Good Afternoon Fellow New Runners!
Last weekend I participated in my largest race to date AND my farthest distance! I was one of the crazy runners who participated in the annual Gasparilla Distance Classic in what felt like 10000% humidity!
First a little history, Jose Gaspar was a (some say fictional) pirate who ruled the waters of Tampa Bay during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The first parade was held in 1904 and now there are multiple parades, events and activities for everyone to participate in. In 1978 The Gasparilla Distance Classic was started as a way to raise funds for youth running events and activities throughout Tampa Bay. Since the first running of the Gasparilla Distance Classic in February, 1978, $3.2 million has been donated to running programs throughout Tampa Bay and over 450,000 runners and walkers have crossed the finish line.
One of the most popular races is the 15K (9.3 miles) I think partially because it is the first race of the weekend and also because there are so few 15K races. I thought it would be a great distance to really test my limits and see if I liked this “distance race” stuff. (spoiler alert..even with a less than stellar race, I discovered I do like the longer distances)
Friday: My husband had a day off and like all amazing husbands decided to spend it with me at the Expo. It was here that I picked up my bib and t-shirt and we perused the many aisles in search of necessary running gear. I didn’t purchase anything but there were LOTS of cool vendors and items to be had. I did take this gem though:
Saturday morning: Woke up at 5:30am and got dressed and ready to go. I was staying at the Westin Harbor Island so luckily I just had to walk over to the convention center where I met members of my amazing running group, the Suncoast Striders! After the obligatory picture taking (before we get all sweaty and look like death) we headed out to the starting line. It was me and I believe a little over 5,000 fellow runners who nervously waited and chewed our Gu before the start. Luckily the wait was short and before I knew it, we were on the way!
As this was my first huge race, I knew there might be some on course entertainment, but I wasn’t prepared for how much! At least every mile there were DJ’s, water stops and people cheering. It was so much fun! I stopped by a few guys handing out beads and picked up a strand. At mile 5 there were even people handing out Krispy Kreme Donuts..had to grab one (rookie mistake…don’t do it..more about that in a sec). They had these fantastic misters that I ran under to stay cool. I was having an absolute ball.
Now it was humid out, but being a Florida runner, I thought I was prepared. After all I started running in the summer, so I can handle it, right? Apparently the answer to that question is “no”. Right around mile six and a half I began to wish the race was a 10K. The humidity really started getting to me, as did the donut I had at mile 5. I promised myself I was not going to walk during the race (except for water stops), but the more I pushed myself the worse I felt. Around mile 7 (only 2 miles left!!) I started to get dizzy. I was still pushing myself until I saw a fellow runner being tended to by medics. I’d rather finish dead last than not at all, so I started walking. I was so frustrated and upset!
After about a mile of walk/run I decided to just keep running. One of the water stops had Gatorade, and that really seemed to help. I kept running until I saw a sign that said “You can see the finish” and sure enough I could. I raised my hands and crossed that finish line and immediately helped myself to a cooling towel and water! I got my awesome pirate themed medal and most importantly found my husband and the post race food!
Some important take aways from this race:
1. These big races are FUN!! Enjoy every minute!
2. Humidity is just as bad as extreme heat. Hydrate and walk as you need!
3. My husband I missed each other at the finish. Make sure you know what each other is wearing and if possible send a text when you are a mile out.
4. I discovered I do like the longer distances. They really test your resolve.
5. As much as I love them, pass on the mid-run donuts.
Enjoy the Run!