Gasparilla 15k Race Recap – Picking Pirates over Princesses

I’ve run the Princess Half races the last two years and had tons of fun, but this year I decided to head a little further west to run the pirate races instead at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic series in Tampa.  This series offers four races over two days and three different challenge options to choose from.  The Ultra Challenge has some amazing medals, but requires you to run back to back races both mornings (15k and 5k on Saturday and half marathon and 8k on Sunday) which is a little much for me!

2015-MichUltra-Lime-Cactus-ChallengeI signed up for the Lime Cactus Challenge which consisted of the 15k on Saturday morning and the 8k on Sunday morning.  We booked a room at the Westin which was just over a small bridge from both the Expo and the race start line.  We drove in on Friday evening, slogged through some awful traffic near the Expo and made it to our hotel.  After checking in, we walked over to the convention center (it was nice that the Expo was open until 8pm) and got our bibs and race shirts.  There were lots of freebies and a pretty great selection of vendors to choose from.  I bought three new pirate themed headbands from the BondiBand booth and got some really nice free ice packs (with little pea shaped balls in them) from the local hospital and the Bucs!IMG_0212I’m not really familiar with the area, but I was surprised there weren’t more restaurants to choose from around the convention center.  We walked around a bit, but ended up going back to the room and getting room service (which was actually pretty good).  I did my normal pre-race craziness, setting up my race clothes, bib and accessories (watch, fuel, breakfast bar) and got to bed pretty early.  Which was good because I had to get up at 5:30am for a 6:45am race start.  Being able to walk to the start line meant I didn’t need to leave until 6:00am (unlike a runDisney race!).

It was ridiculously cold (for a Florida race) and I put on arm sleeves and gloves and wrapped up in a cheap blanket I got at WalMart just for that purpose.  It was easy to find the start line and I was happy to meet up with some friends to pass the time while we shivered in the corrals.

Firefox_Screenshot_2015-02-27T20-19-03.201ZThere were no official corrals for this race, so I just looked for the pacer signs to put myself in the right location.  Once I started going, the temperature felt pretty good for the first half of the race.  It was really pretty to run along the water as the sun rose.

IMG_0232There were a decent number of spectators along the course along with one of my favorite race signs!

IMG_0270_2The course was very flat and the road was wide so while there were a lot of runners, it wasn’t too crowded after the first couple of miles.

Firefox_Screenshot_2015-02-27T20-18-08.706ZI had to make a port-a-potty stop in the third mile which meant I ended up in a more crowded section.  I was also right behind a pacing group.  I know that pacing groups are really helpful for runners, but they drive me nuts!  The pacers are usually really peppy and do lots of cheering which I’m sure some people love but I like to run alone without being part of a chatty group.  Pace groups are also usually pretty crowded, so it’s hard to get around them if you want to go a little faster.

IMG_0231_2Once I got past that pace group, it served as an inspiration to keep my pace up so I wouldn’t fall back and get caught up with them again.  There were lots of water and gatorade stops along the course, so many in fact that I ended up skipping a lot of them towards the end of the course.

I did the first few miles at a straight run, the middle few miles with a 5 minute run/ 1 minute walk interval and the last three miles at a straight run again.  The entire second half of the race had a chilly headwind coming off the water which slowed me down a little bit, but wasn’t really too bad.

Firefox_Screenshot_2015-02-27T20-18-41.210ZWhile this pace isn’t what I want to run (I have a 15k PR from pre-kids of 1:30 that I really really want to beat), I’m still happy with it considering how sporadic my training has been this season between illnesses and injuries!  I felt pretty good at the finish, although I tweaked my left hip a little somehow.  The finish line area was smooth and easy to get through.  I loved these signs painted on the road showing how to get to the post race celebration!

IMG_0234_2I ended up skipping that although it looked fun because we were planning to head over for a quick day trip to Walt Disney World.  So I headed back to the hotel to shower and change.  Here’s my race pirate outfit (thanks Patty for the loan of the shirt!) and 15k medal!

