Paula and I left for Tampa on Saturday around 1pm. We were both, shockingly, on time. It was a rare event.
We hit a little traffic on the drive down (there was a car on fire that had us at a standstill about 30 miles outside of Tampa – that was fun), but otherwise it was uneventful.
I-4 — such an exciting highway.
We found the hotel (and the hotel dumpsters – don’t ask), quickly checked in, and walked to the Tampa Bay Convention Center for the race expo. We stayed at the Tampa Riverwalk Sheraton, which was within walking distance of both the hotel and the expo.
This is the 2nd race in a row where I’ve been able to walk to the start and I HIGHLY recommend it. What’s even better is that even though this was a “race hotel” I booked it on Hotwire for half the price. ALWAYS check Hotwire people!
We got to the expo close to 4, picked up our gear, wandered around for bit (I needed to buy an iFitness belt), and then got windblown back to the hotel. At that point the wind gusts were between 20 and 30mph. We were psyched.
For dinner we walked to Pizza Fusion, which was EXCELLENT.
I had half a Beet & Goat Cheese Salad and a personal pizza (The Farmer’s Market), while Paula had half a Pear & and Gorgonzola Salad and a personal pizza (Pepperoni — which I also dubbed the nipple pizza). Oh, and we also split some stuffed mushrooms that were like a party in our mouths. And yes, we ate it all.
After dinner we
got lost headed to Publix and picked up a few necessities (ahem, BOGO Cinnamon Life Cereal) before going back to the hotel to veg, stretch, and then call it a night. We also snuggled for a little bit. (Just checking to see if you’re still reading.)
Despite going to bed early, I had a rough night’s sleep. I’m pretty sure I woke up every hour on the hour. I also stole the covers — and then realized I stole the covers and tried to give them back. <–Cover stealing guilt So when the alarm went off at 4:15 I was NOT ready to get out of bed. And then I checked out the weather.
This is really where my mental game began. The chanced of rain during the race had diminished, but the wind was INSANE and it was going to stay that way. There’s no way I would skip out on a race – but I was NOT in the mood to battle wind gusts. Too bad I had no choice. I was SO preoccupied by the weather I forgot to put on 2 key pieces of my running gear: my Garmin and my KT Tape. Seriously.
Weather anxiety and all, we got ready.
What do you stuff YOUR top with?
And headed downstairs. When we got out of the elevator there were hoards of runners waiting to get back on. WTH?? Ummm wrong way? Then we went outside and realized why. It was POURING. Crap.
So back upstairs we went to grab the trash bags I brought. And yes, we went BACK UPSTAIRS and I still forgot my Garmin and my tape. Of course, by the time we got back downstairs the rain had almost completely stopped. In the end they were a good idea, the trash bags kept us warm while we waited.
It was while we were waiting, about 10 minutes from the gun (or someone shouting GO!), that I realized I forgot my Garmin. I’m not even going to lie – I was PISSED at myself. I pretended to joke around about it with Paula, but I know she knew that I was upset. It was like last year when she left her iPod in my car. There’s nothing either of us could have done about it. I just had to suck it up, but it was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t PRing. It wasn’t the wind, it wasn’t the chance of rain, it was the f*cking Garmin.
And this is really one race where having a Garmin in handy. There were mile marker signs (most of them were blown over) – but not clocks so I didn’t know until the end how long I had been running or what my pace was. I know that shouldn’t matter, and maybe I am too reliant on my Garmin, but I use it a motivational strategy as well. It helps keep me in check. I tend to get caught up at the beginning of races and then die out – hard. And I can’t tell you if I did that this race. I can only tell you that my time at mile 6.5 was 1:03 and that my 2nd half was somehow faster (I think this is a lie, but what do I know?).
And the KT Tape? I didn’t remember that I forgot to put it on until Mile 2. Thankfully, my orthotics and new shoes are so awesome that I don’t think I really need it anymore — it was more of a safety precaution (my ankle actually feels great today!), but it was still a “Duh Michelle!” moment. Apparently, I’m lucky (as are you all) that I got dressed!
The race itself was, like last year, great. The bridge to Davis Island didn’t piss me off as much this year. Partially because I didn’t pass a slew of walkers who decided to start up front. This year the coordinators attempted to do corrals (they only had 2 though). I still think a timed corral setup would work better (have more corrals and release them every 2 minutes) – but what do I know about race planning? Nada.
After getting over the bridge I had no problems with space or anything really. There is a water stop EVERY mile (this was a moot point as I carried my own water bottle) and there were people outside their houses cheering (at 6am!). We didn’t really hit the wind until Mile 3-4. Even then, it wasn’t that bad. Then I came back over the bridge and the wind (coming off the bay) hit me like a ton of bricks.
I know what you’re thinking. DANG she is HOT when she’s running.
I felt like a punching bag. From Miles 5-9 the wind was mostly at my back, but every now and then it would gust from the side and I swear you’d think I was drunk running. I was ALL over the place!
Mentally, I was done at Mile 8. I have NEVER felt like that in a race before. NEVER. I wanted to walk. I wanted to quit. I wanted the wind to go away. The closest I ever felt about being done with a race was in Savannah at Mile 23 when the 4:30 pace group passed me and even then, I knew I was going to finish. This time I wasn’t so sure – BUT I did remind myself that if I could run an effing MARATHON, I could run 5 more miles.
I challenge you to find an uglier race picture.
And I did. Begrudgingly. We hit the turn around at Mile 9 and I was treated to a huge gust of wind in my face. AWESOME. I told myself to KEEP GOING. I screamed it in my head over and over again. At mile 11 the 2:00 pace group passed me. I fought them for a bit, this wasn’t going to happen again, but I couldn’t keep it up. The wind was just too strong. Since I started before them, I wouldn’t have sub-2’d anyway – but I would have been about a minute faster.
The key to a somewhat decent race photo is pretending you don’t see the 800 photographers on the course.
When I FINALLY made it to the last mile I gave it all I got. Sure, it wasn’t my best race – but it wasn’t my worst and I was going to end it strong.
Alllll by myself
And I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy for a race to be over.
Have I mentioned how cool the medal is??
After the race I ran into Carissa (actually, I screamed out her name – ha).
Turns out we were running within seconds of each other for part of the race!
I also saw Katy — who was rocking 3 out of the 4 Gasparilla events. What a champ!
And then I finally I found Paula! I knew she had met her goal because I saw her a few minutes behind me before she hit the turnaround.
I was SOOOO happy for her!
We picked up our post-race goodies and attempted to find beer – but instead we found a vacant area that wasn’t set up yet. Boo!
So instead we showered and headed back to Orlando. Where I celebrated with this…
And snuggled up with my little cheerleaders like this…
Yep, even if I have the worst race in the world – I’m still the center of their world.
Overall Thoughts: Gasparilla remains one of my TOP races. I will definitely race this one again! The race is well managed and organized and it’s not super pricey (half the cost the Disney Princess). I love medal, the shirts (Nike Dry Fit long sleeved), and the Publix loot.
I don’t love my time, but it’s nothing to be upset about! It was a minute or so faster than Miami — and even though I felt completely beat up yesterday, I feel great today. So Sarasota get ready. I’m out for revenge. Just hope I remember my Garmin.
Your turn…. what’s the dumbest thing you’ve forgotten — and why?