I received an email last week with a race confirmation – a race I had no idea I was actually signed up for! I have ran a few of the Florida Road Races events in the past, and had never had the chance to run the Clearwater Distance Classic. I picked up my race packet last week, and showed up Sunday for the race!
First off, we were given long sleeve cotton tshirts! How awesome is that! I love long sleeve tees, especially cotton ones! I know many people would disagree, but I was thrilled about this for sure!
Ok, back to Sunday morning. It took me about 30 minutes to drive over to the race from my house, so I gave myself plenty of time to find parking, get to the start line, etc. The race started right in the water in Coachman Park, so the wind made it pretty chilly. I found a wind free spot in the corner of a building, and stood with a few other runners while we waited until it got closer to the start.
The race name was changed this year to the Clearwater Distance Classic because it has a lot of different distances to choose from:
Since there were so many distances, the walkers were given a chance a start 30 minutes before the runners, to get a head start on the heat and for safety purposes. They all left at 6:35, then the gun went off for the runners at 7:05.
The first mile took us straight up and over the Clearwater causeway. Then, we all headed down Clearwater beach. I forget how extremely pretty it is over there. During the day, it’s probably my least favorite beach to go to. In the morning before everyone else is awake, it’s the perfect place to be. The race stayed right on the main road, so there were no turns or anything. Luckily, it does wind around a bit so it’s not just a straight shot into nothingness. We headed up and over another bridge to Sand Key, so that was another test for the legs!
Around mile 5, I think, we headed into Sand Key park, did a quick loop, and then were out back on the main drag. We turned around right around mile 7 and then headed back the way we came (minus the park loop).
It was fun to be able to see the other runners on the way back. The weather was perfect and cool, so lost people were in great spirits. It’s amazing how cool temperatures can really affect the looks on people’s faces!
Toward the end of the race, the bridge we ran up during the first mile reappeared, so we had to get back over it to the finish. I took my tiny steps and got up the hill, little by little. I was able to pass 2 other women on the ascent, and then it was time to head down. I completely opened up my stride and let my momentum take me. I absolutely hauled ass that last mile.
When we came down the bridge, we exited a bit differently than we had come on the bridge in the beginning. There was a twirly sidewalk that circled around, dropping us off at the bottom. I passed another couple of people on the sidewalk, and then the finish was right around the corner. I am guessing it was about 3/10 or so of a mile to the finish, so I went as fast as my legs would take me!
I crossed the finish line in 1:42:05, which equates to a 7:48 pace. I honestly blew myself out of the water with that one. After not running more than 5 miles since my marathon back in December, I wasn’t expecting much. It is pretty amazing what the body is capable of!
The Florida Road Race Series is growing to be my absolute favorite in Tampa Bay. The race crew is fantastic and really thinks of everything! Thanks again for another fantastic race. I’m already looking forward to their next half marathon on March 22nd!