Gasparilla Ultra Challenge
February 24-25, 2018
We are still packing cupboards and closets in between all the running!! We found ‘Our’ place and have sold ‘My’ place and if all goes well we will close on both places at the end of the month. Fingers crossed!!
Now for that weekend recap…
We were up and out the door early to make the 5 hour drive to Tampa. Of course we stopped for cawfee, which had us stopping at a couple of rest stops. We arrived around 1:30p and parked across from the convention center for the expo. We went straight for bib pickup and then for our race shirts and a jacket (for running the challenge). The four race shirts and jacket are put in a reusable shopping bag.
We then made our way to the banner to find our names.
Then we walked the rows of vendors. I purchased a Blyss Running skirt, a bag of Veronica’s Health Crunch Granola, and don’t you think we left without a couple of 73 Threads shirts!!
Blyss Running is a woman owned small business out of North Carolina, providing runners with flattering running apparel that inspires empowerment and joy. They are committed to supporting the revitalization of the domestic textile industry and our communities by having all of their apparel manufactured in the USA. I have not ran in the skirt yet, but hope to this week and I’ll let you know what I think.
It’s a shame I had to go all the way to Tampa to find Veronica’s Health Crunch that is made in Freeport, FL that is only 20 minutes up the road from me!! But, it probably has saved me some money as I went for the 1.5lb bag!! I’m loving the original flavor and did I mention it is Gluten Free, non-GMO and sweetened with honey… 100% natural.
And y’all know our love of 73Threads…we’re living in them!!
Next we were off to dinner at Bar Taco, we were meeting some friends from Virginia that just happened to be in Tampa. We were so engrossed in conversation that we didn’t take pictures of the food…say what??!! However, the Portabella Taco and the Churros are da bomb!!
It was back to the hotel after dinner to prepare for race morning. I don’t know what got into me but I did a #flatrunner, a picture of all of the things that you are racing in, and I think I could run faster if I didn’t wear all the things!! Not to mention, it is hard fitting everything in a 1×1 square!!
Saturday – 15k / 5k
This year we waited until the last minute to make hotel reservations and ended up staying at The Floridan. The website said it was a historic hotel and we didn’t know what to expect, but it ended up being a great room!! I kept asking if the hotel was haunted and no one could really tell me.
The 15k start was at 7a on Saturday, but that wouldn’t keep us from waking up at 4a!! Enough time for cawfee!! We had a short .5 mile walk to the start chutes and had no problem finding them, literally walked straight into them. We were able to find our run buds Jen and Hannah to exchange hugs before the start.
Our strategy was to take it easy and enjoy the views along Bayshore. This would be our 3rd Gasparilla Ultra Challenge and the HAWTEST on yet. It was humid and expected to be in the upper 70’s/lower 80’s for both days. This turned out to be an uneventful 9.3 miles until we reached the finish and Meb was there to greet us!! I was sure his security team had the Hubs name and number after all their run-ins last year!!
OHHHHH, I almost forgot!! After crossing the start line, THERE, RIGHT THERE in the road was $20 and I took my life in my hands to risk getting trampled to pick it up!! But, I won!! Thank you random stranger for our post race cawfee!!
We collected our medals and hung out with Medal Mom Myrna (Jen’s mom collects and holds our medals during the second race) until 9a and then made our way with Hannah to the Port-O-Potties and then the 5k start. We were in the Blue Wave and was set to start at 915a. We were still waiting to start when we received a text from Jen asking if we had started yet, NO!! I asked where are you, did you make the cutoff (she’s run/walking injured)?? And she did, but jumped in with the elites when their gun went off!! You go Jen!!
We started on time and kept a look out for Jen. She had told us she was walking the 5k, her foot was really bothering her and she didn’t want to chance anything for tomorrow. We ran up on her at mile 1. Hannah stayed to walk the rest of the way with her, the Hubs and I continued to run…if you can call it that during the 5k. This is the largest 5k we run and it is so hard to get a decent pace dodging in and out of people. Of course, we stopped for a donut at the turnaround from the Rough Riders!! And we had to document mile 2!! It had started to warm up nice and after the turnaround we walked through the water stations making sure to stay hydrated.
