Thursday, March 6, 2014

Race Recap: Space Coast Half Marathon

Race: Space Coast Half Marathon, Big Bang Challenge Year 1
Location: Cocoa, Florida
Date: Sunday, December 1, 2013

Initially I was supposed to run the full marathon for this race, but due to my stress fracture I decided right after attempting Route 66 that it would be best to back down to the half marathon based on my experience in Oklahoma. I contacted the race director about a week before the race and she was able to change my entry. This race was also the first in the Big Bang Series which provides for up to two additional medals if you run the race for 3 years within the next 5 or all 5 of the consecutive years.

Travel Day: Friday, November 29, 2013

For almost all my flights to Florida I fly out of Lubbock or Amarillo. The trip to Orlando was pretty non-descript. Because Cocoa is about 40 minutes from Orlando I ended up taking a shuttle to my hotel arriving at approximately 7pm ET. The shuttles to Cocoa are pretty expensive and it would've been slightly cheaper for me to rent a car from the airport for the weekend. Lesson learned. I met an online acquaintance who was staying at the same hotel and we walked down the road for some Japanese food for dinner before returning to our rooms for the night. 

I hadn't realized how far the Kennedy Space Center, where the expo was being held, was from the hotels. I really could've used a car, but was able to connect online with one of my fellow 50 States Half Marathon Club members for a ride to the expo for myself and my online acquaintance for the next day.

Expo Day: Saturday, November 30, 2013

I woke up a little early and went for a walk on the beach. Although it was overcast it was still a beautiful view...
The view from the beach in front of my hotel.
When we were getting ready to go we met our ride, Dawn, at the front of the hotel and headed out to the Space Center for the expo. The drive to the expo took about 35-40 minutes and it really would've been nice if the organizers had let runners know that it was that far from the hotels or provided shuttle service. 

The expo itself was small and packet pickup was somewhat disorganized. The area designated for pick up was small and cramped and didn't have enough flow to easily move around the tables. The vendors were all right, but the store carrying race specific items was sorely lacking in shirts/hoodies in many sizes.

Race swag
I spent the rest of the afternoon checking in for the Three Little Pigs Challenge put on by Endurance Sports Connection at the host hotel and meeting some new and old friends there. Afterwards I hung out on the beach/pier by the hotel before heading to the race sponsored pasta dinner back at the host hotel (about a 2 mile walk from where I was staying). The 50 States Half Marathon Club also used the pasta dinner as an annual meetup so we did a group photo while there... 

Fifty States Half Marathon Club photo.
My room mate checked in to the hotel after I arrived back from the pasta dinner, she was running a double that weekend, and we turned in for the night for an early wake up on Sunday.

Race Day: Sunday, December 1, 2013

Woke up to a nice, warm early morning. Nothing like the freezing temperature that were happening at home (I could get used to this). Got ready and headed to the lobby with Marissa (my room mate) to catch the shuttle to the starting area...if only they had arranged this service for the expo as well.

Flat Beth (aka race day gear)
Once we arrived at the location we walked around finding gear check, photo ops with Half Fanatics and Sparkle Princesses and I managed to locate my friend Mel, Amy, and a few of her friends. We headed over to the starting area heading to the back end of the corrals to wait for the start of the race.

Half Fanatic/PbRC/#Run3rd group photo.
Marissa and I
Amy, her friend and I
Mel and I
Once the race started I figured that I'd take it easy and just start walking but, as with every race, the adrenaline started and I changed my mind and decided to at least jog the first couple of miles. Less than a mile in I realized that running this race was not going to happen. Both my ankles started to ache and I found myself walking early on. Now, it's not uncommon for me to need the first 2-4 miles to get warmed up and walk off the pain (I'm assuming it was a peroneal tendonitis issue) and then I can at least jog a bit but this time the jogging was far and few opportunities throughout the race due to lingering pain.

I did manage to get a few miles of comfortable walking in between about mile 8 and 11 but the rest of the time there was some sort of pain either from the peroneal tendonitis or from the area of the healed stress fracture. To break up the monotony of the walk albeit on a beautiful tree lined residential course, I had decided that I would get 30 burpees done during the race as part of the Spartan Race 30 Burpees A Day Challenge as the idea of doing 30 burpees in a row after the race was not very appealing. Every 2 miles through mile 12 I did 5 burpees just off to the side of the course. It was funny to hear either something like, "You go girl!" or "She's doing burpees on top of the race?" Either way I finished both the race and my burpees and was so glad that I had downgraded from the full to the half. I knew at the finish that there would've been no way I would have finished a full 26.2 miles. Thirteen point one miles I could push through, but no way for a 26.2.

After the race I walked around a bit, had some free pancakes and ran into Leah and Debbie from SparkleSkirts (the manufacturer of the running skirts I wear almost exclusively), picked up my gear then headed back to the hotel where I met Marissa. I arrived at the hotel and bumped into this lady who had carried my friend, "Flat" Kat, during the race and just had to snap a photo with her.We got cleaned up and headed out to Kennedy Space Center to play the tourist game for a few hours and to keep our muscles moving to help delay any soreness.

Can't believe I found "Flat" Kat at the hotel!
At Kennedy Space Center
I have to admit that going to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was a bit of an emotional experience for me. I have this deep seeded patriotic streak in me...I mean seriously, I tear up every time I hear Star Spangled Banner being played, and being at this institution had me teary eyed several times. Probably the most moving part was walking through the main display area and reading about the Challenger and Columbia missions and then making my way through the Atlantis exhibition. Seeing the launch pads and some local critters (gators) on site was pretty cool too.

I suck at selfies.

Remember the Robot from Lost in Space?
We spent about 4 hours at KSC before heading out for some Five Guys Burgers & Fries then back to the hotel so that Marissa could start packing to leave in the morning. I did take a walk on the beach and found out that there was supposed to be a rocket launch the next day so I was determined to see that happen although they had canceled the launch on this particular delay due to mechanical issues, I believe.

Leisure Day: Monday, December 2, 2013

Marissa took off in the morning and I went for a 10K stroll on the beach getting my 30 burpees done as I went. I basically just spent the day lounging on the beach or in the room doing much of nothing. Had lunch on the pier and found out that the launch had been canceled yet another day (it ended up happening the next day after I had left Florida). I took a shorter beach walk in the afternoon watching some surfers and families playing on the beach before heading back to the room to pack up for my trip home in the morning.

The sun decided to come out to play on my last day in Florida.
I made a new friend!
Just one random others on the beach.
Man o' War? Glad I saw him before I would have stepped on him!
It's a Florida Christmas...

My hotel from the pier.
Blue Heron chillaxin' on the beach.
Travel Day: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The day had come where it was time to leave the beach. Now, you've got to understand I live where there's a lot of's called the desert...the beach sand and view is just so much better! I caught my shuttle at 0 dark thirty in the morning (arrived in the dark and left in the dark) and headed back to Orlando International Airport. No major issues traveling home but I was still glad to be back in little podunk New least temporarily.

What did I like about this race?
Nice course, primarily flat. Right next to the water almost the whole time, runs through nice neighborhoods. Pancakes and eggs at the finish.

What did I not like about this race?
Cramped packet pick up, small expo. Expo was way too far out. If I had known I would've rented a car. Lack of shuttle service to the expo. On a better note, the 2015 expo will be at the host hotel where I'm staying for my next go around at this race.

Would I do this race again?
As alluded to above, I plan to do this race for 5 years in a row to earn the extra medals. One of those times I'll do the full marathon but not next year...I'm already signed up for the half marathon.

Official Time:  3:31:35

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