Hi Friends!! If you live in the Tampa Bay area and are a runner, you most likely have heard of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. A weekend usually in the second to last week in February starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday. If you’re a newbie to running or a veteran half marathoner, you’ve got a few different distances to pick from: 5k, 8k, 15k, and half marathon plus three challenges of multiple races throughout the weekend. Starting with a great expo on Friday and into Saturday, awesome looking medals for each distance including exclusive ones for each challenge, pre-race goodie bag, and a well-organized race in sunny Tampa and you have a great race weekend! This is one of my favorite weekends of the whole year and my favorite part of living in Tampa. Its so fun and local to this area, its hard not to run and/or spectate!
I’ve participated in the race weekend since starting school at the University of Tampa in 2011. My first half marathon was Gasparilla in 2012 and I participated in the Amber Challenge (5k, 15k, half) last year in 2015. Hard to believe that I’ve run the half marathon/participated in the race weekend for the past five years! Yet again, they did another great job putting the race weekend together. Unfortunately the races fall on the same weekend as the Disney Princess Half Marathon which I haven’t done yet (or any disney race for that matter) because I love this whole weekend that much! I basically walk out my front door and walk to the start, its my home running route, weather is great, and its a reasonable price (sorry disney). Not to say that I won’t do a disney race, I want to eventually, but right now this weekend is something I’ve participated in every year and I can’t break that!! 😉 Honestly though, I wanna run the Tower of Terror 10 miler in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hopefully 2017 (when they re-open the race) it will work out then!
The week before the race, of course I felt I was overdoing it a little…smh I was feeling some tightness in my right foot after my ten mile run and from that moment, I got back into some foot strengthening/maintenance exercises and made sure I foam rolled (both of these I’m not good at doing regularly) and for a week I took off running. I did this before my marathon too because of a similar issue, so I repeated it again before the half. I went to Soho Cycling, strength trained, did yoga, ate well, rested, etc. All that was left was awaiting for my Mom to show up for the weekend! Another reason this race is tradition is because it always falls on the weekend after my birthday. A good excuse for my mom or both my parents to come watch and spend the weekend with me. Who doesn’t love when you get personal cheerleaders AND they help you celebrate your birthday a little longer?! My mom arrived Saturday morning and we went shopping, had lunch/dinner our favorite places. Daily Eats is BOMB has a killer shredder bowl for pre-race fuel and Oxford Exchange is AHmazing for their Chicken Burger and sweet potato fries post race. I crave a burger and fries post race of almost any distance. I think its the ultimate cheat meal especially since I don’t typically make this kind of stuff for myself during the week. Isn’t that what a cheat meal is supposed to be?! YAS.
The morning of the race was Sunday at 6am so I got up around 4-ish to eat, get myself prepped, and be ready to head out the door around 5:30am. I woke up and felt like I was hit by a truck…yeah. Not a way to start a half marathon. I remember thinking, “you can go back to bed and not run or you can suck it up and run.” I chose the latter. Sweating out whatever I had could be okay. I felt confident after having deciding and warming up so I was already feeling better mentally. I made it to the start and bang went the gun and off I went! Overall weather-wise it was great. I started slow, about 9-9:30 min/mile and soon made up time as I got to mile eight. Past eight, I started picking it up. I was feeling much better! The last five 5k I was up to 8 min/mile and felt amazing. All I used was my nuun and ended up not needing any of my gu. I finished strong with a time of 1:51:51! I was so happy and proud! I had PR-ed and cut four minutes off my time from last year! Although my marathon was about a month ago, it significantly helped me mentally and physically with my improvement in my time. By far it gave me a new appreciation of running half way! BEYOND GRATEFUL pretty much sums it up.
Post race, my mom and I walked back and got ready for the rest of the day. We had brunch with LiveSweatSleep post race, got strawberries in Plant City, did some home improvement stuff like putting together the rest of my room and defrosting my fridge–fun stuff. That night I started feeling pretty tired and worn out. I was also starting to feel that “hit by a truck” feeling aka getting sick. My mom made me homemade chicken noodle soup and we just relaxed until she left the next morning!
Overall, besides starting off the race not feeling so hot to the weekend overall being fun and memorable complete with my PR, it was great!! An awesome way to start year 23!
SO…have YOU run any of the Gasparilla races yet?? Maybe you’re like me and run the same race every year or you just tackled a new distance? Maybe you ran disney or another race recently and want to reward yourself for your hard work? 🙂 I gotcha covered. Whatever the accomplishment, check out these custom made decals by ThisCrazyLifeofMine!! I saw them on LiveSweatSleep‘s car and thought how cute and clever AND get all distances covered in the same place.
They’re awesome because they make great car bling, they’re a cute way to reward yourself and show off your accomplishments, and its completely customizable 😉 From the color of the hearts, the distances, and line at the bottom, you can make it uniquely YOU. Check out This Crazy Life of Mine for more info! Be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a $1 off when you mention AliGoesTheDistance.
-What race have you done recently? Did you try a new distance or race altogether? How did it go??
-Any pre-race rituals? 😛