Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Michelob Ultra Challenge - 2 Days - 30.4 miles
February 22-23, 2014

Day one - 15K and 5K: Carolyn and I stayed the night in Tampa Friday, which allowed us to get a good night of sleep and then walk to the convention center and start line Saturday morning. It was great! I had worked at the expo until 8 p.m. Friday, so staying the night seemed like a good idea. So happy I used my American Express points to get a room at the Westin.

Me and Carolyn before the 15K start.
We found the start line, after asking a few people, but we were not allowed to get in at the front, like we had been told we could do. So, we had to walk down the street, pretty far, got into the corral, and then made our way forward. We didn't have long to wait before we heard the national anthem and we were off!

My plan for the 15K was to try and run a pace close to what I want to run for my half marathon in June. So, I started off with a pretty fast pace, but slowed down as we ran over the bridge, about a quarter of a mile in. The race announcer had told us the grating was wet and slippery. I didn't want to take any chances of falling so early in the race! Once we got to the other side of the bridge, we turned left and then headed out along Bayshore Blvd. We would see a lot of this road in the two days of racing! Despite the heat, I felt pretty good for the first few miles. There were a lot of people race, but I tried not to weave in and out of runners. I loved seeing the race leaders heading back on the other side of the road. I yelled out to Matt when I saw him pass and then yelled out to J.B., when I saw her go by. Both looked strong and speedy! At the end of Bayshore, we make a right turn onto W. Gandy Blvd, but only run on this road for a block or two, before making a u-turn and heading back.
Miles 1 through 5 - 8:16, 8:10, 8:13, 8:18, 8:22

I start to see a lot more people I know now. Chris is not to far ahead of me. But I know I will not catch him. He is to fast! I miss seeing Carolyn, but I do spot Darlene. My pace is slowing down a bit. A little slower than my goal pace, but I am fine with it. I knew it would be hard to keep in this humidity! I push the pace, but not too hard, as I know I have a lot of running ahead of me still. As I head towards the finish, this younger woman, to my left, takes a peek at me and speeds up. I keep on her heels and then I'm right next to her again. She notices me and picks up the pace even more. I gun it too, and we finish side by side. I congratulate her on a strong finish, telling her it's fun to have someone push you at the end. :)
Miles 6 through 9 - 8:36, 8:34, 8:33, 8:17
Overall pace - 8:18
Finish time - 1:18:59

5K race: After the 15K, we had about a half hour to get some food, water and make our way to the start line of the 5K. It was the same start as the previous race, so we knew were to go. :) We were able to get in at the front of the coral, which was awesome! They had the front portion seperated from all of the rest of the 9 am start group, so we went to the back of the front section, to let all the really speedy people have a clear start. Just before we started, they took down the barrier and we quickly became packed in. Thankfully, this didn't last long. After the national anthem, we were off!

Once again, we ran over that slippery bridge, so I took it easy, then picked up speed on the down hill. The course was the same as the 15K, we just turned around earlier. This race was very tightly packed. People were pushing and shoving to get through, thankfully, it wasn't too big of a problem for me, but I hear it was pretty rough a little further back in the pack. I made the turn around and could then see how bad it was behind me. There was a center divider in the road, but some people had run across it and were running on my side of the road! My first mile was the fastest, but I couldn't keep if for long. I did keep a pretty decent pace and overall, I was really happy with my finish.
Miles 1 through 3 - 7:56, 8:11, 8:23. Overall pace- 8:06
Finish - 25:47

Day 2: Half marathon and 8K race.

I was not so fortunate to be able to stay in Tampa Saturday night, so I got up super early Sunday and then headed up with Carolyn, Darlene and Gina. We got there around 5am, an hour before race start. This was good, as it gave us time to get to the bathrooms, check a bag and get prepared. About 5:40, we started the walk over to the start. It was a few blocks from the convention center, but didn't take to long to get there. We made our way up through the large group of people, to get as close to the start as we could, which wasn't very close! We had a short wait, before we heard the national anthem and then we were off!

The first couple of miles were tough. The course was very tightly packed for that long. It was hard to move around and get past the slower runners. We run a large loop around Davis Island. I loose Gina somewhere around mile 4. During mile 4, a woman wearing a crazy costume with a lot of items clanging together, runs up behind me and hangs out for a while. I listened to that for almost a mile before I had to pick up the pace to leave her behind. I thought I was going to go crazy listening to that racket!
Miles 1 through 5 - 9:02, 8:36, 8:42, 8:47, 8:58

Feeling pretty strong for the half.
We leave Davis Island at the 5 mile mark. As we run down the bridge, and enter Bayshore Blvd, we encounter lots of great crowd support. I am feeling pretty good here. We get a nice breeze off the water, and since we have 2 lanes, plus a bike lane, the runners are able to spread out. While running on the right side of the road, I see a little girl start to run across the street, dragging her big dog behind her. Her dad and another child stay on the right side and he says nothing to her! She almost makes it across the road without hitting someone. One older lady, running on the far left, doesn't see the girl and dog coming. She has to stop short in order to keep from running into the dog. I catch up to her later, and ask her how she is doing. She had been limping. Se said she hurt her leg a bit, but was more angry than anything.
Miles 6 through 9 - 8:56, 9:06, 9:08, 9:14

Just after mile 9.5, we get to the turnaround, and start making our way back to the finish. I see Carolyn and Gina on the otherside of the road soon after the turn. Not long after seeing them, I see Darlene and wave to her. The 2 hour pacer catches up to me. She has a large group with her, I decide I will run with her for a while, since I was pretty close to a 2 hour finish pace. I ran with them for a brief time and then fell back. He pace was 8:40! Way to fast. Maybe she was trying to make up time for slower early miles. The last few miles were a little tough. The heat was really getting to me, but I tried to keep a good pace up. I was so surprised to see the clock showing 2 hours! I looked at my watch as I crossed the finish line, finishing under 2 hours with just a couple of seconds to spare! :)
Miles 10 through 13 - 9:09, 9:03, 9:04, 8:56
Overall pace - 8:55
Finish - 1:59:58

New outfit for the 8K.
8K race: After the half marathon was over, I had about an hour before the start of this last race. I met up with Carolyn, Gina and Darlene, got a quick photo, then the three of us left Gina in the food line and headed to the bag check. I changed my outfit, because I was so sweaty. It felt great to get into dry clothes, but it wasn't easy getting that skirt, with the compression shorts on sweaty thighs! We hung out for a while, then met the ladies from my fit2run training group. They were all excited to get their race underway. We all walked over to the start area together. We got as close to the start area as we could, which wasn't very close. I guess we could have gone to the front and entered that way again, but I wanted to stay with Judy, who was one of the ladies I had trained for this race. We had a short wait and then we were off!

I had a good first couple of miles, but I knew right away, this was not going to be a speedy run. It was so hot and humid! This was, by far, the toughest of the four races. I don't have much to say about the course, it was the fourth time running out and back on Bayshore Blvd! I just tried to keep as fast as a pace as I could and ran it in. I was so happy to be done!
Miles 1 through 5: 8:55, 9:04, 9:11, 9:31, 9:34
Overall pace - 9:11
Finish - 47:01

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