Walking the Gasparilla Lime Cactus Challenge 2015

In 2014 I had originally registered to do this event. However, the week before I injured my foot during the Spartan Race. That injury caused me to defer, and honestly, I'm still struggling with that foot injury. 

So..fast forward to 2015.

My 8yo son, Ronin has been a running fool. All he's been doing is eating, sleeping, and running.

He asked me in early November if he could run a marathon. I had to tell him NO, but I thought he could handle a 15K and he began training. Once I saw that he was serious, I registered him for the Gasparilla 15K. Our plan was for us to drive down to the race together, and then he'd run and do his thing, and then wait for me at the finish line. 

He had been training so hard, was doing so well. He was consistently running 3-6 miles at a 7-8 minute mile pace. He had his little heart set on WINNING his age group (10 and under) and then 3 weeks before Gasparilla his world came crashing down around him.

He broke his tibia. A very bad break. You can see that it broke in several places. He broke it roller skating on a school field trip. When I met him at the hospital after the accident he looked up at me through tear filled eyes, and his first words to me were "Mama, can I still run Gasparilla."

That would be No. Sorry, son. Your 2015 running season is over. Cry

He took the news like a trooper.

And much to my surprise, I did not use this as an excuse to again defer my own registration. Instead I reached out to a friend, Tara from Everyday Ramblings of my Life and asked if I could do the race with her. We had originally planned to do it together last year, but again, I deferred. 

She was kind enough to say "YES OF COURSE" so we made plans to meet-up and do the race together. She's been doing a lot more races than me recently, though I have still been "wogging" on the elliptical so I was nervous that I might slow her down, and my foot is still really bothering me. But I made sure to wear my Feetures Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve and extra cushion socks, and my new Saucony Triumph.

I drove down race morning with Denise from RunDMT, we parked, went to the expo hall, met up with some of her running buds, snapped a few pics, and before I knew it, it was time to head to the start line!

Tara and I met at the back of the pack and we were soon on our way. She had a time from last year that she wanted to beat, me I just wanted to finish. We ran a little bit, we walked most of it. I told her she could go on without me if she felt I was slowing her down, but she just looked at me and said "we started this race together, we will finish this race together." And finish we did!

I LOVED this race!! The out and back along Bayshore Blvd was PERFECT! It started off cold, but we warmed up quickly. I had carried my own water bottle, but I would not have needed it. There was a plethora of water and gatorade available. There were porta-potties E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. and if you read my Holiday Halfathon recap, you know that the lack of bathrooms was a huge issue for me. 

But not with Gasparilla. Everything was perfect. The company, especially. Tara was an awesome 15K partner. She never made me feel like I was too slow, or holding her back. And I was super excited to hear at the end of the race that she had PR'd by over 10 minutes from 2014!! 

After the race Tara and I walked. And walked. And walked some more to find the post-race food and drink. It was quite a distance. In previous years they have always had the food right in the tunnel, but not this year. I felt like we walked another mile to get our recovery fuel. The walk just never ended.

But it was worth it.

Many of my Tampa Bay Blogger friends were invited to try out Ulele a few weeks ago. I was unable to attend because of work, but they all RAVED about it. And many commented about the wonderful beer.

I was so happy to see Ulele at the post-race party with 3 types of beer to sample. That's Tim in the tan shirt, and he's the head brewmaster.

It was very good beer, and just further cemented that I need to get to Ulele's for a proper meal.

After the beer and the fun, we went to the expo.

At the expo I found my fellow Polar ambassador and friend, Mary.

We chatted about my race, about our other Polar friend, speedy Chris who ran the 15K in 50:17 (that's 9.3 miles....) and I asked her about her thoughts on the battery charge of my M400. 

And soon I was home, enjoying more beer, and resting my feet.

I went to bed by 10pm, and I was feeling good! I woke up at 6:30am, and left my house by 7am. The 8K wasn't set to start until 9am, and I had several friends in the half-marathon that I was hoping to see!

