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Iron Girl Half Marathon

by Meghann on April 10, 2011

Success!

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We conquered not one… not two… but THREE killer bridges. It was one of the toughest half marathon courses I have ever run and I couldn’t be more proud of myself for finishing it. :)

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The morning began with a 4:00am wake up call. It was tough, but was worth it. We never fought traffic, never waited in ridiculous lines for parking, trolley, or restroom, and we were right on time for everything.

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I had two pieces of toast with a mix of peanut butter, pumpkin, and chocolate chips on top before heading out the door.

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We had a 30ish minute drive to Clearwater and parked in an offsite parking lot where a trolley system was set up to take us to the start.

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We arrived at the trolleys an hour before the start and had no problem parking and the line moved quickly. However, I heard rumors from other racers that the trolleys backed up closer to the start and a lot of people ran late to the start. No bueno.

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Our faithful spectators ready to roll

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I really enjoy getting to the starting line early. It takes a lot of stress out of the morning and makes for a much more pleasurable racing experience. We had plenty of time at the start and never felt panicked or rushed.

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Side Note: LOVED my Champion running shirt. It was a gift from Leslie last summer and it’s one of my favorites. I would like to order it in every color. :)

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By shear luck we stumbled upon another friendly face in the crowd.

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Hi MegaNerd!!

At exactly 7:00am (I love it when a race is on time) they sounded the horn and we were off!

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The start wasn’t corralled or divided by any means, so it was a mad rush past the starting line. I quickly lost everyone I started with, only to see them passing me on an empty shoulder a quarter mile into the race. I followed suit and grabbed the same edge. Eventually I was able to find a comfortable pace I was happy with.

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I had Katy close behind me and I could see Megan up ahead. We ran in this pattern for the first mile.

Then I saw the first bridge.

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The first bridge is the longest, with the slowest slop and took you from mile one to mile two. It was bad, but thankfully -being in the beginning – it could have been worse.

I caught up with Megan right where it leveled off on the top and waved good bye as we both coasted down.

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The next two miles were pretty steady. Katy was still at my tail keeping an awesome 8:30 pace (It should be known that Katy ROCKED this race) and after mile 2 I could spot my sister in the distance. She stayed within eye distance the whole way.

There was a turn around point where someone yelled out ‘Meals and Miles!’ (Hi Megan!!) and we were able to wave at Kelly.

After the turn around/ round about thingy Katy gained some speed and passed me! The whole time I’m screaming in my head ‘You go girl’ I was so proud to see her fly!

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We ran through some pretty beautiful neighborhoods on the water. I managed to take my mind off the constant uphills (it never felt like we were going down!) by picking out my future dream home.

I liked this one.

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But this one could have worked too.

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Especially with this view.

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Just before mile 7 Katy ducked into a porta potty and I lost her for the rest of the race. My stats were still hovering between 8:30 and 8:45 per mile and I was feeling awesome.

Then I saw bridge #2 looming in the distance.

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Bridge #2 won the award for being the steepest of all the bridges. It was tall and it was scary, but I made it a point to push myself through it.

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I told myself I could come to a snails pace if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to walk. I dug my toes in and gave the bridge everything I had.

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Luckily the views were amazing and with every steep bridge, comes a nice pace boosting decline.

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After the bridge I popped two Gu Chomps. I never went into this race hoping to PR, but I was happy with my current splits and wanted to keep up what I could. However, my body was starting to feel it.

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The next 3-4 miles were a straight shot on a main road. Cars were whizzing by and our little coned off section felt like a tight squeeze. We ran past the coast guard (yum), a fire station(double yum), and a couple of Starbucks I was tempted to make a pit stop in. My pace was dropping and I was really starting to feel the sun beat down on me.

The whole time I could still see Kelly’s green shirt and her long beautiful hair flapping in the distance.

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Just as I was growing tired of going straight, I could see a bridge start to appear on the horizon.

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Another bridge? Oh wait, that can’t be part of the course. I’m sure we turn way before that. I mean we only have a couple of miles left and we’ve already done two.

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That bridge sure is getting closer.

Oh crap, no one is turning – they’re all running up it.

Here goes nothing.

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I caught up to Kelly on Bridge #3 (the shortest of all of them, but most cruel as you enter it at mile 11). Kelly was not a fan of this bridge.

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Just as she started to walk I came up next to her screaming “F*ck this bridge! F*ck this bridge”

She was still not amused.

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I walked for a few second with her, then decided to give it all I had to push it to the end.

