Gasparilla Lime Cactus Challenge Race Recap- Day 1
Gasparilla Lime Cactus challenge was a big one for me. This challenge included back to back runs and I have never run more than 2 5K’s back to back. I have always been a huge fan of the Gasparilla run. If the idea of pirates, February in Florida, live music, and huge expo with 32,000 other runners doesn’t sound like fun to you, well I just don’t know what is wrong with you then!
Until this year I was a Gasparilla 5K runner. Yup, I have run it 3 times. It holds a special spot in my heart. When I started running in 2013 I started with the Couch to 5K program. Gasparilla was my 1st 5K that I ran the whole thing!! I was floating on cloud nine!
Fast forward to 2017, I am still training with Coach M, running new races, trying new distances and yes, that includes the Gasparilla Lime Cactus Challenge! Packet pick up was super easy. The expo is huge! That had a special table set up for the challenge runners and I was able to pick up everything at one time. Easy peasy!
Day one: 15K with a start time of 6:45 am. That means a super early race morning for me. NO problems, we hit the road early, easy downtown race day parking and we had plenty of time to pee. You know that is important! The fog was horrible that morning and the temperature hovered in the low 60’s but the humidity stuck at 97%! The run is a straight out and back along the beautiful Bayshore boulevard. After a few announcements and some special awards given to runners that have run this event every year for the last 40 years (WOW!) – we took off!
You know the first half of the race is always the easiest. There were 5512 runners for the 15K and it was a little crowded at first but then it shook out nicely. The run down the boulevard is beautiful with all the fancy homes to look at and the water on the left. This race gets tons of course support and fans. The water/Gatorade stations are very well manned and radio stations had tents set up along the course pumping out tunes and cheering runners on.
The last half of this course is the toughest. We did a turn around and ran right back the way we came. If I could have gotten my sweaty $20 out of my pocket I could not have bought a breeze! I reminded myself I did not start this run off with the intention of a PR today. Nope, survival was the plan and lots of bling! As you can see, I was happy to cross that line! 1:44:28 192/384 in my age group – top half- I can live with it! AVG HR 166
The expo is open on Friday and Saturday. I drove over on Friday to pick up the packets but waited to explore the expo on Saturday after the 15K with my BRF, Belinda. There were tons of vendors and great giveaways! I love the running towels that Publix gave out, that is always a favorite. Check out this wall! If you look closely it has all the runners names on it! Pretty cool, I would say.
Belinda and I grabbed a quick picture outside and quickly decided we needed a proper breakfast, you know one that included a mimosa! The Marriott provided the perfect place. I am not sure if they were just nice to the runners that morning or gave us the lovely table outside because we smelled bad. Don’t care, the french toast was the BOMB! and it was definitely the best mimosa I had tasted since Christmas!