Not many people know that the Gasparilla Stroller Roll was my first official chipped race. In fact, it was my daughter’s first race too. At only 3 months old, she was the youngest participant in the stroller roll that year. She was just a ball of infant rolls and spit up at that point.
Quite a lot has changed since that #GRW12.
For starters, I don’t get quite that red when I run 5k’s anymore. And now my daughter is old enough to actually run by herself. So when I signed up for this year’s Gasparilla Stroller Roll, I was so excited for my toddler to participate and actually understand that this is what it’s all about.
I registered us online just two weeks before race weekend. I had asked my hubby if he wanted to run, but his knee is shot, so he declined, which I support one hundred percent. My girlfriend texted me a day or two afterwards to see if I would be running the 5k this year. She was wanting to run it with her two girls and was looking for a run buddy. Naturally, I was excited to have another mother runner to team up with.
I volunteered to pick up our bibs from the 8 On Your Side Health and Fitness Expo. It’s my absolute favorite expo. If you’ve never been through this expo, I strongly urge you to come check it out next year. It’s the one expo that I look forward to every year. It has the largest selection of vendors, several samples & freebies, and plenty of merchandise to tempt your wallet. I splurged on a couple pair of Balega socks and some head bands. There was a little confusion when I picked up my bib. The volunteer couldn’t find it where it was supposed to be. I waited patiently while he searched thru the files of bibs and registration packets. After 10 minutes he just directed me to another booth where I was handed a secondary bib. No big deal.
We woke up Saturday morning at a very unusual time – for me at least. I’ve grown so accustomed to early morning wakeup calls for race mornings. This 7:00am wakeup was slightly foreign to me.
We were able to gather ourselves together and head out the door by 8am. The stroller roll was slotted to begin at 9:50 so we still had plenty of time.
We easily found parking and immediately met up with my girlfriend, Heidi, and her doubler stroller with her two girls snuggled cozily under a blanket. The weather wasn’t necessarily cold, but it was overcast and muggy.
Her girls are 3 and 6 months. We lined up for the corals when we heard the announcement over the loud speaker. There was a large quantity of stroller rollers lined up in the corral with us. We were packed in the corral like sardines.
We listened to the National Anthem, then we readied ourselves and our little ones for departure. Once the masses were released onto the course, we attempted to run, but the large crowd of runners and walkers kept us from picking up pace. Eventually, we found little pockets of space to occupy that would allow us to increase our speed to a comfortable jog. All three of the girls were doing great too. Rosalyn was comfortably propped up in the BOB with her sippy cup and a snack pack of blueberries. I figured that would keep her happy for 3.1 miles.
Into the first mile, Heidi’s oldest wanted to get out and run a little while, so we pulled over to let her out of the stroller; I figured that I’d do the same with Rosalyn. Soon enough, both our girls were happily trotting along with us down Bayshore Blvd. They were so excited and overwhelmed by the energy around them. Unfortunately, the bliss didn’t last long. Both the girls started whining and wanting back inside the strollers within minutes. The transitions ate up a lot of our time, but I kept the Garmin rolling. I wanted a true reading for our stroller roll. When we reached the turnaround point, both our oldest girls were getting antsy to get out again. Thankfully, the Rough Riders of Tampa were stationed at the turnaround with a stock pile of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. We grabbed a few for the girls and they quietly began nibbling on the sugary sweetness. Thank you Rough Riders.
Any parent who claims they don’t bribe their children with sweets is a straight up liar.
Not long after my Garmin beeped with the 2 mile update, we started to feel the light sprinkle of rain drops. Again, we pulled over and took time to shelter the girls in the strollers. They personally didn’t mind the rain so much, but the parental intuition kicked in and we felt that they’d be better under the canopy of the strollers. Within minutes, the bottom completely dropped out and it was raining cats and dogs. We started to pick up the pace ever so slightly as the rain pelted harder and harder. We began running full speed towards the finish line when we realized that our strollers weren’t repelling the rain away from our helpless little ones. We jetted past race photographers and through the finish line and towards the Platt street bridge.
Needless to say, we got soaked. We were handed our medals, I took a quick photo with my medal and then we immediately headed into the convention center to gather our wet selves together and clean up our girls.
The rain didn’t let up until we were way past the finish line and under the convention center roof. Our official finish time was 44 minutes….. not a PR by any means, but these stroller runs are always just about having fun….. which we definitely did.
Have you ever ran with a roller before?