Like I posted this weekend, I signed up to run at Gasparilla without really thinking it through, but now that the race is over, I'm so glad I gave in to my FOMO!
I got permission to leave work a little early on Friday and I hoped that would mean I'd miss traffic. I did get caught in some near Sarasota (it always slows down there due to construction) but I made it to Tampa for the expo with plenty of time. (Last time I ran at Gasparilla, we literally had to run through the doors as they were closing!) This leg of the trip took about 3.5 hours but it should have taken 2.5.
Going to an expo alone isn't very fun. I signed the Dick's Sporting Goods wall and found my name on the other big wall - expos have a thing for giant walls lately, huh? - got my bib and shirt, and called it a day.
I drove another hour to Jenn's, where Tommy had made baked chicken and risotto. I would have gotten photos but I was enjoying catching up too much to get my phone out; and besides, I had pretty much cleaned my plate before I remembered to take a picture. It was the best pre-race dinner I've had in ages!
I didn't end up using any fuel during the race, maybe because I fueled so well at dinner!
We stayed up much too late, but I slept really well and was up easily at 4:20am and out the door by 4:45 to head back to Tampa for our 5:45 photo op!
My plan had been to park in the convention center's garage, but all the streets were already closed. Instead, I parked over the bridge in a Walgreen's parking lot and hoped no one would tow my car. I sipped my UCAN while I walked, and ten minutes later I found my people!
Can you spot me?
Andy, Therese, Montana, me, and Will. 100% ProCompression and Skirt Sports. Too funny!
Meeting Laurie "Mama" Canning was a major highlight of this race!
Pre-race with Therese!
Now, although I've met a number of my Sub-30 friends in person and run races with some of them, I've never run with them in a race. This would be the first time I stuck with a pack, and the first time I'd be doing intervals. I literally had no time goal in mind for this race and just wanted to have fun and not exacerbate any aches left over from A1A, so this seemed like the perfect time to be introduced to the Galloway method.
At the start, just us and 30,000 of our closest friends.
Running with these people was the most fun I've had on a race course in a long time. Everyone was
joking around and our spirits were high. We were doing 3:1 intervals, and every time it was time to walk, Andy or Will would shout "WE'RE WALKING!" or "RUN, RUN! WE'RE RUNNING LET'S GO!" at the top of their lungs. I'm sure we were incredibly obnoxious to some, but we also adopted some other runners who liked our style. I adjusted my pace a few times to run with various people in our group and tried to talk to everyone and meet everyone. It was exactly what I had wanted!
Staying to the right; good walking etiquette is key!
#squadgoals and also #crazyfacegoals and #completelyfuzzypicturegoals
Running together, flags up!
By the way, the weather was perfect. Mid-60s, overcast, and breezy! I was a little annoyed that it was so gorgeous when just last weekend it was so bad. I know that next time I drag Elizabeth into a half marathon, we'll travel north instead of south.
I got a little frustrated with the intervals around 3 miles; I felt like it was taking us forever to get anywhere and I was impatient. This feeling faded, and this experience led me to consider trying intervals for long runs, but I'd likely do a 5:1 or 6:1 ratio. Anyway, at mile 6.5, we paused by an inflatable dinosaur because his sign matched the back of our shirts.
My phone was all wet at this point so my pictures are a little blurry. Oops.
I've never paused in a race for pictures before, so this was another first. It's just a completely different experience to run a race with this mindset!
Here's the best thing about running with and belonging to this group: they truly are the most supportive people I've ever met. I watched as the "leaders" of our pack made sure no one was left behind. When we walked through water stations, they kept an eye out for stragglers before urging us to run again. They made sure to run with the group, not just ahead, to keep everyone in it together. I honestly felt so comfortable and accepted, even with those I had only just met; for me, that's really saying something because I tend to be really aloof and distant when I meet new people. Sub-30 is all about being together and working as a team to accomplish our goals.
Anyway, at mile 7, I began to pick up my pace a little and ended up running the rest of the race with Kim. She was battling a bad cold and had the 5k to run right after the 15k, but she was still out ahead of the group. By mile 8, the shouts of "AND WE'RE RUNNING!" were fading away, so we just followed her watch and ran the rest of the way together.
