It turns out that I have neglected to write a race recap for the Clermont Clay 15k that I ran last November. It was my first 15k, so instant PR! I have been wanting to run on the famous Clermont Clay loop for a while now, so I looked up the races that took place there and thought that this one would be perfect. I even managed to get my parents and my sister to run the 5k that took place at the same time. The Clermont Clay loop is a ten mile trail made of clay that goes by different farms and through fields. A lot of elite athletes train there including Desiree Linden. It is a very beautiful area to run and I enjoyed every minute of it, but oh those hills; so many hills!
When we arrived in Clermont on November 20th we followed a long trail of cars down a very long dirt road to the race parking. I thought we had left in plenty of time, but with all the race traffic we were cutting it close. After a long wait which felt like an eternity, we finally parked and I walked as fast as I could to the porta-pottie line. There were only about five porta-potties and the line was long, but it moved fairly quickly. I saw my family as they were headed to the 5k start, which was at my finish line, then I quickly headed to my start-line with Chris. The race organizers knew about the parking situation, so the race started a little late. I ran over to the start as I heard the National Anthem being sung. I just had time for Chris to take a before race photo because the race actually started; talk about cutting it close!
It was a very cool morning which made for perfect running weather. It was so beautiful to see the sun rise above the fields as we ran down the clay trail. I never race with my music, which made this run feel very peaceful. I started off with an 8:12 average pace for the first mile, but then settled in to about an 8:30 pace for the next six miles. Lately I have been trying not to look at my watch as I race and run more by feel. It has worked out pretty good so far and it makes the races more enjoyable instead of worrying about my watch the whole time.
About half way through, the hills started to feel harder and harder as I ran up them. They seemed to get longer and steeper the farther I was into the course. At the start of each hill I thought maybe, just maybe it would be the last one. Most of the time I was wrong, but I kept pushing as hard as I could and then coasting down the hill once I got to the other side.
Finally I got to the top of a hill and at the bottom I saw the finish-line. I ran as fast as I could with all the energy that I had left until I finally crossed and did my Jeter fist pump in the air. My family was waiting for me along with a whole table full of snacks!
When I looked at my pace on the results board I started to cry. First, I couldn’t believe how great my pace, was at a 8:31 minute per mile, and second I was in third place in my age group. I was in shock! Well it turns out that two other results came in later pushing me down to fifth place, so unfortunately I did not receive an age group award, though someday I will receive another one!
Overall it was a nice smaller race. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the scenery was gorgeous. I had a lot of fun and am glad that I got to share it with my family. I think maybe they are starting to enjoy running! Next up is my recap of my rematch at the OUC Orlando Half Marathon from last year.