Over the weekend I completed in my 8th 10K and second challenge race. This challenge race was a little different than my last one. The last challenge race I completed was the Glass Slipper Challenge as part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, with the challenge being split over two days. As I progress with my training for Gasparilla (which is 39 days out – eek!) I knew I need to take it one step further by mentally and physically preparing my body for a back to back race on the same day. While at the time I have no set goals for Gasparilla, other than to complete the challenge, there is certainly a bit of difference between going out and running 12 miles straight and running for 9 miles with a small rest before jumping back on the course for another 3.
The weather at this year’s St. Pete Beach Classic was about 10 degrees warmer than the past few years. Typically race weekend has been about 54*, with this weekend coming in at 64*. It helped that is was cloudy for most of the 10K before the sun came out for the 5K. The 10K started promptly at 7am and we took off north on Gulf Blvd.
I ran the first mile and a quarter to the first water station and then went into intervals of :120/:30. My legs were still pretty sore from Thursday’s workout so I was trying to take it easy, especially knowing I still had one more race to do. Having acquainted myself with this course the last three years prior the miles flew buy. As we made the right turn back on to Gulf Blvd to head back south to the finish I had to chuckle when I was just a few hundred feet out from the mile 5 marker when I went into a walking interval. One of the officers patrolling traffic flow on the other side of the road cheered me on saying I was in the homestretch, fully unaware that on this course you actually have to past the start/finish area which is about mile 5 and continue on for just over a half mile before turning around once again to head north and be in the final home stretch. How many runners had he told this too? How many of them was this their first time running this race?
I came in at 1:03:52, just over a minute shy of my PR for this distance, though I didn’t go into this race trying to PR; I knew I still had one race to run and wanted to run it well. Upon crossing the finish line I grabbed a Gatorade and left my 10K medal at the finish chute with the volunteers to be retrieve later after I finished the 5K. I headed over to the food tent for half a plain bagel and half a banana. There was just under an hour before the 5K start but I still did not want to risk eating too much. As I was looking for a place to sit a man had approached me from behind to thank me for pacing him, he mentioned how he picked a runner in the crowd of his first 5K and paced with them to the finish and I was the pick of the draw for this race. He was really happy with his finish which in turn pleased me, it’s the little unexpected ways in life of helping others. Just as we wrapped up our conversation a woman was walking by pipped in that she had paced with me as well. I love the support of the runners community!
To pass time in between the races I tried to keep moving so my legs would not get too sore. As the 10K finishers thinned out, the race organizers started the kids races, which was too cute watching! I think there were some future Olympians in the various groups – those kids were fast. I met up with a friend about 10 minutes before the start of the race. There were more participants for the 5K than there were for the 10K so we headed over to the start chute to get in place.
I continued on with the same :120/:30 interval for the 5K that I did for the 10K. My legs were really dragging in this run, my hamstrings were on fire (from the single leg dead lifts in camp on Thursday). The course was similar to the 10K without having to go too far north on Gulf Blvd and we didn’t have to pass the finish area to get the last mile in. It was definitely getting hotter, and I was feeling a little dehydrated. All of my training runs have started anywhere from 4:30a during the week to a 5a-6a start on the weekend, so I am usually finished before 9a. It didn’t help that I was trying to stay hydrated in between races but didn’t want to drink too much. The last mile was definitely a mental barrier to get over but I stuck to the intervals and it helped having a friend out on the course who stayed with me. We crossed the finish at 32:23, about 20 seconds off of my 5K personal best. I collected a bottle of water and my three medals, and headed off to the food tent.
I tried to eat some of the rice and beans they had provided but I was feeling a little overheated and in the ended I could feel my legs tightening up and felt it was better to keep moving so I snacked on some apples slices and half a banana before taking a walk along the beach itself.
Overall, this was a very good race experience for me personally as part of my training for Gasparilla. Not to mention, the St. Pete Beach Classic never lets me down and I look forward to running it for my fifth time next year!
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