A donut and a Rough Rider
Heading for hydration
Bringing it in for the finish…
As we finished, we spotted Medal Mom Myrna and chatted with her until Jen and Hannah made it to the finish. We collected our medals and found a spot for a group photo. We skipped the food line and went straight to Starbucks in the Embassy Suites (across the street from the expo) and spent that $20 on cawfee!!
Photo Finish… 2 races down, 2 to to go!!
We walked the .5 miles back to the hotel where I would take a nap and the Hubs would go down the street to get us Street Tacos from the Taco Truck for lunch. We relaxed in the room until walking to the Tampa Postcard we spotted from our hotel window before dinner with friends at the Cheesecake Factory. We met up with Karin (runnergirl_1210), her husband, and Melissa (mkmeritt). Again, we were talking so much that no one took pictures of the food!!
The conversation was good and the food was good and we got cheesecake to go!!
Sunday – Half Marathon / 8k
There was no #flatrunner last night, that was stressful!! Jen had texted that she was NOT going to participate in the Half Marathon, but was going to run/walk the 8k, her foot was not doing so well. We were to meet Karin on the bridge before the 630a start, so we started walking that way around 550a. Yep, awake at 4a again!!
It’s still dark at the start of the Half and makes the first mile a little difficult, plus this year is was EXTRA humid. You come off the bridge to make a left turn onto a cobblestone street that is not well lit and then on to the onramp to Davis Island. This area as well as the island stayed pretty congested this year, no breakaway for the group we were in?? We stopped for a photo with the Flame Thrower, pretty sure this is a yearly photo. The race photographer captured a good photo of me with the sunrise on the island and then the photo on the bridge taking us back to Bayshore.
We were back on Bayshore at mile 5 and got to see the leader heading to the finish. This can be sooooo defeating. How do they do that?? I still have 8.1 miles to go and someone is finishing…alright already!! Anyway, we made our way along Bayshore chatting and laughing before Meb spotted us at mile 7 and jumped in the road to selfie with us!! Actually, he was already in the road high-fiving runners as they passed, so we had to stop. We hit mile 10 and was headed toward the finish. I spotted a photographer and raised my arms, yeah bay-be…almost there. And then there is the finish chute and I was about to hit a milestone number Half Marathon.
Half Marathon #50…
We dropped our medals with Medal Mom Myrna and picked up Jen and Hannah, making our way to the start line of the 8k. We grabbed some water and a banana, stopped at the port-a-potty and lined up with about 10 minutes til start. Jen and I decided to run the first mile and walk the rest. I was pretty tired and wasn’t going to push myself. I knew I was going to finish whether I ran or walked and I would get my challenge medal. The Hubs, Hannah, and Karin were all going to run and meet us at the finish. Jen and I walked, ran when we spotted a photographer, unless you don’t see them first, chatted a lot and ran it into the finish!!
Photo Finish…Challenge Complete
Half Marathon #50 Finish
Ultra Challenge Medal
It was hugs all around at the finish as we completed another Gasaprilla Challenge weekend. We headed for the food line, picked up bananas and water and headed for cawfee. However, I ended up with a Refresher that tasted extremely good with the heat. We ate and drank on the walk back to the hotel and decided that we will probably be going back for a 4th time in 2019. It shower, pack, and hit the road kinda hustle once we hit the hotel, since we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us and both had to work the next day.
We have 2 challenge weekends left on the calendar…Chattanooga Challenge (5k/Half) and The Flying Pig – Skyline Chili 3-Way with Extra Cheese (Little Kings Mile/5K/10K/Half). There is a month between our last two challenges and I’m welcoming the rest, however there is a move in our near future.
Let me know…
Do you like seeing/reading the same formats on posts?? I tend to write the way I talk and the format seems to flow from that, what works for you?? Does is bother you reading posts that are not grammatically correct?? Or do you chalk it up to that writers style?? As you may have noticed, I love exclamation points and ellipses and I don’t necessarily uses them correctly!!