Ahoy there mateys!
In case you were wondering (because I had no idea) the name Gasparilla comes from Jose Gaspar – a (supposed) pirate from Southwest Florida. Every year Tampa celebrates the Gasparilla Pirate Festival that takes place the first weekend in February. The Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend (sponsered by Publix and Sports Authority) started in 1978 (it’s a wee bit older than me) as a tail end celebration to the yearly festival. Now the two do not coincide, but it’s probably better for the city of Tampa anyways. All proceeds from the race go to local youth organizations and youth running programs in Tampa. Not only are they giving money to these groups, but the organizations (kids included) are out there cheering you on! It was so great to see so many young, cheering kids in the crowds.
So, now that you’ve had your history lesson…let’s get to the racing!
The hubby and I managed to get up and over to his mom’s house Saturday morning by 6:30 (our intended goal!). We ran laughing from the house (kidding, we only chuckled a little) and made it to Tampa by 8. The race was at 9:30, but we still had to find parking and pick up our race bibs/stuff before it started. I’m VERY glad we gave ourselves ample time because I wasn’t stressed at all.
Bib and packet pickup was a breeze. The racing swag was pretty nice. We now have 3 more reusable shopping bags, 2 cotton t-shirts, and 1 Nike Dri-Fit performance shirt (long sleeved). There were also a few samples, coupons, and ads in the bag. Luckily, we had plenty of time to walk back to our car to drove off our stuff and take pictures.
Then we lined up for the race. Wow, was it a cluster of people. The only BAD thing I can say about this race is that I felt like it was a very small area and there was no system to line up. I don’t always think this is necessary for a 5K, but when there are 16,000 people running it, maybe it’s something consider? I did see signs for under 20 minutes and under 30 minutes, but they were small areas and not really clearly marked.
A few minutes before the race started, the hubby decided he wanted to run the race alone. I think he was nervous that I might make him run too fast or something (which is hilarious). Unfortunately, I didn’t really have time at this point to try to move up in line (it was have been a waste of energy anyways – it was literally a wall of people), so we at least crossed the start line together! After that, I set off and started dodging people. The course was BEAUTIFUL. Straight down Bayshore drive (with gorgeous views of the bay) and back. There were 2 water/Gatorade stands (didn’t stop for either). I finally got past the crowds right as I hit the beginning of mile 3 and it was pretty smooth sailing to the end. I didn’t have any real goal, so I am quite pleased with my time!
After I grabbed my medal (so cute that they gave out medals for all of their races!) and waited by the water truck for the man to cross the finish line too. I was so excited to see him finished in 32 minutes! Although, he did step in a pothole and slightly sprained his ankle 🙁
The after-party goods were nice. There were bananas, Coke, smoothies, 5-Hour Energy drinks, and fruit cups. There was also beer, which we grabbed after we hit up the Expo.
The Expo was impressive as far as Expos go – meaning they had a TON of free stuff. I picked up Lara Bars, granola bars, tea, cheese, more Publix bags, napkins, more coupons, and Chobani Champions yogurt (YUM). There were also vendors galore. I was looking to buy more, but I only picked up a Sweaty Band (LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE) and some Sports Beans. Have I mentioned my love for the Sweaty Band? I ran 13.1 miles with it and it didn’t budge. I’m DEFINITELY buying more.
After the Expo we decided it was time for that beer! It was just Michelob Ultra (also a sponsor), but it was probably the best Mich Ultra I’ll ever have 🙂 After the beer, we headed out for lunch and decided on Pei Wei. We got WAAAAAY too much food. Our eyes were bigger than our bellies for SURE. It was definitely enjoyed though. Yum.
We spent the rest of the afternoon checking into the hotel, lounging, and napping. The nap was MUCH needed! A 5am wake up on Saturday morning is WAAAAY too early.
Next up…Paula arrives…that deserves its own post.