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“F*ck this bridge! F*ck this bridge!”

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At mile 11.5 I start the descent and coast to the bottom.

From there the race gets mean.

You turn left. People cheer ‘you’re almost there!’

You turn right. People cheer ‘you’re almost there!’

You turn left again.

You turn right again.

You begin to give dirty looks.

You finally see the finish line.

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Victory is mine!

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Official Finish Time: 1:56:36

And I was darn proud of that!!!

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Kelly came in just 30 seconds after me.

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Then Katy

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And Megan

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Finally – finishing strong! – was Amber.

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It was a beautiful course and a beautiful day for a race! We celebrated with some fun in the water. The finish line was only a hop over to the water. :)

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Check out the Meals and Miles Facebook for a full album of our beach side photo shoot!!

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We headed back to wait in the (long) trolley line and I grabbed a free juice to sip on.

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Our bellies were growling for food by the time we made it back to the cars. None of us were familiar with the Clearwater area, so after a quick search on the Yelp app on my phone, we were able to strike gold with the cutest little cafe about a mile and a half down the road for brunch.

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The biscuits on everyone’s plates when we walked in the door immediately caught my eye. When the majority of us ordered waffles for out entries, I ordered some biscuits for the table, so we could all have bite.

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Holy yum! The biscuits melted in our mouths. They were buttery, dry, and perfect in every way.

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I ordered the Blueberry Waffle Special with a side of egg and fruit.

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Heaven on a plate. This was probably my best Yelp find to date. :)

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Too bad it’s in Clearwater and not Tampa! :)

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Everyone has gone home now and it’s just me, Derek, and Maddie left to relax on the couch.

What a crazy, amazing weekend! :)

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

wow! what a beautiful course!

great time and congrats! celebrating in the ocean is definitely the way to go – I’m jealous! :)

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2 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

and I can’t wait to see more race recaps as I’m sure there will be plenty more to come ;)

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3 Freya April 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Wowzer, great recap and AWESOME time! I’d be thrilled with that!! And how lovely to run it with so many friends..you’re ever so lucky :)
Have a great chill day!
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4 Molly April 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I was on the edge of my seat during your whole post – it’s amazing how you captured the exhilaration of the race with words and photos. And a huge CONGRATULATIONS! That course looks like a killer, but you rocked it :)
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5 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun April 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

That race looks like an amazing good time! Minus the 3 f*ck*n bridges of course. ;)

I really hope you end up doing the Savannah Half. I would LOVE to participate in that race together!
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6 Meghann April 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm

We’re doing the Savannah Full!! I can’t wait!! :)

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7 Hats @ See How She Runs April 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Congratulations again! Those bridges look mean. I’ve only done one half (didn’t run most of it… long story short I failed at training) and that had a few nasty hills in it but had one AWESOME down hill about 1.5 miles from the end. You speed down it and then enter the home stretch along the coast. Although this was the north east of England coast so was rather chilly – still awesome though.

Yoga in the water looks like fun. Oh man, now I’m craving blueberries!
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8 Little Bookworm April 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Congratulations on the race! Sounds like you did great, and the course looks pretty as well. :)
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9 Katy (The Singing Runner) April 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Great job!!! :) Those bridges looked KILLER!!!! So happy that I ran into you today! Sorry I was super awkward! I was really nervous for my race for some reason! Haha! :D
Next year I will redeem myself and will not be injured and will run the half! :D
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10 Meghann April 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

My brother said you were quite the speedster in your 5k. They saw you finish! Congrats!

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11 Lisa @ I'm an Okie April 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

What a fun race! You showed those bridges who’s boss!

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12 Fit Chick Britt April 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Awesome job Meghann!! Sounds like a tough race and you pushed hard. Now I wanna run a race :-)
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13 Hats @ See How She Runs April 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Forgot to say that I love your race top too – looks fab!
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14 Karolina April 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Wow- I think at bridge one I would’ve just sat down on the side of the road! Those things look like beasts. Congrats on a great race and finish time!
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15 Stacey (The Home-Cooked Vegan) April 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

You finished in 1:56?!!! that’s awesome girl!! You should be totally proud of that :) Those bridges look like a killer, f****’em! LOL They ain’t got nuthin on you!

