I had an alarm set for 5AM on Saturday so I could get up and have a breakfast before I had to head out the door. I got up right on time and was so glad I had laid out all my stuff the night before. I threw on all my gear, put an eggo nutrigrain waffle and half of a flat bread in the toaster over, slathered them with peanut butter, and was out the door. Normally I eat two nutri-grain waffles with nothing on them before my long runs, but I knew this was going to be a long day and I needed the extra staying power of the peanut butter.
I did leave right on time, but traffic downtown at 6 was terrible. The Convention Center parking garage was the place to be, and the line was crazy long. I also had forgotten cash and had to rely on my friend that I was meeting to bail me out. It was a bit of a mess and I caused a bit of a traffic backup for a minute, but it all worked out in the end.
Stephanie and I were out of our cars and heading over to the start area by 6:40, and the race was set to go off at 7:05. We both had to use the bathroom, so we waited in the always long port-o-pottie line before walking to the starting line. We cut it super close and really had about 5 minutes in the corral before the gun went off, but again, it worked out in the end. It seemed like someone was really watching after me Saturday now that I think about it, because everything went off without a hitch.
The first race of the morning was the 15k, and there were about 5,000 people running it. We didn't even cross the starting line until four and a half minutes after the gun went off. That's what happens when you get in the back of the pack, I guess.
Going into it I knew I wanted to run with Stephanie, but I didn't want to over-exert myself. After all, I had a long weekend of running ahead of me. Stephanie's goal was to keep an overall 8:50 pace so that she could PR a bit from her time last year. I decided we should start out a little slower and hold 9 minutes for the first two miles before picking it up a little in the third and fourth mile to just below 8:50.
The essential part to mention here, though, is that the temperature at this point was around 76* with 95% humidity, and while it only affected us in a minor way on the way out because of the shade on one side of the street (it's an out and back course), it seriously killed us as we turned back around mile 4.5. We ran along the bay the whole time, and the sun was beating down on us. It was so miserably hot, and I just didn't know around mile 6 or 7 if we were going to make it.
We took three 30 second walk breaks during mile 6 to make sure we'd be able to finish, and while I have never walked in a race before, I am absolutely positive it was essential in this race. There had been some crazies around mile 5 handing out Krispy Kreme donuts that we continued discussing as the meandered along. I'm sure I would have vomited on the side if I had taken one of those, and I in fact would like to hear someone who did take one and what effect it had on them.
Stephanie decided to walk a little more and I went ahead running at around a 9:45 pace; she caught up with me with about a mile to go and we almost finished together. Had there not been a man coming up behind us yelling "old man coming! Are you going to let an old man catch you?!" I wouldn't have up and sprinted to the finish (and as an aside...I did beat him).
It was the longest race of my life, I swear. I think mentally I was expecting it to be A LOT shorter than a half, and at 9.3 miles, it's just not that short! When I finished I told Stephanie I would probably walk the 5k that started in 45 minutes as a cool down from that. She wasn't running it so I didn't feel any need to run fast.
My official 15k time was 1:28:25 with an average pace of 9:30. It's not as bad as I expected after the complete meltdown I felt had occurred.
Afterwards I got my medal, a bottle of water, a cup of soda, a banana, and a smoothie and walked through the finisher's chute. I couldn't decide how much to eat before the next race, as I didn't want to get sick but I also wanted to make sure that I had enough energy. I did end up taking all of that I mentioned, and while it was probably a little much it did help me maintain energy for the 5k up next...and I literally marched right back over to the starting line...
...where I saw the finish line that I had just crossed and would be crossing again in a little while.
The 5k was a corral start for the first time, and it was more organized than I heard it had been in the past. I was supposed to be in the yellow corral (corral number 1), but they were suggesting that was the corral for people trying to run 24 minutes and under or something like that. I think they had guesstimated a corral based off my half marathon time since I never put down a 5k time in registration. I decided to step back to the red corral for people running under 30 minutes. Remember, I had originally intended to just walk the race.
Welllll...as I'm sure you've figured out by now, I have more than a small bit of competitiveness in me, so walking just wasn't going to happen. I started out slowly, didn't have to do too much pushing or weaving, and started to feel good after the first mile. It was so hot out by that point (78*) that we were running under yellow flag conditions, but mentally 3.1 miles sounded like a hop skip and a jump so I just ran as fast as I thought would be smart with 9.3 miles behind me and 13.1 ahead of me.
And I ended up with this somewhat not cute but very clear picture (that I love) that shows how hard I was working. Plus I look like I'm flying with no feet on the ground.
Looking back I think I could have run faster, but you live and you learn. I don't have a ton to say about this race because it was the afterthought of the day. I just wanted to get through it. It was another out and back, and essentially it was stopping me from going home to have my ice bath and prep for my half the next day.
But hey! It earned me my second medal of the day!
I will say that there were 12,000 people that ran it, it was hot as sin, and I ran it in 28:57 at an average pace of 9:20. That's more than a minute above my best 5k time (which as a side note I really need to run a 5k sometime because my best half marathon time is actually 6 seconds per mile faster than my PR in the 5k), but it is what it is all things considered.
I again grabbed as much food as I could carry, walked to my car, and headed for home.
The rest of the day Saturday was pretty much me drinking water, taking an ice bath, napping on the couch, and being overly unproductive with a phenomenal excuse and no guilt for it. On Saturday night I had chips and salsa and a chicken quesadilla as my fuel for the next day, and I again headed to bed early...I had more medals to earn!
My last recap will be tomorrow, and it will be my half marathon recap. I took a bunch more pictures of the course, and they're actually really pretty and will give you a good idea of what Tampa looks like.