Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge (15K, 5K, Half Marathon, 8K)
I signed up for The Gasparilla races as a total impulse buy last Fall. I thought it would be like the Goofy Challenge, but not really. I PR’ed and BQ’ed the last time I was in Florida, so I had high hopes for this race, except instead of running in below 20 degrees weather, it was over 80 degrees and humid. Going into race weekend, my legs were already tired from all the running I had been doing the week before and traveling. As you can tell, I totally took this race seriously. Of course, I failed to realize when I signed up for these races that they would all be run along the exact same course as an out and back, the half marathon going the furthest. Impulse buy.
This weekend was more like a getaway vacation for us anyways. We stayed right in the middle of Downtown Tampa so we had access to a lot of great restaurants and a cool river within walking distance. Call us old souls, but we would spend many nights walking to the river and sitting down at one of the benches soaking up the warm weather. Not to mention, 5 guys Burger & Fries was a block from our hotel. Win.
So the Michelob Challenge consisted of running four races over Saturday and Sunday. Saturday consisted of the 15K (9 miles) followed by the 5K (3 miles). Sunday was the half marathon (13 miles) and the 8K (5 miles). Don’t ask me why they made the distances so weird. The hotel provided free shuttles to the start even though it was only a mile away so it was nice to wake up not so late and be at the starting line. I had hopes there would be pirates and a pirate ship show in the harbor, but I was wrong. No ships, just runners dressed up like pirates. Fail.
The course pretty much ran along the beautiful habor, reminds me a lot of Surf City. Towards the turnaround, we circled a neighborhood before coming back the exact same street. Boring? Yes. I don’t mean to be picky, maybe I am too used to the trails and ever changing scenery. It was hot, humid and did I mention hot? I definitely do better running in cooler temps. This weekend really reminded me why I’m closing the books on road races after Big Sur and sticking to trails. I guess my legs are not used to running consistently for ____ miles anymore without taking a break or walking up an impending hill. Sure the Gasparilla races were pancake flat, which is probably why I was able to do so well at Goofy. Anyways, back to the race. Not much to report on the 15K, out and back. Took it fairly easy for all the upcoming races, finished in 1:17:29. Yeah, speedy. I had to wait an hour before the start of the 5K which I dragged Brennan into. Since I wanted to stay together, the 5K was a nice cool down for me, although it was blazing hot. B had a hard time with the heat and there seemed to be double the number of people running the 5K than the previous 15K. We finished the 5K in 41:32 and proceeded to find the nearest smoothie shop for post-race refreshments. Interesting fact: there aren’t as many froyo shops as I thought in Florida, maybe it is a LA thing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, playing with his new baby cousin and eating back our calories from the 5K. Ha.
Sunday morning, the race started a little earlier at 6:30AM SO I THOUGHT. I was taking my leisurely time Facebooking and Twittering away when I saw that Gasparilla had tweeted that the race was starting in 45 minutes. 45 minutes?! I checked the race pamplet again, and lo and behold, the race starts at 6AM. Like I said, I took this race very seriously. I quickly put on whatever running clothes I had without much thought, bib, shoes, Garmin and hopped on the shuttle that was just about to leave the hotel. Whew, made it in time with 15 minutes to spare. I was actually glad once I was at the starting line that the race started at 6. It was still dark and much cooler out. I was hoping to be more than half way done with the race before the sun came out. We started at the same place from the day before, heard the Star Spangled Banner for the 3rd time and was off! This was the half marathon first and I was glad when I saw we were taking a turn to Davis Island. Not really an island, just another neighborhood, but at least we didn’t have to run all 13 miles on Bayshore. I felt pretty good the first half of the race and thoughts of PR’ing on this course crossed my mind…until the halfway point when the sun came out and my legs started to feel tired. I pretty much gave up all hopes for a fast time and just ran whatever pace I felt like. I walked some, ran some, Britney Spears was playing on high volume to keep me pumped. Finished in 2:03:47. Yup, my first 2+ half marathon. A year ago I probably would have freaked out and totally beat myself over it and started going back to track every week, but it didn’t bother me so much this time around. Maybe because I know time isn’t everything. I can run for 50 miles, but I can’t have a 2+ hr half marathon time?
My legs were pretty beat by now and having to wait another hour before the 8K start just tightened everything up. We passed through the same starting line again, heard the Star Spangled Banner again and off we went on Bayshore..again. I was pretty much over this race by the 4th time around. Just wanted to get it done and prospects of collecting 5 blings kept me motivated. I took the beginning slow and once my legs loosened up, I powered through to the end. Finish time 46:31. Overall, ran for 4:49:19 this entire weekend, legs trashed from all the pavement running, but the booty made up for it. Don’t you agree?