Enjoy relaxing with the boyfriend :) You’ve earned it!
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16 Michelle April 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Those bridges scare me just looking at the pictures. Very impressive time with such a difficult course.
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17 Brittany April 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

What a great race! You really showed those bridges who’s boss!
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18 erica April 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

congrats!

love your post race celebratory pics in the water! so much fun :)
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19 Ashley April 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm

The pictures of you finishing are awesome! How did you get those?
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20 Meghann April 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm

My boyfriend took them at the finish line with my DSLR. He’s a pro at it now. :)

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21 Alayna @ Thyme Bombe April 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Awesome recap! I wanna do a race where I can celebrate my epic win in the ocean!
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22 River April 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Congrats on the race! Great photos.
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23 Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Congrats on a great race!! Each race has it’s own unique challenges and you seem to conquer all of them one by one :)

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24 Lauren @chigallauren April 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm

This sounds like such a cool race!! Congrats and thanks for sharing everything along the way :)
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25 Lisa (bakebikeblog) April 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

oooooh congrats!! I did a Half yesterday too – although the weather for ours was RAIN!! For the entire race!!
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26 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine April 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Awesome job!! It looks like such a fun race with all of you there! The pictures of all of you jumping are great!
Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine recently posted..A Long Walk- The More-Fitness Half Marathon

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27 Lea @ Healthy Coconut April 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Great job on the race, all of you! I hope this race comes towards the west coast, I would love to race it.

I noticed all the pink colors at the finish live, gotta love that!

How nice that the finish line was right by the water. What was the temps?
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28 Meghann April 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

The water temps? I’m not sure, but it felt good in the 88 degree heat!

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29 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) April 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

You did amazing! I would be screaming the same thing at the bridges if I had to run up them. What a cruel joke!
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30 Cate April 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Congrats to you all! You are a speedy bunch of runners! I love all of the pictures. I also ran this morning. I tried to see if I could spot any of you, but I guess we just missed each other.
It was my second half and I happened to get a PR which made me feel great considering the crazy bridges! :)
Don’t you just love the medal – I think it is so cute!
Cate recently posted..I am an Iron Girl! Race Recap- Iron Girl Half Marathon

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31 Meghann April 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Congrats on the PR! That was a tough course! Be extra proud of that number! :)

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32 Sana April 10, 2011 at 6:01 pm

What an awesome raceee! You guys are all ballerrr!

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33 Allie April 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm

What a great race you had despite the 3 bridges!
Hope you enjoy the remainder of your weekend !
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34 Anne P April 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Ahhh those beach photos of all of you are SO cute! Congrats!

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35 Liz April 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Congrats on the race!! I just ran my first half today and it’s an awesome feeling :D
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36 Emily April 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Congrats on the race!! What a fun day :)
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37 Holly @ The Runny Egg April 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Congrats!!! I hate races that make you weave and turn before the finish line — you can see the finish line but you feel so far away :( You did great!
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38 gabriella @ embracement April 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Such a great recap! You killed those bridges. And fantastic pictures too!
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39 Little Miss Runshine April 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

This looks like so much fun!!! Great job ladies!!
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40 Lucy @ The Sweet Touch April 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Looks like an amazing time – and 1:56-that is AWESOME!!!

I can’t imagine how you must have felt on that last hill but you rocked it out, way to go!!!
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41 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

This is one of my favourite race recaps Meghann! I love all of your coordinated outfits and especially the PINK!! The bridges sound like killers but the scenery looks gorgeous! Glad you had such a fantastic weekend. :)
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42 Christine April 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Great run!
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43 Sarah K April 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Congrats! Loved the recap and all the pictures
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44 Ashley April 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm

This is such a great recap. Congratulations, on yet another awesome race!!! You’re a rockstar!
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45 Meredith April 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm

The race looked beautiful! Those hills on the other hand, not so much. It looks like you killed it though! Way to go! Can;t wait to see more recaps!

P.S. I love that top! I want one :)

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46 Ash Bear April 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Congratulations on kicking those bridges in the ass! I can appreciate how much bridges suck after the NYC Marathon! :)
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47 Jessi @ Quirky Cookery April 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Gah, those bridges look brutal! Congrats!

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48 Amy April 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

What an awesome recap! Congrats on the race Meghann!
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49 Amy April 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

AWESOME AWESOME JOB!!!!!!!! Running over those 3 bridges makes my feet hurt…so you girls totally rocked it!

Great race recap, loved all the photos!

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50 Hilary April 10, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Nicely done…and what great pictures! Way to go!
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51 Clare @ Fitting It All In April 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Congrats!! I walked up a bunch of the hills in my marathon today so I’m totally in awe that you ran those bridges!

