Wowsa, where has the time gone? Oh yeah, I’ve been sick with the crud for more than a week now so I am finally getting time to post my race recap for the Space Coast Half Marathon and what was the first race for the 5 year Big Bang Series in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
My running buddy Becky and I decided to head down a little earlier than originally planned since the race weekend fell just past Thanksgiving and we knew that there would be additional traffic on the road traveling that weekend. So Friday afternoon we loaded up her Mommy Mobile and headed towards Cocoa Beach. The drive down was awesome and stress-free which you really want anytime you are getting mentally ready for a distance race. We checked into our hotel and then headed to find some dinner. Since the hotel we were staying in Saturday night was already booked up we opted for a hotel that was just 10 miles away in Melbourne Beach and we hit a local restaurant for a quick bite of Lobster Rolls. It was my first and I’d say they were pretty tasty, though I may have preferred them to be served hot instead of cold, but the crab cake appetizer we shared was amazing! When on the coast you must eat seafood, right!?!
Saturday morning we woke up early and hit the road in order to get to the Expo to pickup our packets when they opened at 9 am. Boy, were we thankful we did that once we were leaving, because the line to get into the parking area and the line to get into the Expo was growing and so were the clouds for impending showers. The visitor center at Cape Canaveral was beautiful though, much to see around the exterior, but we did not take time for the full tour. We snapped a few photos, checked out the small Expo they had to offer, checked out the NASA gift shop and headed out in order to find some lunch and a place to watch our college football game.
After lunch we checked into our host hotel, the Hilton and went ahead and prepped all of our race gear for Sunday morning. A tradition, the Flat Mama is something we all use to help make sure we have all of our stuff out and ready to go for race morning. We took some extra time to relax before meeting our fellow Moms RUN This Town Mamas for dinner at Fish Lips on the Bay for a little carb load dinner and some great fun and laughter. I was excited that I would get to see my friends Olivia and Katie, which I had not gotten to see since we ran the Breast Cancer Marathon in February.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and to bed early for our 3 am wake up call to catch the shuttle to the start line for our 6 am race start. The normal pre-race activities of group photos, last-minute pep talks and good lucks all around as we headed over to the starting area for the half marathon. Touted as being flat and fast, I was actually looking forward to the course for a change. In the past I have struggled with an all flat course, but after four straight weekends of racing, flat was TOTALLY welcomed in my mind! It was humid already at 6 am so I knew we would either be battling to fight the heat or beat the rain on our 13 mile jaunt, but whatever it would bring, I felt good about how I would do.
As we were about to start, I talked to Becky about the fact that I wanted to try and stay on pace with the 2:15 pace groups in order to finish under 2:30, which was how I had paced the weekend before in St. Pete for the Womens Half, but it was really crowded and we were told they were starting everyone at once instead of in waves. This would be bad for my want to stay with the pace group while maneuvering past all the other runners. It was crowded and even worse it was still very dark out and a lot of the parts of the course in the beginning were not well lit. Becky and I kept pace with the group for a couple of miles and then backed off in order to get out of the crowd of runners that seemed to just congest the course. That was the best thing, as it opened up and helped me calm down and get my steady pace finally.
After the first 3 miles, I started to feel more calm, but mostly just hot. The humidity had killed at the last few races and this weekend would prove to be just the same. I began to suck down my water that I had in my hydration belt and knew that I would need to take advantage of the hydration stations that would also be available along the way because I was sweating way more than normal and it didn’t help that the day before the race I was starting to get sick with a cold. I tried to stay positive though and just told myself I just have to finish, that’s all, just finish the race and you will have 14 days off to recover.
As we approached the 10K mark Becky and I were still doing great, we kept our pace between 10:30 and 11:00 per mile. My time was not wonderful, but I was still feeling good about how I had done. I also knew that we would begin to see runners returning since the course was an out-n-back for the half marathon. That always helps me when I am mentally struggling to focus on those passing me rather than how many more miles I have to go. The Elite’s began heading our way and then a sea of runners after that as we approached the half-way turnaround point. By then, I was starting to get tired and knew I was a little dehydrated since I was sweating so much.
As we made the turn and headed back to the finish line, Becky and I kept together to encourage each other along the way. We, after all, were no strangers to running a half marathon in the rain if the weather chose so. We had run a local race in Bainbridge in May and the entire last 3 miles in buckets of rain, so I knew I wanted to stick with her to push through the finish. Little did I know I would NEED her to push through to the finish. As we crossed mile 10 I started having some pain in my right foot and I knew that I was developing a blister on the bottom of my foot under my big toe, which is awful since I am a forefoot striker. Attempting to not over compensate and aggravate my left hip was the only thing on my mind as I knew that would take me out of my 2:30 finish running. Just finish, just finish, that’s all I kept repeating to myself. As I stopped to walk a few times, Becky was keeping an eye on the 2;30 pace group and kept telling me how close or far they were from us. I knew I had to just stay ahead of them to finish where I wanted to in this race. I pushed through some running and walking intervals until the last half mile. I knew I wanted to finish the race running so as we rounded the corner I just pushed through the foot pain.
As we came through the finisher shoot, I saw the clock was barely under 2:30 and so I sped up to get in just under for a finish time of 2:29:34. Becky was right behind me by only a few seconds and I was so thankful to have her right there with me to keep me going. As I reflected on my finish that day this was the thought that I left the race with –
Some days even Chapter Leaders need a little help on the course. Thankful for my girl Becky for those words to keep me moving through the last 3 miles.
After returning home I was down for more than a week with a respiratory virus which I am still recovering from. Thankfully my race schedule had some down time in it so I could concentrate on healing and feeling ready to race again. This weekend we head to Thomasville, Georgia to run the Red Nose Run Half Marathon and I’m hoping my respiratory system is ready for the challenge. Until then, I hope you are all having a happy holiday season full of miles and merry moments!