Ahhhh the start of my crazy weekend of running. Day one of the Gasparilla Distance Classic race weekend featured the 15K and 5K races.
I had held onto the hope that we would have good weather, but alas it wasn’t to be. We started off with temps in the low 70s and 98% humidity at the 7AM start. A positive of the weekend is that a fellow runner from my group was also signed up for the Ultra Challenge and like me, had not trained for it. As he is usually much faster than I am, he offered to run with me for the bulk of the races. So we met up before the race and headed into the corrals.
As is my usual luck, the start didn’t begin how we wanted. We were about 15-20 bodies back and near the 7:30 pacer. Exactly where I wanted to start. Of course, the actual start we got slammed to barely moving and ended up crossing the line behind the 8:00 pacer (how?!). So once again, I (and Jason, my running buddy) spent the race chasing after the 7:30 pacer.
Now my original goal was to try and run around a 7:15 pace. Of course, my logic for this was skewed—I ran my half marathon PR at about a 7:20 pace, so I figured a bit faster was doable. Yeah, didn’t really consider the fact that I’d be doing 4 races across the weekend. But regardless, we started slow and got to spend another race chasing.
Felt pretty solid and got the 7:30 group within sight, but since my Garmin had us under that pace time we just kind of cruised along. However, the humidity was really causing a struggle. I definitely took advantage of each of the water stations along with my e-caps.
The 9+ miles went relatively well and we finished strong. As it was only my second 15K, it ended up being pretty easy to PR by nearly 5 minutes.
Place-251 overall, 7th in my age group
I had somehow convinced my parents to take part in the 5K, so they had shown up by the time Jason and I finished the 15K. There was a bit of socializing, getting refueled and re-hydrated, grabbing the totally awesome medals, and switching out gear. I ended up changing my shoes and top before we headed back out to the 5K start line.
Tackling the 5K at Gasparilla is always interesting because it holds the bulk of their registrants. This race was split into 4 waves: red wave (seeded and under 35 minute finish time), blue wave (35 to 50 minute finish time), the stroller wave, and the walker wave (anything over 50 minutes). The Gasparilla 5K usually gets around 15,000 entrants.
Originally I had considered doing the 5K with either of my parents (dad was blue wave and mom was walker wave) but they encouraged me to try and race the entire weekend. It probably didn’t help that I had thrown down a challenge or two to some of my running buddies also doing the Ultra Challenge.
So Jason and I hopped in near the front of the 5K wave only to realize that our bibs for the challenge, which were yellow, got us into the front area for seeded and teams (who also had yellow). Huzzah! Now we were already tired, the temperatures had gone up even if the humidity was down into the 80 percents, and decided this one was more for completion. No PRs happening in this 5K.
As Jason kept reminding me, it was a very crowded race and we had to keep in mind that we would be running 18 more miles the next day. Good thing he was kind enough to run with me all weekend (though I admit I would probably have gone much slower all around on my own). So that said, we just sort of had fun and took it easy on this one.
While I would have liked to come in under 23 minutes, still making under 24 and sub-8:00 miles was a solid way to end day one. We enjoyed all the people we saw even if it was crowded and featured a lot of dodging. I also kept taking the inside track and missing the group handing out beads along the course (a Gasparilla tradition). Darn it!
But we ran our 1.5 miles or so out and hooked a u-turn back towards the finish. I did feel a bit jipped because you run under a bridge less than a quarter mile from the finish with a sign that said something along the lines of “you’re almost there.” But the curve of the road makes it so you go under that sign but can’t see the finish banner yet. It’s a lie! Haha there was some amusement due to me complaining on that one.
Yet another solid finish for the 5K with a decent time for Jason and I to close up day one of racing.
Place-337 overall, 10th in my age group
Closing Day One
From there it was hanging out and chatting with friends before grabbing my second medal. Then it was off to see the other waves and cheer on the parents. I am super proud of both of them for completing the 5K! (It was my dad’s first!) Also, mugs!!
Keep an eye out as part two of my recap will feature Sunday’s races.