Gasparilla Distance Classic- The 8K

25 02 2013

Last year, I had barely been in Florida a month when I ran the Gasparilla half marathon. My new friends told me it was a must-run Tampa race; it was flat, fast, and full of race-day energy (after all, there are 4 races over the course of the weekend!). I had a GREAT time running the race last year, so this year I knew I wanted to run it again. I was awfully tempted to register for the half marathon  so I could walk away with one of these babies:

Gasparilla Half Marathon Medal 2013(photo courtesy of Meghann)

But I decided against it and registered for the 8K instead. I could get myself in shape for a 5 mile run.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 7:30 to give myself enough time to eat, park, potty break and get to the starting line. The 8K was the second race of the day, so my start time was 9:00am. The half marathon was the first race of the day, and the gun went off at 6:00am!

I got to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. One of the things I love about running races is that you just show up a few minutes before the start ready to go, instead of arriving HOURS in advance to set up all your gear in transition.

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There were nearly 3000 people running the 8K and it’s not corralled, so I took a guess where I should start. I didn’t want to be too close to the front, so I found a spot about 40 yards or so from the first row of runners. I looked over and saw a guy with a pace sign:

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Hmm, maybe I’m too close to the front. An 8:00 pace is awfully ambitious for me, but after waffling back and forth about going back to find the 8:30 group, I opted to stay here and see what I could do. I felt pretty rested, and despite riding 32 miles (with 2 fifteen minute intervals thrown in there, one of them into an awful headwind) and running a 3K yesterday, my legs felt surprisingly good. I’ve recently been delving into the world of compression, so maybe that had something to do with it? Regardless, I decided that I would try to stick with these guys for as long as I could.

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When the race started, the temperatures were hovering in the mid 70s and the typical Florida humidity had set in; however, there  was a nice cloud cover and some fog which made it feel much more pleasant than it could have been. I started off with the pacer, and quickly found myself doing a little bit of dodging and weaving to get around the crowds at the start. In the mix, I lost sight of the pacer, but I knew he must have been only a few steps behind me. I fell into a groove- a fast groove. At mile 1, my watch beeped and I looked down and was shocked to see a pace that began with a “7.” Uh Steph, what are you doing? I backed off ever so slightly, but I figured my strategy for today would be to try and hold on.

As we approached mile 2, the pacer came up along side of me and passed me. I worked hard to stay close to him, and tried not to let him go more than 15 feet or so ahead of me. Mile 2 dinged: 8:04. Ok, so I fell off a little, but I’ll take it!

We hit the turnaround and the pacer started gaining some distance on me. I was not going to give up that easily, so I pushed a little harder. Beep! Mile 3: 8:01.

At this point, I was feeling the effects of going out so fast. Oof. This was starting to hurt. I could feel myself slowing down but all I wanted to do was catch up to the pacer. My body was just not having it. To make matters worse, the sun decided to make its debut for the day. And boy, did it come out blazing! I was so hot and so tired, but I still had a mile and a half to go. You can do it Steph, you can do it, I kept chanting to myself. Then my thoughts switched to: No one will blame you if you start to walk.

No!- I pushed the negativity aside and told myself that I could do it- only 1.5 miles to go!

Ding! Mile 4- 8:25

I gave what I could for that last mile and crossed the finish line in 41.05!

Here’s my splits according to Mr. Garmin:

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(Yeah, I’ll have to work on that whole “pacing” thing…)

I headed down the chute and saw some friendly faces handing out water.

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Hi Meghann and Chris!

I also spotted my friend Beth, who is super speedy and was the 3rd overall female to cross the line. Congrats Beth!

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Overall, I had a great time running the 8K. It’s a fun distance that isn’t raced all that often. I was quite pleased with my time and my overall results.

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I did a little counting, and I think I was 12th in my age group. Whoot whoot! Not bad for my first race as a 30 year old:-)

After the race, Mary (who ran the half marathon and scored a new PR!) hosted a delicious brunch where we recounted our races and threw out the idea of running the Challenge (all four races!) next year…I had a fantastic day and I have nothing but good things to say about the race and the race weekend. So, will I “Run for the Booty” next year? We shall see!

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