As you might know if you follow me on Instagram, I’ve been training for the Gasparilla Amber Challenge 2017 for the last 5 months. This race weekend took place on Saturday February 25th and Sunday Feb 26th, 2017. I left on Thursday morning and I did a post on what I brought with me (find it here).
I had the opportunity to stay at my aunt’s house for the weekend which was amazing and so kind. On Friday, we went to the race expo and it was pretty big. I think it was similar to the ones I’ve gone to in Montreal and Ottawa’s big races. I filmed some part of my trip with my action camera (Akaso 1700) and I’ll make a Vlog with it soon :). It was sure fun to walk and see all these runners and all the runners’ stuff.
I got three race shirts, a Gasparilla bag, a towel and more. I’ll also receive a race jacket by mail in a month or so (I can’t wait to receive it!!). I also found a sweaty bands sparkly headband, compression pants and this sticker to put on my computer! I love it:). Honestly, nobody seems to know 13.1 miles is a half marathon in Montreal and I’ve received a million questions since I am back.
I ate some pastas the night before. I did a 4k shake-out run, foam rolled and stretched before bed. I also found Biofreeze (4% menthol) at Walmart and it felt amazing!
15k – 6:45 am
I woke up at 4 am and ate a piece of white bread, honeydew and a coffee. As you can see, it was pretty dark outside when we started running. Most people were dressed with long sleeves and pants, but as a canadian runner, it felt pretty amazing to race in 20 degrees weather. It went pretty well and I ran at an easy pace knowing I still had a 5k to run and a half the next day. I ran a 7 min/km pace for a while and met my aunt around the 12th km. We walked/ran because we were afraid of the 5k afterwards (and I was SO hungry at that point, it was weird).
I crossed the finish line in 1:48 (6:52, 6:53, 7:04, 7:01, 6:59, 6:49, 7:06, 6:55, 6:59, 7:17, 7:05, 7:43, 8:12, 6:56).
5k – 9:25 am
I finished the 15k around 8:15 am, so I just had time to drink a little bit of water and walk to the 5k starting line. My legs felt so sore at this point, I didn’t really know how I would run the 5k. I felt cold because we didn’t move for about 30 minutes. I figured out I would walk the first km and see how I feel. I walked the two first km and my legs felt good and warmed up so I decided to push through the last 3 km. It was around 30 degrees at that point and I really wanted to finish this race. I crossed this finish line in 37:48 (9:04, 9:07, 6:55, 6:46, 5:44). Really far from my personal best, but very glad I did run the majority of this race.
By the time I finished the 5k it was aroung 10:15 am and it was around 30 degrees outside.
On Saturday afternoon, my aunt and I went picking some oranges and then we relaxed for the rest of the day. I took an Epsom salt bath and foam rolled/stretched for a while. Of course, I put Biofreeze all over my legs before bed. I ate some more pastas for dinner (and pretzels all day).
21,1k – 6:00 am
Honestly, I really didn’t feel well at the beginning of this race. I was SO sore, my Achilles tendon was acting weird, I was nervous and didn’t know how it would turn out. I was afraid that I pushed myself too much on Saturday and that I would pay for it during my half marathon. I was grumpy (maybe because I woke up at 3:30 am). I ate a bowl of cereals with juice, a gatorade, a coffee and a bottle of water… My stomach wasn’t really happy about this (I’ll have to change this next time). I didn’t want to run, but I didn’t give up on myself. Not after all these efforts I’ve put in my training. I would take it easy on the first miles and then push through for the final miles. I’d set my mind for a 2:45 half.
As we were waiting for the start, the US national anthem was played before each race. I saw runners carrying the USA flag, several veterans who ran marathons and halfs in memory of lost friends. I’ve seen two runners in firefighter suits in memory of friends. I think we were more than 30 000 runners and the energy was really special.
When we started running, I realized I had to go to the port a potty to pee (TMI) so I was bummed to lose 3-4 minutes to wait in line at mile 1… I went to the bathroom like 5 times before the race (stress…). I figured out more people would have to go later on and that I would lose more time if I’d wait.
After a few miles, I was so happy and grateful to be in Florida, running and feeling much better. I smiled and I understood that I could make this race a great one. The race was flat, except for a bridge that we crossed. The first 9 km were on Davis Island and the rest of the race was alongside water. At the 10k mark I was so excited to see the first female runner Stephanie Bruce arrive (she had 1 mile to go!!!). She’s an amazing runner and an inspiration to all women runners out there.
Around the 12th km, I had really bad chafing and I took my shirt and wrapped it around my leg. If I ever run a half marathon in 90% humidity, you can be assured I will run with capris and not in shorts. I also took my first Rekarb (maple syrup) gel at that point (#madeincanada).
Around the 15th km, I felt good and I gave it my all until I crossed the finish line. I took another gel around the 17th km. I finished my half marathon in 2:25:14 (7:20, 7:20, 9:08 – port a potty stop, 7:02, 7:06, 7:12, 7:11, 7:12, 7:01, 6:45, 7:23, 7:10, 6:35, 6:42, 6:36, 6:27, 6:13, 6:09, 5:52, 5:45, 5:32, 1:25). Crazy negative splits.
FINISH LINE MOMENT
When I crossed that finish line. I thought about all those training runs, those yoga sessions, thoses foam rolling hours, the 4.30 wake ups & everything. At that moment, I realized why it was all worth it.
I was soooo happy. Even though it started as a though race, I managed to finish 1 minute behind my current PB. I could’ve run further (and faster in the first half of the race) and I didn’t want to stop (blame it on the runner’s high!). I decided at that moment that I would set my eyes on a PB at this year’s Ottawa’s half marathon. I was thinking about my next races before I even crossed the finish line. 😉
After the race, there was a lot of things to eat and to re-fuel. Even if I am vegan, I found plenty of food and drinks 🙂 !! I forgot to take pictures because my brain wasn’t working properly at that point ha.
Post-race recovery. My favorite things in the world include salty hair, ocean waves, running and eating healthy foods (and pretzels)!
On Monday, there was a special issue of the Tampa Bay Times where all the finishers’ time were printed. It’s so cool! I sure wish they would do this in Montreal!!!
Last but not least, THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the volunteers who make these races happen. You are amazing! I am so grateful and proud of my aunt who completed the Amber Challenge with me, you are incredible :)!!! So grateful for my coach, for my training plan, for getting me to that finish line. I hope all of you have the chance to witness such a huge event at least once in your life. It’s truly incredible to see how the human body can achieve anything we thought impossible. Our bodies are amazing machines and are so so resilient. I hope this race recap inspired you to set bigger goals for yourself. It’s okay to be scared. You can do anything and everything if only you decide to put the work. You get out of it what you put into it. xx
Did you ever go to an international race?
Do you think about running when you’re travelling?
*I just added a favorites section on this blog, what do you think about it?