Gasparilla Weekend Part 3 – The Main Event

Official Time: 2:01:01

If you missed the first 2 reviews check them out here and here.

The alarm went off at 4 and I got my booty out of bed. I think I was working on 5 hours of sleep (with several wakes ups through the night), but thankfully race excitement always makes me forget how tired I am!

We got dressed, forced ourselves to eat (nothing like eating when you don’t want to) – I had a Clif Bar, and made coffee. The coffee was kinda an event on it’s own because I forgot to put the pods in the machine. I am an idiot. We tried to run the water through again, but it wouldn’t start. Finally we asked the hubby to try and of course, it worked. 



Paula briefly considered running in these boots - which are now hers.

The hubby offered to drop us off at the race site, which was nice because we only had to park one car and didn’t have to get up at 3am. Maybe we should have though, because then we probably wouldn’t have run into the issues we did. During drop off, I left my water in the car and Paula left her iPod. We are awesome.

After drop off we hit up the porto potties (which are apparently called Porto John in Tampa). We walked to the line up. Now, I thought that the 5K was a mess, but I really think the half-marathon was worse. There were less people (6,000 vs 16,000), but it was still a madhouse. And there were no corrals or minute pacings. There WERE pacers, but it was impossible to fight through the crowd. When we started, I think we were standing by the 2:30 pacer. To stay I was annoyed is an understatement. I just do not understand WHY people who are slower or are planning on walking get in the FRONT of the starting line.




To make matter worse, within the first 1/2 mile you hit the bridge to get over to Davis Island. Now, I expected there to be a bottleneck, but I didn’t expect to be so far back so I got even ANGRIER. The whole time over the bridge (which was tiny compared to Melbourne, thank goodness) I was running at a 14:00 pace. Well, running seems like an exaggeration. There was still a bottleneck when we hit the end, but .75 I was finally able to kick it up a notch. My first mile was 9:55, so you know I totally hauled booty. There was one more bottleneck at the first water station (they placed it on a turn – not the smartest decision), but after that it was a FANTASTIC course. Not only was it absolutely beautiful, but there were a ton of people/kids that came out to cheer us on! A mime, a flamer thrower, a magician…all of the local high schools and kids from various running organizations. Just to name a few.

Miles .5-about 5 were on Davis Island — a totally rich and beautiful part of Tampa Bay. Miles 5-13.1 (13.2 because I like to run on the outside – working on that!) were down Bayfront Ave (same location as the 5K – just further down) and back. I think my favorite part of the race was returninng from Davis Island. There were a ton of people cheering on the bridge and it was super energizing to get to the 2nd half of the course. My 2nd favorite part was passing the 2:05 pace group at mile 7. At that point, I think I still had a chance to run a sub 2:00 race and was thrilled to leave them behind (especially because I started about 2 minutes after them!). Unfortunately, I never found the 2:00 pace group (the hubby said that they actually crossed early! DAMN!).

The hardest part of the race was miles 11-12.5. Actually at 11.5 my midsoles started to hurt. A lot. I pushed myself to just KEEP GOING. Usually I can go REALLY fast that last mile – but this was not the case. I was TOTALLY BURNED OUT from running too fast earlier. Lesson learned!


FINALLY about to cross the starting line


"Running" over the bridge



Blurriest picture ever of a flame thrower. Totally awesome that he was out there though.


Gorgeous. Coming back from Davis Island. I felt so senene at this part of the race.


Half Marathon #6 - COMPLETE!




Tampa Bay is so pretty


If it weren't for the water...I'd think this was Orlando


I asked her to assume the position

This race was EXTREMELY well managed (besides the start). There were water/gatorade stations galore. A Powerade Gel station at Mile 9 (haven’t tried this yet, but I snagged one), and lots of sprinklers (to cool off the runners) the last 4 miles. The volunteers were fantastic and there were SO MANY of them. I was impressed. The after party was good too. They were actually giving out food from Colombia Restaurant (if you live in FL and you’ve never been, you should their food is fantastic). We passed because I am never that hungry after a race, but I did grab a bagel to munch on. Parking was never an issue – neither was getting to and from the race. Go Tampa! I do recommend this race – or any of the Gasparilla races. They are relatively inexpensive – especially for everything you get (including the HUGE ASS medals). 3 races cost me LESS than I would have paid for the Disney Princess Half. No lie.

