Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Space Coast Marathon

December 1, 2013

I have never run the Space Coast races before, but had wanted to for a few years. When the race organizers announced the special Big Bang Medal series, I decided this would be the year to run the race! You get an extra medal after running 3 races and another special medal when you run all 5 of the races. Thankfully, I signed up early, because the race sold out pretty fast!

Me, Sondra and Carole before the race start.
I headed over to the Kennedy Space Center early Saturday morning. It was about a 3 hour drive from my house. I should have gotten gas before I left. I hit the toll road and after a while I discovered there were no gas stations around. Once I got off the toll road, there was nothing around at all! I drove with the empty gas light on for about 15 minutes, before I finally saw a gas station. Scary! Once at the expo, I ran into Vanessa and Sondra and their husbands. We chatted for a little bit, before I headed in to get my packet, shirt and to shop a little. This was a pretty small expo. Packet pickup had been going on at the local running store for most of the week, so by Saturday, there wasn't a hole lot of race merchandise left. I got a Space Coast Marathon ornament and a Marathon Tervis Tumbler. Once I left the expo, I headed to my hotel in Cocoa Beach. They were not ready for me to check in yet, so I grabbed my beach chair and my book and headed over to the beach, which was 2 blocks from my hotel. I had a nice relaxing time there before heading back to the hotel and checking in. A couple of hours later, I headed to Outback to meet up for dinner with some of my friends from the Weight Watchers Marathoners board. We had a great dinner and then I headed back to the room for an early night.

Race morning: I got up just before 4 am. I was still trying to figure out my race strategy. I had a secret hope of starting out with the 4:20 pacer, but with the starting temps in the low 60s and humid, I wasn't sure that was a good plan. I figured going out with the 4:30 pacer would be a safer bet. I knew I had it in me to run a 4:30 and on a good day, even faster, but I wasn't sure it was the day. I got dressed, got my gear and a cup of coffee and then headed out the door. I wasn't sure exactly were to park, but I followed some cars towards the race venue, and ended up getting a good spot in a lot near the water, to the east of the race start. I hung out for a little bit, then met Brenda at the bathrooms. I ran into Sondra there too. I ended up inviting her back to my car to hang out for a while. With the wind, low 60s was feeling a little cold! After hanging out in the car for half an hour or so, we made one more bathroom stop before I went in search of the Marathon Maniac photo spot. Just after 6 am, we were directed to head over to the starting area. The half marathoners had already started. They would run the second half of our full marathon course. I got a quick photo with Sondra and Carole before finding the 4:30 pacer. I decided it was the smarter choice. I would try for this PR first and then try to get a faster one on a cooler day. They had a recorded version of the National Anthem, which kept getting cut off. Once it happened the first time, everyone began to sing, so when it kept happening, everyone's voices got louder and louder. It was pretty cool. To send us off, they showed a shuttle count down on a big screen. Once the shuttle had lift off, we were a go!

Slow start to the race, as we were all packed into a pretty small road. We ran south, then made a couple of right turns before turning left and heading north along Indian River Dr. I was just ahead of the pace group. I kept trying to slow myself down and not loose them, but it was hard! I should have started behind them! But if I'd done that, I would have never found David up ahead in his Sarasota Storm shirt! Around mile 2, I saw David's Storm shirt just ahead of me. I ran over and said hi. We introduced ourselves and started chatting. Our pace was similar, so we kept running together. The road was slanted in many spots along this part of the course, so I tried to stay in the middle, flat part as much as possible. At one point, maybe around mile 5 or 6, we saw the lead marathon runner heading back. He looked really strong and had a big lead on the next guy. It was great seeing all the other runners. It always pumps me up. Splits miles 1 through 7 - 10:05, 9:48, 9:53, 9:39, 9:36, 9:41, 9:35

Heading to the finish line.
After the turn around, I started to keep a look out for Carole, Sondra and other Marathon Maniacs. I love waving and calling out to people. I was feeling really good still, but it was pretty early in the race. David and I kept having to slow down the pace. We both were looking at a 4:30 goal. I loved this neighborhood. We had the Indian River on one side of us and some pretty fantastic houses on the other side of us. I had thought it would be pretty flat along the water, but it wasn't. There were little rolling hills. I'm sure it was nothing for someone coming from a hilly area, but for me, after a while, they started to get a little harder and harder to run up! As we headed back into the downtown Cocoa area, where we had started, the course narrowed down again. Lots of crowd support here, though. We made a few turns, passed pretty close to the finish area and then we were heading north on Riverside Dr. Splits for miles 8 through 13 - 9:21, 9:36, 9:45, 9:46, 9:35, 9:47

Now we had the half marathoners on the River side of the street. They were on their way to the finish line. I got to see Brenda, Patti, Vanessa and her husband. The sun was out from behind the clouds now, and it was starting to get pretty warm. David and I slowed down our pace. Somewhere between mile 17 and 18, David told me he was going to have to walk for a while and to go ahead. So now, I am on my own and will be for the rest of the race. My right hip, right where the IT Band connects, was starting to hurt. It had been achy for the last week, so I kind of figured it would become a problem during the race. It was another reason why I didn't go out with the faster group. Once I saw the 20 mile marker (for those heading back, not me) on my right side, I knew I would be getting to the turn around soon. It seemed to take forever to get to there! The best part about it was the large group of people out there cheering everyone. Now I was on my way back and very happy to be heading that way. At the 20 mile marker, there was a group of people who had the 3 Little Piggies station set up. If you had signed up ahead of time, you would stop, eat some bacon, and then get a special medal before continuing on. I'm very happy I didn't sign up. There is no way I could have gotten that bacon down! Splits for miles 14 through 20 - 9:43, 9:51, 9:53, 10:11, 10:02, 10:22, 10:18

Me and David after the race.
The last 10K of the marathon was the hardest for me. I really slowed down. It no longer seemed as hot, which was good, but that was because we had a strong wind blowing into us! I seemed much stronger than when we had started the race a few hours before. I started to take walking breaks at most of the water stops and I also stopped a couple of times to stretch a bit. I did have some distractions from keeping an eye out for Carole, Sondra and Dave. Once they had all passed, I tried to get into a zone and focus on keeping good running form and not on the pain in my right side. Once I hit mile 25, I knew I would get a PR. I wasn't sure it would be under 4:30, but I knew it would be under the 4:32 from New York. I was bummed that I lost that 5 minute lead, but I put it out of my mind and focused on finishing.  Once we got close to the park, where the finish line was, we had to get off the main road and onto a sidewalk. This was a tight squeeze. There were a few other runners around me as we tried to get on the sidewalk. I passed quite a few people as I made my way around this large, semi-circle to the finish line. I was so happy to be done! And to see my first ever sub 4:30 marathon time! It's taken over a year ( I had tried last January at the Disney Marathon), but I finally did it! Spits for miles 21 through 26 - 10:53, 11:02, 10:50, 11:20, 10:50, 10:48

Finish - 4:29:52
age group 44/195, overall: 476/1682

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