It was a early 3:00 am as I headed out into the foggy cool morning to pick up my running friend, Jen and head to Tampa for the Gasparilla Half Marathon. This would be my first time running in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Challenge, a four race series (5k, 8k, 15k. and Half) over two days and with new PR dancing in my head, I decided to just run the Half, since I didn't know what to expect. Jen and I had visited the area the day before to pick up our race bibs and check out the running expo that was held in the Tampa Convention Center.
I must admit, that alone had been an overwhelming experience, with all the traffic, road closures, parking problems, expensive parking garages and people everywhere. But to our surprise, when we arrived the morning of the race, all was calm, quite and glowing in the lights of the large buildings all around us.
We found a parking spot pretty easy and headed over to the starting line which was probably a good 3/4 mile away.
The race went off without to much fan fare and the route was good, weaving through the town to start and ending up by the water for the majority of the race. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and foggy and I couldn't see much of the water for the entire race. Plus, there also wasn't much in the way of entertainment on the course, unless you count a man trying to play a keyboard and another man blaring Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" from his radio as he played air guitar.
The race ended close to the convention center, near the waterfront district and if it hadn't been so foggy it would of been a gorgeous finish. After the getting your medal you were able to take finisher pictures with some actual pirates and then on to the recovery food.
Jen and I were pleasantly surprised to find a local restaurant serving up a warm breakfast, besides the normal bananas, granola bars and water, but boy oh boy did we have to wait for that meal!
All in all, it was a good race. It wasn't as entertaining as a runDisney race but then again it wasn't as expensive either.