Gasparilla 2011 Half Marathon Recap

Posted Feb 27, 2011

Early Wake Up

Whatever I did in training this time worked out very well today. I naturally woke up at 3:30 AM, 30 minutes before I set my alarm clocks for. I felt well rested. I got to bed at about 8:30, waking up a couple of times to pee. Close to 7 hours sleep isn't bad.

I right away ate a banana and still felt hungry so ate a second small one. I read the night before that I really shouldn't eat less than 3 hours before the race, but I feel my metabolism burns calories faster. I drank about 20oz of water mixed with about 4 teaspons of Cliff Shot powered electrolytes. I spooned it onto a piece of paper so it could funnel it into my water bottle with less mess.

After about 30 minutes of doing my business and showering, I put a teaspoon of the electrolytes in a zephryhills water bottle for the 15 minute walk there. The hotel was nice enough to leave 2 complimentary water bottles for us. I then did some warming up on the foam roller, got dressed and headed out the door at about 4:45. We're staying on the 3rd floor and another runner was also taking the elevator down and kept it open to me. The lobby had some other runners lounging around. I left straight for the starting line.

Warm-Up and Starting Line

On the walk to the starting line, I walked past a handful of runners...not as many as expected. I  felt early when I got there. It was quiet. The announcer wasn't setup yet and no lines at the port-a-potties. I saw maybe a handful of people warming up. What I thought was the starting line was actually the finish and it was another 5 minute walk to the start. Still not much going on at the start. At that point I starting doing some jogging/walking intervals for about 15 minutes and then made my only bathroom break. I did my dynamic stretches in a hidden area at the corner across from the Publix so I wasn't in anyone's way. Then satisfied with my warm-up, I jogged back to the starting line. This time the crowd was thickening up, but not enough that I wasn't able to jog a bit. 

It was about 25 minutes before the start that I positioned myself among the other runners. I kept thinking I'd need to take another bathroom break, but they had us barricaded in and I wasn't sure where the closest bathrooms were. Some people were sneaking in between the barricades, so I could have done that too. 

Some announcements were being made, but it was hard to understand them. I wasn't that far from the start. They really needed a better sound system. People in the back probably couldn't hear a thing. 

There weren't stationary pace signs, but there were pace runners standing 5 minutes apart, holding tall signs up. I wasn't planning to try beating my PR the days leading up, but I felt very good this morning, so decided I was good to try. I would be beating my 1:50 PR from OUC in December, so I stood in between the 1:50 and 1:45 pacer, but closer to 1:50. I usually start out a littler slower with a 9 to 9:30 minute pace, so I wasn't sure I could keep going with an 8:30 pace from the beginning.

I could have used the bathroom one more time, but I felt locked into the barracades, so just dealt with it. I tend to have this issue at races, but notice the feeling will subside within the first 2-3 miles.

Starting Off

It was about 10 minutes to start when a very good singer sang the star spangled banner. Then it was 5 minutes and before I knew it, the starting shot went off at 6 AM. The group around me starting walking to the start, then jogging. We were across the start, I started my timer and I was off at a brisk pace. Everyone was lined up well and I didn't find myself stumbling over slower runners like I do at shorter races. I'm now realizing that runners at halves are more aware of their pace and don't line up where they shouldn't. This is a common problem at 5ks.

I stayed in front of the 1:50 pace leader most of the first 3 miles. I eventually lost track of the 1:45 pace leader. I still had my water bottle in hand, which I really didn't want weighing me down, but it wasn't that heavy and it was nice to take a sip whenever I wanted to, instead of waiting for the aid stations. I also don't like the sports drinks they have pre-mixed there.

It was still dark out when we started and the weather was nice at about 55 degrees. When we passed the 1 mile marker, I was at about a 9:10 pace according to my watch. The 1:50 pace lead was still behind me, which isn't really good, since she should have been at an 8:30 pace.

For the 2nd mile I sped up to an 8:30 pace. I missed the 3rd mile marker (I swear it wasn't there), so I averaged the 3rd and 4th mile pace at 8:17 each. I this point, as I previously mentioned, I didn't feel the need to pee, so that was a relief (not literally though :) ).

Everything felt very good, from my breathing to my legs. Especially after the 3rd mile I really felt in the flow. I eventually finished my bottled water around 5 miles and started taking one Clif Shot Blocks every 15 minutes. That's when my pace was consistently under 8 minutes. It was exhilarating to be running comfortably at this pace, since that used to be my hard 5k pace just a year ago around this time.

