So, I’m still on the fence about this whole Glass SlipperChallenge thing. On the one hand, I really want to do it. On the other hand, it’s FREAKING expensive. runDisney hasn’t actually released pricing info yet… but trust V – it’ll be FREAKING expensive, no matter how Fuzzy the math. And there’s this other “little” race series going on the same weekend – the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Located just on the other side of Tampa Bay from me. Gasparilla ain’t cheap… but it’s not as FREAKING expensive as the Glass Slipper Challenge.
There are medals. Cute, Disney-themed ones for Princess weekend, most likely featuring a way-cool shoe on the mac daddy (RIP Chris Kelly) Glass Slipper medal. Gasparilla, though, features pirate medals. Four different races’ worth of pirates. I like pirates.
Meanwhile, in the midst of my indecisiveness… I finally ran a 10K race! This is a pretty big deal because 10Ks are few and far between ‘round here. I only came across a couple options last year, none of which fit into my schedule. So I had no proof of time to submit for any runDisney races. Which, if you’ve been reading along, you know didn’t much matter – I’ve had insanely good luck with corral placement. Seems runDisney uses some Fuzzy brand of pace estimate math.
Anyway, knowing that luck must, eventually, run out, I figured I’d best get an official 10K time on record for my upcoming races and ran Florida Gulf Beaches Road Races’ Partners for Life Police Appreciation 10K. In a word, it was FANTASTIC!
I’ve heard many good things about Florida Road Races and the most excellent events they put on and I can now add my own positive review. From start to finish, this was an incredibly well organized affair. Even if we did all run the wrong direction… more on that in a bit.
I went to packet pick-up at Fit2Run in St. Petersburg the day before the race – what a great shop they’ve got there! I purposely went straight to the race table and did not detour to look at anything because I’m on a tight budget and not in need of anything… but I’ll definitely go back when I’m once again solvent! Grabbing my bib and swag was quick, easy and pleasant. I love a great swag bag and I was not let down with this one:
The next morning, I got up and out the door on time and made it to the St. Petersburg waterfront about 45 minutes before start time. This wound up being perfect, as I got a nice warm-up walk from my car to the start area, grabbed my timing chip, hit the restroom and still had time to stretch and jog a little. And take some pictures, natch.
|Sunrise at the soon-to-be-demolished Pier|
There were almost 500 of us doing the 10K (there were also 5K and 1 mile races to follow), which felt big enough to be a “real” race but small enough that there was never any overcrowding. I’m never sure where to place myself in these un-corralled races; I’m not a walker, though I do run/walk intervals, but I’m certainly not a fast runner, either. I opted to start just forward of what looked like the walkers, who were asked to start in the far back. It seemed to work well – I mostly stayed with the same small group of folks through most of the race.
The course was really, really nice – we started in Demens Landing park, beside the Police Memorial, took a jog down the famous Pier, cruised along St. Petersburg’s gorgeous waterfront, ran down Beach Drive, went past the marina, and back to Demens Landing for the finish.
It was a superbly beautiful morning: sunny, but cool. I had a time goal in mind of sub-1:20:00. I have to admit, it was hard to stay focused on that because it was just soooo nice out there – I could easily have fallen into a lengthy walk, just to take it all in. I stuck to my intervals, though, and stayed on pace, though I did make sure to thank each and every police officer on race course duty. Many of us did. I think the bombings in Boston were still fresh in all of our minds and we were all a lot more aware of and thankful for the fine folks in uniform.
Around the 4 mile mark, I started losing steam. Totally normal; miles 4-6 are always the hardest for me in any long run. I tend toward hypoglycemia to start and running causes my blood sugar to drop fast; I may be the only person out there digging into some Honey Stinger chews on a 10K course, but man – what a difference some glucose makes. By mile 5, I was feeling strong again and started skipping as many walk intervals as I could without over-doing it. I really, really wanted to empty the tank completely and give it my all… but I still had a ¾ mile walk to my car… and groceries to buy… and laundry to do… and Leo’s science project to supervise… Running ‘til I dropped simply wasn’t a viable option. Such is the life of a Mother Runner. It was about the time that I was debating whether or not to go all out that I realized I’d been running alongside the same woman near whom I’d ended up running in several other local races. I introduced myself and vice-versa and we chatted for a bit before focusing our efforts on the finish line.
In the end, I finished with a chip time of 1:16:24 – beating my goal by more than three and a half minutes! My new race pal had finished just before me and we chatted some more as we walked and cooled off. I really enjoyed chatting with you, Karen, and look forward to seeing you again!
As an added bonus, I randomly ran into an old friend while waiting in the timing chip line. We caught up some after the race and are back in touch after many years. Yay!
I wasn’t able to stay long after the race, as Leo was home alone and that list of Mom-duties was awaiting my return. But as I headed back to my car, I overheard this from the award announcements:
“Show of hands – how many of you saw the fronts of the mile marker signs?”
“And how many of you saw the backs of the mile marker signs?”
Many, many hands.
“That’s because you guys ran the race BACKWARDS!”
Oh well – it was the same distance, regardless! But a pretty entertaining end to a very fun race. :)
Final thoughts? I’m very much looking forward to my next Florida Road Races event, the HalloweenHalfathon in late October. I don’t love the 10K distance; just as I hit my distance groove, the race is over. But since this was my first, I’m not ruling out future 10Ks. Which brings me back to that Glass Slipper Challenge…