I crossed the finish line just before the 2:00 mark with a pace of 12:21; this may be the slowest I've ever run a race, but it was also the most fun. My feet and hips did hurt a little; I wore my Ravennas as a kind of test of my calves and in the end I think this particular pair is definitely ready to be retired, unfortunately.
Nearing the finish line!
After we finished, Kim and I got in line to meet Meb. I shook his hand, told him what an inspiration I find him to be and thanked him for being there, and we took a photo. Then we got our medals and met the rest of the group.
With Meb! He must have been taking these photos for hours; he was a trooper!
I was so grateful to finish the end of the race with Kim!
With Nicole! I was so excited to finally meet her.
A little while later, we all gathered again because someone had managed to convince Meb to take a picture with all of us.
The Sub-30 Club and Meb!
Afterward, I had to head out. I needed to get to Sarasota for Scott and Robby's engagement party. I wished I could have stayed longer, and I think maybe the Challenge will be in my future, but this race was just what I needed. It was wonderful to leave stress and ambition behind and actually just run for the joy of it.
Also, I got back to my car and it hadn't been towed, so really this was the perfect day!
The rest of the group went on to do some awesome things this weekend, including breaking 2:00 in the half marathon (that was Andy and Therese's goal and they killed it). I'm glad I got to be there to experience some of the fun, and I hope to do it again next year.
Did I tell you guys I'm running at Gasparilla this year?
Signing up for the 15k was definitely an impulsive choice at the time. I wasn't going to run it because I had seen that it was only a week after A1A. But then some time passed, and I forgot the specific date of the race, and I saw so many of my Sub-30 friends signing up, and I remembered how much I loved the 15k when I ran it in 2015...
The next thing I knew, I was signing up. This is the perfect example of a FOMO race registration!
The race is on a Saturday morning (so, today...if you're reading this when the post goes live). I was originally planning to actually race it, but my body hurt way more than I expected it to after A1A, so I'm adjusting my plan.
There's another reason to adjust, too. I'm staying with my little, Jenn, Friday night and want a chance to spend time with her and enjoy my visit, which means I'll be missing the Friday night Sub-30 dinner. Then, I have to leave pretty much immediately after the race so I can make it to Scott and Robby's engagement party Saturday afternoon. That means the only time I can really spend with my Sub-30 friends is during the race.
The Sub-30 Club is a running group focused around the goal of breaking 30 minutes in a 5k; many of our members are slower runners and proud of it. The plan for most of us during the 15k, especially considering that many of the runners are doing various Gasparilla Challenges and racing two or three times this weekend, is to run/walk the race at a comfortable pace and enjoy each other's company on the course.
I won't make it to the Friday dinner and I can't stay for Saturday's afternoon hijinks, so it looks like the best way to spend time with these inspiring, hilarious people is to run the 15k with them!
I just can't miss out on seeing these folks, and meeting some of my virtual friends IRL for the first time!
I think this is a solid decision. After all, I'm still recovering from the half six days before, and this race is more about socializing, camaraderie, and enjoying myself than anything else. I can't wait!
Do you ever get race FOMO? Do you ever get JOMO? Constantly! Do your friends or family think it's weird that you're friends with people you met online? ABK
This was it. The big race we'd been training for. Elizabeth's first half marathon! Our birthday race. To say we had high expectations would be an understatement. Despite lingering calf issues and a minor cold, I was feeling ready and excited!
Unfortunately, this race went the way running things seem to be going lately for me. I was chock-full of Sudafed and Advil and race day dawned hot and humid. This was going to be a battle.
I should've taken this more seriously.
But let's start at the beginning.
Matt, Elizabeth and I arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 1pm.
Five minutes after being in the car: "By the way, I'm going to make you take tons of pictures this weekend! Smile!"
We dropped our things at Oden's and then went to lunch, then finally to the expo. The A1A expo is always excellent, and this year was no exception! I made sure to stock up on free samples and half-priced Gu while dragging Elizabeth into a million photos.
