Last night, I participated in one of the coolest races … ever! Well, it was definitely the coolest races I have done so far, not counting runDisney races of course. I ran the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 5K!
Why was this such a cool event? The Honda Grand Prix 5K race course was mostly on the race track where Indy Cars were just taking practice laps!! When I was training the Iron Girl 5K last year, I stumbled across this race and absolutely knew that I wanted to run it. Yes, I am a big racing fan. At that time, I didn’t think I was ready and decided to run it this year, which is exactly what I did.
I left work around 4:45 and headed straight to the Vinoy Park, where the start and finish line for the race were. I picked up my packet and wandered around looking at the tents and booths that were set up.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to take advantage of one of the coolest race swag. If you registered early enough, then you received a general admission ticket for Friday. Next year, I am definitely going to take advantage of that!
There were only two things I was a little disappointed with but they are completely negated by the fact that I ran on an Indy Car track. Since I haven’t run a 5K race since October (Creaky Bones at the St. Pete Pier), I was really hoping to set a new PR with a chip timed race, which this race was not but at least it was timed. The other thing was the race shirt. I love the design but I really wish it were a tech shirt instead of cotton so that I could work out in it. Neither one of those things will keep me from doing this race next year though.
Around 6:00, Callie from The Wannabe Athlete spotted me and we finally got to meet. She was hosting the Tweet Up for the event, which had trivia and some pretty cool prizes. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to prepare for the event but it was a great opportunity to meet other people in the area.
Just before the race, the officials started telling people to line up at the starting line, which was also the finish line. The national anthem was sung and then an air horn sounded to signal the start of the race.
The course took us down Bay Shore Drive until we reached Central Ave., which I have run on during several other races. Then we entered the Grand Prix race track at Turn 9.
To say that I was an awe of this experience is a total understatement! Going to the Honda Grand Prix is something that I absolutely love to do. It is a very well laid street course in my hometown. I have so many wonderful experiences being at this track that I was actually reliving them as I was running.
As we continued along the track, I realized that the course was taken us in the opposite direction that cars go. It felt a little strange because of how well I know this race. We passed Turn 8 and 7 and went under the first of the bridges. The area between Turn 7, 6, 5, and 4 is known as The Kink, because of how close the are to each other.
After I passed under the Firestone Bridge at the Tampa Bay Times Turn 3, my Garmin beeped indicating that I had complete the first mile. When I checked the pace, I was ecstatic to say the least. I ran the first mile in 9:28!! I had no idea I was capable of that. Unfortunately, my pace didn’t last. A few minutes later, I needed to make a quick pit stop to fix my shorts. Apparently, I need to work on tying the string a little better if I want them to stay up during a race.
After passing the Honda bridge at Turn 2, the course took us down Pit Row!!! When I watch the races on television, Pit Row is the busiest place during the entire race. Unfortunately, going down Pit Row meant that we didn’t cross the actual Start/Finish line of the Honda Grand Prix. I really wanted an up close and personal shot of that as well as the awesome bragging rights.
Here is a fun fact for you: the water stop for the race was actually on Pit Row!
At the end of Pit Row was the turn around location of the race. The straightaway for the track is actually located on a runway for the Albert Whitted Airport and the turn around was near the air traffic control tower. As we headed back towards Bay Shore Drive, we went under the last of the bridge. My Garmin beeped again signaling the end of the second mile. My pace had dropped to 10:29 but I was still plugging along.
As I approached the final turn (Turn 10), I watched a gorgeous sunset behind the Salvador Dali Museum. One of the things I really like about this race track is infield area. The Grand Prix circles the Mahaffey Theater, the new Salvador Dali Museum and Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park. The four bridges around the track provide spectators access to the infield area.
Once we were past Turn 10, it was a straight shot back up Bay Shore Drive to the finish line. I was sad to the leave the race track but I was excited to get to the finish line because I knew I was the verge of a PR! Despite making a pit stop to fix my shorts, I was running faster in this race than I have ever run before! I secretly wanted to see a 30 on that stop clock when I crossed the finish line. My pace for the third mile was 10:38.
The clock read 31:27 as I ran underneath it. While I didn’t get the time I really wanted, I was really excited by my finish time because it was a 2 minute PR from the 5K race I ran in October. I know that by the end of the year I will be able to run a 5K in 30 minutes. As I crossed the finish line, I was handed a card to write my time down, a bottle of water and a medal(?).
What is the coolest race you have ever run?