IMG_0239_2In fun news, the combination of the 15k and walking at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom resulted in this mileage for Saturday!

IMG_0260_2Over twenty miles is bad enough, but I had an 8k to run the next morning!  I am so bad about taking my own advice to rest between races in a challenge weekend!  Sigh.

Overall I really liked this race.  It was a lot easier logistically (travel, wake up times, registration costs) than the Princess Half weekend, but I sure did miss my friends who were running Princess.  And I was surprised by how few runners actually dressed up for the pirate theme.  Come on…pirates!  So much fun!  I’m not sure what I’ll do next year because I really enjoy both race weekends.  I’m really glad I gave Gasparilla a try, and I’m thinking I need to come back next year to run the half marathon so I can get the awesome skull medal!

And because this is a Tuesdays on the Run with the topic of favorite post race treat, here’s what I enjoyed at the Magic Kingdom as my post race delicious snack!  It was absolutely perfect with the combination of fruit, nutella and a fresh made waffle!  Mmmmm.  Thanks, Amy for the photo (I ate mine before I got a photo of it!).

photo credit: Moms Magical Miles

photo credit: Moms Magical Miles

My other favorite post-race treat at a runDisney race is the iconic Mickey Waffle!

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Gasparilla 15k Race Recap – Picking Pirates over Princesses — 28 Comments

    • I actually really liked that too. It took the pressure off!

  1. Ahhh Twinkie! We were in MK probably at the same time and didn’t even know it! We headed over right after the Enchanted 10K and were there from about 10 to 1pm. So sad to miss you but glad you got to try out the Pirates over the Princesses! I won’t be doing either next year as I’m hoping to do W&D 2016. It seems so far away but I know time will fly.
    Karen@losingtheglassslippers recently posted…2014 in PhotosMy Profile

    • I thought you might be there, but I didn’t see you! I am SO EXCITED that you’re planning on W&D for 2016! Yay! We’ll have to plan to hang out. Group costume!!!

    • It was a lot of fun. I think you should start a cos-play tennis league. #MillionDollarIdea

  2. Gasparila has always been one of my favorites! I have only run the 5K though. We had my stepsons wedding that weekend so I was not able to participate this year. I definitely want to get back next year and try a different distance. The after party is always fun if the weather is nice 🙂
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…March= Move, Nourish & Believe 🙂My Profile

    • I’ve always wanted to run it and I’m so glad I made the choice to give it a try this year. I’ll be back for sure.

  3. That post race food looks awesome!! I ran the Mich Ultra Challenge at Gasparilla this year. It was my first time running that event and I loved it!! I thought it was a great event. 🙂 One of the most beautiful courses for sure. The view was amazing especially as the sun was coming up over the Bay.
    Melanie recently posted…Gasparilla Half and 8K Race RecapMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it (and darn, that ultra challenge was IMPRESSIVE)! The sun coming up was gorgeous!

    • Thanks! Those Mickey waffles are the bomb! I just adore them!

  4. I don’t like getting caught behind pace groups either. I’d rather go it alone too. You had a great race! I’ve seen the Nutella & fruit waffle at Disney but haven’t tried it.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Waffle Bucks (TotR)My Profile

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one! That Nutella and fruit waffle is definitely worth a try. Erik and I shared it and it was perfect for two people as a snack. It’s a little much just for me unless I’m treating it as a meal.

    • I am definitely considering doing the half next year. My tentative plan is to do the 10k at Princess and then do the half the next day as Gasparilla!

  5. It sounds like Gasparilla was a nice change from the princess weekend. We also ran/walked over 20 miles on Sunday after the Princess Half. I love your outfit and am surprised given the theme, that it had so few runners in costume. We ate Mickey waffles several times on our trip and they always make me smile!
    Pam recently posted…runDisney Changes – some we love, some we don’tMy Profile

    • It really was a nice change, much less “intense” but I really missed my runDisney buddies who were at Princess! Mmmm Mickey waffles are just the best!

    • It is delicious! I’ve had it as an everyday treat on occasion as well!