Saturday night I attended a charity dinner and left super early.
I had a small speaking part which was scary and awesome at the same time. I really need to get better at public speaking because my heart nearly beats out of my chest at the thought of it.
I went straight from the event to my Mom’s house which is about a 20 minute drive from the race start.
I attempted to fall asleep but it was still pretty early and couldn’t sleep until 10:30. The weather was really loud and stormy plus I kept waking up assuming I slept through my alarm. Anytime I sleep in a room where I can’t see the time, this always happens.
My alarm did go off at 3 AM and I got up for coffee and breakfast. The wind was howling so loud that my Mom got up to check if I was still going.
I got into Tampa and the parking garage with no incident. I guess I was lost enough on Saturday, so Sunday went smoothly. As soon as I got out of my car in the garage, it started to rain. It was raining really hard and in combination with the wind, it was raining sideways. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I hung back in the parking garage to see if I could wait it out. It was starting to get late and I wasn’t sure how long the walk to the start would take me, so I decided to suck it up and get wet.
After getting drenched and of course my shoes were wet because of all the puddles, I made it into the convention center where most people were waiting. I actually ran into Carissa, which was nice because I had someone to talk to while we waited. Finally, the march over to the start began but it was still rainy and windy. I had on shorts and a tank top, so I was nearly frozen. It only got colder waiting in the last corral but at least the rain stopped.
As the race started, it was pretty congested. There were also a lot of puddles that people kept avoiding. The race begins with a fairly narrow bridge over to Davis Island that was a huge bottleneck. The good part was the bridge had to prevent people from going out too fast because people were squished together and there was no way around. The bad part is that there was definitely time lost trying to get over it.
After the bridge, people started to spread out. The run through Davis Island was relatively uneventful but it was cold and pretty windy.
Crossing one more bridge, this time much less crowded, onto Bayshore was a nice change. The homes and water views on this road are just beautiful. I may have been fantasizing what it would be like to live in one of those houses and wake up to Bay views everyday, through most of the race.
At around mile seven, I needed to pee. I was making good time and every porta potty had a decent line. I decided that I would not stop unless I felt like I would burst. Around mile 11, I was at bursting point but it seemed crazy to stop so close to the finish line. I assumed there would be porta potties close to the finish. Of course, I had to go through a gauntlet of food vendors to get there. I ended up going in the convention center and nearly running (hobbling) up the stairs to the bathroom.
My pace throughout the race felt comfortable minus the crazy wind whipping me in the face. I did end up walking for a minute or two around mile 10 because of a massive stomach cramp. Slowing down for a few minutes pretty much made it go away.
I am surprised with my splits. My goal pace was 12:10 with a finish time of 2:39:29. I noticed early on that it felt comfortable to run a bit faster. I think the main difference besides typical race adrenaline was the weather. I ran the vast majority of my training runs after work when it was still quite hot out. Running in the dark with massive winds felt good. I was confident that my training was solid and was really prepared. These two factors made a big difference.
My official time was 2:31:38 which is a PR by 15 minutes and beat my goal time by eight minutes. I am so happy to see such an improvement because it can feel like you are working so hard but not improving. (I get like that at the end of a training cycle. Did I do enough? What about this run I missed? So much second guessing.) It gives me confidence that even though I am on the slow side, that with the right amount of training and effort, I can get faster. Being a slow runner is difficult mentally because many of the training runs, especially long runs, can take a huge chunk of your Saturday. For me, 14 miles is a three-hour process and that can be a lot of time to dedicate regularly. (I can’t even imagine marathon training at my pace. Would need to continue to be unemployed to do it.)
Organizers did a great job with terrible weather.
We started on time even though the weather was crappy.
Water stops were plentiful and the volunteers were very prepared.
Bad ass medal.
(So freaking cool.)
Little traffic congestion entering or leaving the race. (As someone who often gets lost, I appreciate this more than I can express.)
Need to do a staggered start. The way runners were broken down was over/under a two-hour finish time. There was supposed to be a five-minute start time difference between the first and second corral. This did not do enough to help with the slow down crossing the bridge to Davis Island.
Bathrooms closer to the finish line. I cannot be the only person who crossed the finish line feeling like they were going to pee on themselves.
I really enjoyed the Gasparilla Distance Classic and can see why it is so popular in Central Florida. Will definitely be running this one next year.