When Eric and I learned about the Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge two years ago, we agreed that the people who run those races are crazy. After all, who wants to run a 15K, 5K, Half Marathon, and 8K in two days? Not only did they have to run that far, but they had to finish the 15K and Half Marathon fast enough to return to the start line in time to begin the 5K and 8K, respectively.
A few months ago, when Eric suggested that we take on the Michelob Ultra, I laughed at him, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like something we could tackle. We were, after all, already training for the Rock n Roll St Pete Half Marathon, so our mileage was decent. We knew it would absolutely be a challenge, but we thought we could at least reach the finish line for each race, even if we had to walk intermittently.
So, we signed up for the Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge – 30.5 miles in 2 days.
Gasparilla Race Expo
Upon arriving at the expo, we promptly made our way to pick up our race packets, during which time we waited in the Challengers line for at least 20 minutes. It happened to be the only pick-up section that actually had a line. Each swag bag included three shirts, one sweet Ultra jacket, and a race bib.
After checking out the Expo, we made our way to the Publix booth to Instagram our fake running pictures. Well, one of us actually pretended we were running.
Gasparilla Race Day 1
The 15K (9.3 miles)
4:00 AM wake-up call to begin the 15K race at 6:45 AM.
We had a lot of running ahead of us, so after evaluating our imminent Ultra Challenge distances, we decided to try to run the 15K at an 11 min/mile pace – about 1:15 minutes per mile slower than we would normally run 9.3 miles. We ended up not going quite as slowly as we had anticipated. We tried, but our bodies didn’t feel right. We settled at a 10:30 pace, which felt really good throughout the race. We had conserved our energy well for the upcoming 5K.
The 5K (3.1 miles)
Initially, our plan was to continue to conserve energy during the 5K and therefore run it at a moderate pace. However, I learned before the race that the top 10% of my age group would win a coffee mug and I REALLY wanted that mug. Based on 2012 stats, if I finished the 5K in less than 29 minutes, I would have a good chance. So, I decided to shoot for 28 minutes, just to be on the safe side.
I felt really good and settled in with the 9 minute/mile pace group. Clearly, 9.3 miles is a great warm-up for a 5K race because I PR’d on the 5K! Based on my sensor, although I’ve run faster during training runs, that was the fastest official chip time I’ve earned thus far. Eric took it easy during the 5K.
AND, I got my coffee mug (two of them, no less)!
Exhausted, we closed out 12.4 miles of Day 1.