Monday, February 27, 2017

A Pirate's Race for Me! - Gasparilla Distance Classic (Half)

After getting up and dressing for the day (and applying loads of sunscreen!), we checked out and packed up the car, then headed to our super-secret parking spot.

Aw, man! It looked like the local school this lot belongs to realized that they should be capitalizing on their location, and there was a guy there collecting money to park there. It was only $10 (if you didn't have a kid attending that school) and I was okay with that price. We went to the drugstore around the corner and picked up some band-aids for my toes (I could feel hot spots and wanted to avoid any blisters!). We also got cash back and handed it over to the nice guy. I wrapped my toes and tried to stretch - as you can imagine, I was really sore that morning!  My plantar fasciitis - which had been bothering me since the new year - was not happy with me doing this all over again, after doing 20k yesterday... how in the hell am I actually going to finish this?

We made our way to the bridge where I needed to line up for the half-marathon (only 7300 runners today...). Technically, i was supposed to go around, utilizing another bridge, and come in from the top of the bridge, rather than trying to swim upstream, but where's the fun in that!

And this is only the NON-Seeded group of runners!
Over there, where you can't see anything is a whole other group of seeded runners, including Meb!
Looking at the top of the bridge, behind me
Hubby and the Kiddo had already gone over to the starting line, so I was here to chill by myself until it was time to go. As usual - start line selfie!

Wearing purple today to bring the good vibes
In case you are wondering why I wear head boppers for some races but not others; it's because Hubby has said that it makes it easy for him to tell if the runner coming his way is me or not. Many people mnight wear a purple top, but only I have purple head boppers! So, if it's a race for which he's with me, I wear the boppers. Otherwise - unless it's part of a costume - I don't wear them. I'll wear my hat or a BondiBand.

Also, I have to reiterate again, that I'm worried about this race. I've been told by the race staff that I HAVE to make it off of Davis Island by 7:20AM or I will be shunted to the sidewalks (I won't be swept though). I HAVE to make it to Bay to Bay Boulevard by 9AM or I will be shunted to the other side of Bayshore to allow the 8k'ers to run. I don't like being moved to sidewalks or whatever - it makes me feel fat and slow and I hate that!

Well, too late to worry about it now! We're off! First stop, we head to Davis Island. I've never been to Davis Island, so I have no idea what to expect.

Horrible photo of running up the bridge to Davis Island
Apparently Davis Island has a fire twirler!

Hey! What a terrible photo!
They also overlook what I think is the Seddon Channel which is really pretty. 

I sure wouldn't mind seeing that out my bedroom window every morning.
I missed the Mile 1 sign somewhere (or there was no sign; I'm usually eagle-eyed for the signs), but according to the course map, Mile 1 was near the Marjorie Park Yacht Basin. 
It was kind of weird, running this area in the dark. I think because the sun was over the water, it made the land seem that much darker? I don't know how to explain it... I've started other races at this time, but I've never felt this "dark". Really odd. I didn't hate it, but it was different. 

By Mile 2, though, light was creeping in through the trees, and it was more like what I was used to. 
Hello, Mile 2
Already at this point, my foot was telling me just how pissed it was at me that I was doing this. All I could feel was "Step... Ow... Step... Ow..."  I was getting ready to take some Tylenol out of my Nathan when I saw that I had little packets of BioFreeze! Yes, maybe that will take the pain away! I bent over a very nice park bench, pulled off my shoe and sock and slopped that goo all over my right foot. I must have looked like I was in pain, because a cop pulled over to make sure that I was okay (I think that's how close to the back of the pack I was!). I told them that I was fine, pulled up my shoe and kept moving.

I actually took a lot of photos of this area - it was really pretty
Oh and ... Spoiler alert...

It didn't. Now I just have tingly hands and a slimy foot. 

Mile 3 was inland a little bit, still following Davis Blvd, now north towards the top of the island. There are more homes here, and they're pretty, but not amazingly fancy, which was a surprise. It was a "normal" neighborhood like I grew up in. 

