Gasparilla Half Marathon Recap

The start of the race was pretty warm (close to 60 degrees), but the energy and excitement of all the runners made the event even hotter.  Perhaps I’ve been out the half marathon loop for awhile but I don’t remember such enthusiasm in a race outside of Disney.  Maybe it’s because it’s our hometown race and it was truly a magnificent morning for a run.


My favorite part of any Gasparilla race is always watching the sunrise over Tampa Bay.  You don’t even have to be runner to appreciate such a sight and watching a sunrise should be on your bucket list (if you have one).  I’m just thankful that I love a hobby that offers an opportunity to bask in such beauty.





As for the race, I crossed the start line seven minutes into it.  I paced for the first few miles with @BigBadEd and a lovely young lady, Briana, running her first half marathon.  After our pit stop at a water station, I lost the two of them in the crowd and I was on my own for awhile.



The hordes of high school track and field teams cheering on the runners kept everyone’s momentum high.  Their smiles and spirit made that long stretch along Bayshore Blvd bearable.  My favorite team was Plant City High School because they had spirit…yes, they did!



When you’re running for miles and miles, you can’t help but notice other runners’ attire.  This race was no different except that this time, I happened to recognize the running dresses of some fellow Suncoast Striders.  Once I spotted Karen and Regina in their fancy running dresses, I paced with them for a few miles.  It was so great to catch up with them.  I miss running with my Strider friends.  But after the turn on Bayshore Blvd, I lost them too.  You would think their floral outfits would make them easy to find in the crowd, but not for my mama brain! Or should I blame it on the heat?



Speaking of the heat, there were several sprinklers to cool us off at the water stations along Bayshore Blvd.  I’m sure those sprinklers added time onto my finish time, because I always walked slowly through those sprinklers.  A couple of times I even stopped to soak in the spray a little while longer because it felt so refreshing!



With Karen and Regina in the race, I knew David (our fearless Strider leader) would be somewhere cheering on the runners, but somehow I missed my cheering section at the bottom of the Davis Island Bridge.  I did happen to spot a funny sign that read, “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking so much booty right now!



Around mile 11, my knee buckled which incidentally is the SAME SPOT where my knee buckled during the Gasparilla marathon two years ago.  My t-bands started to ache and I walked for a few minutes, but the walk was more of a wobble with a limp.  I needed to stop and stretch my calves and shins, because usually for me a knee issue means my calves/shins are feeling overworked.   Whatever the reason for the pain, I just hoped I could finish the last two miles running.


On the way back into Downtown Tampa passing the Davis Island Bridge once again, I realized it’s my friend, Melanie, holding the sign that made me smile and she’s standing next to none other than David, who’s taking photos.  Even though I was focused on my knee and finishing around 2:30, I still managed to smile and wave to the Strider gang.



Once passing the Striders, I spotted what I thought was the finish line, and I started to run harder.  Much to my dismay, it was the start line.  DOH! But somehow I found the energy to keep running strong for the next quarter mile.


I suppose seeing my fellow Striders close to the finish line inspired me to finish strong and ignore my knee.  Or maybe it was the thought that my family would be waiting for me at the finish line.  I wanted to show my girls that no matter what, no matter how you get there or how long it takes you, it feels really great crossing a finish line and achieving your goals.



My goal was to finish at 2:30.  Close enough.



Bib # 25004

Clock Time 2:38:20

Chip Time 2:31:18

Overall 3849/4818

Sex 1843/2498

Div 367

Age 45%



Keeping Up with the Bump

My paces prior to Saturday’s Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K were up and down, but I felt confident that I could finish under 40 minutes.


The night before the race I slept horribly.  I haven’t had a decent night sleep in months, but Friday night seemed even worse than usual.  I don’t know if I was nervous about my prego performance at the race or about the weather.  The forecast predicted 85% chance of rain and 45 degree temperatures at 8:00 a.m.  Have I mentioned how much I hate running in the rain?


My running partner, Tiffany, couldn’t make the race, but my friends, Mike, Chrissy and her sister, Angie would all be there.




The rain came down in full force just as the first wave of runners began crossing the start line and bitter memories of last year’s Gasparilla marathon flashed into my mind.  Since I had no intention of running fast, I stayed in the back as the crowd slowly meandered to the start line.  By the time Chrissy and I crossed the start line, we were 7 minutes into the race.





