The Casual Runner

St Pete Beach Classic 10K & 5K

St. Pete Beach Classic 10K & 5K
January 14, 2017
St. Pete Beach, Florida

All of Our 2017 St. Pete Beach Classic Coverage:

Why I Decided to Run This Race

Mike and I were headed down to Florida to run the 2017 runDisney Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and we were going to be in Florida for almost two weeks to squeeze in some Casual Adventures, so I figured why not look for a race the following weekend we were there. Well I was in luck, not only did I find a race for the following weekend, I found four!  

I stumbled across the St. Pete Beach Classic Marathon Challenge while searching online for races to run in the Clearwater, Florida area.  I had originally got Mike to agree to a half marathon for this weekend, but when I find a challenge I just have to run them, especially for the great deal on these races.  The Challenge starts on Saturday with a 7am 10K, followed by a 9am 5K. Later that evening participants run a 5pm 3.8 mile Beach Fun Run.  To wrap it up, on Sunday a 7am the half marathon begins.  In doing all these races you complete the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in a little over 24 hours!

Getting There / the Lead-up to the Race

The night before the race we attended the Cartwright wedding in Orlando (a HUGE shoutout and congratulations to our good friends over at Disney Good Eats, they don’t make them any better than Laura and Jason!) and did not get back to Tarpon Springs until after 11pm.  The next thing we knew, our alarms were going off at 4:30am to be out the door by 5am to head to St. Pete Beach.  We wanted to save on hotels by staying with family one of the nights, so we knew we would have about a 45 minute drive before these races.

Bib/Packet Pick Up for the St. Pete Beach Classic 10K & 5K was available for runners starting at 6am with a 7am race start for the 10K. Since we were not familiar with the area we decided to get to bib pick up exactly at 6 so we would have time to pick up our bibs, find parking, and make it to the start line.  Luckily Mike was able to pull up to the Sirata hotel for our bib pick up while I ran inside and obtained our bibs and race weekend shirts. He had to wait in the car as there was no parking available at this time (which we expected would be the case).  The rest of the expo was not open at that time, but that was okay we’d head back later.  

Swag Review

Everyone doing the race series this weekend, no matter what challenge or individual race you were doing, received the same shirt. There were different shirts in men’s and women’s cuts. The women’s shirt was a long sleeve turquoise tech shirt with the race emblem in the lower left hand corner of the shirt.  The men’s shirt was a long sleeve grey tech shirt with the race emblem taking up the entire left side of the shirt.  Mike would like me to point out that, while he liked his shirt, the volunteers got purple shirts, which he would’ve preferred – can we say runner envy?  We also received a navy cinch bag with coupons/flyers and a granola bar inside.

One thing I would like to bring up about the shirts was that on the event’s website online it never specified how many shirts challenge participants would receive.  I think I have become so accustomed to runDisney where each race and challenge has a different shirt that I just assumed that this race would be the same.  That being said I would not have wanted four race shirts and a challenge shirt of all exactly the same shirt, so I’m happy with just my one!  I just wanted runners to be aware of this so they can adjust their expectations accordingly.

The Gear

It was cool that morning, but I knew by the end of the two races I would definitely not want any cold weather running gear on.  I wore a purple fade out racerback tank (recycled from my Daisy Duck costume for the Disneyland Half Marathon), black and white swirl compression shorts, VSX Incredible sports bra, Steigan socks, 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge Sweaty Band, and Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16. I also had my Fitletic running belt with extra pouch on it holding my phone and headphones for my listening pleasure.

The Pre-Race

We had originally planned on parking at our hotel before the race, then walking the half mile back up to the start line. Unfortunately our hotel’s front desk did not open till 8am (which they did not tell us) so we were not able to obtain a parking pass.  Luckily we had no troubles finding a designated race parking lot across the street and down the block.

