led back to the finish area. I kept running because I was desperate to be done, but yikes– running downhill made my knee seize up like I couldn’t believe! I got passed by lots of runners on this little section, which was disappointing – especially since running downhill is supposed to be the easy part! Finally, that was over and I was crossing the finish line, a couple minutes behind my mom. Final time – 2:12
I immediately grabbed an ice pack from the aid tent after finishing, and after catching my breath, went with my mom to check out the post-race food! There was a good selection and we helped ourselves to chocolate milk, pastries, pretzels, and bananas. There was also pasta available, but neither of us really wanted that after running for 2 hours. So despite the beautiful views, wonderful setting, and yummy food spread, this was not the best race for me. I’m pretty sure the knee issue isn’t too serious – I think it’s just runners’ knee, which can be treated pretty easily with stretching (I know because my mom had some issues with it not too long ago!). My plan is to look into that, and slowly start building my mileage up again so that I’ll be ready when the next race rolls around. I guess the moral of my last few posts lately, is that I need to be better about stretching (ahem, remember when I stupidly strained my hamstring a week and a half ago?) So yeah… I guess I’ll start doing that. But looking on the bright side, my mom and I finished our tenth half marathon, and bagged another state! So a successful trip overall. I hope you all had a great week! Many thanks to Bonnie and my grandfather for hosting us and helping this be a successful trip! My mom and I are both so grateful to have such wonderful family.