Space Coast Half Marathon Race Report

Monday, November 28, 2011
I did it. I conquered the half marathon! Yesterday, I started and completed the Space Coast Half Marathon in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was an amazing experience, through all the emotions it brought me. As of right now, I don't know if I'll do another half marathon, but I wouldn't rule it out. 

 The day started off early, and I mean early. I woke up just before 2am to get ready to meet my friend, Yolanda in Celebration to ride to the race together. She was sweet enough to offer to let me come along so that I wasn't driving to Cocoa Beach solo. Once I met up with her at 3:30am, we were on the road to the race. During the hour and fifteen minute ride, we had a great conversation discussing just about everything. It was great getting to know her better since we had always missed each other at previous races. 

We arrived and parked before 5am which was great timing. Once we got the rest of our gear on (arm sleeves, hats/headbands, numbers), we walked over to the race area (okay, we made our first port-o-potty stop before we reached said area, but you can never go to the restroom too many times before a race IMO).  We chatted with some fellow runners/walkers and took a few pre-race photos. It's amazing how quickly an hour can go by, and before we knew it we had just enough time to make another port-o-let stop and check our bags before heading to the starting line. Yolanda and I said our goodbyes and good luck and went to our respective pacing points. 

The National Anthem was sung and the shuttle blasted off our start countdown and we were off! Well, sort of. Since I was at the back of the pack, I waited. I waited nine minutes before I hit the start mat. But, once I did, I got moving. I played it smart out the gate and didn't go too fast. The beginning of the first mile was through downtown before we hit the residential area by the water. By the end of mile one, it was extremely windy and it even started to rain! At first, I didn't even think the drops of water hitting me were rain, I thought it was the water being blown in by the water to our left. But, it was rain. It stayed pretty windy for awhile, but the light rain did die down. Unfortunately, it returned a mile or so later. I hit 5k much later than I expected or liked. The clock time, while not my actual chip time, said it was about an hour into the race. I know my first race pit stop didn't help matters (I lost 3-4 minutes because of it since I had to wait for one of them to be empty). So, I picked up the pace. 

The second 5k went okay. The weather could have been cooler, but this is Florida, not much can be done about it unfortunately. I was just happy that the rain had taken a hike. I was enjoying my music and moving along. I hit the 10k mark at a better pace, but I still wasn't so sure I would be able to finish under or even at 3:30 since I thought I was not moving as fast as I wanted. It was about mile 6.5 that the route had a turn around point and this made me happy because once I made it through the turnaround I would be heading back and closer to the finish. There was still quite a ways to go, but this became the start of my mental talk with myself. 

Between miles 7 and the 15k mat, I tried to distract myself with my music. Then, I realized that fellow runners were coming down the other side and now, there were full marathoners. This meant that I would probably see my friends, Yolanda and Kitzzy at some point. Knowing this also helped some. I jammed along to songs like Back in Time by Huey Lewis (from my favorite movie) and even the Cell Block Tango from the Chicago soundtrack. Before I knew it, I saw Yolanda coming toward me and instantly, it brought a smile to my face. She yelled my name and encouragement at me as I waved and did the same for her. It definitely was a bright moment for me. 

I hit the 15k mat not long after that and I was so grateful for that. But, I still had a ways to go. Those last four miles would prove to be the most difficult of all. Mile 9.3 to 10 wasn't too bad, I was still feeling okay, so I guess really it was the last 5k that was rough. My mental talk really had to hit high gear because I was hurting and just wanted to stop. I didn't let myself stop moving though. I knew if I did that, I would likely not want to get going again. My legs were crying out that they hated me, but I told them that it would all be worth it very soon. Not so sure they believed me, but thankfully, they kept going. Right before I hit mile 11, I spotted my friend Kitzzy, and while I tried to smile at her, I'm not so sure I was successful. My back began to kill me not long after mile 11 which sucked. But, I kept pushing myself to keep moving. I kept the mental talk going convincing myself that it wasn't THAT much further, heck, I was just out doing a couple miles, right? Funny the things we say to ourselves to push through during a race or hard workout. 

My positive talk and keeping up to the beat of my music helped me make it to mile 13. This is a brick sidewalk that ends up spiraling around to the finish line. Something inside me ignited and I began to run. I just took off. It felt good despite the pain in my back and legs. I overdid the speed I took my run in, so I had to stop for a few seconds before sprinting back into a run as I saw and hit the finish line. Crossing that line felt SOOO good. I had done it, I had just completed my first half marathon. And, I did it under 3:30! My official chip time was 3:28:50! Getting my medal and other finisher swag was a bit of a blur. They also gave me an ice cold towel which was great. I used it to calm my back and it actually helped. I noticed my pain, well my back pain anyway calmed down significantly once I was done with the race. 

I then joined Jason, Kitzzy's boyfriend by the finish spectator area. He had not only run the half marathon, he was now photographing the finish for all of us which was awesome and very nice of him. I asked him how his race went, and he told me he PRed which was great. We then waited for Kitzzy, Yolanda and some others to finish their marathons. Seeing Yolanda cross that finish line was awesome, she looked so strong despite how she felt (later found out that she was in pain). I then went over and found her after she got her medal and met her husband and son. We took some photos then went back over to spectate and see Kitzzy finish. While we waited for Kitzzy, we met some fellow daily milers, and one that has been an inspiration to both of us. Kitzzy finished despite her struggles and I applaud her for it. She finished her second marathon and that's beyond amazing in my book.

Leaving the race, Yolanda and I found a Starbucks and relaxed for a few minutes with our drinks. Then, we headed back to Celebration. We had another great talk in the car. She really made the race a lot more fun for me, as I got to share the experience with a friend.

No real future plans as of right now. I promised myself that I would take December easy after Space Coast, so that's what I'm going to do. I'll likely do the Jingle Bell Run 5k, but nothing else planned yet. That's not to say that I'm not looking or open to race suggestions for 2012 though. As far as doing another half marathon, well if the right race presented itself, I might be convinced to sign up. :)


Anonymous said...

Good for you!!!

Nicole said...

Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experience; I'm even more determined to work up to running a marathon someday myself! You're such an inspiration to me!

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