Since I forgot to check the water station stops on the race map prior to race day, I carried a water bottle with me.  Even though the rain would keep me cool and hydrated, I wanted to keep fluids in my body.  Hopefully, my bladder would feel the same since I forgot to wear a panty liner.


My running plan was to run 1 mile and walk a bit.  Run another mile and walk a bit more and then finish the last mile running.  When I found a water station, it would be a welcomed break.


I did really well for my first mile. Too well. I actually caught myself running a 9:30 mm pace and forced myself to slow down (doctor’s orders).  I finished mile 1 in 11:28 even though the clock said otherwise.




For mile 2, some military men moved in and their chants caused the crowd to clear a path for them.  These service men had a decent pace going and I ran with them for the next mile, however, I don’t think they would be happy to know that they were running the speed of a pregnant mama.  LOL  But in all truthfulness, their chants highly motivated me and all the other runners pacing alongside the soldiers.



After mile 2, I spotted a water station and the soldiers and I parted our ways.  I guzzled three cups of water while enjoying the view of the bay and the home stretch.




The last mile went fast even though my pace was slow.  Isn’t funny how 3 miles seem like a warm-up after you are accustomed to running longer distances? But even at my slower than usual pre-pregnancy pace, I finished under 40 minutes.




Clock Time: 42:58

Chip Time: 36:01

Ave Pace: 11:32.6

Max Pace: 8:36 (according to my Garmin)

Overall Place: 5438 / 9650

Gender Place: 2593 / 5585

Div Place: 354 / 785

Age Grade: 42.1%

Run DMT Grade: 100% KICK A$$!



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Going for Gasparilla

Late last Saturday evening, I bit the bullet and registered for the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.  Since I’ve been feeling pretty good and my bladder is still holding stong, I feel capable to run a 5K.  So why not go for the Gasparilla gold?  After all that little bit of runner bling will look so lovely resting on my big ol’ baby bump.


The weather has been ridiculously frigid by Florida standards since December which makes it awfully difficult for me to find any motivation to run.  We’ve also had a really wet winter and I hate running in the rain.  Plus, since becoming pregnant, my sleep pattern has been so out of whack that I can’t seem to summon the energy to run in the early morning (my favorite time of day).  So, all of these stupid excuses seem to get in the way of any running, but I needed to find some room for running with a race only weeks away.


For the past month, I’ve maintained my training with wogging (jogging/walking).  I’ve kept my pace around 11:00-11:30 mm and remarkably throughout my little wogs around the neighborhood, I haven’t had a constant urge to pee, which is pretty amazing for a running pregnant mama.  But since I never know when an unsuspecting cough or sneeze will strike, I think I will start wearing a panty liner to avoid wet wogs just to be safe.


On Tuesday, the sun was shining. Our temps began to warm up to normal highs for this time of year and the sun greeted me like an old friend.  With every step, I soaked up the sun’s rays and I found my mojo once again.

3.10 miles

Time 35:17

Ave Pace 11:22

Max Pace 8:23


Then, on Wednesday our temps dropped again and the rain returned, but an e-mail from Tiffany, my running partner, later that evening coerced me to run in the cold early morning on Thursday.

3.18 miles

Time 41:50

Ave Pace 13:11

Max Pace 9:29


I feel confident that I will wog my way to the finish in about 40 minutes and hopefully, I can keep my race adrenaline from forcing me to run too fast for my bladder’s sake.

Goodbye, Gasparilla Marathon

At last my OB appointment, I asked my doctor for her approval to run the very last ever Gasparilla marathon.  After all, I’ve already ran two marathons and four half marathons and felt my body could handle it.  If I took the full 7 hours to alternate between running and walking, I should be fine.  Right?

Wrong. As a runner herself, my OB did not approve.  She felt the strenuous activity would not only deplete my body of the necessary nutrients but deplete the baby’s nutrients as well.  She also told me that such a strenuous physical activity could impact my bladder which would lead to surgery in the near future.

She recommended I slow down and shorten my distances and I picked her brain to find out just how short.

“Could I do a half marathon or a 15 K?”

“You’ll want to really cut back on the miles.”

“Like 6?”

“Like no more than 3 and even that is pushing it given your history of vaginal births and prolapse surgery in your family history.”