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52 Alexa @ SimpleEats April 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm

What an awesome post, I loved every sentence! I felt like I was with you on those terrible bridges! Great job, girl!
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53 Kacy April 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

What a great recap! Congrats on another awesome race!
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54 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Awesome job on the race!! I would have cried at that third bridge!
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55 Krystina (Organically Me) April 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Congrats!!!! Everyone did great. :-D

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56 clare @ livingspreethegoodlife.wordpress.com April 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Wow, great job! I did the Iron Girl Half last year just a few weeks before running the Boston Marathon. I have to admit that it was a really difficult course (although it helped prepare me for the much more difficult Boston Marathon course). I’ve also done an IronGirl triathlon in Vegas and the run portion was pure torture with tons of hills. I guess that’s what they’re know for??!

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57 Dina @ DinaRuns April 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Congrats on your race! Those bridges looked awful. I think it’s hard when you run in pancake flat Florida to appreciate the extra oomph you need to run steep hills.
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58 Amanda April 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Congrats on a great race!! Those houses look amazing…maybe we were house shopping in the wrong area afterall the other day. :) I love the beach photo shoot.
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59 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Congrats on such an amazing run! Looks like you had great weather for that race… and you made it over those bridges! Wahoo!

…sidenote: for some reason I thought this was a half triathalon not a half marathon so I was so confused when I didn’t see any swimming or cycling. I think the “iron girl” name threw me off.

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60 Lee April 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Congrats! Those bridges look killer.
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61 Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out April 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

What an awesome recap!

The shirt is Champion like from Target? I think I need one.

Great job and time! Looked like a killer race.

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62 Meghann April 11, 2011 at 7:29 am

Yes it is, though you can’t find it at Target anymore. I heard a rumor of someone spotting them at Marshalls though. My goal today is to find some online in every color. :)

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63 Reenie April 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Way to gooo girls….great pics too!!

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64 Danielle April 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Congrats on your finish!! Looks like you rocked that HM!! I grew up in the Tampa/St. Pete area (now living in NC), so I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog!
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65 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food April 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Congratulations! Great time! Hills are absolutely the worst and you killed them! :-)
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66 Kiran April 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Y’all rocked this race. Amazing! Congratulations :)
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67 Mimi April 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

This is getting me SUPER pumped up for my half-marathon next weekend!
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68 Michelle April 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I really thought that bridge at Mile 11 was a complete joke too. I kept thinking, “Surely we are going to turn right before we hit it.” WRONG. Sneak attack 2011.

Awesome job on your time!
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69 Alaina April 11, 2011 at 12:14 am

What an awesome and beautiful race!! Congrats on a great time!! And that ocean photo shoot definitely looks like fun. :-)
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70 Emma (Namaste Everyday) April 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

way to go! I felt exhausted just looking at you!
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71 Dori April 11, 2011 at 6:39 am

Congrats!!! You are so fast!
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72 Christine @ Burning It Off April 11, 2011 at 7:05 am

Great recap! Those bridges do not look like fun… awesome job!!
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73 Jumanah @ Healthy Living in the Middle East April 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

Congrats on the race! Great job!
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74 Hope April 11, 2011 at 8:24 am

Congrats on the race!! I love the pictures of you guys jumping on the beach! So cute! :) You definitely deserve to celebrate!! :)

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75 MichaelRunner April 11, 2011 at 8:43 am

Great job on the race and an incredibly well done post to boot!
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76 Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me April 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

Congrats! You kicked major bootay!
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77 Anastasia April 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

Congratulations on the awesome race! I just have to say one thing- you all are badass! It looks like a tough lil’ course!
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78 LauraJayne April 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I love it when everything goes smoothly on the way to a race – and I hate being late! Sometimes, however, arriving just barely in time is the best because I have less time to psyche myself out!

Congrats on a great race!
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79 Kristen April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Love your write up and pics!
I did not carry a camera, but was a bit sorry I hadn’t since the view was perfect.

That last bridge at mile 11 was hell, but good to keep in mind for future training.

Coast Guards and Firemen, double yum indeed.

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80 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

NICELY done!!! That looks like a fun race :)

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81 Shagnfl April 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Job well done! I love your recap.

I was so with you with the F* the bridge. I swear I had to go back and reread the course map. I remember screaming WHY at mile 7 and 11…Why would they do this to me…lol

Congrats! I will be back to redeem myself

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82 April @AdventureApril April 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Congrats on persevering through and finishing the half! I love reading your race reports; they’re always inspiring.
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