My feet were feeling a little sore, so I decided that a shoe change was in order. So for the 8K I wore my Hoka One One.

I'm not sure that was the best choice. I did size down in these shoes as recommended, but I felt my feet slipping in them as I walked and sure enough, I developed blisters in places that I hadn't even been sore the day before.

But Tara was sore too. Together we kept each other motivated, and pumped to finish the race. And finish we did!

And I'm pretty sure she told me that she even PR'd both races from her time last year!!

This was a GREAT race challenge and I plan to repeat it again next year...with Ronin!!

A HUGE thank you goes to Tara for walking with me, to #TeamPolar for the gear to monitor my heart rate throughout the event, and to Enell Sports Bras for providing me with the most comfortable, most awesome sports bra ever, the Enell Lite got me through over 14 miles in comfort!

 

Walking a Half Marathon Successfully

6 weeks ago I mentioned that I would be walking my FIRST half-marathon!!

Well, the day for the big race has come and gone, and I'm here to tell you that it can be done successfully!!

I  participated in the 13th Annual Holiday Halfathon, and spent 12 weeks following the Hal Higdon Training Program for Walkers. 

I started off GREAT, easily making it through the first 9 weeks, and then I accepted a position with the Hillsborough County Public Library system, and that really put a crimp on my training. Tongue Out

But when you are determined (like you all know I am!) then you will make it work!

For the previous 8 weeks I had been training with my CrossFit En Fuego friend, Connie. We did our shorter walks right after our WOD's, and our longer walks we did on Thursday mornings.

But that all changed the week of November 17th.

I had 9 miles on the training plan, and that was also the week I returned to work full-time. Connie and I had tentatively made plans to meet on Saturday morning, but when I woke up it was drizzling and ugly outside. I texted her and she told me she was already at the meeting spot with her sister and was going to attempt to start walking then. I was not prepared to leave so quickly so I told her I'd do it on my own sometime that weekend.

And I did! But not alone. My 8yo son Ronin came with me. He's training for his first 15K, the Gasparilla 15K in February, so doing some mileage would be a good thing for him to get under his belt.

We decided we'd do a 3 mile out and back, 3 times. That way in case he got too tired, hungry, etc., we weren't more than 1.5 miles from the car at any given time.

We did 6 miles with ease, I even attempted to jog a few times, and looked over to see him walking right next to me. Laughing His walking pace is my jogging pace. Sad for me. But it gave me a good laugh.

His dad called and said he was going to come out and would be bringing Ronin's bike along. That worked out great. 

As we were coming back in from mile 6, dad met us with the bikes. Ronin took off with Dad for a 14ish mile cycle ride. So he walked 6 miles with me and then biked 14 miles with dad. The kid is a machine I tell ya, a machine!

I finished the last 3 miles alone. It was tough. I got a cramp in my foot/calf on mile 8. But I pushed through.

And then for the next 3ish weeks I backed down on my mileage, continued to CrossFit, and walked every single day during my lunch break at work. I averaged about 1.5 miles every day. 

Race day morning came without any problems.

Connie and I arrived on site by 6am. Checked in, and let the race director know that we'd be starting earlier than the 7:05am walking start time. We wanted to make sure we had PLENTY of time to finish as they had recommended that all walkers finish within 4 hours. Since neither of us had walked more than 9 miles during our training we honestly had no clue how long that last 4.1 miles would take us and we wanted to err on the side of caution.

They were fine with us starting, let us know that the roads would not be closed until 7:35am when the runners started and that our chip time would reflect 0:00. We were both okay with that, and off we went on our brisk Sunday walk!

We finished our first 3 miles UNDER our anticipated pace! We were both really happy with that.

It was COLD so I think we were trying to warm up!

3 miles down, 10.1 to go! Right off the bat I noticed that my GPS was measuring a bit off, like about a 1/4 of a mile.

