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.


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:


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.


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:

Screen shot 2013-02-24 at 9.08.31 PM

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

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


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!


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.

Screen shot 2013-02-24 at 9.22.58 PM

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!

Christmas Traditions

26 12 2011

Merry (Belated) Christmas Everyone! Did you have a good weekend? I was able to spend my long weekend at home in Jersey with family and friends.

One of the things that makes Christmas so special in my family is the traditions we have. It makes coming home each year fun, and I enjoy the nostalgia of the traditions.

I thought I’d share a few of my family’s traditions with you!

Christmas decorations

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is seeing my family’s stockings all hung up on the mantle.

I’ve had the same stocking since I was a little girl, and it’s extra special because it was hand-made by my grandmother.

I think it is so cute! It makes me smile every time I see it. Everyone else in my immediate family has one too, made by my grandmom. When the stockings became too much for my grandmother to make, my mom took over this tradition. She now creates personalized stockings (no kit!!) for friends and family. She recently made one for my cousin’s daughter:

Another Christmas tradition is mom’s moving doll collection. She sets up a little display inside the house of with these moving dolls. Some might think they are a bit creepy, but to me, they mean Christmas!

Christmas Eve


Every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember we have a lasagna dinner. My mom makes her traditional meat and cheese lasagna:

She pairs it with crispy, buttery garlic bread. I could eat 10 pieces of this stuff!

And for our veggie, she made her Broccoli Cheese Bake:

Oozing with cheese and loaded with cream of mushroom soup, it might not be the healthiest, but it sure is tasty!!


For the past several years at least, we’ve been going to a Christmas Eve service at a nearby church. The lights are turned down low, and the small church is decorated beautifully.

Yes, that is as wide as the building is. It’s tiny!

In the recent past, I feel like I haven’t really gotten into the spirit of the season until I’ve attended this service. Something about being surrounded by my actual family and church family, singing Christmas songs, and hearing the Christmas story in this quaint space puts me in the right frame of mind. I find the candle light service so peaceful, a nice break from the busyness of the holidays.

Christmas Day

So this year was a little different, since Christmas was on a Sunday and we went to church, but I thought it would be fun to tell you the way Christmas morning usually goes in my house.

Christmas morning in my house never started at 7am (or earlier) with my brother and I running down the steps and tearing into the presents under the tree. No sir. Mom and dad had some pre-present opening requirements for us.

First, we had to make our beds. Chores on Christmas morning? UGH.

Then, we always had to clean up (shower/bath, brush our teeth, get out of our PJs and into real clothes, yknow, like it wasn’t CHRISTMAS MORNING or anything!!)

Then, we sat down for breakfast together. When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure we ate the fastest we’d ever eaten in our lives on Christmas morning.

Then, we got to run over to the tree and attack the presents. Just kidding, not yet!

When my grandfather was alive, we’d call him and invite him over to watch us open presents (and of course get his too!) He lived less than 10 minutes away, but as a kid, those 10 minutes felt like forever!

When Pop Pop arrived, we all moved to the living room. Mom got her camera and a notepad to take notes of who got what so we could write Thank Yous later. Then, my brother and I FINALLY got to open presents. We alternated opening one gift at a time, and then we’d pose for a picture with our new gift.

This year, we didn’t follow all of those steps, but I did make my bed, and my mom took a few shots of us posing with some special gifts.

Santa was good to me 🙂

Christmas Dinner

Of course, there’s always the traditional Christmas dinner. Basically, mom does Thanksgiving Part 2. This year, we had some friends over to join us for dinner. Mom didn’t hold back, making a tremendous meal with all the fixins.


Mashed Potatoes


Creamed Onions

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I loaded my plate up with a little bit of everything. Mmm so good! After taking a walk around the block, we ate some dessert of Christmas cookies and Pumpkin pie. Stuffed to the gills!
My Christmas night ended with yet one other tradition, a trip over to my friend Gina’s house. She and I grew up together, only a few blocks apart. We’ve been best friends forever, and I’m so glad I was able to stop in last night:-)

I hope you all were able to spend time with friends and family this weekend! Now, time to get back into the swing of things…

Question of the day: What are some of your Christmas/Holiday traditions?