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Race #1: Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k

March 3, 2010

Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k
Bib Number: 875
Overall Placement: 1436 / 4475 (32.1%)
Age Group Placement: 71 / 369 (19.2%)
Gender Placement: 460 / 2272 (20.2%)
Chip Time: 1:22:59 (overall pace 8:55)

The wheelchair division of the 15k set off at 7 o’clock; the open division was set to get underway at 7:05.

I went to bed early Friday night and set my alarm for 5:30 Saturday morning. I figured I wouldn’t need to hydrate a whole lot before this race–not only was it very cool, but with the shorter distance I wasn’t worried about needing extra fluid. And I admit the fact that I couldn’t race it had me feeling a whole lot more relaxed about the whole thing.

I dressed in the bathroom while my family kept snoozing. I had chosen my C9 skirt and long and lean tank. I put my bib on the skirt and a long-sleeve tech shirt on top. I put my d-tag timing chip on my right Nike shoe. I got my hair up, put on my hat, and headed out.

Thank goodness I brought a long-sleeve cover up to the start line. It was cold! I was relieved to see it was dry, but it was quite definitely chilly. As I was waiting for the gun to go off, I noticed pacers lining up in the chute with the rest of the runners. One of them was running 9-minute pace, so I made the decision to stick with her. I had originally thought I’d be happy with running the 15k in 1:30, but this was one of the races I wanted to perform well at since it was my first time trying the distance.

Pacer Lauren was fantastic! She said the decision to pace the 15k had been made the night before, when the team realized that this was the last year for the marathon at Gasparilla and that this race was one of the biggest 15ks in Florida. They wanted to see how much interest the 15k runners had in running with a pace team.

My reasons for running with a pace team, I suppose, were not the usual ones. Unlike most people, who are hoping a pacer keeps them on target for a time goal, I was really using Lauren to keep myself from racing. I knew if I passed her, I was going sub-9 and maybe jeopardizing the rest of my weekend.

With us were two other runners, and the four of us made light conversation for the entire run down Bayshore Avenue. I felt relaxed and easy running at that pace, and really quite enjoyed the 9.3-mile distance. I felt like it’s a distance I’d enjoy racing at, but knew this was not my day to do it.

At the 8.3-mile mark, I remarked to Pacer Lauren that this was the point in most races where I let it all out, expending all my extra fuel to reach the finish line, and she encouraged me to do so. She reminded me pace groups do not demand long-term commitments and if I wanted to finish, I should feel welcome to do so. But I didn’t . . . yet. When I crossed the 9-mile mark, though, I let my legs go at the speed they wanted to. With less than a half-mile to go, I thought there was little risk of hurting my 5k performance, and I finished the run at sub-8 pace.

Lauren was pretty on target with her pace, hitting each mile marker very close to exactly 9-minute miles.

I learned during this race that running with a pace group can actually be freeing, freeing you from concentrating on your pace. In this race, I also really enjoyed the course, relishing in the opportunity it gave me to redeem Bayshore Avenue from my memories of rivers of water running over my shoes as my spirits and my energy left me altogether. This time, running along that beautiful waterfront avenue, I felt strong, and enjoyed the beauty of the bay and the beautiful, amazing sky.

I do have to note that, once again, I was squarely defeated by a costumed character (Santa beat me at the 2007 Classics-by-the-Sea). A runner in full Jack Sparrow costume passed me at mile 6 or 7–a little humiliating. The same pirate also gave the Monkey quite a scare as he and the rest of my family were waiting at the finish.

Finisher’s medal around my neck, I downed some water and a banana, changed my shirt thanks to my crew, and prepared to race again–I had about an hour until the start of the 5k.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2010 7:26 pm

    man i didn’t realize some of these races were on the same day! that has to be tough i am sure. enjoyed reading about the 15k, sounds like the race went well! way to hold back energy for your other races and finish with a strong kick. glad the pace group worked out for you – i have yet to try one of those (no reason, just haven’t).

  2. the Ringmaster permalink*
    March 4, 2010 12:48 pm

    I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, Lindsay. Here’s an interesting one–Pacer Lauren paced the half the next day at 7:40 pace. Talk about holding back! Running at 9-minute pace might have been really hard for her!

    One thing I learned this weekend is that pace groups should be used as a tool. I was thankful for their help but am similarly grateful I could leave when it wasn’t working for me–though in retrospect I know I would have felt stronger in the half if I’d forced myself to run with the 9:10 group a little longer. Ah, well. Live and learn. I’m actually thinking of penciling this event into my calendar for next year! Crazy, huh?

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