Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tampa & the Gasparilla Distance Classic

Last weekend Lauren and I got the winter weather break we much needed in the form of a trip to Tampa, FL for the Gasparilla Distance Classic. It was our second annual trip to the event as pace group leaders. This event has four races packed into two days with total participation well above 26,000. They have a 15K and 5K on Saturday and a half marathon and 8K on Sunday (last year was the last running of the marathon distance race). I was only supposed to pace the 15k and the 1/2 marathon but my foot has been feeling pretty much healed up so when we were asked to pace the 8K it was a no brainer! I continue to be very impressed with the organization of the race as well as the INCREDIBLE expo and the free Michelob Ultra's post race.

We had a great group of pacers and I met some incredible people over the 27.4 miles I covered. One thing that was interesting was that nearly EVERYONE I spoke to was not native to Florida! I always thought Florida was full of "snow birds", but there people of all ages that have permanently fled the northern winters for the warmth of the South. The 6am start of the 1/2 marathon had us up bright and early, but it was great to get started before the sunny 85 degree heat of the day. Here's our crew assembling for the 1/2 marathon.

We had a great view from our hotel looking over the river and into the bay. We were treated to watching some rowing crew's practice, a ray sighting as well as some dolphins! We spend the day on Saturday soaking up the warm sun next to the pool. This shot is looking out onto the University of Tampa campus.
On Sunday after we had lunch and visited with Lauren's dad and Jean we headed over to St. Petersburg to check out the beaches and grab some dinner. We stopped at St. Pete Beach and put our feet into the Gulf then headed over to the bay side to scope out the scenery. On our way out of St. Pete Beach we were stopped for a drawbridge opening to let two sailboats through.
While stopped we had a great view of the bay and all of the activity. Still seemed funny to us that all of these people were out on the water, swimming in the ocean, etc and it was FEBRUARY! In the picture below you can see Tropicana Field, the home of the Tamba Bay Ray's MLB team.
In the far distance you can see the high rise buildings of downtown Tampa which is where we stayed for the race.
So then it was time to return to reality. Our plane landed to a rainy, dark 40 degree day...bummer! On the bright side the days are getting longer and the temps during the day are getting higher, so Spring is on the way. Those few days in the sun will definitely be what I need to get me through to Spring.
The kids had a great time with their cousins and with Mom mom. Lauren and I are truly thankful and indebted to Carolyn and Mike and my mom for letting us sneak away. They were so excited to see us and tell us about all they did and all the fun they had!
Lauren was off of work yesterday, so I decided to take my first bike commute to work of the year. It's light until nearly 6pm now, so I took the long way home and enjoyed some time on the roads.
My legs were shot after the weekend of pacing, two hours on the trainer on Monday, 10 miles of speedwork and a day of bike commuting yesterday. I was glad to once again spend some time with my Recovery Pump last night. What an incredible product!
March will be a big training month as I prepare for the Tour of the Battenkill and get back to running form for Boston. Hopefully also making a return to swimming as I gear up for Rev3 Quassy Olympic Distance and Half Iron Distance races in June.


  1. So glad that you both had a great trip! :)

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