Gasparilla Distance Classic: The 15K and 5K

A little over a week ago, I was in sunny, warm Tampa, FL for the Gasparilla Distance Classic, this weekend I’m back in Ohio dealing with snow and cold. I took some PTO last Friday and flew out of Akron (I always appreciate not having to switch planes!). After getting in, I checked into my hotel and walked over to the convention center to pick up my gear. I was signed up for the 5K, 15K and Half Marathon over the course of the weekend. The catch? Only 1 bib- thankfully I didn’t lose it! The fun thing about Gasparilla, is that you have a variety of challenges- The Ultra (5k and 15K on Saturday, Half Marathon and 8K Sunday), the Amber (15K and 5K Saturday and the Half on Sunday) or the Lime (the 15K and 8K). I was questioning how the whole 1 bib thing would work for 3 races. 3 race shirts and a challenge jacket later, I was walking around the expo picking up some fun Under Armour stuff.

I chilled out the rest of the day, as the 15K and 5K were Saturday morning. I woke up early and walked down to the convention center. I had a change of clothes with me, which was a huge plus. Gasparilla has it right, in that they have indoor bag check. After dropping my stuff off, I hopped in the corral. After the national anthem, we were off. We had a small (ish) overpass hill before turning onto Bayshore Drive. The course was out and back and fairly flat. It was right on the water, which offered a nice breeze on occasion. Plenty of people were out watching and cheering, especially at the water stops. Some points, I had wished that they were closer together. On the way back, we took the lower part of Bayshore Drive. Course markers every mile with times. The finish was in front of the convention center. The finish was fairly easy to deal with, especially the chute. We kept on moving, and got their 15K medal, wet (cold) wash clothes. Some simple food, but I didn’t realize until after where all the good stuff was.

Since I did the Amber challenge, I still had the 5K to go. I headed back inside the convention center and got my bag and changed into some dry clothes. It also gave me a chance to throw my medal with my stuff so I wouldn’t forget it. They did have an area to check your medal if you did both the 5K and 15K. The 5K started at the same spot as the 15K. there were at least 5 waves, one of which was a stroller wave. Best idea ever! The course was a shortened version of the 15K and waves were let out every 15 minutes or so, starting at 915. I started with the first wave because I wanted a shower and mainly wanted to be done. After going out and back and finishing, I picked up my 5K medal and headed to the hotel and showered.

I chilled out most of the day, found some lunch and church. Early to bed it was for a 6 AM 1/2 Marathon start time on Sunday!

Hot Chocolate Columbus 15K….

…yup, you read that correctly.  I ran the HC 15K race series after I swore up and down I’d never run again due to the disaster of Hot Chocolate 15K DC in 2011.  Don’t remember said hot mess of race? Anyone who ran or attempted to run the DC race does, but head over here for that race review.  I had been searching high and low for a race this weekend leading up to the Philadelphia Full Marathon next weekend.  My mom and some of her friends have done this race the past 2 years and had nothing but decent things to say about it.  But when you’re bitter and annoyed, it’s hard to say yes.  I finally caved (with the prospect of free laundry afterwards) and signed up a few weeks ago.  The nice thing about 2 of us doing it is my mom picked up my bib and sweatshirt jacket on Friday so we could avoid the expo on Saturday

I drove to Columbus yesterday and met my mom and sister at church. We had a hotel room for the night to avoid a 45 minute drive this morning and checked in before heading to dinner in Clintonville.  Freshly made pizza for everyone before dropping my sister off at her place and heading back to watch some college football.  We turned in around 1030 and were up bright and early.  We headed over to the race and found a parking garage less than 1/4 mile from the finish (a perk after a longer run).  We jumped in the port a potty lines (or lack there of) before heading to the start, wearing trash bags to keep us warm.

We were in the first of 2 waves (with corrals being released evers 3 minutes or so).  We started on time (which was already better than the 1 hr delay of the DC race for an accident that no one could find a record of) and we were off about 10 minutes after the first gun.  The start was similar to this year’s Columbus Marathon course, which was nice since it was already familiar.  We ran along the river before heading on to High Street.  We were with the 5K runners for the first 2.5 miles, where they split off.  We continued down high street through mile 4 before heading into the OSU campus.  Obviously, students had too much fun watching the OSU game on TV yesterday and too much fun last night, because no one was out.  We ran by the football and basketball stadium, by the Vet school and crossed the river at some point.  Around the 10K mark, I was having mild flash backs to DC due to running next to the highway (in 2011, the first 4.5 miles were on an active highway).  Close to mile 7, we turned onto 5th Ave for a while before running on Neil Ave and Victorian Village.  We passed the road by my sister’s place and waved as she was in her warm apartment.  We ran around Goodale park and met up with the 5K runners again, shortly before mile 9.  The finish was in the arena district (Go Blue Jackets!) with downhill finish (I can’t complain!).  I finished in 1:30:25, not bad considering it was cold and we had flurries for part of the race.  I grabbed some water and went and enjoyed some chocolate at the finish while waiting for my mom.  We drove back to the hotel for the million dollar showers (and some left over pizza for me).

I don’t know how DC and Columbus were run by the same company, since it’s a 180* difference in how things played out.  Columbus was flawless and went out without a hitch and DC was a hot mess.  I would probably run Columbus again to be honest.  I admit, I know how to hold a grudge, but I think nearly everyone still holds a grudge against the DC race (and for that, I will not apologize for).  Bottom line, the Columbus HC 15K is a decent race!

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