Gasparilla 15k Race Report
Pretty great weather for Florida. 50 degrees, very windy, but no humidity. My goals were a sub 48, first place local, and top five overall. I really was not feeling great since the BDR three race weekend, missed a ton of running, and had a terrible diet since then, but I still wanted to go for it. Those three races really did a number on my body, but there's just a lot at stake in this race with the locals only prize money, so I had to give a great effort. RJ was the guy I was worried about- even though I was over a minute ahead of him in the 10k three weeks ago, I have definitely taken only steps back since then. I was worried to say the least.
the race! Gun fires, and per usual, I'm 20th after the first quarter mile. Going 5:08/mile pace. Unreal. It's always so unnerving, since this race is relatively competitive. By the half mile mark I was top 10, and by mile one I was seventh- RJ still behind me. I was second place local at this point, and the other guy in front of me was also at BDR three weeks ago... so unless he's been taking PEDs, he was going to start reeling eventually. I clicked off the miles, nailing the first 5k in 15:57.
The next 5k was very smooth. I went through the halfway mat 24 seconds up on RJ, and had moved comfortably into fourth place. I felt confident, strong, and really thought I had it. RJ looked strong, but I knew if I could keep this pace, he'd have to run an incredible split to catch me in the last 5k. I came through the second 5k in 15:57, with RJ about 30 seconds back.
Then the wind came. I honestly thought it was at our side/perpendicular to us. Wow was I wrong! I upped the effort, and yikes- the splits are just awful. RJ was definitely closing. The volunteers and other runners went from cheering me on to catch the third place guy who was 30 seconds ahead, to yelling at RJ that he should push harder to catch me! I couldn't really figure out what changed- I was still feeling pretty good, I just couldn't will my legs back to that 5:08 pace per mile. The struggle was on. This was a race. My mindset switched to focusing on keeping a buffer between RJ and I with 1.5 miles to go. At this point we reached his racing team's tent and they went WILD. To be honest, their cheering and bullhorn reinvigorated my efforts. I didn't want him to gain ANYTHING through this section on me. I knew it was a tactical spot. $2,000.00 was on the line here. The lead was 10 seconds.
The lead was the same with about a mile to go, and I was focused. My goal time was out the window, but I wanted this. It wasn't the money, it was just the title. I wanted the top local spot. I likely will never have a chance to win it again. Okay, and maybe a little of it is the money... With a half mile to go I was managing a 7 second lead or so I thought, but then Celia saw me and said "30 yards behind you!" How!? I was definitely back down to an adult pace at this point- just over 5 minutes per mile for this final mile on average but he was still gaining?!
A quarter mile to go, I stayed strong. My stride was feeling quick, but smooth and I decided to push a bit early. Not sprint, just a push. After 30 seconds of that, I took a look back and I felt the distance was about 10 seconds now. I took a couple of looks back during the final stretch, making sure to keep the distance the same. I was waiting for a final sprint, and saving, but I didn't have to use it, thankfully. I pulled through the finish in 49:03, with RJ rolling through a mere nine seconds later. Final 5k a 17:09.
1st- 45:34, 2nd- 47:25, 3rd- 48:31, Me- 49:03, RJ-49:12, 6th 50:48, 7th- 50:55, 8th-50:57, 9th- 51:00, 10th-51:16
First half split- 23:51, second half split- 25:12
Final thoughts. Although I'm writing this after knowing what happened tomorrow in Sunday's half marathon, I made a pact here to spend some time getting healthier, working on my diet, and lowering my weight. I need some time off running, and my body really felt at the brink of injury after today. That being said, both my potential injuries and time off will have to wait! There is the potential of more prize money tomorrow! I never learn, do I...