Mile 3, still some bodies in front of me
I was still trucking along at Mile 4, but I was beginning to worry that I wasn't going to make it off the island before I got shunted. All I could do was keep up my sad "run" and hope for the best!

Mile 4 and a very unflattering photo of the person in front of me
At this point, I was DONE with these stupid head boppers. The wind over here was strong, and they'd fallen off my head multiple times. I took them off and stuffed the into the strap of my water bottle. Yeah, I could have chucked them (they cost a buck at Party City), but I knew Hubby would be keeping an eye out for them at the finish line, so I kept them. 

You can see that the clock says 7:18 (or 7:19) - I was supposed to be AT THE BRIDGE in two (one) minutes!
I made it back to the intersection where the fire twirler guy was. It was nice to see him in the daylight (and he was probably pretty happy to see me - as soon as we pass, he can go home!). 

Not nearly impressive in the sunlight however
I wasn't off the island yet, but I knew I was close. I kept my head down and my knees up and pushed on.
I can see some of downtown from here, so I'm close!
What the hell is this?
Thankfully, I made it to the bridge that cuts over the Bay and I was safe from shunting!

For now anyway...

Umpire: "SAFE!" Okay, there's no umpires in racing... still funny.
Officially OFF the island!
I came back later and added this photo below; I was so happy about making it off the island, that for a little bit, I forgot I still had to go another eight miles!  See that little arrow on the left? I still had to go way the fuck down there, and all the way back!  The island was the easy part!

Follow the white wall - I have to go WAAAAAAAY over there!
Right off the bridge was Mile 5.  Somehow, I did my math wrong, and I thought that I'd be hitting the turn-around at about Mile 7, and then I'd do 5 miles back to the finish line. I actually had to go to almost Mile NINE before I turned around! Let this be a lesson - know the course before you run it!

Look at all the people coming back already
Also, this time around, I was on the Bay side of Bayshore heading towards Gandy. For every other race (5k, 8k and 15k), you start on the inland side, and return using the Bay side of Bayshore. It was a little disconcerting and not what I was used to.
The sign says: "When You Feel Like Quitting, Remember Why You Started" - I really needed this one!
With no crowds to worry about, I made it to Mile 6. 

Sure is a lot emptier now
And then crossed the 10k timing mat.

Oh, there's a bunch of people!
There were still a few folks in front of me, so I wasn't totally alone, and I could "lasso" them if I needed a boost of "go faster, fatass."

At this point, I refuse to look behind me. I was pretty sure that I was last. If I wasn't last, it wasn't by much!

Mile 7 looked how I felt!

Sssshhhh, Mile 7 is taking a nap
Mile 8 looked better, but by now, I'm so pissed. Remember, I thought I was supposed to turn around at Mile 7... I had no idea how much further I had to go and there was no turn-around in sight!

Where. The Actual Fuck. Is the TURN-AROUND?
I decided I needed an Action Selfie! Sure I look like I'm having fun, but I hurt and I hurt really fucking bad. My PF is raging. My shoulder/neck area is tight as hell. My back is killing me. I'm sunburned. I'm so fucking over this, and I still have 5 miles to go!

Lie-Smile (I'm not loving life right now)
But wait!!!

There's someone behind me!!


LOOK! People! I can see at least 2!
Yeah, I'll admit that put some pep in my step. All I ever want to do is beat one person.

Unlike the 15k, we didn't have to go down Gandy for the turn-around; we just rounded a Bayshore median and went back. 

It's GANDY! Turn around!

Luckily, there is shade on this side of Bayshore! I enjoyed it as long as possible. I made it past Mile 9... and then I was told to get to the other side of Bayshore (back where I was). 

Mile 9 = The Motherfucker Mile™
Oh, not just shunted back to the Bay side... all the way onto the damn sidewalk!

There were cops with loudspeakers telling me to get on the sidewalk... sigh.

There was good news and bad news about this shunting, though... I saw that there was a good handful of people behind me. Bad news was that it looked like they were just turned around where they were rather than going all the way to the turn-around and coming back.  I lost whatever lead I had on the folks behind me. 

