This was to be my very 1st organized race ever. I have completed a few free 5Ks here and there, but never a “real” race.
I signed up with the greatest of intentions. My first official event was going to be a 10 mile run at the Iron Girl Fountain Hills 10 Mile & 5K. The race took place in December and I signed up in the early summer time. That was when I was still running relatively injury free and consistently. My longest run by then had been 8 miles and I was feeling like a rock star despite the high temps that accompany summer in Phoenix. I figured that if I could keep up my running (read: trudging along in the heat) I would be just fine in the cooler month of December. I had no worries or lack of confidence in completing the 10 miler; especially since it fit so nicely into my then planned training for my first half marathon in January: The P.F. Chang’s Rock N Roll Marathon & Half Marathon.
Things didn’t turn out as planned though. In August, I hurt my back pretty severely. By the end of a 4 mile run on my birthday, I could barely walk. I knew I had to just lay back and rest; literally! Over the following months, without any consistency in my schedule, I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete the 10 miles. I knew I could cover that distance if I was able to walk it, but there was a 2.5 hour time limit on that course and I just knew I wasn’t up to snuff.
I decided to drop down to the 5k. I felt ok with that since I was still able to compete in my 1st race and would be actually able to cross the finish line. I just wanted that experience of the pre-race jitters, the lining up at the start, and of course, crossing my 1st finish line. I got all of that.
I picked this race because my two friends who did it the year before had nothing but the best to say about it. What’s not to love? Women’s only event, a wonderful sense of sisterhood, and a great expo! They raved about the expo! I was unable to pick-up my packet before the event so one of the girls offered to grab mine. She had no issues all she had to show was my bib number. This event was well-organized and I was able to exchange my Tee for the correct size without any trouble on race morning.
There was great energy and atmosphere on race morning; lots of excitement on my part of course. I was happy to see some familiar faces at the race, though they were disappointed that I wouldn’t be doing the 10 mile run. In usual runner form, my friends were trying to talk me into it. The fact is, my usual healthy pace would have led me to finish in the time cut-off, but definitely not possible injured. Hey, I always say that I am slower than a turtle in peanut butter. It’s true!
Before we lined up, I went in search of a restroom. The coffee shop nearby had the longest line to their bathroom and another friend who I spotted on her way out said she waited for 45 minutes. The race was starting in 15 and I couldn’t wait, so I ran off in search of somewhere else. I found one in an Italian restaurant and the line wasn’t too bad. I mention this only because I didn’t see port-o-potties; not that I care to use those if I don’t have to anyway.
I have done a few other races since Iron Girl and one thing I think will always be my favorite is the National Anthem being sung as we all stand there in silence waiting to take off. It tugs my heart, what can I say?!
Oh, and I finally get why Fountain Hill is called that… there’s a fountain… And a hell of a lot of hills! Geez! I have been there before, but it never really hit me until I was on foot. I did find my out of shape self asking “What the Heck are you doing? Are you crazy?” about halfway through.I should say that the best part of the course was maybe the last half a mile or more, it seemed like a pretty steady & slight downhill. Which I found very nice if I say so myself. I smiled the whole way in during that last part!
At the finish line, there were volunteers to snip the timing chips off our shoes, which was good since even though I knew the chips had to be turned in, it completely slipped my mind! I was given my medal, water and sports drink and a little further there was the post race meal box.
I headed to gear check to grab my bag and made my way back to the finish to wait for my friend Jackie who also dropped to the 5K due to injury. She was walking it, so I knew I had a little extra time. We then returned to the Italian restaurant to wait for the friends in the 10 mile; after all they drove us there lol. I have to say, it was literally the worst breakfast I have had in a restaurant in my life! Not only did I not get my correct order, but it was so COLD! Jackie said that her hot cocoa was also very cold. I at least had them take that back, but kept my food since I didn’t want a side of spit in it. I was famished by then, so down the hatch it went. I wish I knew the name of the place!
After breakfast and the rendezvous with our friend Mary, we walked through the expo. This was a let down. It rained a lot the previous day and I suppose that is why there weren’t many vendors out. BUT the thing that let me down the most was that there were no ‘Iron Girl’ gear that I could buy to commemorate my day. My friend Kim wears her Iron Girl tech hat all the time and I was so excited to finally be able to complete the event then buy some gear right after. There was none. There was gear with the sponsor Athleta logo on it, but no actual Iron Girl stuff. I was sorely disappointed.
All in all though, I liked this series and would do it again. Hopefully, I can come back and finish that 10 miler in the future. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here and guess that the bad weather had something to do with the lack of Wow factor at the expo. Everyone kept going on and on about how great the expo was in the previous years.
Thanks for reading!