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2014 Gasparilla Half Marathon

by Meghann on February 23, 2014

arrrghhh… I ran for the booty at the Gasparilla Half Marathon this morning.


Yep. Coolest medal of all time. Makes that whole running 13.1 miles thing totally worth it, right?


The Gasparilla Distance Classic is a Tampa tradition. It’s a full weekend of events, starting with a 15k and 5K on Saturday and the half marathon and 8K on Sunday. There are also a few challenge options where you can run multiple races over both days. I’ve done the challenges twice (in 2009 I ran the “Bud Light Challenge” 15K,5K, & Half and in 2010 I was really crazy and did the “Michelob Ultra Challenge” 15K, 5K, & full marathon <- the last year they had the full)  and I ran “just” the half marathon in 2012. In 2013 I volunteered and this year I registered through a corporate team with my office. This year marks my fourth year running one of the Gasparilla races, making it the race I’ve run the most number of times.

The Gasparilla Distance Classic is also the largest race in the Tampa Bay area (drawing in close to 29,000 runners!) and has a great, huge expo to go with it. I had to work the expo this year, so I had a lot of time to enjoy it.


My sister and our friend, Amber, drove over from the east coast on Saturday to run the Gasparilla 8k on Sunday morning. We spent Saturday afternoon watching Frozen (still a great movie the second time around) and eating pizza. We were all in bed early in order to rest up for race day.

My alarm went off at 4:15am for the 6:00am race start (ouch!). Since Kelly and Amber’s race didn’t start until 9:00, they slept in a little and promised to meet me at the finish line. I made oatmeal and coffee, then headed to the start. The 20 minute drive to the start went quick and I was able to find (FREE!) parking in a neighborhood near Bayshore.


I made it to the start with about 20 minutes to spare, this gave me just enough time to wait in the mile long restroom line. It’s really ridiculous that despite having dozens upon dozens of porta potties, there never seems to be enough for the thousands of runners that need to go. I patiently waited and watched all that extra “spare” time dissolve. By the time I made it to the corrals, I was forced to start with the back of the pack.



The race started on time and I crossed the timing mat a few minutes after the gun went off.  The course takes you almost immediately over to Davis Island via a narrow bridge, which is always the worst part of the course. My first mile was definitely my slowest at 9:41 and it has a lot to do with that darn bridge and all the congestion.


I was angry when I saw that 9:41 pop-up. I wanted to at least get under 2:00 (practically my goal for every race) and I knew I had some ground to make it up after that first mile. Luckily the roads started to clear out and I was able to settle into a little more of a speedier pace. My next few miles were between 8:30 and 8:45.

We left Davis Island at mile 5 and started the long out and back stretch on Bayshore. We did not have the best race day conditions. It was hot (68 at the start) and felt like 100% humidity. The air was also thick with fog. It was a gray, nasty morning and not inspiring at all. The gray morning wouldn’t have been that bad if it was cold, but it wasn’t – it was hot.

We had a bit of headwind going out on Bayshore, which sucked. My stomach started acting funny just after mile 6 and I had to make a quick pit stop at a porta potty. I felt much better after that. I ate the first half of my pack of Gatorade chews around mile 7 and, since it was so hot, I made a conscious effort to take in a cup of Gatorade and water at each aide station. I saw a runner go down around mile 8 and I did not want that to be me.

We hit the turn around point just before mile 9, which meant we still had a 4 mile stretch back down Bayshore. Ugh. Not cool.

I saw a familiar runner up ahead and realized I was about to catch up with Meg. This was about the point I ran into her at Best Damn Race a couple of weeks ago so I told her we had to stop running into each other like this. I asked how she was doing and she said just as bad as the last one. She also swore that she was done with Florida and moving back up north where it was cool. I think I might just join her. This weather blew.

I ate the other half of my Gatorade chews and started pouring a cup of water on my head at every aide station. I only had a 5k to go, but it felt like so much longer.

I think this is the point where I should share my running playlist. Basically, it rocked. Usually I listen to audiobooks for my long runs, so it was a nice change to run to an upbeat, motivating playlist. I cranked the volume up at the start and had to stop myself from stopping to sing and dance on the course. It was also the perfect length, stopping just as I entered the finisher’s chute and the cheers from the crowds took over.


I was slowing down in the last half of the race and was getting nervous I wasn’t going to make my sub-2:00 goal. I kept checking my watch and doing quick math. I could make it, but it was going to be close.

