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