IronGirl Tempe Report


When I had my little run-in with East Lake Road this summer, my 2010 race schedule was pretty much as wiped out as I was. After a month and a half, though, I started planning the 2011 sked, and in the midst of it found IronGirl Tempe – a 5K run/walk (and 10 mile run). I figured odds were pretty good I’d be able to walk (not run) 5K by this point – not that I need to travel 2 time zones to do so. But this race offers a mother/daughter division, and since my mom has been on a pretty impressive fitness program of her own, I figured that this would be an excellent event for both of us. Plus it’s in Tempe, where it’s warm and sunny. Plus it’s mom’s birthday tomorrow, and I thought it would be a nice getaway for us. A little taste of race action for me, a first bib number ever for her. And I may have mentioned the sun and warmth. I’m writing this sitting by the pool. 🙂

So…I’ll start with yesterday. We’re on the no-stress getaway plan, which mostly involves taking as long as we want with whatever we’re doing…and not worrying whether we get to the next thing at any certain time. (With the exception of the race start.) So we got up and had a little weight room / cardio room workout – PT for me, mom’s routine for her. I could tell there were a lot of IronGirl athletes & probably some early IronMan athletes (for next week’s IMAZ) around, as the fitness room was full at 6am . Luckily 100% of the machines were functional; when was the last time that happened in a hotel fitness room?

Crossing Tempe Town Lake

Found an excellent cafe for breakfast – organic multigrain hot cereal with fresh fruit & coffee. I’m pretty sure that sounds like a no-fun breakfast to at least some people, but it was exactly what we wanted. And they even served soymilk. Be still my little heart. We also walked 1 mile to breakfast, and a mile back.

Then we set off for the Desert Botanical Garden, which looked much closer on the map than it was. When we finally turned into Papago Park – where the Garden is located – the sign said 3/4 mile. Ok, good, we thought. I was getting to think a bathroom would be nice, and my feet were telling me that I probably shouldn’t have worn the sandals I haven’t worn for months. But we can do 3/4 mile.  Unfortunately, that only gets you to the place where you can see the Visitor’s Center from behind the chain link fence. To actually arrive at the building, you have to go at least another 1/2 mile, along which route are located zero bathrooms or bandaids.

How cool is this?

So after a solid 3.5 miles – maybe more – we finally got to the Botanical Garden. Normally – as in pre-accident – this would not have been a big deal for me. But yesterday I had to hold back a bit to keep my hip from hurting. (I’d just gotten back to pain-free status before we left; I definitely overdid it a few weeks ago.) If I’d been in a gym, I probably would’ve stopped, but that was just not an option. So I was feeling like I was stretching my limits, and I was hoping that the effort wouldn’t make the IronGirl event into a RustyGirl.

BUT, we got there, rented an audioguide, and had an awesome time looking at the plants. I love that stuff. They even were having a Chiles & Chocolates fest featuring local food businesses, so we got some yummy samples & a small present for Michael (who might share with me). Then we called a cab to go home. Again, this is a good measure of where I am fitness-wise. A month or two ago, I could never have walked 6 miles in a day, at any pace. Pre-accident, I probably would’ve been ready to walk back to the hotel.

Flowering Aloe at the Desert Botanical Garden

Dinner, movie, conk out.

Race morning! OK, first, I’m going to persist in calling this a race, even though we were just walking and couldn’t push as hard as in a normal race. When it comes to walking (and running) I don’t yet have the durability built to push my body to the extent I could before. My hip muscles – and bone sometimes – start to sing, and I know it’s not the kind of pain you just work through. It’s the kind that you have to listen to; the choice is just whether you’ll listen when it sings or wait until it screams bloody murder. But we WERE pushing ourselves to the limits of our current ability. It’s not where my ability used to be – and that’s both frustrating and motivating – but nonetheless, we WERE trying to go as fast as we could, within our limits.

Mom at the finish.

So, pre-race breakfast at 6am, shower & dress, down to the park at about 7am to get our race packets & huge abundance of swag. Nice tech tees, and product samples galore. We finally met Kelly Covert, Train-This teammate / coach and AFLAC Race Host, which is kind of funny because we live about an hour apart in NY. Back to hotel to drop of swag bags, then back to the race start.

On the way back, I started thinking about how I first got into fitness, being athletic, using my body. And – ironically, because she doesn’t really consider herself an athlete – it was my mom who got me started. When I was a tween & teenager, she took up walking for fitness. I didn’t know much about it, besides that she’d be gone for a little bit of time in the early morning, and that she drank a lot of water when she got back. But I knew it was her time, and I knew it made her feel good. I tried it for myself one summer – when I was probably 12? – and found I liked it. I was still far from the condition or ability level I have now – never, ever considered myself athletic – but did feel good moving my body.

Fast forward to today – about 2000 people at the race start – from 4 years old to an 83 year old woman who raced with a walker decked out in Thanksgiving decorations. Women running fast 5K’s, women running with friends, women walking with young daughters, women at every step of their fitness journeys. Really excellent to see. I hope I’m still racing – walker or not – when I’m 83.

I did push it today, just a little. My hip did hurt just a bit, not bad, during the last half of the race. I think it was mostly tissue, not bone – but I’m pretty glad to be parked for a bit right now. A hot tub soak is next. 🙂

Me at the finish.

As I watched the women in my age group take their awards, I thought about where I might get to. It will be a long road for me – I have plenty of club-foot-induced running issues that have nothing to do with a broken pelvis – but maybe??? Could I ever run a 25 minute 5K? Could I get faster even than that? Honestly, my fastest 5K now is 29 minutes and change, and it will take time just to get back there. I wanted to run SO BAD watching those women go. But I have to respect my limits and build a strong foundation in that hip. It’s not ready yet, and I’ve found out that when I push it, it pushes back.

Total time: 53:XX (result sheet is inside). Mom and I walked the whole thing together, neither of us holding back. We were pretty well matched for this one. 🙂

Now we’re parked by the pool, mom reading a magazine and me typing – over 1300 words? Is anyone still reading? I probably mentioned that it’s sunny and warm here. We have a few more hours to soak it up, and probably go out of Ethiopian food. I’m a lucky (Iron)Girl.


About solveighanson

I'm a (late) thirtysomething Plant Breeding Ph.D. student, daughter / sister / auntie, vegetable fan, yogi, sometime cyclist, and enthusiastic if infrequent baker. I started this blog in the summer of 2010 to trace my recovery from a pelvic fracture sustained in a cycling accident. That healing process was truly transformative, and since then I seem to have written mostly about the transformations that have followed. And hence the title of the blog: Don't call me a butterfly, because I'm not done changing.
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2 Responses to IronGirl Tempe Report

  1. Connie Burns says:

    Ahhh… a Well Healed Women, indeed!!

  2. Kelly says:

    So nice to finally meet you…all the way in AZ!! I’m glad you had a great time. It sounds like Iron Girl was the perfect fit for both of you!! Keep healing!!

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