A Twenty Mile Running Tour of Tampa

One of the things I love and hate about running is that every run is different. Some days you’ll head out expecting a horrible run and you’ll PR by accident and then some days you get out there, and even when you give it every ounce you have, you still feel like you failed since you didn’t meet your mileage or pace goal.

In fact, this is one of the reasons that I’m not putting too much pressure on myself for my upcoming marathon. Each day I put a ton of pressure on myself in my career, which I love, but I need running to be my outlet. Therefore, this morning as Meghann and I ran I told her that my goal for the marathon is to beat last year’s time of 5:06. If it’s 5:05:59 I’ll be happy! For me, at this point in my life, running is my stress reliever after a long day of work or the best part of waking up in the morning. The last thing I want to do is add more stress to my life.

Therefore, instead of looking back on today’s run as a failure, I am remembering it as a 20 mile run completed in beautiful and very scenic Tampa with one of my best friends and the best running cheerleader I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet!

After seven hours of sleep I jumped up this morning, quietly made my pre-run breakfast of a bagel thin and peanut butter and got dressed in the bathroom; doing my best not to wake Bo. Having a pile all prepared definitely helps when you’re trying to get ready quickly in a foreign hotel room.

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I met Meghann in front of my hotel at 6:05, ready to rock our run! We both wore at least one piece of Lululemon which spurred a discussion about the brand, prices, and quality. One thing’s for sure, I’m a running skirt convert! Running in this skirt was so much fun and I had ZERO chafing issues. If it ends up being above 50 degrees on marathon day I’ll be rocking this skirt! I’m not going to lie, I think it’s the most becoming article of running clothing I own!


My tour guide had a great running route planned for us which included Harbor Island, Davis Island, and Bayshore Boulevard. While I’ve been to Tampa before, it’s been ages and my visits were historically limited to the waterways where our rowing team competed many a Saturday during high school.


Our first few miles were done in the dark and I was thankful when, by mile 5, it was light enough to see the sights. The first miles flew by as we talked about living with men, Meghann and Derek’s recent cruise, travel, and races.


Around mile 10, just as we were leaving Davis Island, my left leg started getting really tight. I’ve never felt a pain like this before but it was a radiating pain in my quad. No matter what I did or how many times I paused to stretch, it didn’t really help. I told Meghann at this point that we may need to reduce our speed but that I was finishing the 20 miles even if I needed to do a run/walk combination. While many people disagree, and I don’t normally advocate the run walk method, I know that part of doing a 20 miler is just getting your body accustomed to moving for that duration of time.


Around mile 15 I decided to focus on run/walk versus stretch breaks because I didn’t want my muscles to get tighter and I wanted to be done. At this point, Meghann really turned into my running cheerleader. I told her I didn’t want “ra ra giddy” type stuff but instead just something to keep me going. She told me the story of her best and worst marathon experience, how blessed she is to have Kelly as a running cheerleader, and about her future goals and adventures. It was during these miles that I realized just how close a friend Meghann has become. I felt zero shame about my legs even though I knew thousands of people would see that it wasn’t a wonderful run. She stuck with me even though we were running a completely straight path and I told her more than once that she could run ahead and I’d be fine!


By the time we reached the front of my hotel I was more than ready to be done. I think 19.63 miles is close enough to 20 and you know what, I’m going to spend four hours dancing tonight which will just compensate for those 4 tenths of a mile. Smile  It wasn’t fast, clocking in at 3:47, but it was still faster than my marathon pace last year and we finished!


I quickly headed upstairs for an ice bath and banana, happy to be done and looking forward to hours of poolside fun all afternoon!

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  1. Theodora October 15, 2011 / 10:43 pm

    good job! taper time!

  2. Evan Thomas October 15, 2011 / 11:00 pm

    Great job! I couldn’t imagine going from training in NYC to training in Tempa. The humidity difference alone would be a nightmare I imagine. But pushing through is all that matters.

    • healthyh October 16, 2011 / 12:25 am

      Evan: It was definitely crazy running my 20 muleta in the South! So ready for cool weather running!!

  3. Meghann October 16, 2011 / 1:50 am

    <3 you girl!! You did great and I'm so glad I got to run with your today!! You are going to ROCK NYC!!!!!