At least it's a nice w--i--d--e sidewalk with no breaks

So, as you can imagine I am not fucking happy at all at this point. I'm in pain. I'm closer to the back. And I'm on the damn sidewalk like a loser.
Unhappy and all red
All I can do at this point is finish. I can't even take photos of the mile markers because they are on the "correct" side of Bayshore!  

So you'll just have to believe me when I say that I made it though the Motherfucker Mile™, 10, 11 and 12. 

I was able to see my Big Head Inflated Man, because by this point, I was allowed to rejoin the race already in progress, on the now correct side of the street (the race moves over to the Bay side after we pass Magnolia). Of course, I had to stay in the bike lane to let the speedy 8k folks go by - but like I've said before, I'm fine with that... I just want to be on the damn course!

Mile FOUR? Oh hell naw!
Do I mean "3" or "Asshole"? That's up to you to decide!

I'm in the chute, I've made it Mile 13 and I haven't died... I'm gonna count this as a win! I was kind of bummed to see that the clock had already changed over to 4 hours, but dude... I just did a 15k, a 5k AND a half-marathon over the course of two days! I don't care WHAT the timer said... I was already crying that I FINISHED! And I hadn't finished yet!

Aw man... four hours?
 I wanted to make sure that my finish line photos had my medals in them, so I pulled them out of my pocket and put them on. I also put my head boppers back on for Hubby.

They clang when I run, so I only took them out right before the photo

 Then I (somewhat) ran the longest chute in the world to the finish line!

I'm coming! I'm coming! <pant pant pant> I'm coming!


My official time was 3:57:56, which, honestly, is amazing! That's only 3-5 minutes slower than other halfs I've done! (Garmin said 3:55:15 which is obviously better!). I ended up coming in before TEN other people (where were they? I think they must have been invisible...), including the caboose who finished 4:31:16. I am not ashamed to say that I finished LAST in my age group (F35-39).

Nope, not holding my boobs - flashing fingers for "3" again


Look at me! Look what I did!

Now... where the heck is the family? I found them and got some Powerade, then fought my way uphill to get out of this hot mess on the bridge. There was one lonely guy directing traffic to the medal area. 

I don't think anyone was paying any attention to him, sadly

I picked up my awesome half-marathon medal and my even AWESOMER Ultra Amber Challenge Medal and put 'em all on!  Clang clang, baby... Look what I did this weekend!

Challenge Medal, Half Medal, 5k Medal and 15k Medal

Outside of this area, I met up with the family again and I changed into my flip flops then got a personal photo me and my medals, as well as a family pic. They are my Sherpas, who schlep my gear for me; they come to big races when I know they would rather be at home; they cheer me on; I love them!
Challenge, Half, 15k, 5k Medals w/Gaspar's Ship in the Background
The Kiddo™, me and The Hubby™ - My Sherpas!
Closeup of my medals (they are so awesome!)
We (okay, I) limped our way to the car and headed to St. Petersburg to meet my mom for lunch at the 4th Street Shrimp Store. As always, this place is super tasty, and of course, it's great to spend time with mom.

Afterwards, we stopped by WaWa and got some dessert (the "kids" got milkshakes). I wasn't jonesing for anything there, but my body was like, hey! You want doughnuts! so we went to a nearby Krispy Kreme.  I was kind of bummed... The hot light was on, but it looked like she took the donuts out of a hot box, rather than right off of a glazing line. Not cool, lazy Krispy Kreme location.  And seriously - prices were more expensive too - the dozen was $10.99!  (My local KK is about 2-3 bucks cheaper).

All in all, this was one hell of a weekend. IF I'd trained as well as I should have, maybe it would've been a lot easier, but I learned that I'm still one strong fucking woman who can do anything she puts her mind to! I told hubby later that I will not do this challenge again until I'm under 200 pounds and my PF is completely healed. It was a very painful weekend for me. (I'll be doing the Lime Cactus Challenge again in 2018 though!)

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