Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

Gasparilla Race Weekend + Reward Yourself with a Customizable Decal

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!

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Christina ran the 8k Saturday and Caitlyn cheered from finish! Glad to have kicked off race weekend with these two 🙂
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See ya at the finish, mom!

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.

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Who doesn’t love local strawberries covered in chocolate??

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.

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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!

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Caitlyn join in for post race brunch!

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!

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Breakfast thanks for THE Columbia for a killer way to refuel post half!

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.

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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 crazylifeofmineblog@gmail.com for a $1 off when you mention AliGoesTheDistance.

YOUR TURN:

-What race have you done recently? Did you try a new distance or race altogether? How did it go??

-Any pre-race rituals? 😛

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Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

This past weekend, I participated in the Save the Wildlife 5k at Busch Gardens with a friend from the Y and her family. A great turnout and race, it is definitely something I would do again. Not only did I help promote YRUN, but was able to catch up with my Fit2Run friends too! The weather was cloudy and cool…perfect weather for a run and day Busch Gardens. I felt good too and was really looking forward to a run of a short distance!! Knowing the race was 3.1 miles not 6+ was a relief haha. If anything, this marathon has been a good reminder that shorter distances are good for a change too as well as prep my mind for being race-ready! It had been since Gasparilla that I had done my last race, so it was time for something new. I will say, I do not race often so this one was a special kind of race. Aside from the crowd at the race, the crowds at park weren’t bad either, probably because it looked like it was going to rain the whole day, but didn’t! YAY for short-ish lines! The most we waited was 45 min for Cheetah Hunt (BG’s newest coaster as of about four years ago), but even that was do-able. Too cool for water rides, but all we wanted was to ride the coasters anyways! Sheikra never disappoints!!!!! 😉

A great turnout and race, Save the Wildlife 5k definitely something I would do again. I signed up with a friend from work and her family and we ran it together. The packet pickup and race was well organized and fun. Both easy locations to find on Busch Gardens property. Packet pickup was offered Thursday and Friday before the race. The course was flat with small inclines thrown in around the park. We ran throughout the park, near the animals, and around the roller coasters. The race started and finished in the same place. There was about fourteen hundred participants…which seems like a lot, but they did a great job “containing” us (making it sound like were a bunch of caged runners LOL) within the parking lot making the start convenient to where we parked. The goodie bag was simple but just enough: a race shirt and ticket to the park for the day complete with reusable bag 🙂 (no extra clutter yay!) Besides perks of a ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and a medal roughly the size of a dinner plate, this race benefited the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Not only was this just a pre and post race type race, but a fun event and day experience for everyone. Seeing proud runners wear their shirt and medal around the park made for a memorable and good way to connect with other participants during the day. I’d say a win-win for everyone! Check out the pros and cons of the race below! *Note: my opinions and thoughts only*

Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race.
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race

Pros:

  • Well-organized packet pickup and race
  • Perks with registration include: ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and medal
  • Good time of year
  • Flat course (minus a few inclines throughout the park)
  • Family friendly
  • 7:30am start (early but not too early)
  • Entertaining—animals out for petting and holding at the finish
  • “Tailgating” from your own car experience post race before park opening

Cons:

  • Pricey-er registration than the average 5k ($35-$50)
  • Cotton shirt
  • No recyclables (water bottles were given out at finish)
  • No race day pick-up
  • No strollers
  • Not advised that if left after the race and came back for park opening, parking fee ($17) would be enforced (see “tailgating” pro above)