As we arrived in Tampa on Friday, I was immediately struck with joy once we learned the temperature outside. After dealing with 20 degree weather for the last month I will take 80 degrees any day, even if it means running a Half Marathon in it.
My mom picked Abbe and I up from the airport (she and my step-father Richard live here). After acquiring him, we hit the race expo for bib pick-up. I have to say Tampa, pretty impressive expo! All the big names were there and it wasn’t overly crowded or squished together as some (like the Disney Expo) can be.
That night my Mom and Richard took us out to celebrate our engagement. We went to this place called Oystercatchers and filled on some delicious seafood. It may have even been healthy, which is good because we spent the rest of the night up late playing pool and drinking.
Saturday was ‘Beach Day’! We hit St. Pete’s and ended up in this quaint little beach hood called Pass-a-Grille. It was so chill. We had grouper sandwiches from this beach side shack out in the sun. When I retire I plan on opening one just like it in the Caribbean or Mexico, I’ll keep you posted. Nature was out in full effect. We saw egrets, ibises, spoonbills, pelicans and even a friendly dolphin named.
That night we met up with TJ and Bethaney at a bar by my mom’s called Datz. Its within walking distance to both my Mom’s place and Bethaney and TJ’s. Why is that an important piece of the puzzle? Bethaney and TJ are friends of ours who race Ironmans and oh, you know, the Hot Dog Challenge! They just happened to move like a mile from my Mom and were also running the Half. We conspired on the next morning’s race while having a drink before parting ways to buckle down for the night.
Up at 4:30AM… ready to rock. (Start time was 6AM as it gets hot quick in Florida.) This is the first ‘race’ of the season and quite frankly I am ready to get the season going. Winter is such a buzz kill for athletes in cold climates. Yes, I know all my Colorado teammates bike in snowstorms and are hard core, I just love hot weather.
Coffee and 1 banana for fuel. That’s all for this one.
My Mom and Richard drove us up to the start and then parked to cheer. It was super easy to jog into the corrals. I was worried because they only had 2 corrals for people, Sub 2 hours and over 2 hours, but it worked out just great. People in Tampa seem to place themselves accordingly to their speed!
After a strange rendition of the Nation Anthem a minster gave a prayer for us. This was new to me, but hey it it helps improve my time I’ll bow my head. The gun went off and within 5 seconds I crossed the start mats. There were maybe 300 people in front of me and it was tightly packed.
I DID wear my Garmin. It wouldn’t prove too useful until the last half of the race as it was pitch black.
100 yards out we took a hairpin turn up over a bridge to Davis Island. We had to loop the island (5 miles) then come back over and do an out=-and-back on Bayshore along the water. A very straightforward course with very little room for user error. As soon as we entered Davis Island I began the task of flanking everyone and increasing my pace. I function very well when I have people to chase down.
The first couple of miles hurt really bad and the humidity was making me crazy. I often thought about walking or giving up. My feet were on FIRE and mind you I had on my Newts (MV2s) with no socks. Danny, do you think you can alter the MV2’s design to include some kind of air conditioning in the 014 models? Seriously though, the MV2’s are unstoppable, I wore them every race last year.
Running in the pitch black really reminded me of Reach the Beach, accept I was on overdrive. At each aid station I was taking water for my mouth and my head.
By now I was in single line race formation with my peers and we were holding steady. I didn’t want to push it any harder for fear of not finishing, walking or death by heatwave. I started to just take it mile-by-mile.
Up and over the bridge onto Bayshore, I started feeling good and there was really no one else around me so I was having fun. The guy in front of me was 50 yards out and the guy behind the same. I saw my Mom and Richard (even high fived her) on the way onto the main drag.
Unfortunately, I know Bayshore well. When I signed up for my first running race in 2008 THIS was the place I took my first EVER training runs of like 3-5 miles (in pants)! The unfortunate part is you can see where the turnaround is off in the distance. It is at that point you think, “Wow, it would take a long time even in a car to drive down there.”
I just plugged away as the miles passed, not looking at my Garmin, but easily calculating on the markers my time. I could tell just by the way I was feeling (HOT) that there was no PR today. Even still, I was proud of myself for not quitting and by now I knew I had a finish in me.
At the mile 9 turn around I had some fire in me and increased my pace. We were on the home stretch and I was ready for some breakfast. I was also excited because I could try and pick out my crew!
First I saw Abbe who yelled hi and gave me a thumbs down. I knew she was going to give me a sad face because I felt the heat and humidity too. Then I saw TJ and then Bethaney.
As the last hundred yards rolled around I saw my Mom and Richard (both with cameras) on a median screaming and cheering. It was pretty cool and they had great seats.
I finished with a smile and proceeded to shake hands with a guy who had been 10 paces in front of me the last 4 miles. 6 minutes from a PR, but it was a helluva fun time anyway. I live to race.
I walked along getting my water, bananas and then… whats this? There was a coffee truck giving out cups of joe! I grabbed some coffee from the super nice gal and walked barefoot back down to my Mom to cheer.
Once we all came in we made our way to Brunchery to eat a hearty breakfast!
Great race and great hardware! Pirates=awesome.
That night my Aunt Janice, Uncle Rob and Nana came over to dinner to not only celebrate the race but also the engagement. It was so great seeing all of them and sharing stories.
Thanks for hosting us Mom and Richard!