Gasparilla Half and 8K
We had an even earlier wake up call Sunday morning, 3:30am for me! The half starts at 6am. We luckily all had an early night and we’re tired from Saturday’s races already. We had an awesome pre-race meal in Ybor City, Cristiano’s Coal Fired Pizza and Italian Restaurant. So we were all well fueled for our longer distance race day!
We left the house around 4:45am so that we could park in the same lot again and meet the guys by 5:30am. We’d have a little longer walk to the start of the half. When we got to where we parked on Saturday morning, the parking garage was not available, so we parked in a lot right near it, thankfully. All of the potties we hit on Saturday morning, were gone, so we ended up walking towards the half start in search of some. We all got in line and I quickly headed back to where we parked to meet Marty and David. We returned to meet the rest of the group and got in our corral for the half. With 6300 runners, they have two starting corrals. Amanda is super speedy so we hugged her as she headed to the first corral and we headed to the 2+ hour corral.
We started in between the 10:15 and 10:30 pacers for this race. We only have a short turn around time to get to the 8K so we wanted to give ourselves as much time as we could. The 8K goes off at 9am and we have to be in that corral before 9am or we don’t finish the challenge. That may seem like enough time, but with the two corrals, we wanted to start in the middle of the second start. The temperature was a lot warmer too. At 6am, it was already 60 degrees so we had a hot, humid day ahead of us! We wanted to run as much as we could before the sun came out.
At 6:05am, we were off! The start of the half was at the same place as the end of races yesterday. We headed out on Platt St and made a left onto Plant St. We crossed over the water to Davis Island for the first part of the half. It was nice to run in a different location. I also wore my heart rate monitor for all of the day two races. My goal was not to see any sub 10 min paces for the first few miles. I ran really even keeping below a 11 min mile pace for the first nine miles. I felt really good!! The miles on the island flew by and we were quickly back on the bridge back towards Bayshore Dr.
Once we crossed over we had just under 8 miles left in the half. We ran along the bay side heading out and back along the house side on the way back into the finish. We all hung together and just walked through the water stops, unlike the day before where we never took any breaks. We just kept going and I stayed under 11 min miles for the next two miles through mile 11. We ran the next 3 a bit faster and ended up finishing the half a bit faster than any of us thought. Going into the race, we thought we’d be over a 2:30 but we surprisingly finished in 2:26.
We quickly grabbed water and Gatorade and made our way to the start of the 8K. We stopped along the finish line of the half, cheering on runners and waiting to see Carole come across! We caught up with Kathy’s mom who was coming to walk the 8K. There were just over 4600 runners and the race was pretty packed. We started near the 11 min pace group again. We waited just a bit and right at 9am, the 8K promptly started. The 8K was the only thing standing in our way of completing this challenge!
At first, we were all a bit stiff. My legs were not loosening up as much as I had hoped. We ran along for the first mile, but quickly decided that it would be best to switch to Galloway and run for 3 minutes and walk for 2 minutes. Not only were our legs tired but the temperature was also rising steadily. By the start of the 8K, it was already 70 degrees and hot! Our goal all along was to make it to the 8K and do what it takes to get it done. We stuck with the run/walk plan the whole rest of the race and ended up finishing feeling pretty good! We had done it!!
I got a little emotional coming across the finish line. After almost a year in the planning and 12 weeks of back to back long runs, we had done it!! We completed the Mich Ultra Challenge! 30.4 miles in 2 days. I knew that we had trained well and did our best to be prepared for the distances. It was our best decision to run this as a endurance race vs speed. I also truly believe that running by heart rate was the best thing I could have done during training and the race.
We decided to skip the post race party, knowing that it probably would be about the same and opted to head to a local pizza place for some grub! We said bye to Marty and David after lunch and we headed back to the house for a day in the sun! We were so excited to enjoy the afternoon. It was bittersweet because everyone back in Greensboro were having a terribly cold day and we were totally being spoiled with an almost 80 degree afternoon.
I forgot to mention the medal drop-off yesterday! For those running the Challenges, they offered a place for us to safely leave our medals so that we could run the next event without having to jingle the whole way. It was a great touch and much appreciated! Again, day two’s races were all well organized and all aid stations were well stocked. It was nice to run Davis Island in the half.
I also failed to mention yesterday too that the end of each race (both days) is run on cement. Normally that wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but by the end of the second day, the last race, we could tell. Within a few steps on to it, my back instantly felt awful. It’s weird how a pavement change can do that! It’s a minor thing and really can’t be avoided given the course.
Our goal now is to return to Gasparilla at some point again to complete the other two Challenges offered. We’d love to have a whole Challenge medal collection! I mean, we already did the longest one first! 🙂
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