2016 Clermont Clay 15k

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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