Gasparilla Time!!! I ran this race last year in hurricane conditions, loved it, took 26 minutes off my first HM time and got one of the most badass medals I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth a repeat. The course is flat and nice curling right around Tampa Bay, there’s tons of aid stations, music and entertainment all along the course (there were pirate fire jugglers this year!) and a killer food spread at the end. I’d been training really hard with threshold runs and speedwork and long runs with negative splits to try to make a time goal of 1:45:00 or less this year, but things stacked up and killed all my training at the last minute. ITB injury followed by back injury followed by a week long cold just destroyed me. Almost 3 weeks of super inconsistent and hobbled training ability. My last test long run of 8-10 miles (ran most of 8 and walked another .75) Wed night was awful and left me concerned about FINISHING, let alone a PR. There was just no way it was happening and this meant Kelly was a very sad panda. Well, so we’ll revise the goal up to, you know, just don’t suck and leave it at that.
Went to the expo Sat evening to check in and walk around and see if there was anything nifty to pick up. They ran out of small shirts, so mine will come in the mail in a few weeks. Rather have the right size than have one that’s too big I wont wear just to get it right then. Since we were there pretty well right at the end of the expo, they had pallettes full of the giveaway jars of Biscoff spread and they loaded my bag up with them. You know those delicious little cookies they give you on airplanes? This stuff is crumbled up those. It’s DELICIOUS. I was also super stoked we found a Zipfizz booth and got to stock up on zipfizz for the hot weather training ahead in all the best flavors you can’t get in stores. And we got a sweet Zipfizz bottle with it. NEAT. Got some sport beans and a sticker, but nothing super duper can’t live without it there.
Woke up race morning and it was FOGGY. Like REALLY foggy. Pea soup. at 4 am, already inching up on 70 degrees and 98% humidity. You could chew the air. Made sure I packed my inhaler and used it before we started and headed down to the start area. Got all warmed up and gear checked and ready and positioned myself with the 2:00:00 pace group to start.
I felt pretty alright for the first few miles. It was sticky and hard to breathe, but I can deal with that. Settled in to a pace and did the first few in 8:32, 8:47 and 9:04. Then things started going wrong. My stomach started cramping really badly. That meant I wasn’t taking deep even breaths like I should and started getting lightheaded. I had to walk already in the 4th mile. That doesn’t happen. 4th mile in 9:42. 5th I had to walk more. That one was almost a 12 minute mile. OK, I’m still under 10 minute splits. This is still salvageable.
After that, my stomach started cramping BAD and my asthma was kicking in hard. My new shoes were also putting pressure on the top of my left foot. In mile 6, I pulled over and relaced my shoes. I had them lock laced all the way at the top, and so I took the lock down 1 hole and retied it hoping that would take the pressure off the front of my ankle and give me some more lace to loosen the tie a bit. It helped slightly. I was also finding that any time I tried to run, the bouncing was making my stomach REALLY unhappy. I could keep moving if I walked, but running was just not fun times. I started making deals with myself, just run to mile 7 and then you can walk the whole next mile. I ran most of miles 6 and 7 with stop/walk breaks and they were both right around 12 minute miles. Then it all went to hell.
In the next 3 miles I had to stop on the side of the course 3-4 times to relace my shoes, throw up and stretch out my legs that were cramping from me being tensed up against the stomach cramps and side stitches and I walked the majority of them with only short spells of jogging when I could handle it. Those were averaging out around 20 minutes a mile. I had used my inhaler about 4 more times by now as well and my heart was racing, making me lightheaded and dizzy. This was PAINFUL. When the 2:30:00 pace team passed me and disappeared ahead and I had nothing in me to keep up with them, I cried. I legitimately cried on course. I seriously considered asking the police officers in gold carts along the side of the course for a ride a couple times. But I DO NOT DNF. I have made it this far, I can finish. I WILL finish. It might be just on pure stubbornness, but dammit I’m gonna cross that finish line and I’m gonna be running when I do. Once I saw that if I could just maintain some sort of shambling jogging pace I could finish in under 3 hours, I managed to get myself moving and pitifully wheeze jog my way through the finish.
All the volunteers at this race are awesome. It freaked me out a little in my pained addled state the first time one of them called me out by name until I remembered it was on my bib. They were super encouraging and cheered us all on, even us slow stragglers at the end. Even though I finished more than a full hour after my time from last year, I’m still proud of this finish and medal. I fought for every mile. This was not an easy race. The Health First lady tailed me for a bit at the finish line and made me use my inhaler again since I was wheezing like crazy and looked I’m sure not great.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I missed my time goal this season, but it wasn’t for lack of training or trying. It was just bad luck with injuries and illness. Even taking care of them quickly and aggressively, it bites into crucial training time. Setting those time records will have to wait until the fall. This bums me out, but it’s only February and there is still the fall season packed with good races that are on my radar to blast my PRs and get some solid finishes in 2013. Things stacked up and it wasn’t in the cards this time. I had a couple good races this month and a couple learning experiences.
Now it’s break time. I’m feeling burnt out and need some rest. As of right now, the next race we’re registered for is the Savage Race on April 13. I have a couple 5-10k races at the end of March I’m eyeballing, but we’ll see how quick I bounce back.