Race Review: Gasparilla Half Marathon

Chip Time: 2:16:55 (Boo)

Before heading to Tampa to meet up with Michelle and Dan on Saturday, I went to Best Buy to get this cheapy $30 camera to take pictures during the race.

I just bought a new camera about a month ago that I used during the Melbourne Half Marathon, but I was constantly worried about dropping it, or scratching it, or…breathing on it wrong.

Dropping a $30 camera is ok, dropping a $300 camera…not ok.

We woke up at 4am the morning of the race, got ready, and I had a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. I was still full from the night before, so eating the sandwich sucked. I hate when eating sucks. It’s my favorite thing to do.

I also considered running in Michelle’s new boots to start a new running fashion statement that would sweep the world.

Michelle and Dan assured me this was the lamest idea ever and told me to refrain from talking when possible. Winking smile 

Dan dropped Michelle and I off near the race start (thanks, Dan!) and we had a short walk to the starting line.

We came across this sign.

I don’t think I’ve ever seem them called Porta Johns before. So of course I took a picture. I’m wondering if this picture was a premonition for the race. The sign is saying, “you will spend much time with me today, Paula.”

Michelle pointed at the sign, but I suck at taking pictures and didn’t get the sign in it. So now she just looks like she’s doing our signature pointing picture.

We got to the starting line and it was insanely crowded (and too dark to get a picture). So crowded we couldn’t even walk up to the 2 hour pacer. We were stuck somewhere behind the 2:40.

The race started and instantly had a bottleneck over a bridge that had me running at a 14:00 minute mile pace. This race desperately needs corrals.

The first 40 minutes of the race was pitch black with minimal street lights (the race started at 6am) so I was worried about tripping since I couldn’t really see the ground well.

Once the sun started rising, I started taking pictures. All of my pictures were blurry. Anti-shake my ass. I guess you get what you pay for.

This was the most scenic, beautiful race of all the races I’ve run. I mean, 10 miles of the course was along Tampa Bay. Part of the course was out and back which normally sucks, but it didn’t matter to me this time because it was so pretty.

All the people on our side of the course were going crazy cheering for the other side of the course when the first finishers started running by. That was pretty awesome. And I wonder if they even noticed. They seem so focused and make it look so easy!

Even the breeze was perfect once we got to the Bay, making for perfect weather. Everything was perfect…except for me of course.

I was feeling pretty good for the first 4 miles, but around mile 5 my stomach started to bother me.

During mile 5, I made a dash for the porta john and had my way with it.

I did multi-task during the stop and took a Thermotab and a Buddy Fruit. Here I go again, experimenting with different foods while running. What I learned about Buddy Fruits is they all taste like apple sauce no matter what flavor you get, and I do not like apple sauce.

Only took 34 years to figure that out. I’m special.

After that stop, my stomach was never the same. I made another stop around Mile 10, and considered stopping again around Mile 11.

Every time I got to my goal pace (9:00 – 9:15) my stomach would feel worse. So, I hung back at a 10:30 pace which made me feel slightly less like pooping my pants than the faster pace.

Stopping at a porta john was a first for me during a race. But oh…there were so many other firsts during this race that should be mentioned:

  • I left my iPod in the car when Dan dropped us off. First half with no music. (It wasn’t too bad.)
  • A random guy started a conversation with me. (I’ve only read about this on other blogs!)
  • There was a spectator with his shirt off, twisting it up and snapping women on the butt with it as they ran by.
  • TEN different people called my name and cheered me on during the race. (Our names were on our bibs.)  AWEsome.
  • Toward the end, there was a mime. Just one.
  • There were 2 girls that just dropped during the race, one at Mile 7 and one at Mile 12 that were being helped by medical personnel.
  • There was a dog with a race bib on – although, I saw him before the race, not during.
  • I got goosebumps at Mile 10 (dehydration…not good. I made sure to stop at the water stops as well as use my CamelBak after that.)
  • A woman chanting behind me over and over (at Mile 12), “I’m already home. I’m already home. I’m already home.”  Whatever gets you through it, Creepster.

After the race, Michelle and Dan found me pretty easily considering the place was jam packed with people. We walked over to get some post-race eats and saw more pretty scenery.

Our gracious chauffer

Holy people. There were a LOT of freebies after the race – bananas, bagels, food from The Colombia restaurant, Coke, Dole dried fruit packages, powdered drink packets, fruit cups, 5-hour energy bottles, beer, and bottled fruit drinks.

We grabbed our stuff and were outta there pretty fast. It’s hard for me to hang around after a race when all I want to do is shower, sit down, and eat. And I’m glad Michelle feels the same way!

We got back to hotel and took our showers.

I spotted this on the sheets.

A little something special from the hotel.

Overall, this was a great race. Scenic, well run, lots of goodies, and cheap ($65). Probably my favorite so far, so this is one I could see doing again.

With that said, I am SUPER bummed about my time. Except for my first half marathon, this was my worst time. I’ve really been wanting a sub-2-hour half and I didn’t get it…again. Around mile 4, I thought I was on track when I caught up to the 2:05 pacer from the 2:40 but everything was downhill from there.

I’m feeling better now mentally, but during the race I just wanted to give up races altogether. There is always something that stops me from my goal. My stomach, my energy level, my mentality, the course, whatever.

My next race is on March 13 in Sarasota. I’m not feeling that race right now. I hope I get my mojo back.

16 Comments

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16 Responses to Race Review: Gasparilla Half Marathon

  1. The only long race I’ve done beat me up both physically and mentally. I had an awful time and I really am hoping to smash that time with more dedicated training and a better mind frame this year. I mentally talked myself out of running the race the whole time I ran the race last year. I’ve got more to give this year.
    Don’t let this race bite you in the ass…just pretend it gave you a swift kick. 🙂

  2. I hung out with the Porta John 3 or 4 times during my last half. It was miserable. I can’t wait for my next one so I can try to redeem myself. Ahhh. I know it’s not how you wanted this race to go, but you still finished it. That’s pretty awesome!
    Don’t you just LOVE surprises in your hotel room?!? : )

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  4. Don’t let one race get you down! I had a horrible race when I was sick and swore I’d never race again, but then a few years later I got back into it and have had great experiences. Stomach issues are the worst but now you have learned something about what kind of fuel your body likes. It sounds like a bunch of the stuff that went wrong is easily fixable. The bottle necking/14 minute miles is totally lame but hopefully your next race will have corrals. You are an amazing runner and you are well overdue for a great race!

  5. Stacie@sugarandsneakers

    You had freebies from The Columbia?! Officially jealous. I’m definitely going to be doing this one next year! Your pictures made me miss ole Tampa Bay. Great job on your time! Heck, I’m not even sure I can do a half in the time with a stomach of steel.

  6. Holly (eatrunsandiego)

    I did the same thing in my last half. Three miles in I realized that I had paid $130 to be tortured and I promptly decided I would never make that mistake again. Not surprisingly, the next ten miles were the worst of my life. Once you let your head get to “that place” it is so hard to rebound…so congratulations for making it through!

  7. Sorry to hear that your half didn’t go as planned and that you had to visit the port-o-potty so many times! Hopefully the next one you kick some serious butt in!

    ps- in regards to your wonderful hotel surprise….we found an used extra large condom tucked into our sheets just outside of Seattle. It was wonderful I tell ya!

  8. Congrats on the race!! I love that there was a mime 🙂

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