Of course, finding our names on one big wall wasn't enough; we had to sign another! We also found our names on a Lexus, but I didn't get a picture of that one.
After the expo, we relaxed at Oden's until dinnertime. I had a huge baked potato and chopped salad and felt full and well-fueled. We laid out our things for the morning and got to bed at a decent hour.
Yes, our outfits were accidentally opposite-coordinating colors. We did not really plan this.
Elizabeth is new to "flat runner" pictures and was perplexed when I added all my accessories, Gu, etc. She asked, "So, should I put everything I'll use on race day?" and tossed the box of anti-diarrheal into her pile. We died.
I woke up easily at 4am and drank a Starbucks Espresso Doubleshot in bed. When I felt a little more awake, I made my UCAN and had most of a pop-tart. We were out the door by 4:50 and by 5:05 we were parked in our usual off-site spot.
Oh. Great. 100% humidity and actually partially cloudy was a dirty, dirty lie.
After a long wait for the bathroom, Elizabeth and I packed our pockets and gave Matt our castoffs. He left us before the start gun because he was going to put Skirt Sports discount cards on cars before he went back to rendezvous with Oden and get a bike, etc.
Ready to go!
Still waiting for the countdown!
Elizabeth and I made one more bathroom stop and then the race began! The beginning was so crowded that we had to dodge, weave, and sprint a bit to stay together. It was frustrating. Although we started closer to the front than I usually do, we were still behind a lot of people who were walking within the first quarter mile...many of them did not use proper etiquette, which aggravates me!
Just getting ready to run with 4000 other running buddies!
My calves felt a bit tight but not bad. At mile .19, we had just crossed the train tracks when we heard the train! A loud whistle sounded not far from us and the crossing lights and bells went off. Yes...a train cut through half the runners less than a quarter mile into the race!
(I borrowed this video from a Sub-30 buddy. Those runners waited 10 minutes for the train to pass, then got a second start with adjusted times. I'm so glad we were past it when it happened!)
Here we go!
By mile 3, my legs felt great. The humidity was making it hard to steady my breathing, but for the first six miles everything felt doable. We were keeping a good pace and the crowds had mostly cleared up, so there was no more dodging.
We passed Matt and Oden around mile 4; Matt had his OneWheel and Oden had rented a bike.
Mile 4 and feeling fine!
Around mile seven the humidity and all the unintended fartleking caught up with me. I couldn't get my heart-rate under control and I felt sick. I had goosebumps even though I was really warm; my stomach hurt; I felt dizzy. I had told Elizabeth not to let me walk if my calves were "annoying" but not painful. But this was different.
I hated to do it, but I had to walk. I had a Gu, hoping the sugar would help, and it did, but it also made my stomach hurt more. We were pouring water on ourselves at every water stop but I was fried.
I feel very guilty about all this. Elizabeth was great. She offered to call Matt to see if he could get my inhaler to me, but the issue wasn't really asthma-related. I kept apologizing and she finally told me to just STOP and have fun and let's do this together, who cares what happens to our goal? She was the best, but I felt so defeated. We had started out with lots of cushion to meet our goal, but I could see it slipping away from us...and it was my fault.
Around mile 9 I stopped at a medical tent for ice and shoved it down my bra.
I can't imagine I really looked strong but she is really nice for saying so!
Around mile 10 I saw an old college friend volunteering at a water stop and forced a sweaty hug on her; she and I were English majors together and since then have bonded a bit over running, and seeing her brought back to me all the beautiful, empowering ways running has changed me, and that helped me mentally the rest of the race.
Around mile 11 we saw Matt and Oden again and I asked them to get us Coke if they could. I also realized I had somehow managed to get gum in my eyebrow.
I am grinning because I am about to yell, "BRING US COKES AT THE FINISH!"
And then, finally...oh god, FINALLY, we got to mile 13. Steph and Oden and Matt were there. Elizabeth and I finally picked it up and "sprinted" through the last 10th.
The finish is in sight!
Finishing this thing together!
I immediately got a giant bag of ice from the medical tent and put it on my neck, then chugged the Coke the boys had picked up for me.
