My Favorite Race of the Year: Gasparilla!
The Gasparilla Distance Classic is THE BEST race put on in Tampa and my Favorite! From the organization, to the expo, to the race, it’s all around fantastic! My very first half marathon (and the one that got me hooked to distance races) was Gasparilla 8 years ago!
Over the years, I’ve run the 15k a few times and the 5k and 15k last year. They have a challenge that has you run all the races– 5k, 8k, 15k and half- which is pretty popular among the crazies 😉 It all begins at the expo. Gasparilla puts on a good one every year. There are tons of exhibitors, samples, deals and the packet pick up is easy peasy! There is also a huge wall that has every runners name on it. It’s always fun to try and find my name…
I don’t know how they did it, but this year they got Meb and Shalane as guest speakers! I was so stoked! I got there early to make sure we got a front row seat. They spoke about the trials and their running life. It was awesome. And even more awesome, we got to meet with, take pictures and get stuffed signed by them. I had them both sign my bib and Kara’s “Future Marathoner” onsie! You better believe those will be framed.
Race morning, we lucked out and Kara woke up in time for me to feed her and then pump before having to leave. If you read the blog back in my racing days, you know I like to take a fierce photo and this time I got to include my daughter 🙂 We headed to the Tampa Convention Center to keep warm (it was in the mid 50’s) and use the restroom.
We parted ways and Todd and Kara stayed inside to stay warm and I headed to the starting line to find my friend Kristin. She was my “pacer” for the race. My only goal was to be under 2 hours, which I knew I could do. Kristin’s “job” was to make it easier… and she did! She was a great support and while I almost lost her in the dark around mile 2, she found me after running back and forth calling my name, haha. Now THAT’s a good running partner! She also got a few action shots on Bayshore…
My parents came out to watch and cheer me on. I’m pretty lucky that I have such a great support system 🙂 I couldn’t have “trained” for this without my family and friends. Whether it’s watching Kara, accompanying me on runs or giving motivation through texts/emails/comments, every bit helped and I’m so thankful for that.
I finished with a 1:50:38, an 8:22 pace. MUCH better than I was expecting. Although, the competitor in me was mad that I didn’t get below 1:50 since I was so close, haha. This is over a minute slower than my pre pregnancy paces but that’s OK. My favorite picture from the weekend was with my (hopefully) number one fan. She made my already great finish that much better. She was the icing on the cake. And ya’ll know how much I like icing!
My other favorite part of running/racing… the post race food! Gasparilla does it right and has the Columbia Restaurant (founded in 1905, it’s Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world) cater it. Black beans and rice, Paella, 1905 salad and cuban bread= YUM!
And the last great thing about Gasparilla is the medal! Every year they come out with a cool design and this year was no exception…
So who’s coming down to Tampa next February to run Gasparilla with me?!? Link up with Amanda 🙂