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Gasparilla Half Marathon: Race Beggars Cant Be Race Choosers

I happily ran the Gasparilla Half Marathon this weekend. For those who dont know, The Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa is a series of 4 races over the course of 2 days, and is THE big event when it comes to Tampa running. It was not on my running calendar at all. You see, every time I complete a significant race, I always make it a point to look at upcoming races target a few, make a wishlist, and try to figure out whats next for me.

What I had originally wanted to run

Following the Gainesville Marathon, I did it again. I made my list of races with handy prices next to them. It was far too late to register for the Gasparilla Half so that was not a point of consideration at all. Top on the list was the Dances With Dirt Ultra Race in Dade City which at the time cost only 60$. I thought it was a time to take a step up and make a foray into the ultra race scene, and with a month in between the marathon and the race date, there was enough to get a good long training run or 2 in and do a 50K. I was sure of it. I just didnt have the cash.

Once again I went to my mom, worried she would be frightened by the distance, I tried to slip it in over text. Not so much. She wouldnt do it. Too much too soon. I tried to convince her I could do it and although she conceded that point, she worried about injury and was not going to have it. I felt disappointed in the way a little kid who asks for a toy gets disappointed even though they know dont deserve it. I also felt disappointed in the lack of control I had over the situation. If I had the 60$, it would never had been a conversation. I would have plunked it down and trained up and I would be 3 weeks out from my first ultra race.  But it was out of the question and it gnawed at me, which brings up a larger point.

I hate having to ask my parents for help paying for races. I hate that I just cant run distance races every so often for training or fun like I hear so many other runners say on race day. Although I love to compete, it would be great to not think about that stuff every once a while, but I really cant afford it. I guess mostly,  I hate that I cant just put down $20-25 and get to experience the joy of competing or having fun. Its a lack of freedom, that can be very constraining. Yes I have read the article in a runners magazine which broke down race fees, and it all made sense to me (although I think keener eyes could pare it down some), but I just want dont want my growth as a runner to be stunted by rising race costs. It is not quite at that at level yet, but its heading there.

This time around, I probably was not ready for that 50k anyway. My mother was probably right. She couldnt speak to the specifics of why because she is not a runner, but I knew that I should take more time to build my endurance to get there. Still, that disappointment was there to a big degree. Nobody likes being told no, even when they are wrong to ask in the first place. My disappointment was mollified quite a bit when my mother offered to sponsor me for one more distance race. The Gasparilla Half Marathon.

Th irony is that the Gasparilla Half Marathon was more expensive then the race I was asking her to sign me up for.  Significantly more. Still she felt more comfortable with the distance, and it was a race she knew, so she was willing to pay for it. I understood her logic, however bizarre and largely unspoken. I couldnt say no. Race beggars cant be race choosers. I shut up, happily accepted the offer and tried to wrap my brain around the half marathon that was only a couple of weeks away.

Tampa does an excellent job with this race

I ran Gasparilla early this Sunday morning and destroyed it. My previous half marathon time was 1 hr 42 minutes, and this one I ran in 1 hr and 36 minutes. A pr by more than 6 minutes and a 7:20 pace which was way quicker than I thought it would be. Especially considering how busy the whole weekend had been for me. When somebody helps you out with race fees this generously, it becomes paramount to run your race extra well. I felt no particular pressure or anything, but a different level of happiness is added on that you took advantage of a good opportunity.

Start of the half, crappy weather cleared up before the race began making it a perfect day for a new PR

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day


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