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Another year, another Gasparilla Distance Classic. This was my third year participating and my second year running the 15K (ran the 5K my first year). I had the lofty goal of pacing 8 minute miles, which given my recent 5K and 10K performances wasn’t too much of a stretch. Unfortunately, like last year it was insanely hot and that really affected both my enjoyment level and performance. My horrible pre-race nutrition might have also played a teeny role. 😉

I started the weekend by hitting up the expo with Dave early on Friday. By the time we were done walking around and spending our hard earned money it was well past lunch time. We had seen the Tampa Downtown Market on our way in so we wandered in that direction in search of food. I made the rookie mistake of eating things that I was aware wouldn’t sit right in my sensitive stomach.

Not only did I have a tasty sandwich at Wick Witches Food Truck (can’t remember the name of it but it had chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and mozzarella) but I also got a chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Tampa Bay Cupcake Company. [Just skip over these next few photos Andrew, nothing to see here!]

After having dinner with my husband, I headed back to Tampa to stay the night with Jena and her mom at a hotel on Harbour Island, about a mile from the start.

We did the usual pre-race early wake-up, coffee, food and whining. During our short warm-up jog I noticed that I was already sweating profusely.

The course for the 15K is a simple out and back along Bayshore Blvd. Most people say it’s really pretty and that they love running there. While I agree that the views are pretty, I dislike this course because of the lack of shade.

I started with Jena but I was really struggling to hold an 8 min/mile pace, which is what we had previously agreed to aim for. After 3 miles of not getting close to goal pace I knew it wasn’t going to be my race, so I told Jena to go on without me. I played all kinds of mind games, at first telling myself to keep my pace at 8:30, then to keep it under 9 and finally to keep it under 10. I was taking 3 cups at every aid station, 2 to drink and 1 to dump over my head. I was a very unhappy camper, which is evident in all my race photos.

Head down, shoulders tense, too long stride, claw hands- I was clearly struggling.

After the half-way point I started walking through all the aid stations to make sure I got enough to drink. I was cramping in my lower abdomen which I’m sure was the horrible food I ate the day before seeking revenge.

Official Results:

Last year I ran this same race in similar conditions in 1:38:50 so this year was a big PR for me. I would be lying if I said I was happy with my 15K time, I know I’m capable of more. Beating myself up over it is useless though and after I got home and took a lovely nap I was able to realize that. Plus, the race shirt and medal were much better this year:

Oh well, there’s always next year. (I only intend to sign up for a Gasparilla Distance Classic race next year at the expo if the weather forecast is favorable!)

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