Then I learned that MTF friends were planning a lunch get-together in nearby Auburndale FL on the Saturday I'd be arriving in Tampa. This was great! I don't get to see many of these folks much anymore, now that I'm no longer riding a motorcycle, so I jumped at the chance to attend this lunch meet-up. It was going to be a pretty good-sized crowd, including several snow-bird couples who routinely come down to FL for the winter.
At the MTF group website, where a headcount list was being tallied by one of the group, a very dear friend - Kevin - posted that he was going to come up from the Palm Beach area for the lunch. Kevin is the rider who lost his left leg in a really tragic accident a few years ago. I held a fund raiser to help him and his wife, collecting money-for-miles and running five half marathons in three months specifically for him. This was important for me, since Kevin is a fellow marathon runner. Fund-raising is over, but the webpage still exists and is here.
|Me with dear friend Kevin.|
It was so good seeing Kevin! He is his usual optimistic and energetic self. A hearty lunch and lots of visiting and hugs with all of these wonderful friends, and it was time to continue on to Tampa, get checked into the hotel, and go to the race expo to get my race packet.
|Tampa convention center, where the race expo was held.|
|Packet pickup area, at the expo.|
I ordered room service and had dinner in my room, feet up, watching TV. It was going to be a VERY early wake-up the next day. The race starts at 6 AM, which meant a 4:30 alarm, and need to be out the door of the hotel by 5:30 AM. Aaargh!
|Race route, from my Garmin GPS watch.|
We crossed a bridge and then ran along the water on this funny-shaped little peninsula just as the sun began to rise. With the waterway and the sunrise, this stretch was gorgeous! We crossed over another bridge and started the long, boring, hot out-and-back stretch along Bayshore Blvd. It was pretty at first, but the boredom factor kicked in within a couple of miles, and it was hot with no shade and seemed to stretch on forever! Even after the turnaround at mile 9, there was no satisfaction. The skyline where we knew the finish line to be was so far away, it was discouraging.
While this is a well-done race, with cool swag - medal and event shirt - it is a one-and-done race for me. There's just something pretty awful about races that include long, straight stretches that go on for miles and miles with no topography, no turns to make it interesting.
|A very hot, sweaty, and happy-to-be-done finisher.|
|Really cool finisher medal.|
They seemed a bit reluctant to talk with me, but then one of them asked me if I was there.
"Yes," I replied.
"Did you run in the race?" she asked me, incredulity absolutely dripping from her voice. Clearly she expected me to answer no.
"Yes I did. I ran the half marathon," I responded.
I was wearing slacks, a nice top, sandals. She looked me over, taking in the fact that I was, from her perspective, an old lady. She scanned my clothes, my hair, which I'd taken time to blow-dry and style a bit. Clearly she didn't believe me. Then she said, "If you ran that race, you sure are walking a lot better than I am right now." The tone of her voice was unmistakably filled with sarcasm.
We made our purchases, each of us heading to our respective cars. I took great satisfaction in getting out of the parking lot and onto the interstate ahead of her car, my "26.2" sticker prominent on my rear window and in her field of view.
Hah! Apparently once again, this little old lady has everyone fooled!
|Temple oranges, purchased on my way to Panama City.|