Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Gasparilla, part 2

All my medals, in case you missed them the first time. =)
I'm way behind in everything, so we'll see how far into this I get before I fall asleep typing.

Sunday was Race Day, The Sequel. We had a 4 a.m. wakeup call and me, my sister and my husband all headed out before 4:30. The half-marathon started at 6 and although I knew where I was going by then, I was still a bit nervous about being rushed. We couldn't park at the expo again but we found a parking garage nearby and made that our home base. My sister volunteered for the role of sherpa and I lathered on Body Glide and sunscreen. I was starting to get a bit nervous — today was the BIG day.

We popped into the Tampa Convention Center to use the real bathrooms again (I really can't say enough how much this was appreciated!) and headed off to the start line. Confusingly, it was at a different location than yesterday's races, but maps and volunteers were everywhere, so we eventually found our spot. It was still very dark out. We chit-chatted and I bounced around, made sure my Garmin was synced, cued up my iPod, etc. At 6 a.m. we surged toward the start line, I said my good-byes, and we were off!

The first few miles were very slow but I was fine with that. There were a few spots on the course that were VERY dark — I saw one lady laying on the ground and bleeding (she was being helped). I lost my throwaway shirt at about mile 2. I took a drink of half coconut water, half cherry juice every 2-2.5 miles, and had a Huma gel every other drink stop. It worked fine.

It started to lighten up a bit and I tried to enjoy the scenery. At about mile 5-6 I thought, I am not even halfway done! What am I doing! But I tried to focus on enjoying the run and the day. I was a bit stiff and sore from the 12 miles the day before, but everything was functional. The miles ticked by and I tried to zone out to my music, the view, and the people around me, many dressed like pirates. My hips and knee got a bit grumpy but it was never actual pain. I ran and ran. I also realized that since this was my only second open half-marathon, it would be a PR. Hey! Finally, I was in the last stretch. I heard my sister and husband cheer. I was done!

... for now.  I got my third medal of the weekend and some water, and caught up with my cheering squad. It was starting to warm up and the sun was out, so I resprayed sunscreen and swapped out my glasses for sunglasses. My husband was doing the 8K with me and we had about 45 minutes until the start, so we went back to the expo center, took a few pictures and goofed around for a bit before meandering over. Everything from my hips down was starting to get angry but I knew I could do 5 more easy miles. Another start line, another countdown, and we were off — again!

The last race was all about being slow and steady. There were a zillion people so the first few miles were very slow, but that was perfectly fine. We saw more pirates. The funniest part of the race was the guy playing a keyboard at the turnaround, but all he knew was "God Bless America" set to a calypso beat. We had to listen that for about a half mile toward the turnaround and about a half mile back. It was SO bad, but we laughed and laughed after he was behind us.

The last couple miles were tough. I just put my head down and got it done. I sped up a bit as the crowd thinned out and I got into a groove but the miles of the weekend were definitely making themselves known. Before long, the finish line was up ahead and we went for it. We saw my sister and cheered. And then, we were DONE, for real DONE!

I got my 8K medal and a special Ultra Challenge medal. I was so proud of myself! I had gotten into the race late, managed a decent build, and finished in respectable time. Not bad at all! We headed home shortly afterward where I took a nice, long shower and ate about 500 cookies and candies, Mexican food, and more cookies and candies. No regrets!

All in all, it was a great weekend. The logistics of getting to Florida from Michigan were tricky, and the race weekend itself was a bit complicated, but I think it was organized and managed as well as possible. I don't know that I'd do this one again, but it was definitely fun to do once. And the medals are awesome! And seriously, Tampa Convention Center, you and your real bathrooms were the MVP of the weekend.

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