Attending the Health and Fitness Expo yesterday really got me excited about this race. My last few long runs haven’t been great so I was just looking forward a good, solid run today. I got that and so much more!
My alarm went off at 5 AM but I didn’t start getting ready until 5:30. I made my pre-race breakfast of yogurt, granola and chia seeds and that got dressed and ready to go. I definitely stayed up later than I should have last night because I was moving pretty slow. Luckily, I didn’t have to go very far to the starting line.
Around 6:15 AM, I left my place and started walking over to the race. The race course is actually pretty close to my normal long run route so I decided to avoid the inevitable traffic issues and walk the mile to the start. There were a lot of runners at the race this morning!
Once I got to the starting area, I lined up near the 11:00 min/mile pace group. My goal for the race was to run it in 1:45 and I figured that if I kept that pace group in sight I wouldn’t have a problem achieving that goal.
While I was waiting to start the race, the MC introduced some very amazing people that I am truly in awe of. The year’s Gasparilla Distance Classic was the 35th anniversary and there were 8 people at the starting line who have run this race every single year! To me that is truly amazing and inspiring. Also, the winner of the 1978 race (the very first one in case you were wondering) was there. He didn’t win this year but that really isn’t important. Joan Benoit Samuelsen, the winner of the very first women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics, ran today!
Just before 7 AM, the national anthem was sung. The wheelchair racers were off and it was only at matter of time (5 minutes) before the race started!
Mile 1 to 4:
- Mile 1 – 11:06
- Mile 2 – 11:06
- Mile 3 – 10:47
- Mile 4 – 11:09
About 2 minutes after 7:05, I crossed the starting line and began my 9.3 mile journey along Bayshore Boulevard. The course was easy to follow because it was basically a simple out-and-back style. Bayshore is a very long stretch of road in South Tampa that runs along Tampa Bay, which provided for some very beautiful scenery.
The first four miles of the course headed south on Bayshore following the “land” side of the road. It was mostly shaded but still very warm. According to my phone, the temperature when I left my place was 72 degrees.
I knew that the heat and humidity were going to be a factor right from the start so I tried to keep my pace on the slow side and promised myself to stop at every water station. Throughout the first 4 miles, I was feeling really good and wasn’t bothered by the heat too much.
Mile 5: 11:01
According to course map, the only (very small) loop on the course was during Mile 5. The course looped through a neighborhood and headed back out to Bayshore. As I crossed the timing mat at the halfway point, I looked at my Garmin and realized that I was well ahead of pace to meet my goal. I smiled to myself and continued running.
Once the course was back on Bayshore, I knew that I was going to lose the shade of the trees. The “water” side has no shade trees to block the sun.
Mile 6 to 9:
- Mile 9 – 11:09
- Mile 7 – 11:21
- Mile 8 – 11:47
- Mile 9 – 10:57
The heat really started to kick in during Mile 6 when we lost the shade and the protection from the sun. At the water stop, I noticed the most glorious thing ever (at least that is what I thought at the time). I have to give serious props to the Gasparilla race organizers for putting these water sprayers at every water stop on the “water” side of Bayshore. They were a truly welcome sight at each water stop.
Bayshore is one of my favorite running routes and I am usually out there each weekend for my long runs. The views along the water are absolutely gorgeous. Today was no different.
During Mile 8, I took my first walk break (besides the water stops) because my body really needed it. I also took an extended walk break through the water stop. I was really hot and my body was ready for a break. Since I didn’t bring any energy gels with me, I started to run out of energy towards the end of the race.
At the end of Mile 8, the Tampa Rough Riders were out in full force. These guys are famous in the area for handing out BEADS! They also participate in many other events but every time I see them I know I am going to get some shiny beads to hang around my neck.
I got my beads!!! At this time, I would like to thank the woman who gave me the blue beads when I
sort of demanded asked nicely for them. If I came off demanding, I apologize. My favorite color is blue and having a shiny strand of blue beads truly helped me get across the finish line.
When I saw this sign, I immediately felt a renewed sense of energy. I could almost see the finish line and I knew that I was going to finish in less than 1:45!
At the end of Mile 9, I could see the finish chute just ahead of me. I was passing by the starting line and could see the runners lining up for the 5K event, which started after the 15K. I was excited and could feel the smile across my face.
Mile 9.3: 3:38 (10:11 min/mile pace)
As I entered the finish chute, my legs started getting faster. I glanced down at my Garmin saw that it was going to happen. I was going to PR this race and by a significant amount! I picked it up a little more and sprinted across the finish line.
As I made my way through the finisher’s area, I picked up my post-race food. That strawberry banana smoothie was probably the best thing because it was SOO cold. I almost got a brain freeze from it.
I also receive my race
bling booty! This medal is really nice and looks awesome hanging next to my other medals. I also really like how it is already engraved on the back. I sort of wish there was space to engrave my name and time but that is no big deal.
This race was amazing! The race organizers did a great job trying to alleviate the heat issue by having a ton of water stops and those sprayers along the “water” side of Bayshore. The volunteers and spectators were wonderful and truly supportive of all the runners. It was a great race and I look forward to running it again next year!