I didn’t upload my Garmin stats – but I know that my slowest miles were mile 1 (at 9:55) and mile 12 (at 9:14 – I think). The remaining laps came in under 9:10 — with 1 mile that was sub 9:00.  Despite making up some of the time I lost, I didn’t PR. I’m a little disappointed, but this was an awesome race and I can’t beat myself up about things I can’t control! I think if I had started with the 1:55 pace group like I intended too (even though I totally forgot to check them out during the expo – boo!) I would be reporting something completely different to you today! I definitely burned out early because I pushed myself too hard to make up that lost time.

Water wise – I started stopping for water earlier than normal because I left my water in the car. Doh! I also think this impacted my time a little (not a minute worth though!). I had a hard time getting back into the groove after each water station too, but I KNOW I needed the water/gatorade.

Fueling wise – I think I fueled this perfectly, although I think I need to eat more than just a Clif Bar the morning of a race. Maybe a Clif Bar and a banana?

After the race, we headed back to the hotel and lounged together in the bed…


This is normal, right?

and then hit the road for some breakfast. I scarfed down a Venti Mocha (there was a Starbucks approx every 50 feet – thankfully, they must have known I was coming) and the hubby and I hit up Village Inn for food. Paula left because she wasn’t feeling so hot (go check out her recap if you want another race perspective!). All I can say about Village Inn food — is YUM. I got a veggie omlette with a side of hash browns (it also came with pancakes that I didn’t eat). OMG those hash browns were AMAZING. The omlette was pretty great too!


My biggest fan :)


After I stuffed myself silly we headed back to O-town and picked up the kids. Oh, I how I missed them! I’m so lame, I hate being away for just one night. They had a blast though and B didn’t want to leave! Thanks to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for watching my crazy animals all weekend!

So, in summary…AWESOME weekend. I had SO much fun. FANTASTIC courses. Poor starting setup. If they would work out a better timing system/corrals this would be a PERFECT race. I’m a little sad about not hitting my goal, but I still have 2 more races lined up this season. Next up is Sarasota!!

What is your favorite course?? Should I run it??


  1. says

    so sorry you missed your goal but it sounds like all in all it was a great experience. i’m not really sure how the ironman and i managed to snake our way up to the 8:50 pace group. it wasn’t easy but we just kept finding little openings and pushed through. i know it made all the difference! i agree that at some point they need to look into corrals or something to make the start a little less frustrating. unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about the bridge onto davis islands. it’s narrow and it’s an island. but if you ever run this course again trust me when i say stay to the side and get on the raised walkway! that i managed to run a 9:02 in mile one versus your 9:55 shows the difference it can make. i’m glad you had a great weekend. we really couldn’t have asked for a more incredible day. well i would have preferred it to be a little cooler but it was pretty close to perfect. and you can’t beat a run down bayshore with 6,000 of your closest friends! i also want to throw in a quick kudos to susan harmeling (the race director who i know and love) for putting on yet another fantastic race weekend!

    • says

      Susan Harmeling did an awesome job! You couldn’t have asked for a better day or race. The fact that ALL of those races went off ON TIME, EVERY TIME is amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever been at a race that started on the dot until this one!

      Oh, and I definitely agree that there is no way to avoid any kind of bottleneck, but it was irksome that I saw so many people walking from the start, that were in front of me. Not that a corral system always solves that. I’ve actually found that races that make you line up by your pace have had smoother starts!

      I’m definitely planning running this one again — maybe I’ll go crazy and do all of the races :)

  2. says

    Congratulations! Sounds like such a fun weekend! Sorry you didn’t hit your goal, but it’s really tough when the start of the race is such a madhouse. Not only are those situations super stressful, but you use up so much extra energy trying to get around people (I also hate that so many people who are planning on running slow/walking try to start up near the front. Major pet peeve!). Next time you’ll have to find a race that has you line up by pace group, and I’m sure you’ll get your 1:55. You’re so close to running sub-2!

    Congrats again!! Glad the race ended up being beautiful and a lot of fun!

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