Another Gasparilla Race has come and gone. I love the race that Tampa puts on, and it truly gets better year after year. This race weekend has been a part of my race schedule for as long as I can remember, and I do my very best never to miss it. There are four races that make up race weekend – a 15k and 5k on Saturday, then a half marathon and an 8k on Sunday (last year I ran all 4 races!) This year I chose to run one race to better accent my marathon training plan, and I am so glad I did!
The race started at 6am, and lucky for me, it is right up the street from my house. I made the 10 minute walk down right around 5:30, and was able to get a good spot in the corral with enough time to stretch and get ready to race. The national anthem was sung, and we were off right on time!
The first 5 miles are on Davis Island and always just fly by. It is through quite neighborhoods in the dark, so you really don’t even realize what you are doing. To add to the day, it was super muggy and fog filled the air. It covered the top of the buildings in downtown Tampa too.
All you hear is breathing and the pitter patter of feet – a runner’s anthem. I ended up right in the middle of the 7:40 pace pack a was feeling pretty darn good. It was a very cloudy, but humid day – however we had one thing on our side – the sun was staying behind the clouds. Race highs were predicted to be in the 80’s, so I really wasn’t expecting too much out of the race. With the sun in the clouds, I did some quick reevaluation. Could I hop in front of the 7:40 group and hold that pace for the rest of the race for a PR? Well, I was sure going to try.
Once we got onto Bayshore, I just focused on getting to different points on the course that I knew I would have supporters. Marcus, Winnie, and my parents were at miles 6.5 and 11.5, and the lovely Lululemon ladies were at miles 6 and 11. The course is out and back right on the water, so it is very spectator friendly. I really just focused on keeping a steady pace, and then picking it up, little by little. Around mile 8, I just started passing people. It was somewhat risky to pick up my pace with 5 miles left, but I was willing to give it a shot. I really didn’t have anything to lose.
Mile 10 was the point that I knew my mental game was going to be the deciding factor on whether or not the PR would be mine. Speed work is obviously important in achieving any kind of time goal, but the mental fortitude you build during those sessions is even more key to reaching new heights. I told myself it was only a 5k I had left. I have done more 5k’s that I will ever be able to count, so I went ahead and just treated it as such. With that, I knew it was going to hurt. Picking up the pace at the end of a race is never easy, but it is the best way to have the confidence and reassurance of conquering a new time goal.
Since I still don’t have a Garmin, I took a look at my Timex Ironman watch to catch my 10 mile split – it was right at 7:23. The next mile zoomed by and I saw Marcus and my parents again. I took another look at the watch – 7:21. 2 seconds off the previous split, but I needed more, so I picked it up. Next was the Lululemon crew, and then mile 12 – 7:15. Much better. I had 1 mile left, and was going to give it all that I had. I passed right around 8 people that last mile. I felt unstoppable. I crossed the mat, and knew I had just PR’d. That last mile was 7 minutes flat. Amazing way to end a race!
I grabbed my medal and then started to look for a couple of friends that volunteered at the finish. Chris and Meghann saw me way before I saw them – they knew just about to the minute when I would finish – they know me way too well! Thanks for helping us all with a very important aspect to any race – rehydration!
As always, there was a ton of water, food, snacks, soda, and plenty of post race goodies. I didn’t grab too much, since more often than not, my stomach doesn’t tolerate a lot of food after racing. It is something that I have learned the hard way, and have come to respect it. No biggie. I walked around, found a few other friends that were spectating, and then made it back to my cheer squad. Marcus is always at my races and is so incredibly supportive, even if he has to wake up at 6am on a weekend. He is even breaking in Winnie to become a superb race supporter!
Not too long after finishing, I was able to look up my time on the results page, since I forgot to stop my watch and the app I was using on my phone. I guess I was just glad to be done
I was very happy with my time – a 58 second PR, dating all the way back to 2009. It had been years since I was able to reach a new goal in the half marathon, and I was glad I was able to do it Gasparilla – my favorite race! Oh, and the best part of Gasparilla – the amazing medals. I just love them!
Pretty cool huh?!
Congrats to all of the finisher’s yesterday! Especially Bob & Josh, crossing the line of their first half marathon, Denise at the 8k, Samantha on her first 5k, and Christine gaining a big 9 minute PR in the half marathon!! You all rocked it!