As usual, our support team was amazing. They got up early, carried our stuff, rented bikes, saw us multiple times on the course, and managed to buy us Cokes and get to the finish line in time to see us cross. I couldn't ask for better and I am so grateful for them; I know how lucky we are!
I honestly don't know what happened to me out there. I mean, I know the heat was no joke; we saw a handful of runners pulled off the course on stretchers, but I've never experienced those symptoms before. Maybe the Sudafed had dehydrated me more than I expected? Maybe I was just not as strong and prepared as I thought?
What was so tough mentally was that my legs felt good and when we were running, they wanted to run fast, but my body just couldn't take it. My heart-rate would skyrocket after just a couple minutes and I'd have to walk again.
I am frustrated that I couldn't power through and hold onto that 2:20 goal. This feels like BDR all over again; I feel fired up to run another half at a pace I know I can feel proud of. And I hate writing race reports that sound like they're full of excuses, but it is what it is. We got out there. I did the best I could and Elizabeth stuck with me when she could have easily powered through faster on her own.
2:28:47...I've run faster and I've run slower, but this race will always be special because we ran it together.
We finished. There were times I thought I might DNF but we finished. And what's more, we finished together, just as we planned.
My mom asked Matt to get us flowers so Elizabeth could have the "full race experience." She is SO thoughtful!
After we made it back to Oden's and showered, we went for brunch at the Original Pancake House, where I had a plate of blueberry pancakes and Elizabeth had a giant apple crepe. Food makes everything better!
Full disclosure: I took this picture after already having eaten one pancake.
This may not have been my best race, but I think Elizabeth feels accomplished for finishing. She does seem a little dubious about my insistence that we do another. Although it was a far cry from my past performances and downright painful at times, I'm already thinking about signing up for A1A again next year! I just can't stay away.
Oh, and here is a video of us at the finish because I know some of you like that!
A little while back, I mentioned to you guys that I had been given a free membership to Run Around USA. I've been using it for a few weeks now, and I wanted to post my first update because I finally reached an achievement! I've also had some time to use their website now and have enjoyed it so far!
The email contained interesting facts and links related to Donegal.
I've been enjoying using RAUSA. At first, I was a little frustrated because I kept forgetting to upload run data. I don't use Strava so for me to document my mileage, I have to take a screenshot of my Garmin information and upload it. I kept forgetting to do that because I was uploading via the computer.
But once I got the app, things got much easier. I love to track my runs, and I'm surprised by how much I'm liking this additional and unique tracker...I'm not just looking at mileage, but distance, too. It's giving me a concrete image of how far I've run.
Here is the manual entry on the computer.
Here's the upload view on the app. It's very easy!
Now, I'm not familiar with Pennsylvania, so that's one thing that frustrates me a little about this journey. It's hard to "get" how far I've run when I'm in such unfamiliar territory. I think it would be cool to start locally and see how far out of Florida I could get!
My map and monthly progress is all available on the app, too, as well as a simplified list of all my runs.
Having taken a week off running before A1A, my progress has obviously lagged.
I will say that for a low-mileage runner like me (these days), it obviously takes longer to reach milestone cities. That can be a little frustrating. I like the realism of the map - you can't fudge the numbers and get credit for running across the country if you haven't! - and I love learning about the cities I'm "passing through", so I wish my journey had started somewhere closer to some big, exciting places so that I'd know I'd hit at least one before the year is over. At this rate, I'm not sure if I'll ever make it to New York!
But, like I said, over all I'm surprised by how much I've been enjoying this. It's a very different way to track mileage than I've done before, and it's fun!
So, this week RAUSA offered me a free entry to share with my readers to support the #whatifirunwithyou initiative in raising awareness and support for mental health. If you think you'd enjoy tracking your miles via a virtual journey across the US (or Australia or Europe!), enter the giveaway below!
Good luck, and spread the word! The giveaway closes on Friday ( because all members who enter in February are being given the chance to enter old runs from January (instead of just starting your year late). I wanted to give whoever wins time to enter those past runs before February ends!
Which states/countries/continents have you run in? ABK