I again missed a mile marker at mile 6 and averaged it to 7:56. I think around this point I felt a slight left side stitch, which I think I've only experienced on my right side, so this was new to me. I focused on belly breathing, by pushing as much air out of my lungs using my stomach muscles and it was gone within a few minutes. Phew! :) 

Probably around 8 miles my right knee felt a bit locked up, but I did some Chi Running focuses and it loosened up again.

It was nice to have some pre-knowledge of common problems and be able to remedy them during the race. I'm feeling more experienced just writing about it. I owe it mostly to the Chi Running book and readings lots of articles and forums on


Along the course there were pockets of people cheering us on. Some came out of their houses. On the second half, there were school kids and cheerleaders from various grades cheering us on. Some even screamed out our names (we had them printed on our bibs). There was some music entertainment. We passed a Carnival ocean liner docked at port. Most of the race course was along the river. I gave a small boy from one of the schools a high five and waved at others. I only saw one person dressed up and it was in a full mascot fox suit. It was funny seeing him try to drink water. There were also a couple of guys running with American flags.

Mile 5 to 9 were going south on Bayshore and then 9 to 13 was north. Around Mile 7 or 8, we got to see the leaders on the other side. It was nice to see them and we all cheered them on. 

Last Few Miles

With my pace constantly under 8 minutes the entire second half, I really had to focus, especially in the last 3 miles. I paced but pushed myself at the same time.

It was starting to get hot around 7:20 AM and I had grabbed 2 cups of water at one of the aid stations. If I had any left after drinking, I threw the rest on my head. The last few miles also had sprinklers going off at each aid station which I tried to go under. Mile 9 they handed out powerade gel packs, which I grabbed one and tucked it away but never ingested. 

The last 3 miles really had me going close to my last 5k pace of 7:12. There weren't very many runners around me at this point, but plenty of people were cheering us on. I could see downtown in the distance, which was right after the finish. It seemed to be mocking us as we made the loop at the 9 mile marker. 

I never saw the 13 mile marker, but knew I was close when I saw Leala on the side and I waved as she took pictures. I sprinted threw the finish, stopped my timer and slowed myself down to a walk. I was pleased to see 1:45:26...a new PR and over 5 minutes faster than my last PR. I never did see the 1:45 pace leader, although I wasn't really looking.

Post Finish

The officials moved us through the finishing area. They gave us our medals and water was handed out. I grabbed 2 and drank as much as I could. I took an enduralyte capsule and had my last shot block. We had to go over the Plat st bridge back to the convention center. Pictures with pirates were being taken and I got to pose with a male and female.

My legs were definitely tired, as I tried to step up and down off a sidewalk, my legs cramped up and I almost fell to the floor. After walking a few minutes I walked back to wait for Leala and saw her within a few minutes. She took a couple of pictures while we were on the bridge. 

We headed back to the convention center and there was bananas and other goodies along the way. Columbia Restaurant served us salad, rice and beans, with chorizo.

We continued into the convention center and hung along and sat and stood at some ledges at the wall. I did some stretches and at some food, while I saw other runners doing the same. Leala brought my phone, so I texted my friend Rick who was also doing the race. It turned out he was very sick that morning and was walking most of the race.

We stayed about an hour and then headed back to the hotel, where I used the foam roller, took a hot shower and then a 20 minute ice bath. Leala was nice enough to fill a pale with ice from the ice maker on our floor and on a second trip, had to visit another floor, since our floor ran out. I could imagine other runners using up the ice too.

After resting, we had a nice breakfast of eggs, Canadian bacon, toast and cafe mocha at a local cafe. We then did some sightseeing by taking the trolley to Ybor. Later that night we celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary at Bern's Steakhouse with a delicious dinner, kitchen and wine cellar tour, dessert and entertainment!

Here's my splits, with an average of the missed mile markers:
30 minute  Warmup
1      0:09:10
2      0:08:33
3      0:08:17 Average
4      0:08:17
5      0:08:09
6      0:07:56 Average
7      0:07:56
8      0:07:48
9      0:08:16 Passed marker
10    0:07:33
11    0:07:46
12    0:07:40
13    0:07:21
13.1 0:00:44

Carlos Vazquez #22537

Age: 35 Gender: M
Distance HALF MAR
Clock Time 01:46:01
Chip Time 01:45:34
Overall Place 600 / 4833
Gender Place 446 / 2334
Division Place 83 / 418
Age Grade 56.5%
Pace 8:03.1
Half 0:55:18


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