Ironically, in the past few weeks, my body seemed to agree with my doctor.  These days, it’s becoming increasing difficult to run 3 miles.  And as much as I really wanted to run in the last Gasparilla marathon, it seems I will have to set my sights on another marathon goal after I deliver this baby.

But having a running goal keeps me focused and now I am trying to decide if I should run in the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.  I have several  friends registered in the 5K and races are so much more fun with friends, but I worry about the crowds and my adrenaline.  Will my adrenaline kick in and I’ll want to run faster than I should?

To avoid late fees, today is the last day to pre-register for Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K, but  I can’t decide if I want to run/walk the 5K with my friends or stay in bed with my bladder.

My Gusty Gasparilla Marathon

Although I was mentally ready for the race, physically I was not prepared for 20-30 mph winds and freezing cold rain during the Gasparilla marathon.


For the first few miles, we ran over dark cobblestone roads through downtown Tampa into Davis Island.  Although  running on brick was new to me, I felt comfortable running in the dark.  Not knowing where my feet would land was a familiar, uneasy feeling.


For most of the race, I stayed ahead of the 4:45/11:20 pace group, but behind the 4:30/10:18.  Despite the wind, my pace sat at 10:30.  I knew I would do great as long as the 11:20 pace group remained well behind me. 


At about 8:00, the rain hit and I thought to myself, Wow.  The rain came earlier than projected.  Then at 9:00 a.m., the skies opened and the real thunderstorms came.  The rain prior was a mere drizzle in comparison.


Between miles 10-16, I paced with some really amazing runners.  I bumped into Beth, a friend of Becelisa.  Gasparilla was Beth’s second marathon and like me, she had completed the Disney marathon last month.  


At mile 13, I stopped for my first Cliff Shot break and accidentally spilled water on Carey from North Carolina.  After apologizing for my clumsiness, I paced with Carey for the next few miles and learned Gasparilla was her fourth marathon with her last marathon being the Arizona marathon a little over a month ago.  




During our run together, Carey and I also encountered an older gentlemen who was running in his 46th marathon and had finished the New Orleans marathon just a few weeks prior.  At about mile 16, Carey, the gentlemen and I parted our ways when I needed pop into a port-o-potty to pee.


During my second Cliff Shot break at mile 18, I texted Allan at 9:33 to boast about my incredible time.  Even with sheets of freezing cold rain and the wind against me, my spirits were up and I felt good physically and mentally.  I felt confident that I would finish the race under 5 hours.


Then, without any warning, at mile 21 my knee buckled.  Oh God! No!  Why is this happening?  I walked it off and stretched for a few minutes.  That’s when I spotted the 11:20 pace group coming ’round the bend.


“Shake it off.  You can do this! C’mon Girl!  Pull it together!” I told myself over and over to push me ahead of the 11:20 pace once again.


Then, like a bad omen, my iPod short circuited from all the rain at about mile 22.  Nooooooooo!  For the love of God, Noooooo!   Fidgeting with my ipod, I tried to reboot the music and my energy as the 11:20 pace group passed me.  


I shut down and cried as the rain fell once more.


I walked some more and tried to gain my composure.  It’s o.k.  You’re doing great.  You’re going to make it at 5 hours.  It’s only four more miles. You can do this!  Only 4 more!


Then, the rain stopped and the sun broke though the clouds.  I felt compelled to start running again and even attempted to sing since my iPod was kaput.  I sang my own version of I Can See Clearly


I can see clearly now the rain is gone.

I can see all obstacles in my way

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It’s gonna be a bright bright bright bright sun shiny day

Oh yes I can make it now the…pain…is…g…gone

All of the bad…f…feelings…have…dis..a..ppeared…


Unfortunately, my poor song selection caused me to start crying again which then caused me to hyperventilate.  While walking once more, I talked myself out of the episode and I spotted some port-o-pots.  I decided to take a potty break to pull myself together and gain some composure to finish the race.


After my potty break, I felt ready to run and ready to finish.  Although my pace had slowed down tremendously to 12:20, I knew it could finish.


“Perseverance!” A runner shouted from behind me. “I love it!  Keep it up, Girl.  You’re doing great!”


A tidal wave of tears came back again, but I swallowed it down like a tough dose of medicine.  Perseverance prevailed even though the pavement on the Bayshore Bridge cut through my legs like shattering glass and unavoidable puddles drenched my already soaked feet.


