Oh Gasparilla, how I love thee!
This race is my absolute favorite has been my favorite for years and years for a few solid reasons – the swag is awesome, the medals are amazing, the on course support is stellar, and the route is fantastic.
This year, I got an extra treat, as my sister and I ran the race together. She has somewhat recently gotten into running (this was her 3rd half) and it was her very first time running Gasparilla. I knew I wanted to run it with her, so when we walked up to the start, we filed right in line with runners looking to go sub 2 hours. This was the first year they had the different waves (sub 2 hour finishers and 2+ hour finishers) and I think it made a big difference. It wasn’t nearly as tough to get in and out of the crowds as it had been in years past.
Em led the way through the crowds and I stuck right on her back. It’s pretty easy to get separated in the beginning of a large race like this one, so I told her to lead so I didn’t push the pace. I tend to get a little caught up at the start sometimes. 😉
The first 4-5 miles are on Davis Island, which is a sleepy neighborhood perfect for a race. There were a few water stops on the island and then we went up and over the bridge onto Bayshore Boulevard, where we would remain for the remainder of the race. Since it is an out and back, spectating can be pretty great if you know where people will be standing. My friend Meg was right on the road after we hopped off the bridge, and then my parents were down around mile 6. I always look forward to seeing smiling faces in local races!
We were shooting for a sub 2 hour finish, and per our watch splits, we were right on point! Emily was feeling strong and we just put one foot in front of the other as we moved along. I had to take a quick potty break around mile 8, so I did a quick sprint to the port-o-potty and then caught back up with Em – no sweat!
As soon as we got to the turning point, we noticed a distinct difference in the race – a massive headwind. It looked like we’d be facing one heck of a windy last 4 miles. I did a little bit of wind blocking for Em to help save some of her energy, but she didn’t even need it. She was feeling great!
I knew my boys were standing right at the 12 mile mark, so I was so excited to see them cheer us on! Grant loves running now and is one of my favorite running buddies, so he loves seeing mommy run. He can’t quite understand why he isn’t able to keep running with me when I see him on the course though, so that is something we are working on 😉
After seeing my family, Em and I grabbed another sip of water and headed to the finish! She was really feeling the increased speed and headwind, and was pretty ready to be done at this point. With just one more mile to go, she really dug deep and found that last ounce of energy to pull off a sweet PR!
We crossed the finish line in 1:54:50 – right around a 30 second PR for Em! Woot!
Other than the awful headwind, the weather was really ideal! Especially considering how hot and humid it was the day before, I call this a win! Can’t wait to be back next year!