Gasparilla Distance Classic: my nemesis. For the second year in a row, Gasparilla has proven to be my worst race of the season. Despite that, I love racing in them!
Last year, we ran the 5+3K. With our training experience at the time, that was pushing our distance limits and the sun was brutal.
This year, we picked up our race packets at the 8 On Your Side Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, 3/2 and we found our names on the race wall. As usual, the expo was packed with great vendors, runners picking up race packets, and Tampa Bay residents.
This year, we trained for the Rock n Roll St Pete half marathon, which we ran on February 12th, so we knew we could cover the 9.3 mile distance of the 15K. However, since I was having IT band problems, I took the last few weeks off, hoping to heal. My training over the past few weeks consisted of a few 2-3 mile runs and a stationary bike workout. I’ve been trying to stretch and strengthen my hip flexors and roll them out on a foam roller. However, I think I’m going to have better luck in the future with The Stick I picked up at the Expo. I love this thing!
The Gasparilla 15K began at 7:05 AM on Saturday, 3/3. We dragged our sleepy selves out of bed at 5:15 AM, got dressed (shirt, shorts, Merrell pace glove shoes, Nike+ iPod Sport Kit, knee brace, and IT band strap), and made our way into Tampa.
Due to the traffic, it took us quite a while to get into the parking garage. By the time we walked through the convention center and to the Start Line, we only had a few minutes to spare before the race kicked off. We were hoping to find the 10:00 min per mile pacer, but we couldn’t get through the crowd.
The announcers kicked off the race and it took us another 5 minutes to reach the Start Line. The weather was warm and humid, but the sun wasn’t beating us up yet. I knew it was a bad sign when I was tired by mile 2. I felt like I couldn’t get into a decent groove with my speed and my body felt undertrained – it was exhausted. I wasn’t having problems breathing, but I was just so tired. Eric left me around mile 3. I continued on, looking forward to the GU I was planning to eat just before mile 5, hoping it would give me a second wind. It didn’t. By mile 7, the heat was brutal, my knee started acting up from the IT band problems, and my body had nothing left. For the first time ever (outside of water stops), I started walking in a race. I continued to walk/run throughout miles 7 and 8, until I hit the sign that told me there was only 1 mile remaining. That felt like the longest mile ever and I was determined not to walk. As I was coming up to the start line where the 5K runners were collecting, I knew I was close, but the finish line still seemed so far away. I crossed the finish line with both relief and disappointment.
I was beating myself up for walking, since I didn’t even walk after breaking my toe in a 5K. I was also beating myself up for feeling so unprepared for the race, even though I had been sick and injured leading up to the race. My disappointment eventually wore off – we really did have a blast, despite our our finish times. Gasparilla organizes great events each year – it’s difficult not to have fun!
In the 15K, there were 4920 runners and I finished faster than 37% of them, while Eric finished faster than 41%. I ran faster than 47% of females and 44% of females in my age group, while Eric finished faster than 29% of males and 21% of males in his age group. We both ran at least 10 minutes slower than our projected times based on our practice runs and the half marathon.
One day, I will conquer Gasparilla. How was your race experience?