Monday, February 22, 2016

You Can't Park Here!!! - Gasparilla Distance Classic Weekend 2016 (Expo)


Just a few weeks after Celebration, it was time for the Publix Gasparilla Race Weekend!  This year, I was 'taking it easy,' only doing the Ultra Lime Cactus Challenge, which consisted of a 15k on Saturday and an 8k on Sunday. 

I tried to get out of the house by 11am, but as usual, we run late, so we weren't on the road until 11:30.  We stopped at a convenience store for snacks and sodas, as well as the attached Subway for lunch.  The Kiddo and I both got a 6" Spicy Italian, while Hubby got a 6" Roast Beef.  Either the cashier wasn't paying attention, or she was being incredibly nice, she only charged us for the RB and a 6" BMT!  No complaints here!  Especially because the bread was super-fresh, yummy!

Traffic was pretty uneventful until we got below the Turnpike, around Dade City. Then we encountered a 10-mile backup!  Makes me wonder if we should find a better way to drive home (we've experienced backups like this before, so it wasn't a one-time thing...)

Once we got to Tampa, we headed directly to the Expo.  Last year, we got a great parking spot right next to the Convention Center, so we tried to go to that lot again.  As we began to pull in, some over-important douche in a button-down practially jumped on the hood of my car, screaming that we couldn't park there.  Apparently, it's the Vendor Lot. Okay, cool, no problem. Let me pull in and turn around?  Nope, cock-blocked again. He demanded that I BACK UP into traffic (if you've ever been to this expo, you know it's busy, and you shouldn't back up into freakin' traffic!)

Okay, whatever... deep breath. Tiny penis man isn't worth stressing out about.  We ended up parking at the Amalie (or whatever) Arena Parking Garage.  I decided to park on the top floor, because I like to do that, and because it's easier to remember where you parked! (Parking ended up costing about $3.20).

I don't want to live here, but the skyline is beautiful!
Parking Garage Selfie!

My first stop inside was packet pickup.  I got my Ultra Lime Cactus official Bib that I would have to wear for both races this weekend.

2 Days = 14.2 Miles
I also picked up my 15k shirt, 8k shirt and Challenge Jacket - this year it was BLACK and so much more awesome than last year's jacket!

Once the official stuff was done, we walked around and checked out the booths.  It seemed that the expo was much smaller  than last year, which kind of made me sad.

I passed the Miami Tri Events booth, and they were offering early sign-up of the 2016 St. Augustine Half Marathon for $70.  I tried to talk them down to $50, and even $40, but they wouldn't go that low. They offered me $60, but that still seemed pricy for me, so I decided to think about it while I walked around some more. 

Come run my race and pay too much!

I couldn't help myself but to take a fun shot at this Steve Harvey Family Fued backdrop.

Survey Says... She Won't Win!
After walking around for an hour, I decided I should sign up for the St. Augustine race.  I was able to get it for $60 flat (no tax or registration fees), and I even got a super cool goodie bag, just for signing up (sarcasm implied)!!  It had a shirt from the 2015 race (that didn't fit me), a Miami Tri swimming cap (I don't swim), and a sling bag (woo, I have a billion of those). 

I stopped by a booth and picked up 4 Honey Stingers and a Maple Bacon Gu. Cost about $6. I haven't tried the MB Gu yet.

After finding my name on the Awesome Wall of You Really Are a Runner, we headed back to the car.

Apparently Tara Zbikowski is running twice?
Our hotel was off of Veteran's Expressway, and ended up being easier to get to than Westshore, where we stayed last year.  While a crazy drive, it wasn't horrible, and I thought this might be a better place to stay in future years.

The hotel was super-easy to find, and OMG! It's only two minutes from a WaWa!  The Junk Food Gods were shining down on us! 

We got a GREAT parking spot, too, right in front of the hotel (unlike a motel, this hotel has interior corridors, so the closer to the "front door" you park, the easier it is).  We checked in, I made sure we got a room with a microwave and fridge, and we went upstairs. 

I booked a Hampton Inn, King Suite with Sofabed.  The room was immaculate when we entered. There was even a Post-It note on the headboard (where does one buy pre-written Post-Its?) saying that our duvet and sheets are clean.  Nice touch, but... I would HOPE they are clean for my arrival! Eww.

Found stuck to the headboard

The bed was very comfy, and since it's a King, there was a nightstand on both sides of the bed - hubby always gets screwed out of the nightstand when we stay in a room with Queen beds!

It was also nice that the sofabed was away from the door - my Kiddo may be 18, but I still see her as 7, and her safety is still important. 

King Bed with lots of junk on it already
View from the other side (King Bed, Sofa Bed)
The room was nice, but basic.  Small TV, small fridge and microwave. Desk with lots of plugs. Another table that held the coffeemaker.

Desk w/nice chair, Micro and Fridge, TV and drawers, Coffee Counter
In the bathroom, there was Neutrogena branded toiletries.

Shampoo, Mouthwash, Bath Gel, Bath Soap and Facial Towelette

Once we settled in and got everyone sucking up the WiFi (free for HHonors members), we tried to decide what to do for dinner.  I wasn't super-hungry so we settled on Arby's, which was right next door - we could walk to it and not worry about moving the car (and losing our awesome parking spot!).  I got chicken fingers, which I immediately regretted.  They were okay, but who goes to Arby's for chicken fingers?

Before going back to our room, we walked about 1/4 mile down the road to WaWa for some breakfast for them tomorrow.  J and A got a bag of powdered donuts and bottles of milk, while I got a chocolate milk for after running. 

On our way back through the lobby, I discovered the most awesome perk of this hotel - FREE, hot chocolate chip cookies! And hot cocoa (in addition to coffee and tea) in the lobby!   Unfortunately, the hot water was lukewarm water, so the cocoa was tepid and icky. 

The ice machine on our floor was broken, so I had to go down a floor. 

Back in the room, both of them were engrossed in their various electronics, so I took a nice hot bath, then chilled out, tweeted and read my book.  It took FOREVER to fall asleep!

I can't wait for tomorrow!