  4. Ericka Andersen October 16, 2011 / 1:54 am

    Great job, girl! I know how hard those 20 milers can be. It IS nice to have a friend that will stick by you. I know what you mean about not putting too much pressure on yourself (and the accidentally PRing thing). Great post, hope you have fun in Florida!

  5. Caitlin October 16, 2011 / 4:22 am

    Congrats on an awesome run! You are an inspiration lady. So glad you are loving the skirt – we will have to rock them on our next run together! : )

    • healthyh October 18, 2011 / 1:20 am

      Caitlin: Thanks! I’m not sure it was an “awesome” run but at least I owned it. Also, I may have ordered another skirt today. 🙂

  6. Marcia October 16, 2011 / 2:37 pm

    Wow! I just happen to need a 20 mile tour of Tampa for Thanksgiving! Any chance I could get the route?? I usually run Bayshore down there but need to get in a full 20 somehow!! Thanks!

  7. kalli October 16, 2011 / 3:17 pm

    two things i agree with! running should not put added stress on us. i have a very stressful job and need it as an outlet too. and i am a lulu convert! love all my clothes from them and cannot stop buying. need to get that skirt too 🙂

    • healthyh October 18, 2011 / 1:18 am

      Kalli: The skirt is awesome, I couldn’t recommend it more! You better buy it before they run out! 🙂

  8. Michelle @ Crazy*Running*Legs October 16, 2011 / 4:43 pm

    That skirt is really cute on you!

    I feel you on the hard (super) long runs. 3:47 is great – especially if you were experiencing some discomfort. You are definitely ready to smash that PR!

    Woo-hoo for taper 🙂

    • healthyh October 18, 2011 / 1:15 am

      Michelle: Thanks for the compliment, I love the skirt! I’m hoping that 2 massages between now and the marathon will help my muscles so I can rock on race day!!

  9. Gwen October 16, 2011 / 6:46 pm

    Way to push through girl! I would say that two of my closest friends these days are girls I met online! I’m sure Meghann was the perfect cheerleader for this run too!

    • healthyh October 18, 2011 / 1:15 am

      Amanda: Thanks for the vote of confidence. Great job on your marathon and hopefully I’ll have great results too this year!! I’m so excited!

    • healthyh October 18, 2011 / 1:15 am

      Gwen: Thank you so much! Isn’t it amazing how close you can become with “online” friends!?

  10. Amanda @Hold Me Closer Tiny Runner October 16, 2011 / 7:12 pm

    You are awesome! I completely agree that sometimes you can’t take yourself to seriously when it comes to running. It should be fun and not a source of stress. I love improving on my times and I train hard, but I don’t beat myself up when I have an awful run. I actually had two awful taper runs last week and then I ran the Indianapolis Marathon yesterday and shaved almost a full hour off my last marathon in 2009. You are going to kill it in NYC!

  11. Kelly October 16, 2011 / 10:36 pm

    Way to go Ashley!

    • healthyh October 17, 2011 / 12:20 am

      Kelly: Thanks!!

  12. Lauri October 16, 2011 / 11:34 pm

    Two things Certainly with! running shouldn’t put added force on us. I’ve a very stressful job and require it a power outlet too. and I am a lulu convert! love my clothes from their store and can’t stop buying. Want to get that skirt too.

    • healthyh October 17, 2011 / 12:20 am

      Lauri: I highly recommend the skirt! It was soo soft and comfortable!

  13. melissa (fitnessnyc) October 16, 2011 / 11:36 pm

    Nicely done. this post will inspire my on my 20 miler–eeek!

    • healthyh October 17, 2011 / 12:20 am

      Melissa: Is your 20 miler tomorrow? What time are you starting? I’d be happy to join for a few miles!

  14. Chrissy N October 20, 2011 / 4:19 pm

    Congrats on converting to skirt! I knew you’d love it as much as I do…before you know it, you might not own any shorts. Great job with your training, this is going to be one fabulous marathon! xoxo -Chrissy

  15. Saundra Martinez December 7, 2011 / 11:45 pm

    Any chance I could get the route?? Two things Certainly with! Michelle: Thanks for the compliment, I love the skirt! Great post, hope you have fun in Florida!

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