In summer of 2015, I registered for my runner bucket list race: the 2016 Gasparilla Distance Classic Mic Ultra Challenge, where participants run all four distances over two days – 15K,5K, Half Marathon and 8K.
And then in late fall of 2015, I suffered a heel spur injury related to plantar fasciitis and spent three months in a boot. Any and all racing would be put on hold while under my doctor’s care, including my long-awaited Mic Ultra Challenge. Sadly, I would have to defer my entry to 2017.
Once out of the boot, I spent 2016 nursing my injury and slowly building up my endurance to run a 5K again. While I am in a good place with my training. I didn’t feel ready to take on the Mic Ultra Challenge just yet and running over 30 miles over two days.
However, since I have been slowly adding on my miles and creeping back up, I knew I could manage the 8K.
Being out of the racing loop for almost two years, I forgot how much I love races, especially Gassparilla Distance Classic – from the expo to race day.
Like the tens of thousands of participants, I found my name on the Gasparilla Distance Classic Wall of fame and took the obligatory wall photo. I sampled all the bits of yumminess and shopped the booths for some killer deals on running threads.
I even stopped by the Cigna booth for a health screening. Given the fact that my cholesterol has been high in the past, I expected similar results, especially after nibbling on the Cabot cheese samples. But praise the fitness gods for smiling down on me, because my numbers were good! In fact, the nurse raved about my numbers and called me the “ideal woman” because I am so fit and my weight and height is proportionate to my BMI.
Me = Ideal Woman ❤ *happy dance* Somebody, put that on a t-shirt, please!
Seems like only yesterday that I was called “overweight” based on my BMI. Take that, old me!
While still on Cloud 9 for my fitness gains and nervous about my first real race in almost two years, I could hardly sleep the night before the race. I woke up every hour. But that morning, I knew the excitement of the race would carry me through the event.
My runner mother friend, Tracy, and I rode together and found a spot near the start line next to the 12mm pace group, which was being led my friend, Tia. That was a nice surprise!
Once the race was underway, Tracy and I parted ways since she planned to walk the 8K and I wanted to see what I could do after two years off from racing. The weather was in our favor and after training in 80 degrees weather, the change in temps were very welcomed.
Like most popular races, it was a tad bit hard to find a decent pace in the beginning, but I didn’t mind having to run slow out of the gate. Running slower at the start forces me to keep my pace in check and conserve some energy for the finish.
I amazed myself by not stopping for water for the first three miles. When I’m out on my training runs, it seems I can’t go a mile without needing water or a walking break. However, on race day, I found the momentum to keep moving.
Once I hit the turnaround at the 2.5 mile mark, the crowd thinned out but I kept my pace. At the mile 3 water station, I decided to take a walking break and a race selfie. With only two more miles to go, I felt a surge of pride at my achievement thus far.
As I ran across Bayshore Boulevard with the sunning glistening on the water, I remembered how much I truly love racing, especially Gasparilla Distance Classic with the fun pirate theme, the spectators and the funny signs. Back in 2008, Gasparilla was one of my very first races and here I was starting all over as a runner just proving to myself what I could do.
And then a lady pirate with clown face paint popped up out of nowhere and I ran just a tad bit faster. I was in no mood for clowning around. Besides, I’m not really sure what the hell a mime is doing a pirate themed race.
With the Davis Island Bridge in sight, I knew the finish was close. Under the bridge with less than a quarter mile to go, I pulled a sprint out in the last stretch like my old racing Run DMT self.
Garmin Time 53:44
Gun Time 1:00:93
Average Pace 10:38
Overall place 1961/4616
Sex Place 1003/2951
Age Group Place 128/376
New this year at the Gasparilla Distance Classic (or perhaps new to me since I wasn’t there last year) were rolls of space blankets just after the finish line. How cool is that?!
After the crossing the finish line and collecting my bling, I took the obligatory pirate photo, downtown Tampa skyline photo and Jose Gaspar ship photo.
I procrastinated sharing this race recap because I couldn’t find the words to describe the sheer elation I felt crossing the 8K finish line after two years off from racing. Once a medal was draped around my neck, prideful joy and excitement surged through my veins, a very similar emotion I felt when I finished my first 5K nearly ten years ago.
While I felt unstoppable and ready to run another race, I reminded myself to take baby steps back into the racing world.
Another race is in my future….just not the near too future. I’m just a mom on the run training and raising a family between races…. which are a lot more spaced out than they used to be so I can enjoy life with my family and avoid another injury.