Gasparilla Classic: 15k + 8k

A weekend full of running over here!  Gasparilla is a huge racing event in Tampa, FL offering a variety of challenges and distances. My friend, Lauren, and I signed up for the Gasparilla Distance Classic Mich Ultra Lime Cactus Challenge- mouth full yet? 🙂 This “challenge” had us running the 15k (9.3 miles) on Saturday, and an 8k (~4.9 miles) on Sunday, for a total of 14.2 miles and a whole lotta swag

My training for the race wasn’t the best: I did shorter mileage with speed work on the treadmill a couple times a week, and I managed to fit in an 8 mile run/walk the weekend prior to the race. But this challenge wasn’t about speed or achieving a personal best, it was about enjoying the run and doing it with a close friend!

Saturday: 15k

Lauren and her fiancé came into town Friday night, we ate dinner, then hit the sack since race start was at 6:45am. We left our house at 5:45 to give us time to muddle through the traffic, find a parking spot, and get to the start line with time to spare… we cut it a bit close but didn’t feel too rushed, thank goodness!

It was dark and COLD. We’re talking 44 degrees at the start! While I do prefer cooler temps for running, it makes those first couple miles tough getting those legs warmed up. It stayed cold throughout the race, but it felt amazing in the sun during the later miles.

Lauren got a shot of the sunrise + a lil ponytail action

The start of the race was a madhouse, people dropping things, picking them up, a guy next to us tripped and fell.. awful! Race starts, especially for big races, can be dangerous so we were extra careful. Lots of bobbing, weaving, and finagling later, we felt a little more comfortable and in our own space to run.

We wanted to run the whole race together, regardless of pace. We went off of feel and simply did our best! We both agreed that the miles flew by, except for the last couple ha!, and that overall it was a great race. This was my first 15k, and Lauren’s second… she PR’d by the way, go girl!

Afterwards, we walked around a LOT, visited the expo, ate some snacks, then headed back home to eat a big breakfast with the guys. Stretching, foam rolling, and resting happened … I believe this helped us both a bunch considering we were running our butts again the next day.Sunday: 8k

The half marathon was the first race of the day on Sunday, so thankfully we got to sleep in a bit because the 8k started at 9am. Our boys came with us to this one (take note of the “sleep in” part of the previous sentence). Since we’re in Florida, 24 hours later meant a fluctuation in temperature. 60 degrees and it got HOT out there. Of course this race was later in the morning than the 15k, but man did it make a difference. Heat and humidity just slow me down, and I feel I have to work harder to maintain a consistent pace than when it’s cold out.

Lauren and I ended up splitting up during this race, pretty much right at the start (another people-madness-situation). Sticking together was a little harder this go-around, so we each ran our own race. I started pretty far back from the pace group I wanted to be near (9:00 min/mile) so I worked on getting my way up to them. I never made it, however my chip time read 9:05 avg minute miles, so I was still able to maintain the pace I wanted, even though I wasn’t able to make my way up to the pace group during the race! (I started waaaay in the back)

Dunzo at the finish line

Ryan at the end of the race: “Babe I got a great picture of you out there running…”

I felt I ran the 8k pretty strong, I didn’t exhaust myself much in the beginning, but still worked hard to get to the end. No slackin’! 🙂 Lauren and I met up with our boys through the finish line chute, grabbed amazing cold wet towels to drape on us, gatorade and our MEDALS. These bad boys were legit (always are at Gasparilla!) and we got one for the 15k, the 8k, and then the Lime Challenge

The Gasparilla Distance Classic is an excellent event, and I highly recommend the travel for anyone in FL. It’s an experience! Races for multiple distances, pace groups for nearly every speed, plenty of aid stations and really funny motivating signs (i.e. “Chaffing is HOT. call me”) The expo is excellent, Lauren and I found some great deals, we loaded up on freebies and snacks, and found our name on the huge everyone-who-is-racing board! (<–yes, correct name of it)

Even though they were in alpha order, it still took us a while to each find our names!

Our view from Jackson’s, where we brunched after the race

Gasparilla was a great way to end my winter running season! I’m not signed up for any more races at the moment- it feels weird!- but I’m okay with it and going to continue yoga, running with friends and run/walking at my leisure, and trying to get in more strength training.

Tell me….

What is the biggest race in your area? Have you ran or spectated it?

Anyone joined a pace group or have been a pace leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Best Buds/College Roomies/Lime Challenge Beasts

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