It felt good to get back out and race at the Gasparilla Half-Marathon. My last race was the NYC Marathon in November, and that already feels like a long time ago. I wanted to get the nerves going and put myself into that racing mentality once before toeing the line in London in April. It also forced me to take a few easy days during the middle of a long 14 week training bloc.
The Gasparilla race organizers did a tremendous job. It was the first time the race has offered elite prize money in many years, but with a very experienced group leading the way, every aspect of the weekend went without a hiccup. The course could definitely be fast under different weather conditions, but warmth is a risk you run in Florida. I don't know the exact temperature at the start of the race, but I know they made an announcement at 5:00 AM that it was 69 degrees with 95% humidity, so by the 6:00 AM start rolled around I imagine it was in the low 70s. Racing at 6:00 AM made the experience interesting as a good portion of the race was in the dark. Coming from the Pacific time zone, I was essentially waking up at 12:30 AM my body time for the race, with the gun going off at 3:00 AM my body time. That is a normal part of road racing and traveling. Fortunately I was tired enough after the race to go to bed at 8:00 that evening so I could wake up at 4:15 for a short run before heading to the airport. I was assuming I'd have the Bayshore jogging path to myself at that time, but I was wrong. Tampanians get it done!
The majority of the athletes were concerned about the warm conditions and went out conservatively. Jeffrey Eggleston and Abdi Abdirahman set their own pace and put 20 to 25 seconds on the field in the first couple of miles. For a while we had a chase pack that included Bobby Curtis, Fernando Cabada, and Carlos Trujillo. Eventually it was Bobby Curtis and I chasing down the leaders after some footwear trouble for Cabada. They had aid stations every mile, and I tried to either drink or dump water on myself at every single aid station to help keep my temperature down. At mile 9 I felt comfortable pushing the pace, having confidence that I could go for 4 miles without burning myself up. After catching Eggleston around mile 11, I was in striking distance of Abdi, and got to him with about 2km to go. I wanted to make a decisive move by him, but I had a great deal of trouble shaking him until the last couple minutes of the race. Winning the race is a real confidence booster for my last 7 weeks of training before London. The overall time was slow, but given the conditions I am happy that I could close down the last 4 miles, really pushing the last mile. Because the first 9 miles were only slightly faster than marathon pace, my legs should recover much quicker than after a maxed out half-marathon. The effort was still very high, but the temperatures did not allow myself to the thrash my legs as badly as I could have. With that said, my legs do feel pretty beat up as I type this right now. A good portion of that could be the long travel back from Florida, so hopefully I'll bounce back quickly. I've put my morning run off for long enough now, so thanks again for reading. My weekly log is below, and follow me here on twitter for more training updates.
|Tuesday||14||6 + drills and grass strides||30 minutes||20|
|Wednesday||5.5||10 x 1 km 2:56-2:57 w/ 1 min recovery||19|
|Saturday||6 + drills and strides||off||6|
|Sunday||Race Gasparilla Half-Marathon||20|