Both of our hands were FREEZING but we were feeling good and strong! The aid stations were starting to be staffed and people looked at us so confused as to why we were out in front. LOL. Don't judge a book by its cover. Wink

We hit mile 6, refuled with a banana and a port-o-potty and kept right on trucking!

We kept breaking the race down into 5K chunks. 2 5K's done, 2 more to go, plus a 1.1 extra miles for good luck.

The course was great and Connie and I both kept wondering WHEN the runners would start to pass us. As of this point we were still alone out on the course.

I started talking about my fast friend Chris (also part of Team Polar) and I wasn't sure if he was running or not, but I told Connie that if other runners at his pace were running, I'd expect them to start passing us around mile 7. 

Well, just as we hit mile 7, I heard the police sirens, looked behind us, and sure enough, there came the running pack!!

As they ran past us I thought I noticed my speedy friend Chris and I told Connie, "I think that was Chris" and then she told me she thought she heard someone yell "GO CHRIS" so then I yelled "TEAM POLAR" but I still wasn't sure if it was "my" Chris or not.

After the leaders passed us, the pack started coming on a bit more heavily. Groups of 5, then 10, and then suddenly 50 or more started passing us by.

We tried our best to keep our pace, and keep out of their way. Connie kept going over into the grass and I kept telling her, "NO, stay on the course, runners are used to going around slower paced people, as long as you stay to the right, all is good." But she felt bad. She felt like she should get out of their way. But I told her that runners don't look down on someone walking or running more slowly than them, as long as the rule of the road are followed, all is good. 

When we hit mile 9 we were both so happy!! We knew we only had 4 miles left to go, and we knew we could do it!! But then....around mile 10....suddenly 2 things were against me.

1) I had to pee. BADLY. And there were no bathrooms to be found anywhere! And we were on a public trail and there were no spots to sneak off. Trust me, I checked.

2) Blisters. I could feel some pretty gnarly blisters develop on the bottoms of both of my feet. I could tell that they were filled with fluid b/c I was feeling a squishing feeling every time I stepped down. I tried to do more of a "wog" and that did help some.

But it was bad folks, real bad. 

We hobbled, we snacked. Connie joked that while all the runners were passing us we were walking having a picnic. It sure lightened up the mood.

We passed mile 11, and knew we had 2 more miles in us! We walked 2 miles after WOD'ing for months! We could surely do 2 now when it counted!

And then BAM! We came into a park, and there was a BATHROOM!!!  Thank goodness!!

We both stopped, freshened up, and went back on the course. Laughing and nearly crying at the same time!

We passed mile 12 and I was so happy to see that sign.

It was right after mile 12 that my friend Denise from RUNDMT caught up to me. I knew she would. It was only a matter of time. She was kind enough to pass me a packet of organic gummies and they did the trick. My feet were killing me, but my energy level picked up. Connie and I also snacked on some cashew nuts, and we could see the finish line across the lake so we knew we were getting so close!

We could hear music playing, names being called, people cheering. It was exciting. There were also a lot of runners who were now walking. I guess 13.1 miles can take its toll even on the most seasoned of runners.

I told Connie to go ahead if she wanted to run, because I knew I was holding her back from finishing as strong as she could. So off she went! 

I kept walking. I will ALWAYS RUN across a finish line, so I had a landmark in my mind and knew when I would start running. I rounded the corner towards the finish line when a well meaning woman yelled at me "GET RUNNING" and I snapped at her "I'm a REGISTERED WALKER, I'LL RUN WHEN I'M READY!" I guess I was feeling a little testy. Tongue Out

But I shuffled through the finish line and earned my medal.

Race results show that I finished in 2:35.

But that's not accurate because we started earlier. This is much more accurate. Wink

I stopped my Polar within one minute of crossing the finish line, while I forgot about my app for just a few minutes while I got my bearings and looked around for Connie.

