Just Say No Holiday Classic Clearwater Recap and Review

On Saturday I ran the Just Say No 10K in Clearwater. This was not a planned race for me, but I had cancelled a scheduled marathon in November and I needed to run in one more race to get 13 races for 2013 because that was my goal. So when a fellow Tampa Bay Blogger offered me a bib, I couldn’t refuse. And when she offered two bibs, I called my friend Cheryl and the race was on!

Me and Cheryl Say No to Drugs 10K

Just to give you a little background info, both Cheryl and I had run this race before and both of us had been injured while running it. We both had Achilles injuries although Cheryl’s was much worse than mine. Anyway, I guess you could say that this race was sort of our ‘achilles heel’ and we needed some redemption even though we were racing under someone else’s bibs. Besides, I think racing under an alias might have taken a bit of the pressure off, it did for me anyway.

Just Say No Clearwater

We met at the race around 7 in the morning. With an hour til the start time, we had plenty of time to hit up the port a potties, (twice for me), and plenty of time to walk around and chat with people. The Say No to Drugs holiday classic is a 10K, 5K and 1 mile run. The 5K and 10K start at the same time, 8am and the 1mile starts at 8:15. There were a lot of people running this year, even so, the race directors do an excellent job of organizing this race. This was the 25th year and I can say with honesty that this race runs like a well oiled machine.

Start Line, Just say No 10K

Besides the fact that I had hurt my Achilles the last time I ran this race, I was not looking forward to running over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge. This is the same bridge I had to run over twice in the Iron Girl Half and it’s a hellacious climb. Check out these stats I found on Map my run:

Memorial Causeway Bridge Clearwater

I even found routes on Map My Run where some people called it the ‘Bitch Bridge’ and that’s pretty accurate.

Anyway, we started the race at exactly 8am and Cheryl and I got separated fairly quickly as I got stuck behind 3 walkers who felt the need to walk side by side, shoulder to shoulder. (Walkers please remember, it is a race and if you’re walking, you really should start towards the back and single file, for Christ sake!). Anyway, I decided not to try and weave around everybody because I knew the bridge was coming and we started by running uphill so I just kept an even slow pace for the first few minutes.

Race Map

Eventually we turned toward the bridge and I was able to speed up which made me very happy because my Garmin said I was running at a 13:10 pace, yikes! There was also a nice tailwind blowing and it made the ascent up the bridge feel a bit easier. I finished the first mile in 9:23. Going into the second mile, I just kept telling myself that once I got to the top, it was downhill from there. I finished the second mile in 8:20, not bad but I needed to slow it down a bit. Even though we were going to be running on flat roads for a few miles, we still had to go over the bridge again on the way back and I needed some reserves in my tank.

Running along the streets near the beach was nice and there was that breeze which felt awesome, I finished mile 3 in 9:00, perfect. I was almost near the turnaround when Cheryl passed me so I knew I must be making good time. Once we made the turn I realized the breeze was now a headwind but it wasn’t too bad. I finished mile 4 in 9:06. Heading towards the bridge the headwind was getting a bit stronger and now I was feeling it, but I pushed through. I finished the 5th mile in 9:25, getting tired but hanging on. This thing was almost over now, all I had to do was make it over the last incline of the bridge and then run down the helix and head toward the finish line.

Toward the top of the bridge, I walked for just a few seconds but then I quickly realized that if I pressed on I just might be able to PR and that would be epic because this is a hard race.

I made it over the bridge and sped down the helix but instead of turning and crossing the street to the finish line as we did in the Iron Girl half, we headed to downtown and into my worst nightmare, another hill! What a cruel joke, how could they do this? Hang on, I told myself, you can do it. I finished mile 6 in 9:57. Did I just blow my PR? Maybe not, but I needed to haul ass into the finish line. I ran as hard as I could and when I ran through the finish line, the clock read 57:39! Good enough for a P.R.! YES!

Cheryl was already there and she finished in 55:49, I told you she was speedy!

Then we had to figure out what our last names were, (since we were running under alias bibs and had no idea), because we wanted to know how well we did in our respected divisions for the girls we were running for. I finished 8/78 AG and overall 264/813; Cheryl finished 5/46 AG and overall 219/813. I think it’s safe to say we were both very pleased. Larisa’s My chip time was 57:20 and Marie’s Cheryl’s was 55:31. Not bad day for Larisa and Marie. Not bad at all.

The Beast

After the race, we got to enjoy some awesome homemade pancakes made right there while we waited and nothing has ever tasted so good. We also clowned around a little at the Elite Runners tent, he he.

10K Elite Runners

with one of the twins

Upon much reflection, I have to say this was my favorite race this year. Not just because of the PR but because I really had fun AND I PR’d and I got to run it with Cheryl, who loves to run as much as I do. I will definitely do this race again next year especially now that I know I’ve conquered the beast that is the Bridge!

just say no medal

May thanks to Chrissy who got the bibs for me, and many thanks to Marie Cheryl who was sweet enough to run it with me. It was the perfect way to end the year.

After the race MacGyver picked me up on the boat and we sailed boated off into the sunset.Sailing into the sunset

What did you do this weekend? Did you race? Did you run? Spill the beans, I wanna know!

14 thoughts on “Just Say No Holiday Classic Clearwater Recap and Review

  1. All my running buds say I’m crazy because I love hills. I seriously want to come there and just run that bridge! Don’t worry…you can join them and tell me how nuts I am.

    • LOL, I’m actually starting to like them too since I started running them more for my dead butt syndrom;e and since I conquered that bitch of a bridge, I would run it with you, so come on down! 🙂

  2. Yes this was such an awesome race . Flower I can’t that you enough for asking me. For all you bloggers out there, Flower is the real deal

  3. Congrats on a good race! No running for me yet 🙁 keeping my fingers crossed for this minor injury to heal up before the new year! Found out its my IT Band…nothing major just strained from upping my miles too fast. Looking forward to a new year full of running!

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