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 didn't end up using any fuel during the race, maybe because I fueled so well at dinner!
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!
|At the start, just us and 30,000 of our closest friends.
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!
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.
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.
|Nearing the finish line!
|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.
|The Sub-30 Club and Meb!
|Also, I got back to my car and it hadn't been towed, so really this was the perfect day!