We headed to the start line, but decided to make a pit stop in the Sirata hotel for warmth and a bathroom stop.  We had plenty of time to spare, but I could tell I was exhausted from the nuptials the night before and that these races were not going to be my best.  Mike and I made a race plan, then it was out to the start line with ten minutes to spare.

At this point I should add this: this race ROCKED the pre-race bathroom situation. Not only did the Sirata hotel open up its bathrooms to runners, but there were plenty of port a potties for the crowd size immediately adjacent to the start/finish line area. Yes, we Casual Runners always appreciate these things.

Along the 10K Course

The race began on Gulf Blvd right out front of the Sirata and we headed north to begin the race.  I decided that I wanted to try to do 3 minute runs to 30 second walks.  After two rounds of this my calves could not take it anymore.  Within the first half mile of the race I was having some of the worst calf cramps I have ever had (I probably was a bit dehydrated after attending a wedding the night before).  The calf cramps mixed with exhaustion was not a good combination for me and it took everything I had in me to muster out run intervals for awhile.

We veered onto Blind Pass Road right before the McDonald’s and soon the one mile marker was within sight.  At the mile one marker I decided to do 2 minute runs to 1 minute walks and felt my calves finally begin to loosen up.  Shortly after the one mile marker water was ahead followed by race directions for the 5K participants.  Alright I thought in my head, I know where the first water station will be for the 5K and boy do I really wish I was only running a 5K and not a 10K followed by a 5K.  This was one of the pleasant, unexpected benefits of running both races back-to-back.

After traveling on Blind Pass Road for over a mile we took a left turn onto 93rd Avenue went a block then took another left hand turn onto Gulf Blvd to head south.  At this point we were coming upon the 5K marker and I was really starting to feel better, plus the Gulf of Mexico was in sight!   Nothing like running as the sun is coming up with a beautiful view of the Gulf Coast.

Next we did some zig zagging around on the course down by some hotels, condos, and restaurants and I was back to my intervals of only doing 30 second walks.  Mike decided to make a bathroom stop around mile four in a beach access bathroom.  I will say this was the first noticeable bathroom that we saw and we were shocked that there were not some port-a-pots set up on the course.  Before we knew it, our jigging and jagging had us back on Gulf Blvd and heading toward the finishers chute.

We passed the finishers chute a little before mile five for a half a mile down and back before we were able to finish. Wouldn’t you know, in the last mile of the race, I finally was feeling great and was running the fastest mile of the entire race.  We continued to head south on Gulf Blvd then made a turn around to head north for about another half a mile.

Mike realized as we started the race that he completely forgot to eat breakfast and he was starting. At this point in the race, he realized that we would be running past the car in doing this, so he decided to hop off the course (the parking lot entrance was right off the road that we were running on) to make a pit stop for some Pop Tarts and told me he would catch up with me. I guess we Casual Runners just have a thing for making snack runs mid-race! Unfortunately, no Cheetos were procured in the running of this race.

Right before the Sirata hotel (where we started) we made a sharp left turn to head straight to the finish line and get our medals! However, keep in mind, we had a quick turnaround before the 5k, so Mike put our medals in his Spibelt and we went to grab some fluids and light snacks (to compliment Mike’s Pop Tarts!). 

Along the 5K Course

We approached the interval between the 10k and 5k as though were running a 10 mile race (though it was only 9.3 miles, I know) with an extended break 2/3 in. I was feeling great before this second race, so I felt like I would be able to do the 3.1 miles no problem.  This was a definitely a change in my attitude because I’m pretty sure during the first two miles of the 10K I told Mike I was absolutely walking the entire 5K course with the way my legs were feeling. Unfortunately standing around for thirty minutes did allow my legs to tighten up again and I had to adjust my race plan accordingly.

Just like the 10k, while the race announcer did give us 10 minute and 5 minute warnings before the start, the actual start itself took us by surprise. A little more warning would be an easy fix to this event.