We kept between a 16mm-17mm, which is faster than anything we trained for. We would have made it to the finish line in time if we had started with the other walkers. But honestly I don't think we would have had as much fun. Having the course to ourselves for 7 miles really was something else. And we need to factor in our time that  we stopped for photos. And the bathroom.

I'd say our first WALKING half-marathon was a success!!!

Was it easy? NO. Not one bit. Was it worth it? YES. Without a doubt yes.

And in case you were wondering.

Yup, that was my buddy Chris!

He finished the race in 2nd place overall with a time of 1:14. Yes, you read that correctly. He ran a half-marathon in ONE HOUR FOURTEEN MINUTES.

Told you he was speedy quick. Laughing

So what would I do differently?

1) I'd follow the training plan up through the last week. Had I walked 10 miles during training I might have developed blisters and known how to properly deal with that possibility. I'd been discussing buying new shoes throughout my training but never did it. Ugh. I had well over 500 miles on the shoes I wore.

2) Buy new shoes during training. 

And that's pretty much it.

I felt well prepared for this event.

Something else that I found interesting was this this race was not the typical out/back races I've done in the past. This was just an OUT race. There was no back tracking. That made it both challenging and exciting. I think in training for my next out race I'd actually do some out training and have the husband pick me up somewhere. I've only trained out/back and tend to rely on landmarks.

So there you have it. My first half-marathon as a WALKER. And I was successful!!

A HUGE thank you goes out to Enell Sports Bras for sponsoring me for this race. I wore my Enell Scuba Blue Bra, and my Enell racing jacket during the race. 

 

 

Walking a Half Marathon

I haven't posted about much of my half-marathon training because I really felt that I didn't have much to share.

There are a TON of running blogs out there on the interwebs. Bloggers who are raking up some serious mileage while training for marathons, ultras, IronMan, and more.

I felt like maybe I didn't have anything to contribute.

But then as October drew to a close and I took a look at my half-marathon training for the month, I said to myself "Jenny, you did good. You did real good. You should share this."

I've run two half marathons in the past. After my last one, Gasparilla 1/2 Marathon 2013, I injured myself. I did not follow a training plan, I just went for it. Bad mistake.

And then after the CrossFit Games 2014, I further injured myself, so running is totally out for me right now while I allow my body the chance to recover.

The idea of WALKING a half-marathon never really entered my mind until fellow Enell Ambassador, Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas commented that she was going to be walking the Holiday Halfathon in December.

Say what? Walking? I can walk. I love to walk. And I offered to join her! She loved the idea, and then I quickly recruited a fellow CrossFit En Fuego Mom who was interested in walking a half-marathon too, and she became my training partner.

We decided to follow the Hal Higdon training plan and started on September 15, 2014.

We did switch the days around for our long walk. The plan calls for the long walk on Sunday, but we both have families, so our long walk day is on Thursday. All of the other days we walk right after our CrossFit WOD. And since we're both pretty fit, we didn't need to adjust any of the walking times or mileage. If you are new to fitness, you can adjust the plan to make the training weeks LONGER so that you feel more prepared.

It didn't really hit me that we were putting some serious miles on our feet until I saw my distance for the month of October.

For the month of October we walked 25 times, for a total of 72 MILES!! We were both floored!!

Then I decided to see what my Polar Loop had to say about total steps!

My Loop tracked 541,340 steps and converted those steps in to miles for a total of 205.95 miles!

Wow.

Double Wow.

And then I decided to look at the data from our 6 mile walk and compare it to our 7 mile walk.

 

Without even trying, we're getting FASTER!!

Sure, it's only 15 seconds per mile, but it's progress!!

This week we'll go for 8 miles! Oof.

I need some new shoes badly. The experts say that you should get new shoes every 500 miles. I certainly have more than 500 miles on my current Brooks, so it's time to go shopping this week.

So there you have it.

Walking a half-marathon is totally do-able. I'm enjoying the training immensely, and have a great training partner that makes the miles fly by!

Have you ever WALKED a half-marathon?