Gulf Beaches, Clearwater Florida
February 2003

2003_0215_132430AA.JPG (325549 bytes)Maurice and I would be in  Florida for the Executive Forum and Sunday the Gulf Beaches Marathon was scheduled so I decided that I would drive up to Clearwater  on Saturday and run it.  The trip was suppose to take 3 hrs and 5 minutes according to Microsoft streets however, I got lost and there were some detours and closed roads so it took well over 4 hours. I learned the hard way that if you make a wrong decision you end up on these LONG causeways and there is no where to turn around. It is very unsettling to be driving the wrong way over a bridge that goes for miles! I went straight to the expo and got my number. The expo was held in a park and it was very small. There were about 4 vendors and then registration stuff. This was held on the mainland and then I had to drive across a causeway to the hotel. The race host hotel was an Adams Mark it was nothing like the luxurious Adams Mark in St. Louis. I checked in and went to2003_0214_163830AA.JPG (320032 bytes) my room to find that they had put me in a smoking room. I called to change it but they only had 2 other rooms and they were smoking. It had a yucky odor in the room. I was not happy. The counter in the bath had stains and I re-wiped it off. The bedspread on one of the beds had crumbs on it. There were cigarette burns on furniture and the carpet. It was awful. I went to the hotel restaurant and had to wait a long time. They only had two waiters in the entire restaurant. Anyhow I ordered this grilled chicken pasta only to find out that they were out of it. Go figure, they are the host hotel of a marathon and run out of pasta. I ended up getting this expensive buffet and not eating much at all. While I waited and had dinner I decided I did not want to stay the second night. It was dreadful. Went back to the hotel and called American Airlines. I changed my flight to Sunday night.

 I tried to sleep but could not. The pillow smelled of smoke and I just could not unwind and relax. There was very little parking near the start of the race so I decided to get there very early and just wait. Registration started at 5:30am and the race began at 7:05. I got up at 4, checked out and was in the parking lot at 5:15. Frankly I just wanted to get out of that hotel. Maybe I got about 2 hours of sleep.  

 The marathon had an awesome start running up this causeway with water on both sides. We ran for the first half along the island. Glimpses of the ocean could be seen between buildings occasionally but actually it was mostly like running down a big tourist trap street. Towards the later part we ran by some incredible mansions backing to the ocean. I have one word for this part of the run: HEADWIND! We ran right into the wind the whole way. It was very nice being able to run in shorts and a tank top; however I think you need to be acclimated to the heat. During the second half I got nauseous and I think it was the heat and humidity. It drizzled a bit on the second half.  They gave out oranges and that helped. The second half was on a paved trail. The hills we ran were causeways. Every time you came to a bridge you went up it-never straight across. At one point the course was run around a lake. It had a crushed surface-like the Katy trail but instead of rocks there were bits of shells.   I had a PW (personal worst) time and walked lots but actually I think I did ok, considering no sleep, heat, humidity and wind.  The finisher’s medal was a starfish that was huge with a royal purple band. Very cool and I think it is my favorite.  

Afterwards they had people giving massages and I did it. Oh it felt so good. Since I checked out of the hotel I had no where to change. I thought I might go somewhere and eat and use their rest room. After the race I had a doughnut hole, a couple bites of a power bagel and a banana. Well I headed towards Tampa and got lost, wound up driving in a circle and ended up at the same place. I started over and figured it out. It was kind of confusing because many of the streets were closed because of the marathon. I never saw any place I wanted to eat so I got on this long causeway headed toTampa. Along the way I stopped at a roadside beach with a bathroom. It was messy but had metered parking and I changed clothes there. I then went towards the airport and got there before I had anticipated. I assumed I would see a gas station on the way so I had to drive through the airport and then go get gas. All the exits appeared to be major freeways and I just picked one. I figured I could just drive to the 2003_0214_171832AA.JPG (321852 bytes) next exit get gas and turn around. Oh no, there was no exit the next thing I knew I was driving on another causeway that went for miles to St. Petersburg! Oops. Turned around and drove back across it. Found a gas station and got directions back to the airport.  Good thing I had allowed lots of time for this. I got the car returned and then went into the airport bathroom and put make up on and sprayed on perfume that was the best I could do. I got to the counter at 4:05 and the lady said there was a flight leaving at 4:10. I had tried to get on that one but it would have cost me like $1200.00 on Saturday night, she told me it had been delayed due to the weather in St. Louis and there was space available. It had been bumped back to around 4:45. I made a mad dash to that gate. Everything worked wonderfully. In Tampa  you take these shuttles to your gate. I got right on one and when I went through security there was no line. They were boarding as I arrive. When I saw the sign that said only drinks served on the flight I ran over to the Pizza hut stand and grabbed a cheese pizza and power aide. I was set. That was the best pizza-maybe I was just really hungry. I gobbled it up while they captain told us we were being delayed a while. As it turns out Maurice got delayed and he ended up arriving about 20 minutes prior to me. He was waiting at the gate for me when I got out of the plane. I was so happy to see him.

medal gulf beaches.jpg (1170868 bytes)My quads are sore and so is my bummer foot. I am getting a sore throat so I am just going to take it easy. However I signed up for a triathlon on Sunday (ha, ha am I nuts!!!) Friday before we left town I saw a sign that they were having a mini indoor triathlon at our YMCA. So I swam and decided to sign up. I am hoping to recover and do it.