The first mile of the 5K course was exactly the same as the 10K course, but instead of running up to 93rd Avenue, we turned left onto 77th Avenue then left on Gulf Blvd to continue back onto the same path that the 10K had taken us. By turning here we had basically cut out mile two and three of the 10K.  At this point I was still feeling pretty good and was doing intervals that involved running a minute/walking a minute intervals.  Thinking he knew the course, Mike decided he was going to run ahead to the beach bathroom again, but quickly realized the course had confused him and we weren’t quite to the zig zag of the course he thought we were, so he waited for me to catch up and would wait for his bathroom stop. 

The final stretch of the course on Gulf Blvd was hot! The sun had quickly risen and the humidity was in full effect.  The last mile of the course I found myself saying to Mike: “alright let’s run to that stop light” or “let’s run to that palm tree” to call out the intervals.  Soon enough the Sirata hotel was on our right and so was the right hand turn to the finish line (luckily for the 5K we did not have to run past it this time).

The SMOpinion

The medals for both races were very similar.  Both medals were a seashell with the respective event names written on them.  They both also had dangling signs that read “2017 Classic 10K” (or 5K) on them.  The 10K medal was slightly larger than the 5K.  

We collected our 10K medals after the 10K race and Mike was kind enough to run with both of our medals for the 5K.  At the end of the 5K we received our 5K medals then moved on to the next table to get the Classic Duo Challenge medals (for completing both the 10k and the 5k). There was some confusion over the Classic Duo challenge medals as the race volunteers were told to only give those medals to participants with red bibs on (we had blue).  The red bibs were for those who ran the 10k and 5k, but were not entered in the Challenge to run the beach run and half marathon as well. The blue bibs were for runners running all of the races. The event’s website had made it seem that Classic Marathon Challenge participants would in fact receive the Classic Duo Challenge medals as part of their participation.  

We decided not to push the issue with the volunteers (they were just doing as instructed and really could not answer our questions anyway).  Later in the day we headed back to the race expo to check it out before the Beach Run.  We informed an event staff member about the confusion over these Duo Challenge Medals and she agreed it was confusing.  Luckily they had some leftover Duo Challenge medals and had no problem giving us one for our bling racks. This medal is the same design as the 10K and 5K just larger and says Classic Duo in the spots the race distances were in on the other medals.

The Post-Race Experience

After the 10K we had a little over a half hour to spare before we had to run the 5K, so we decided to check out the post race party.  Both of us were on the hungry side because we skipped breakfast and on the under-caffeinated side because we only slept five hours.  

The race party had plenty of water bottles, Gatorade bottles, and Pepsi brand pop (yes, I am from Ohio, it is indeed POP!) cans outside of the post race party tent.  I will say we both partook in having some pop between our races for a jolt of energy.  Inside the tent there were bananas, bagels, peanut butter, jelly, muffins, burritos, rice, beans, and tortellini.  I decided to have a half a bagel with peanut butter in between races.  Mike and I both sampled the tortellini but were not huge fans and neither of us had interest in the rice and beans, but from what we observed, both were big hits with the other runners.

After the 5k race we made a quick stop for more water, which there were plenty of drinks available. We made a quick buzz thru the food tent again but by this point everything was picked over.  I made a PB&J out of a half a bagel then we headed back to our car to make way to the hotel for showers and naps before hitting the beach!

Playlist Peek

I reused my playlist from the 2016 runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  As I’ve said before though whenever I run with someone else I hardly pay attention to what’s playing because I’m conversing more than listening to the one earbud in my ear.

Looking Back Now

Would I run the St. Pete Beach Classic 10K & 5K races again?  I’m not sure that I would do the full Marathon Challenge (all 4 races) again anytime soon, especially the weekend after running a full marathon.  However, I could see myself doing these two races (with none of the other ones), which would allow me to earn the Waste Connections Classic Duo.

All of Our 2017 St. Pete Beach Classic Coverage:

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!