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One More Time

February 14, 2014

ImageOne week from today, Little G and I will be leaving town for our fourth running of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. We’ll arrive in Tampa Friday to walk the expo and pick up our packets, and the races are Saturday and Sunday. We’ll run the 15k and 5k Saturday, and the half marathon and 8k on Sunday.

There is no other event I’m as committed to as this one, having run it in some form since 2009. It was the site of my first 26.2 that year, and I’ve returned each year to run some form of the distance challenge. By now, Little G and I have some parts of the weekend down to a science.We know what works well, or at least what we enjoy too much to give up, and we also know what obstacles to avoid so the entire event doesn’t blow up in our face.

Last year, the weekend of this event came upon us only three weeks after racing the Tallahasee Marathon. Too stubborn and stupid to give up on the event, we ran it anyway, but we were tired and sore and didn’t enjoy it very much. We hadn’t run on back-to-back days in the three months preceding the race, so asking our bodies to run 18 miles the day after running 12 was a very tall order. The fact we had just come from marathon training was our saving grace; our minds and bodies were attuned for hard work. But it was some of the most painful, difficult running we’d ever asked our bodies to do, and our times were unspectacular.

This year, though, we have been training specifically for this event. Starting in late December, we switched to a weekly four-run schedule that allowed for back-to-back runs that have been progressively getting longer, preparing us to face the mileage of race day (12.3 miles, 18.1 miles). We went from 8 and 8 to 8 and 10, then cut back to 6 and 8. We built back up to 9 and 13 before cutting back to 8 and 5, then ran 8 and 10 before our longest run last week, a 10-miler followed by a 16-miler. Now we’re in our taper weeks, running less and sleeping more.

I’m not foolish enough to believe our race-specific workouts will make the event easy. I’ve run this enough to know that, standing on the line on Sunday, I will still think signing up for this was a very, very bad idea. Yes, I am still doing this. More than that, I am cherishing the opportunity to do it again, this wonderful, exquisite foolishness.

Four races. Thirty miles. Two days.

Let’s do it.

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