The last 4 miles were the toughest.    The rain chased away the spectators.  There were no musicians or DJs to keep us going.  With isolation, I had no other runners’ energy to feed off of to keep me moving.  Only the wind remained to carry me home.


In the distance, I could hear a crowd cheering for runners as they passed.  I knew I was close to the end.


At mile 24, I came upon the source of the cheers.  A group of kids from Let Me Play cheered and roared for each runner as they passed.  A few of the young boys gave me high-5s as I stumbled passed them.  “You’re almost there.  You’re doing great,” cheered one of the sponsors as he gave me my final high-5.


Somehow in the last two miles, I found my second wind and picked up my pace.  For the last half mile, I bounced back to my usual 9:30 pace. 


When I crossed the finish line, I sobbed.  I beat my Disney time and a new PB: 5:09:04.



The Day After My Marathon

While you wait on my recap of the Gasparilla Distance Classic Marathon, please enjoy the following video which was sent to me by my running partner, Lori.  With 20+mph winds, let’s just say that this video sums up how I feel today.  


Laughter really is the best medicine and thankfully, my abs are the only muscles that don’t hurt.


Getting My Gasparilla Game Face On

This week I rested more than I should have.  I only ran once this week and only 3 miles at that.  It has been a crazy, busy week with relatives visiting from out of town and my allergies sucking the energy out of me.  I’ve convinced myself that my body needs the rest, so hopefully my body will cooperate on Sunday.


However, it looks like the weather won’t be so cooperative.  There is a 70% chance of thunderstorms with winds at 20 mph.  Have I mentioned I hate rain and running in the wind? 


Yesterday afternoon, I picked up my bib number and strolled through the Gasparilla Expo Hall to search for Cliff Shots to carry me through the race tomorrow.  I also seized the opportunity to pass out business cards and I networked with some really great people.  A number of very generous vendors offered their merchandise for some fabulous future giveaways, so stay tuned for that.  


While at expo, I chatted with Gayle Guyardo and Bill Ratliff of News Channel 8.  I was sure to give them my card as well to plug my blog.  I am shameless!  




It has been a really tough week, but yesterday a glimmer of hope caught my attention at the expo.  I like to believe God sent me a message in the form of a shiny object. 



Whatever it takes to help me mentally prepare for the race, right?  I am looking forward to reading more inspirational words on the backs of other runners’ shirt tomorrow.  It’s hard to believe that the moment I have been training for over a year is almost here, but like the quote by John Bingham which I read on one shirt yesterday, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”


At the moment, I am downloading tunes to keep me moving for at least 5 hours.  Hopefully, the Cliff Shots combined with songs on my iPod with a good beat and easy to dance to will carry me through to the finish line.  Your song suggestions and last minute advice is greatly appreciated!

Goofy for Gasparilla, Part 6

Over the weekend, Tiffany and I met for our long run on Saturday instead of Sunday.  I planned to run 10 miles, but towards the end of the run, I felt I could go further.  I ran 12 miles easy. 🙂


By Florida standards, it was a very cold morning.  At 6:30 a.m., frost still covered the ground as the temperature sat a frigid 36 degrees.  Although we were freezing during our run, it was a great run.  I took it easy at about a 10 minute pace.  It was just the run I needed to boost my confidence for Sunday’s marathon.  I feel ready.


Also during our run, we enjoyed the view of a hot air balloon launching in the distance.  We need to run on Saturdays more often!



I hope to run a few light runs this week, but I will be taking it easy.  I noticed my BFF Hal suggests a 2 mile run the day before the race and funny enough, I am still considering running in the 5k on Saturday since so many of my friends are running in the race.  I will decide Friday morning at the expo if I will run in the 5K or not.

Goofy for Gasparilla, Part 5

Five days had passed before I could summon the energy to run again.  I had hoped to run during our camping trip last weekend, but the rain and humidity put a damper on my plans.  


Lately, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed.  I seem to have lost my momentum.  


Yesterday, I forced myself to do a 3 mile run, which seemed to be the kick in the ass jolt I needed to get me moving again.  Today, I ran 5 miles.  Tomorrow, I plan to run 4-6 miles.


My long Sunday run never happened, either.  All that worrying about the right distance for nothing.  But it’s time to get back on track, so this weekend I will try to run 10-12 miles.


Only one more week until Gasparilla.  I am a little nervous, but I know I can do it.  It’s all mind over matter when it comes to marathons, right?