As my 2017 race season comes to a close, I look back and I am really happy with all that I have accomplished! My family and I moved to Florida in April 2015, and I had a pretty ridiculous low-speed bike crash the next month which took me out of racing for that year. In 2016 I ran a few running races in the area, but this year I was determined to pack my calendar with goals to train for and finish lines to chase down! Now that I’ve completed several sprint triathlons in my home region of St. Pete / Tampa Bay, I definitely look forward to racing them again next year, since I have a concrete time to beat.
On the list this year so far, my first race will be in February, where I will race the 15k distance at the Gasparilla Distance Classic Run Weekend which Chris and I both raced in 2016 as well. It is a great race with a really a large turnout, very well organized, and a gorgeous view running along Bayshore Blvd in Tampa along the water! I also found out that my employer offers sponsorships to employees wishing to run one of the Gasparilla races (The weekend includes the 15k, but also a 5k, 8k, and half marathon as well!). This means my employer picks up the tab for my race entry – awesome! I love a company that provides incentives for health and wellness!
Next on my race “wish list” is the St. Anthony’s Triathlon held in St. Petersburg in April. This race has a long history in the Tampa Bay Area, and traditionally attracts a huge field of athletes, including some professionals that come to race! I had my eye on it last year, and St. Anthony’s offers a sprint and Olympic distance, but ended up waiting too long to register and it sold out. I definitely would love to race the Olympic distance this April. The swim is almost always rough, with springtime choppy waters, but I’m hoping with enough training I can handle whatever the day brings.
After Chris and I completed our first Ironman 70.3 race this year in Augusta, I immediately wanted to register for another one! He wasn’t so eager, but he almost always goes along with my crazy plans.
After a little research I am pretty sure our next 70.3 will be Ironman Gulf Coast, held in May in Panama City Beach, FL. I look forward to this race for several reasons: a mostly-flat bike course, a Gulf swim, and its location is within easy driving distance from home. Ironman Augusta’s bike course didn’t seem that hilly on first glance, but that terrain is definitely different from the flat, windy conditions I’m used to training in here in FL. I love cycling, and I look forward to a bike PR for the 70.3 distance with that race. Also, the Gulf is where I do my open water swim training, so although I don’t count on a swim PR for that distance (it’s hard to beat the downstream river swim in Augusta!) I am definitely excited to swim in the gorgeous water again for a race! And I really can’t ignore the fact that Gulf Coast is the same area where Ironman Florida is held, so that race serves to be a preview of what the full Ironman course may hold.
Oh, Ironman. The beast, the carrot dangling in front of me. The full 140.6 mile race that is sure to bring pain, suffering, blood, sweat, tears. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to sign up for Ironman Florida, which would be my first full Ironman. I have an inner dialogue in my head almost daily. “Am I ready? It’s so expensive. Of course I’m ready! But the training… 20+ weeks of training. My family will hate me. I’ll miss so much stuff.” Several times already, I’ve opened the “Register Now” link, but can’t bring myself to complete the registration process. Chris has said to go ahead and do it, but his support isn’t entirely convincing at this point! I’m also tempted this year, because 2018 is the 20th running of the race, and Mike Reilly, the Voice of Ironman, has already committed to be the announcer at the finish line, calling in athletes as they finish. For those of us who know the Ironman races, this is a big deal! I’m super grateful for the awesome support I’ve received so far on social media, encouraging me to go for it. With a little courage I may just add Ironman Florida 2018 to my race list!
I look forward to adding lots of local races to my calendar this year as they come up. Tri Fort DeSoto is a series of 3 sprint triathlons, put on by MultiRace which organizes great races. Fort De Soto park is a gorgeous area to train and race, located on a peninsula just south of St. Pete Beach.
In addition to the Fort De Soto races, there are plenty of other local tris from Sarasota to Madeira Beach, and everything in between, all within about an hour drive from my home. In the summer you can find a sprint triathlon almost every weekend here in Florida, so I’m excited to race a few repeat races, as well as try a few new event venues as well. And if the timing works out well (and my bank account isn’t completely drained by September!) I’d love to head back to Georgia to race Augusta 70.3 for a second time, because it really was such a great experience.
What races are on your calendar for 2018? If you live in Florida, are there any great triathlons you recommend? Happy racing!