Was it tough? You bet.
Am I sore? Oh yeah.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!
The Michelob Ultra Challenge just that, a challenge, and you know I’m always up for one! I’d describe it as a weekend of “instant gratification” for the endurance sport enthusiast. A lot of this race is about the mental preparation. Once you know your body can handle the miles you need to get your head to follow.
Day two was the half marathon and the 5+3k. The hour earlier start time meant waking up at 3:30am. My legs were felt surprisingly well after yesterday (thank you compression socks) and besides a blister on my little toe I was in pretty good shape.
We got to Tampa around 5:00am and met up with Meghan who was running the Beck’s Light challenge this weekend. Turns out the forecast was right and at about 5:30am the “torrential downpour” and lightning began. The race staff was making announcements saying that the race 6:00am race start had not been postponed but to stay inside the convention center while they made a decision. I thought surely they’d push the start back. Patrick took this oportunity to
sleep mentally prepare…
Fifteen minutes later they announced that the storm had passed and it had mostly stopped raining. With that, we made our way to the start line.
I was back and forth all morning about bringing a trash bag and in the end just forgot about it. I really wish I hadn’t. It was still raining as we crossed the bridge to the start line. Luckily, there was a roll of trash bags in the post race area so I grabbed one, tore a hole in the top and put it on. It was glorious. I instantly warmed up.
The rain stopped a few minutes later and stayed away all day. I absolutely cannot believe how different the weather was today from yesterday. Yesterday was humid and hot and today was stormy, windy and cool. The rain brought Florida’s version of a cold front with it and the skies were overcast from the storm. It made for much better running weather.
Patrick and I planned to run the two races today together. As I mentioned neither of us had a time goal and just wanted to enjoy the run. The course starts out with a bottle neck to get you over the bridge and onto Davis Island. This is definitely not the race to PR. We were jammed up for the first 2 or 3 miles.
We did about 5 miles back on Davis Island then crossed a bridge back to Bayshore boulevard. The rest of the course was the same as yesterday’s 15k.
The winds were really strong today and we had a head wind for a lot of the race. Going through water stops were hilarious with empty cups flying around from wind gusts. It looked like a paper cup tornado. My pace was a bit slower than yesterday at about 11:30 minute miles.
I hit a pretty hard wall from about miles 8-10. I think all of this week finally caught up to me all at once. I’ve put a little over 60 miles on these legs in the last 7 days and they’d had about enough. I opt’d to leave my iPod in my checked gear to keep it dry and I think that made the wall even tougher to get through. Patrick offered me his iPod to get myself out of my head and back into the race. He knows me well. It was exactly what I needed. I also had a peanut butter Gu.
The last few miles were a lot easier for me. After crossing the finish line I had planned to go get a Cliff bar out of checked bag before getting back to the start line for the 5+3k. I was starving and Gatorade and Gu just wasn’t enough to keep me going. I’d burned well over 1000 calories on that run and needed to refuel if I had any chance of enjoying the next race.
When we got our medals a volunteer told us we should make our way over to the start line. The convention center was too long of a walk to be able to get there and back with the post-race crowds. That meant I wouldn’t be able to get to my checked gear.
I took a deep breath and head to the start. I was literally running on fumes. If anything was going to get me through the next 5 miles it would be sheer determination.
I had absolutely no time to stop and think about the next race. I reset my Garmin put my Half Marathon medal in my Spibelt and started to run. I was feeling really exhausted at this point but there really was no turning back. I was so close to finishing the Michelob Ultra Challenge!
After less than a mile of feeling beaten down I turned to Patrick and told him I needed to change my attitude, and that I did.
The rest of this 5+3k was one of the best times I’ve ever had at a race. Patrick and I ran, walked, laughed, danced and made friends with all the other crazy Ultra runners out there. Everyone had hit that exhausted point and we all just wanted to enjoy the last few miles of our race weekend.
I felt pretty emotional coming across the finish line. Probably largely due to the fact that I was hungry enough to eat my own arm but also because this was a big test of physical and mental strength for me. I was proud of myself and Patrick for completing the challenge.
Half Marathon- 2:36:11
I can’t say thank you enough to all of the Race Staff, Volunteers and other runners out there this weekend. Gasparilla puts on one heck of an event and I had a blast!