I’d been going back and forth with a runner that had “Running in Memory of Mom” on the back of his shirt. On the bottom the dates read “11/20/1934 – 2/16/2014.” The date struck me because it meant he had only lost his mom the week before.  With about a mile to go I could hear him say, “Come on, Mom, we’ve got this.” He was fist pumping the air and my eyes began to tear up. He wasn’t just running this race for his mom, he was running the race with his mom as a final good-bye. The whole moment had me choking up, it was such moving moment.

My music cut out after the first set of bridges and the finish line began to come into focus. The crowds started to build up and I began the lookout for my sister and Amber. I spotted them to the right and laughed as Amber spotted me, but Kelly (who had the camera) began to point the camera behind me, having no clue I just passed.


She did eventually spot me and got a couple of quick shots.


I gave it my all in the end and am happy to report I finished under my goal.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 6.59.26 PM

My fourth Gasparilla was done. I earned my booty!


I spotted Kelly and Amber and skipped the food at the end of the finisher’s chute to join them.


Isn’t my sister the cutest? I ordered the “Running for Two” shirt for her to wear for the 8K. She said she plans to wear it for every run for the rest of her pregnancy.


Kelly and Amber still had an hour to kill before their race so we sat on a bench and chilled for a while. Eventually we made our way to the corrals and I wished them luck.



While waiting for Kelly and Amber to finish, I had the pleasure of watching some super-fast friends ROCK the 8K.

IMG_3347 IMG_3356

Kelly came in all smiles at 52:25


The finishers!


By then it had been two hours since I finished my race and about 5 hours since I had my oatmeal that morning. I was NOT in a good place and needed food ASAP. We headed to The Brunchery and Kelly and I split and order of Bluberry Pancakes and the Greek Omelet.


I. Ate. It. All. 🙂

I have one last half marathon to close out my  half marathon streak for 2014, Best Damn Race Orlando – I’m coming for you! 🙂







1 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs February 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm

What a great medal — congrats on a great race!

Also, Kelly is super cute in her “Running for Two” shirt! She looks great! 🙂
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2 Jen February 23, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Florida seems to have a lot of great races! I need to move out there….any need for teachers?

3 Amanda Elizabeth February 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I love the Gasparilla Medals it is my most favorite one! I agree though it is so congested in the beginning. Your sister is the cutest thing! I absolutely love that shirt. Congratulations on finishing under your time!
Amanda Elizabeth recently posted..Friday Favorites- The Countdown is On

4 Laura February 23, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Sounds like such a fun race, love the medals! And Kelly is too cute!
Laura recently posted..Aero Bar Firsts and Garmin Forerunner Bike Mount Hack

5 Caroline February 23, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I love your sister’s shirt! I definitely would’ve teared up hearing that guy talk to his mom a bit. I get really emotional around races anyways, so that would’ve done me in.
Caroline recently posted..Carmel Half Marathon Training Week 6 Recap

6 Mo (@rushourunner) February 23, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Congrats on a great race! I love that medal!
Mo (@rushourunner) recently posted..thoughts on the winter olympics

7 Cecilia @ MommiesRun February 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Great race! I’m sorry you had some tummy troubles. I love that your playlist had Glee versions of songs! And Disney! Looks a lot like my playlists
Cecilia @ MommiesRun recently posted..Rock n Roll NOLA Part 2: The Race

8 Jessica February 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Great race!

How is your sister feeling so far? She looks great! You both do.

9 Lisa @ runnermamablogger February 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

What a great post. I loved following your run and I felt like I was part of the race. Your sister is so cute. I love the shirt you got her. It is awesome. Great time!
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10 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun February 23, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Wow great job! I love those running for two tank tops – you better bet I will be ordering one of those when I am pregnant one day 🙂
Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Weekly Recap: 2/17 – 2/23

11 Heather February 23, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Congrats on a tough race! That medal is the best I’ve ever seen. Also love the shirt you got for your sister.
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12 Mary February 24, 2014 at 3:27 am

That medal is awesome! So lovely and at the same time so sad about the guy infront of you. I would have teared up as well. Love the top Kelly is wearing. 🙂
Mary recently posted..Ten London marathon facts

13 Runner Girl Eats February 24, 2014 at 6:37 am

Congrats on beating your goal! And your sister is the cutest pregnant lady in the world.
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14 Abi@AbsofSteel February 24, 2014 at 6:42 am

yay, under 2:00, congrats!! Your sister and her shirt are adorable 🙂
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15 Courtney February 24, 2014 at 7:10 am

Congrats on another great race! I volunteered on Saturday at the race, distributing vendor products. Despite the yucky weather (rain included), I had a blast. We went through several thousand products; I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a race that big.

