Are you Spartan?

I love to run and this past year have really pushed myself to regularly get in the gym to lift heavy things. Being a terrible blogger and a generally disorganized human being, I have yet to post any of my goals for 2014. I have them but they really haven’t gotten any further than swirling around in my head. Besides the obvious running goal of getting faster in every distance I normally race (yes I am super original), I want to try new things and do at least two unassisted pull-ups.

Maybe even climb a rope?

Who am I kidding, the only way I am climbing a rope is if there is a fire below it.

As far as trying new things, I really do want to try an obstacle race. I was excited when the Spartan Race contacted me to talk about an upcoming race, Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint.

Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint

The race is four miles filled with mud and all kinds of crazy obstacles.

Glad they give out medals and beer at the end. If I have to carry a big rock and get knocked over by some shirtless guy with a stick, someone needs to give me a beer!

They even have a Spartan Workout which is like boot camp on steroids. Would love to try such an intense workout.

Lucky for one of you badasses, the Spartan Race offered me a code for one lucky reader that is a free entry into any 2014 Spartan Race in the continental US in the open heat division. The giveaway will run from January 19, 2014 at 12 AM through January 26, 2014 at 12 AM. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted by me with the entry code.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t win, click here http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior to generate a 15% discount code. You can even use this discount to enter the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint, which takes place on February 15.

Have you done an obstacle race? Does the mud feel as gross as I imagine it to?

Disclosure: Spartan Race did contact me to spread the word about the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint. I have not been compensated in any way and all thoughts about the Spartan Race are my own.

The Race Where I May Have Peed Myself

This is my second time running the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon (Gasparilla Distance Classic 2012). I love this race so much.I plan on clearing an annual spot on my calendar to run it every year. The weather this year was hot (even for Florida) and humid (even for Florida). I knew going into this race that it would be very difficult under those conditions for me to reach my A goal (2.14) but I paid my money and was going to enjoy it if it killed me.

Race day started off smoothly. I woke up on time, avoiding consuming any contaminated tap water, and was out the door only slightly later than I planned. I made it to the starting line with little fuss (anytime I don’t end up driving around in circles is a small victory). The police did an excellent job directing the traffic and making it easy to get into the closest parking garage.

The Gasparilla Half Marathon started in two waves, red which was for those with estimated finish times less than two hours (not me) and yellow with those estimated time above two hours (definitely me). The start was staggered by ten minutes. My not getting lost and having zero issues finding parking, I was able to get into the corral 30 minutes before the race started. I used the bathroom first and then stood around waiting. In hindsight, this was a huge mistake. I have the worlds smallest bladder. Under cooler, less humid conditions, I can drink a minimal amount of water while running a half marathon and feel fine. Sadly, the weather and my bladder were not on the same page and using the bathroom 30 minutes before the start was not a good idea.

I should have pushed my way closer to the front of the yellow corral because I was caught on the first bridge where there were so many people, it forced everyone to walk. It is a crazy sea of people where the walking pace was much slower than my normal, everyday walking pace. Not much you can do though.

The more I ran, the hotter I got, the more water I drank, the more I needed to pee. It really started to become tragic around mile seven. I started to forlornly stare at each passing porta potty (there was one at every water stop, which was every mile) and imagine myself stopping. I should have stopped but didn’t because the last time I stopped to pee in a race I lost seven minutes. At this point, I still believed I could make my goal and knew that the delay would be detrimental.

Around mile ten, the full bladder was starting to slow me down. I still did not stop and I think it may be because the pee was moving to my brain. I finally crossed the finish line, grimacing, hot, and with super wet shorts. I am a pretty heavy sweater but I was dripping. Then it hit me, did I pee myself? I still had to go when I crossed the finish line but I felt like people were staring at me. So the jury is out on whether it was actually pee but just the fact that it might have been is making me blush just typing this.

Bladder trouble aside, the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon is a great race. The volunteers were excellent (I loved the kids at the end of the race who cheered their hearts out). The spectators have the best signs and the views of the bay are amazing. Plus,  there is the medal.

Gasparilla 2013 Half Marathon Medal

I sadly did not make my goal.

Gasparilla 2013 Half Marathon Official Time

It is a half marathon PR by 34 seconds.

Gasparilla 2013 Half Marathon Splits

I am pretty sure that if the weather had proved less hot and humid, my time would have been closer to my goal. There is always next year.

Do you stop and use the bathroom while racing or try to hold it?

Gasparilla Distance Classic 2012 Race Report

Saturday night I attended a charity dinner and left super early.

Polk County DEC Obama King Fundraiser

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.

Polk County Obama King Fundraiser Program

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.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Course

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.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Splits

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.)

The Good

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.

Gasparilla Half Marathon Medal 2012 Tampa

(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.)

The Bad

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.

Gasparilla Distance Classic Expo 2012

I went to the expo on Saturday before the Gasparilla Half Marathon and of course, I got lost trying to park.

I had to call J to guide me through downtown Tampa because the roads were closed off due to the races on Saturday and my complete inability to find places I have never been. Even with a GPS and printed out directions, the Tampa Convention Center alluded me.

When I finally found the convention center, I planned on getting in and out quickly. Having zero income coming in has pretty much ended unnecessary purchases, so there was no point in torturing myself by looking around.

One thing I did find that is most likely unique to the Tampa Bay area, is that the Scientologists had been there and left their literature. In case you were unaware,  Clearwater is the mecca for this group and they are all over the Tampa Bay area. I have even seen them at craft shows with their e-meter’s looking for people to dupe.

I grabbed all the cards I saw so no one would go to one of these bogus sites.

Creepy Cult Cards

Creepy Cult Cards Again

Creepy, right?

Cult sightings aside, I got my bag, number, and shirt.

Gasparilla Distance Classic Tampa Bag

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Shirt Tampa

The shirt is a nice Nike Dri-Fit. I only have one other long sleeve shirt because I live in Florida and they are rarely needed, so getting an additional one is great.

I did take a few pictures inside the expo, which was on the large size but mainly made up of all the booths you find at these things. ( I did see, and was recognized by, someone who I have purchased shoes from. Talking about you Fitniche.)

Cool wall of names that was difficult to photograph.

Names at Gasparilla 2012 Race Expo

I was able to make it out of downtown Tampa relatively unscathed. I found I-4 with relatively few wrong turns which may have been a miracle.

(Earlier that day, I did get some cute pictures of Tail sleeping. I have to share this one because I love pictures of cute cats almost as much as I love running.)

Sleepy Cat Peeking