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A Running Adventure in Clearwater

by Meghann on April 7, 2012

Another long run is in the books.

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This week was a step back week in my Flying Pig Marathon training plan. Last week I ran 19 miles for my long run, this week was 14, and next is 21. After that – it’s taper time! :)

It was a GORGEOUS morning to run too! There was a bit of a breeze in the air and, even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the heat and humidity never got unbearable. It was actually pretty nice.

I felt the breeze for the first time when I took Maddie out in the morning, that’s when I knew it was going to be a good day for a run. I got Maddie back in, gathered all of my running gear, and prepped an english muffin with honey peanut butter, dried fruit bits, and walnuts for my pre-run fuel.

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The plan was to meet Stephanie at Coachman Park in Clearwater to run the Iron Girl Half Marathon course for 2012. I remembered the course having some killer bridges last year and knew it would be a good route to get some hill work in. Plus, I thought it would be fun to have at least one go at the course since I’m not able to run the race this year (it’s the same weekend as my sister’s bridal shower).

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If you’re looking for new running routes in your area, google local race courses and see what pops up. You may be surprised at what you’ll find. :)

Stephanie had 20 miles on her race plan (!!) for the day. She got up extra early to run the first 6 on the treadmill at home before meeting me for the final 14. Can you say hardcore?

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We met at 7:00am and took off from Coachman Park. I’m not sure why I don’t make the drive to Clearwater to run more often. It’s such a gorgeous area with tons of sidewalks that were full of runners and cyclists this morning. Stephanie and I spent to first half of the run drooling over the gorgeous mansions along the water, trying to guess which semi-famous person may or may not live inside (what? Clearwater has celebrities too).

We didn’t exactly study the map before we took off and decided to wing it on what we thought the course might be. We had to stop a couple of times to check google maps on our phone, but I’d say we did alright. The course did a lot of weaving and switchbacks through the neighborhoods to add distance to the race, but since we were trying to subtract distance (the course begins and ends in separate places, while we were going for a full loop) it didn’t really matter if we missed a switchback or two.

At mile 6 we saw our first bridge.

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And took our gus.

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The fist bridge wasn’t bad. Our legs were fresh and we were able to pace ourselves. The views were GORGEOUS from the top. I <3 the water.

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The back half of the route took us straight through to Clearwater Beach. It was a long stretch of tall buildings that ultimately blocked our view of the beaches. We stopped a couple of times to refill our water bottles at little parks and just enjoyed the lack of humidity air.

Our second bridge was the steep bridge I remembered from the end of last year’s half. It was tall, it was long, and it didn’t come as easily as the first, but we pushed up and over without a problem – no stopping allowed. ;)

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The final stretch back to our car took us along the water in Clearwater Beach (there’s NOTHING like running right next to the beach!), over the giant causeway, and dropped us safe and sound back at Coachman park.

The causeway was scary. Big and scary. Steep, big, and scary.

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We had parked under the bridge before we took off and said a little prayer to ourselves knowing we would have to cross the bridge in the final mile of our run. The whole run it felt as if we were counting down to the causeway ‘Only 10 more miles to the big bridge… 5 miles until the big bridge.. holy crap – we only have a mile until the big bridge!’

The causeway may have been scary, but it was also our last push before the run was over. We knew that as soon as we were over the bridge, we would be done. That became our motivation – all we had to do was push ourselves over the top and it was cake from there. And that’s what we did – instead of thinking too much into it, we just ran it. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Since we had been building up this big scary bridge in our heads for the whole run, when we got to it, it didn’t seem as scary as we originally thought.

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As promised, we made it over the hump and found ourselves immediately back at our cars. 14 miles on the dot. Done.

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These 14 miles of bridges were so much better than the 17 miles of hills we fought our way through on our last run together. Soooooo much better. I’ll take that as a good sign. ;)

Our other motivation to run this morning – the brunch spot I had discovered via Yelp after last year’s Iron Girl Half. If you ask me, a year has been far too long to go in between visits to Wildflower Cafe. This place is amazing. :)

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Breakfast specials? Yes, please!

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I ordered the French Toast Sampler with baked french toast casserole, scrambled eggs, and bacon.

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Why, yes, it did taste as great as it looked.

Proof.

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Stephanie and I also split an order of biscuits with fresh strawberry jam. I swear I had sweet dreams about these biscuits last time I ate here, they were so good. They’re dense, buttery, and crumbly. I would say almost like a cross between a scone and a biscuit – I think that’s why I like them so much. :)

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Now if only Wildflower Cafe was just a little bit closer to my side of Tampa, then I would have to find an excuse to go every day. :)

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Now that my run is out of the way, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the weekend.

Have a great Saturday everyone!

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