Kelly is looking fantastic! I hope she is having a wonderful pregnancy. 🙂

16 Sarahf February 24, 2014 at 7:13 am

Congratulations on a great race! Your sister looks amazing, I love the shirt! I would have teared up at the guy running for his Mom. We have a race in the UK called Race for Life, in aid of cancer research. Do you have it in the US? It’s a women only race, and runners wear a bib on the back with the name of the person they’re running for on it, it’s a really emotional race, but such a good one.

17 Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} February 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

I love that medal! Great job on the race and meeting your goal!! I love the shirt you got Kelly, so cute!

18 Shannon February 24, 2014 at 8:49 am

Congrats on a great run!! That medal is SO neat! I would definitely sign up for this run in the future. What a funky name too 🙂
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19 Lesley February 24, 2014 at 8:55 am

That medal is awesome! That’s gotta be the best medal design I’ve seen.
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20 Christina February 24, 2014 at 9:36 am

6 am is too earlyyyyyy.
Good job on the race!

21 Melissa @Tryingtoheal February 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

I remember when we ran it in 2009, and Ashley was there too! Ah, so long ago…
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22 EB @ Running on E February 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

Congrats on the sub-2. The medal is awesome! There were so many good races in Florida this weekend, it was hard to pick. I was over at 26.2 with Donna and it was a blast, though pretty humid too!
EB @ Running on E recently posted..Friday 5: #RunDonna Edition

23 Natalie @ Free Range Human February 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Great job! I ran my first half yesterday, and I definitely saw a few inspiring signs and T-shirts on people running. It’s hard not to get emotional!
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..Finisher!

24 Rachel O February 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

How do you like the Gatorade chews? I’m looking for a new fuel. I’ve bought GU (can’t handle the texture) and Shot Bloks (haven’t tried yet).

25 Ashley February 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Way to pull through in tough conditions — seriously heat kills me more than probably any other element. It’s just impossible.

And seriously, could your sister look any more adorable? She is the definition of glowing!

26 Kelly @ Kelly the Culinarian February 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Those medals are quite impressive!
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27 Allison February 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Great job! And Kelly is too cute! 🙂

28 Olivia February 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I ran it & really wish I knew you were =/
My friend & I are running the BDR half this weekend as well.
We ran the 10k BDR a couple of weeks ago =/
Awesome run yesterday!! I finished at 2:13:20 which was a PR =)


29 Jen @ Pretty Little Grub February 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Reading about that guy with the t-shirt made me tear up! I probably would have lost it if I was running and saw him. That’s so amazing.
Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted..Weekly Wrap-Up – MNB Challenge Week 3

30 Martina @ snapshotsandwhatnots February 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Coolest medal ever! And congrats on the sub 2 hour time that is so impressive!!!
Martina @ snapshotsandwhatnots recently posted..Training for a half-marathon – 1100 calories taste delicious

31 Kathleen February 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Totally want to run this one now!! My list for future races is getting longer and longer 🙂
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32 Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health February 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Her top is SO cute!! Great choice, auntie 😉
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33 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner February 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

So many things to love about this post! That bit with the guy running for his mom almost made me tear up.

And Kelly looks absolutely amazing. Love her shirt!
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34 Sara@RunningInPinkProject February 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Gasparilla is on my one day someday list! Congrats!
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35 Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run February 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Michelle and I are running BDR next weekend too. We’ll have to look for you!
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36 Blizz @ Sweaty Confetti February 24, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I moved away from Tampa a few months ago. I always wanted to do Gasparilla, at least the 5K. Congrats on another half for the books!

37 Kim February 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

Awww Kelly looks awesome, I miss reading her blog! Congrats on the race 🙂

38 Summer February 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

I always love your race recaps!

39 Stuti February 25, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Congrats on the race! It sounds like you guys have awesome races in Florida, I may need to come down and visit and run a couple!

Your blog is awesome and has really motivated me to start eating well and running again, thank you! Looking forward to reading some more awesomeness!
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40 Jenn@Mark My Mile! February 26, 2014 at 7:13 am

So excited to be moving half time to tampa!!! Can’t wait for warmer running weather!!!
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41 Samantha Angela February 26, 2014 at 9:00 am

Congratulations on your race! It looks like a really fun time 🙂
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42 Dawn February 27, 2014 at 10:53 am

Congrats on the pancakes!!! (And the race too). I joined with the thought that I would listen to books while running. Any reommendations?

43 Scooby February 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

What a cool lookin’ medal! I have some nice ones but i admit, that one puts mine to shame! Congrats on the sub 2:00 :0)
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44 Tom March 1, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Cool medal! Great job on breaking two hours!

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