Race Review: Gasparilla Half Marathon 2012

Saturday morning, after running around trying to get last minute chores done and last minute packing done, I headed over to Michelle’s place to pick her up and leave for Tampa. The drive kinda sucked (for me) because it was so windy that I could feel my little car blowing to the side with every wind gust the whole time. But we made it to the hotel safely, checked in to our room with one king size bed (bow chicka bow bow), dropped off our stuff, and walked over to the expo.

The expo was your basic expo, and by the time we got there most of the vendors were packed up or packing up. Michelle grabbed some Cliff Shots and an iFitness belt, I drooled over the Saucony Cortana’s, and we were outtie.

After taking our stuff back to the hotel and inadvertently getting stuck in a whirlwind of 6’7” hot groomsmen (now I know what it’s like to be short!), we went back out for an early dinner – mainly because we were both already starving.

Dinner was at Pizza Fusion, a place Michelle found online a few days earlier. And man, the place was good. We both had a half salad (pear and Gorgonzola for me).

We also shared some stuffed sausage and goat cheese mushrooms.

And we each had our own individual pizzas on a whole grain crust. I was in the mood for pepperoni, which Michelle thought looked like nipples. I’m not sure what kind of nipples she’s been exposed to, but I was concerned.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and the weather was still super windy (wind gusts up to 30mph, I think?), which worried me about the race conditions.

We were in bed pretty early (yes, together) and after a dream that we missed the race, I was relieved when we woke up on time. Then I was pissed that we woke up on time. I realize I’m never happy. It was 4:15am after all. And this girl does not do mornings.

We got ready, left for the race, and just missed a mini-monsoon before walking out the door. We wore trash bags to keep warm and dry and ended up pitching them right before the start.

This year, Gasparilla had 2 corrals – one for finishers in 2 hours or less and one for finishers over 2 hours. It was an improvement from last year’s pace markers, but the start was still congested. I think they need more corrals and maybe a waved start next year. Also, I couldn’t understand anything the announcer was saying through the loudspeaker, so I assumed the race started when we all started moving forward. We were in the first corral, which was closer to the speakers, so I’m sure no one could hear anything behind me.

During the race, I didn’t get into my running groove until mile 4 and even then it only lasted for about 2 miles. Honestly, I didn’t feel like running. So knowing I had 7 more “meh” miles to go really sucked. At mile 5, I ran past the port-o-potties I had to stop at last year and was glad my stomach was feeling ok. Not great, but ok. That’s when I had my first half of a PB&J.

While I was running, I was trying to remember what was going through my mind when I ran all of my faster races last year. Then I remembered that I “talked” to my legs. A LOT. If I noticed I was slowing down, I would “tell” my legs to go a little faster. So, that’s what I did through the entire race. I don’t even remember most of my music which was playing the whole time, because all I can remember is talking to my legs and being grateful that the wind wasn’t that bad. For the time being.

There were no timers on the course and I didn’t see a mile sign until Mile 6. I think after that, I saw a sign for mile 8 and 12. There were plenty of water stations and a ton of awesome volunteers. I had my Camelbak on, so I only stopped at 2 water stations but they were completely prepared for the amount of runners, which was nice for a change. (Hear that Rock ‘n’ Roll Series?)

After the turnaround, the wind gusts got pretty ridiculous. At times, the gusts slowed my pace by a minute and a half and I would just try to run through them the best I could. Despite the wind, I was loving being on a familiar (and beautiful!) course because I knew when I was close to the finish and when I should push a little harder.

About a mile to the finish, I knew I was going to make my goal of beating last year’s time. So then it just became a competition with myself to get a “10” in my finish time. And I just made it, coming in at 2:10:52 with a 9:59 pace. That’s 6 minutes faster than last year and over 7 minutes faster than any half I’ve ran in a year.

I gotta say, this race was hard. There wasn’t a point where I wasn’t putting in max effort for how I was feeling. Usually during a half, I have about 7 good miles where they coast by with little effort. No mile was awesome or effortless. Every mile just was.

After the race, I collected my coveted medal.

And found Michelle.

Just like last year, there were so many goodies after the race – bananas, bagels, fruit cups, Coke products, 5-hour Energy bottles, beer, and bowls of hot black beans from Colombia Restaurant.

We only hung around for a short time. My feet hurt, I was limping from another pair of crap shoes, and we were cold and ready for a shower (not together). We left Tampa for another windy ride home. I dropped Michelle off and then when straight to the running store and returned my shoes…for the third time. So long Mizuno Wave Rider 15s.

Overall, this is still my favorite race.  I love the course, the goodies, and it’s run so efficiently. I’ll definitely do this one again.

Next week, I run the Sarasota Half Marathon which holds my PR from last year (2:02:41). I’m not crazy enough to think I can shave over 8 minutes off my time from this week for a new PR, but this is the last half of the race season, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t give it my best shot. No promises, though.



