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Gasparilla Half Marathon

Posted Mar 06 2012 7:07am
I DID IT! I set a new PR at the Gasparilla Half Marathon! 2:00:34 baby!
There was wind, there was rain, there was a costly potty break...but I did it! I'm still on cloud 9 about how well the race went! I met my race goal and was SO close to my DREAM BIG goal of breaking 2 hours.  
Here's how it all went down:
I woke up at 4am on race day.  I had my usual whole-wheat bagel with PB and headed to the start.
The weather was less than ideal.  Driving into Tampa there were trash cans and all kinds of debris blowing across the road.  We were looking at 20-30 mph winds with a chance of thunderstorms.
I easily found my parking spot that I had pre-payed for the day before and headed into the Tampa Convention Center.  This is where bag check was and I used it as a place to stay out of the wind and use a real bathroom pre-race.
I drank my FRS and looked outside to see a monsoon! Total downpour at 5:30!
Luckily the rain moved on and I was only mildly drizzled on at the start. At 6am Corral A took off!

I started at the back of the corral and I really regret this decision! My goal was to start SLOW..but this was too slow.  I was aiming for a 9:40 mile 1 and then to go down to 9:30 from there.  No such luck.  The start was crowded, dark, and wet.  People were stopping to avoid puddles.  We were shoulder to shoulder and then had to make a sharp turn onto an even narrower bridge! I wanted to move faster, but there was no place to go! Finally we exited the bridge and the road widened.
Photo courtesy of Katy @TheSingingRunner
Mile 1: 9:58
Miles 2-3 were on a residential street and fairly dark.  At this point I was just telling myself to relax, settle into a pace, and focus.  I found a guy doing a 9:30 pace and I politely stalked him for a few miles.
Mile 2: 9:27
Mile 3: 9:25
At Mile 4 I spotted a blogger friend of mine Katy ! I screamed her name and she joined me running. She was doing the Gasparilla Challenge and had completed the 15k and 5k the day before. It was great to have a running partner for a few miles.  I continued to keep my pace moving and I added my 30 second walk breaks in every 10 minutes.
Mile 4: 9:18
Mile 5: 9:09
The rest of the course was an out & back section along the water on Bayshore Dr. I was feeling great so I decided to play a little game of making different funny faces at every race photographer! Katy played along too!
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Mile 6: 9:10
Around mile 7 Katy told me her legs were sore from yesterday and to go ahead.  I was sad to lose my running buddy, but today was my day and I felt strong.  Time to do work.
Mile 7: 9:09
Mile 8 was the point that I had told myself I could "start pushing". The remaining 5 miles would hurt, but this is where I could really prove to myself that I was a strong runner. At this point I also realized I could maybe reach my ultimate goal of finishing under 2 hours.  Excited and cautiously optimistic I pushed on.
Mile 8: 8:54
At mile 9 we made the turnaround....into those lovely 20-30mph headwinds.  I was bummed.  I had been cruising so well and now it felt like I was running into a wall! I pushed on the best I could.  I kept saying to myself, "Today is your day. No regrets."
Mile 9: 8:59
At mile 10 somthing happened that has NEVER happened to me before.  Excuse my language, but I had to pee.  BAD! When I went to take my walk break I literally almost peed myself. I knew I was going to have to stop.  The porta-potties at mile 10 had a line so I kept going.  I was fine running, but the minute I took a walk break it was bad.  I needed to go.

To be honest, I contemplated just peeing while running. Seriously.  I've heard of people doing it before...not that it makes it okay.....

This was the decision I had to make: PEE OR PR?

If I kept going I would finish under 2 hours. But I'd have to pee on myself AND my $100+ shoes. It wasn't raining and I wasn't sweaty enough to justify it washing away.  And the $100 for new shoes is more than a race fee for another half.
Mile 10: 8:44
Decisions, decisions.  I saw an open potty at mile 11 and went.  A good 30 seconds later I was moving again.
Mile 11: 9:10
At this point it just hurt.  The wind was killer and my hip was aching.  Again I told myself, "no regrets". I kept moving.  There was one spot where elementary-aged kids were lining the street screaming and cheering.  Their joy and enthusiasm helped pushed me! The girls told me they loved all my pink!
Mile 12: 8:30
One more to go! By this time my Garmin "math" was all messed up.  My GPS stops when I stop so I had no idea how long I had really been on the course or what it would take to get under 2 hours.  I pushed as much as I could. I hurt and I wanted this race to be over.
Mile 13: 8:41
The finish! 2:00:34!!! I killed my previous PR by 6 minutes!
Happy bloggers - Michelle , me, Katy (photo from Michelle)
My good luck sign from Cindy!
I maintained a 9:12 pace and I'm thrilled! I finally feel like I real I can be "faster!"

Overall this was a FANTASTIC race! Just check out my awesome medal!
But those 34 seconds.  I can't say I'm devastated. My goal today was redemption! And I got there. I washed away all the mistakes and demons from Clearwater .
It does hurt that I was so close to seeing a "1" in front of my finish time.

This has been my goal since I did my first half in 2:24 in 2007. I WAS SO CLOSE!

I never dreamed I would be as fast as I was out there, so I'm okay having to race again. Goals that come easily never mean as much.  I made so much progress today...there's 34 seconds more of progress to me made. Also Kyle wasn't at the finish today so I think some cosmic force aka my bladder stalled me.  My biggest cheerleader should be there win I finally see that "1". And he will.  
I'll be back Gasparilla.... ARRRRGHHHH you ready?

What's the last thing you did that made you proud of yourself?

Love and potty breaks,
Carissa & Kyle

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