Posted by: Karen | February 13, 2005

Tampa Trip Part 5

We got up at 4:45 Sunday morning, as the Dawn’s Half *M* started at 6 am, and Ellie was running the full. Ellie had run the 15k AND the 5k the day before; she was crazily running the full *M* in a quest for the PT Cruiser Triple Challenge.

Dawn wanted to have breakfast in our room instead of joining the other Penguins in the hospitality suite – I think she was a bit nervous inside, about her race and just needed to be in control of things so nothing went wrong or got forgotten. I know this feeling – I get it a lot before a race. I toasted up cinnamon raisin bagels with peanut butter for us.

We hooked up with some other Penguins down in the lobby and headed over to the race start in the dark. This morning was a little warmer than it had been for my race the day before. This was a big day for some of our Penguins; some were doing their first *M* ever, and there were others attempting the Triple Challenge with either a Half or a Full *M*.

I had brought my film camera along, so snapped some shots of the race start as everyone rushed past. My film camera seems to take better photos in the dark, but I don’t have the photos developed for that yet.

After we saw the crowd run off and were ready to head back to the hotel, we saw Ellie running back and forth over the start line. What gives? She had been in the portapotty when the race started and now that she was ready to start, the chip mat had been turned off. Ack! The officials waved her to start anyway, and I think they just used the gun time for her time instead of chip time. We gave Ellie wishes for luck and sent her on her way.

We non-racers headed back to the hotel for a second breakfast. I read up on the previous days’ races in the Tribune, and then it was time to head down to the race finish line, about a mile away, to cheer in our Halfers. Our hotel was on the *M* race route, and on the way to the finish we saw Wray Jean, Jeannie, Ellie and I think even Charles in the first stages of their Full. It was fun to wish them well in their arduous task ahead. We thought of our other friends out on the course and prayed strong thoughts for them.

We got to the finish line shortly after missing Becky come in with a 2:14 Half time, and saw the women’s *M* winner cross the line. I had forgotten to ask Rachel and David when they were expecting to finish, so missed seeing them race.

We settled in about 50 meters up from the finish, where the cheering squad had been the day before. We had a couple of bright pink boas and I was wearing my tiara again, in support for our other Pink Penguin Princesses. The Full *M* course looped back beside the finishing chutes and we were able to see all of the Full racers head out on their out and back again, just after their half-way point. It must have been hard for them to not just head for the finish line instead, but they all stayed the course and carried on. We cheered for them the loudest.

It seemed to take forever for Dawn to finish, but she sprinted in, passing several skinny marathoners.
Dawn's Half finish in Tampa

I took pictures of several of our Penguins finishing, but must admit that I got rather excited and emotional as some of them finished, and forgot to actually snap their picture. It was an exhausting and exhilharating experience, and I wasn’t even racing!

We cheered and cheered and cheered for hours. There was one Team in Training coach that would run in with his finishers, encouraging them in their last moments of glory, and then run back for others on the team. We saw him run in over and over again. I think he needs to take credit for an Ultra. We cheered in all the slowest racers the loudest, Penguins or not.

I did take a break at one point when I did the math and realized that we would have at least an hour or more break before our Full racers would start to trickle in. I remembered discussions on our Penguin lists about how chocolate milk is a great recovery drink. I also remembered how good Carlene’s salty potato chips tasted after my race, so Marie-Claude (from Quebec City) and I headed over to the nearby Publix grocery store and picked up a couple of six-packs of individual bottles of chocolate milk, 2 big bags of potato chips, and while we were at it, some neat postcards. Most everyone was grateful for the extra yummies, if they still had an apetite. Some of us cheerleaders had some too.

Our last finishers came in at around 7 hours to quite a fanfare. The racers had been moved to the sidewalk for the last hour or so, and the finish line had been downsized to just a clock behind the bleachers, but all the Penguins (maybe 20 of us?) cheered and waved our pink stuff as if they ruled the world. At that moment, they did. They ROCKED!


  1. Karen, I have so enjoyed reading all your reports. What fun you had! And how great to have support and BE a supporter of so many people. Chocolate milk at the finish. Jon would be proud:) I’m sure the experience will stay with you a long time.

  2. What a cool report, Karen. That whole weekend was just a serious of really fun events. I hope I get to race with RBF folks some day soon. And what a great shot of Dawn running down the other racer. 🙂

  3. Oh yeah, and chocolate milk after the race? I highly recommend it! 😀


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