Filed under Race Reviews

22 responses to “Race Review: Gasparilla Half Marathon 2012

  1. What an amazing time!!! You did great!

    I LOVED Gasparilla! The post-run food and drinks blew me away (compared to Disney).

  2. Minus the wind, it sounds like a great race! Plus you got some pretty amazing (haha they make me laugh) race pictures and an awesome medal!

  3. OK, the last half of your race season…I never thought about it, I guess, but your races are during the winter months because of the heat? (See, I can be smart sometimes!) Huh, that’s kinda crazy!

    I also JUST noticed your caption under your blog title… made me laugh so hard!!

    • Paula

      Yes! We only have 5ks during the summer. And maybe a few 10ks but not many. Half marathon/marathon season goes from Oct – April. And let me tell you, April is pushing it. *so hot*

  4. Jina @ Behold the Turtle

    I think you did awesome! The conditions were crazy that day, but at least the rain stopped. So, what shoes are next?

  5. Congrats on your race and sorry you have to return another pair of shoes.

    Those race pictures are so funny. I bet the photographer got a kick out of you pointing at your sandwich.

    I was in the way back of the second corral and couldn’t hear anything. I don’t think the wind helped.

    I am so sad that they closed the Pizza Fusion down in Orlando. Really liked that place.

    • Paula

      You too! I’m waiting for your review. 🙂 Michelle was saying there used to be a Pizza Fusion in Orlando. I loved it! That is a bummer it closed. At least we do have Pizza Planet downtown. That’s a good pie, right there.

  6. Great job out there! The weather definitely was not fun on Sunday and the wind was not our friend! Good luck with Sarasota!

  7. hahaha, oh Paula. Your running pics kill me. And DAMN are you attractive in that garbage bag!
    Also, best medal ever.

  8. I have been looking forward to this review. I love the commentary, especially about the shoes. I have been pretty happy with my Mizunos, but I have only worn them three times because there is a muddy patch on my morning run and God forbid I get mud on my new shoes. The camera guy loves you…clearly. Double guns and the PB sandwich? He has his eye on you. Who eats black beans after a race? Like your stomach isn’t already in a weird place. P.S…did you eat the beans? My MIL calls having gas being “windy”….who does that? I want to run Sarasota….off to stalk the website.

    • Paula

      The Mizunos are too narrow for me. But I have other Mizunos that are fine. They are just discontinued. 😦
      And no to the beans. That would have ripped apart my stomach. But, I could have told people I was “windy” afterwards, so I guess there is a plus side to that. 🙂

  9. So many things! First, Michelle’s insistence that the pizza looks like nipples concerns me, too. The pics of you with the PB & J and double guns are priceless. I love that you talked to your legs and pushed through those wind gusts. It sounds like you were the pinnacle (yes, pinnacle) of mental toughness. When you feel great during a race and run a great time, it’s one thing, but when you’re struggling but still push yourself through, it’s a true triumph. And you know what? I think you can totally go for that 2:02 this weekend. Why the hell not? You hear that 2:02??? Paula’s coming for you!!!

  10. Yay!! Congrats on eating the most delicious looking pizza, getting the most beautiful medal I’ve ever seen, and persevering despite meh-ness and wind! You rock! And I MUST get that medal someday!

  11. You literally made me laugh out loud twice! The part about shoe envy over shoes that you surely hate 10 minutes later, and the pepperonis that really do look like nipples. Michelle and I must have BFFs in common!

  12. I’m saving the picture of you with the “guns up” for the next time I need a laugh. Ha ha ha!

  13. Amber K

    Again I would never want to race, but I should probably go watch one sometime so I can see the insanity. Towards the end of course. I need my sleep!

    And I tell anyone if they want to feel short they need to stand next to my 6’8” husband. Although my mom (who claims to be 5’0”, but isn’t quite there) says he doesn’t seem to be that tall to her anymore. I think she thinks it’s a compliment and is trying to make him feel better that the only time she calls him is when she can’t reach something or needs something fixed… 😉

  14. SkinnyRunner

    those medal are schweet. or should i say, bad to the bone.

    congrats on beating your former time and running, what sounds like, at full effort.

  15. Congrats on a course PR! That is awesome:-)
    Tell Michelle that I call nipples ‘pepperonis’ so I thought that was hilarious!
    And that medal?….I would wear it everyday. For real.

  16. Megan

    Congrats on the race! Between your and Michelle’s recaps, it sounds like the wind was atrocious, so it’s even better that you beat your previous time.

    This race sounds awesome, if only for the goodie bag at the end. Black beans and Coke? I’m so down.

  17. Pingback: Race Review: Sarasota Half Marathon 2012 | | Eat: Watch: RunEat: Watch: Run

  18. That medal is awesome!

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