Space Coast Marathon & Half Recap

I’m stuck on a plane en route to Charleston, so it seems like a good time to get cracking on a race recap. Maybe it’ll inspire me to feel better about my marathon on Saturday. (Spoiler alert: see previous post. Ah well.)

 

The view from our room on Cocoa Beach didn’t suck.

 My plane from the funeral in Iowa got into West Palm Beach airport at about 9pm. We had a rental car waiting for us, then made the drive up to Cocoa Beach. We stayed at the Hilton right on the beach, which I spent zero time enjoying except through my hotel window. My husband did take a yoga mat out a couple mornings, and I watched him practice handstands from the hotel room window while in my PJs and drinking coffee. #doingrecoveryright

We made it to the hotel just after 11pm. I spent about 30 minutes organizing my race stuff for the morning then hauled my tired butt to bed. For a 3am wake up. 

Everything went as planned in the morning, although my stomach was a little off. In Iowa I ate foods I don’t normally because that was what was available. Fried stuff and mayonnaise-y salads the nice church ladies provided after the services. 

I had arranged with the race for a day-of bib pickup, which went super smooth. I was a little anxious about that, especially as I was meeting my coaching client between 5:10-5:20am. We easily found each other, and I gave her last minute instructions and we dropped off gear check bags.

The race wanted the half marathoners in the corrals by 5:35. I also had to use a porta potty, something I try to avoid doing at all costs by good planning, but, again, my stomach was kind of off. I managed a super fast bathroom break and booked it to the corral with just a couple minutes to spare. I left my client Bethany with some of her friends, family and my husband. 

It was dark and super humid at the start. Somewhere around 70 degrees with 95% humidity. A big change from the 38 degrees in Iowa and 45 degrees from home and Connecticut. I used a spare hair elastic to strap my sunglasses to my hand and wore a visor. I also had my Simple Hydration bottle tucked into a SPIbelt. I think I put UCAN orange cream in there, but it might’ve been UCAN hydrate. I think it was the former.  

I’d placed myself well behind the 2 hour pacer. My goal for this race was to run a progression that ended at around marathon pace. I also had another bunch of miles to run afterward, so I didn’t do a warm up. I figured I might take over 2 hours to finish if I paced appropriately, but I wasn’t going to look at my watch and run by feel. I wanted to use the crowd to hold back my pace so I could warm up slowly and get adjusted to the weather. I maybe misjudged my placement because the two ladies I started behind jogged across the start line mat then immediately began to walk. :-/

Mile 1 (9:48)

I did a lot of dodging and weaving that first mile, which also had some turns, for making it somewhat rough going. My Garmin watch clocked in right with the mile marker (just making the point that weaving and running poor tangents has very little affect on added mileage). I tucked behind some runners running four abreast but going a pace that felt OK to me.  I eventually passed the foursome, although one of their party, a guy with a ginormous Ironman tattoo on his calf, later passed me in the last few miles. 

I noticed that to the side there were quite a few run/walk interval runners who were very conscientious about the other runners around them when stopping for their walk breaks. Many even used hand signals. I thought that was pretty cool as I think the Galloway method is a great thing for many runners (some may remember I ran my first half in 2:06 this way). I also didn’t want to get stuck behind them when they walked, so I stayed in the center lane. 

Miles 2-4 (9:15, 9:11, 9:07)

The race took us through a lovely seaside neighborhood, and many of the residents were out with their families and some even provided race refreshments. One family had a whole cookout going! To the left was the ocean, and I got to see the sun rise. I put my sunglasses on and felt a bit better about the humidity. There was a lot of tree shade on the road, which was welcome. This was an out and back course, so around 5 miles in or so I began to see the front runners come back. I love that. 

I ran as part of Team in Training, my first time running with a charity bib. I wore the singlet and have to say, I loved all the call outs of “Go Team” as people passed in the other direction. I also had fun cheering for the pace groups as they headed back to the finish. 

Miles 5-6 (9:03, 8:57)

My left hamstring has been bothering me for a few weeks, which makes my left knee feel like it’s “catching” and experiencing the sensation of weaknesss. I’d taken Saturday off completely, and the leg felt pretty decent during the race. Just before the turnaround, I spotted the 2 hour pace group. I was pleased at how close they were to me. 

I made it to the turnaround (a weird short jaunt over a patch of grass, sorry for the trampling, grass) and some super happy dude passed me. I forget what he said, but it was one of those things where I felt like he was feeling a little overconfident and thought I’d pass him before the end. (It was something like him telling me how great I was doing that struck me as a little condescending).

Miles 7 & 8 (8:37 & 9:02, but probably closer to actually 8:50-ish each due to GPS error)

After I made the turnaround, I could still see the 2 hour pace sign in the distance. I thought to myself, “I’ll get them. But don’t rush it. Don’t even watch them too hard.”

My watch, which had been vibrating very close to the course mile markers got off bit. I think the turnaround was most of the cause. My mile paces there look a little funny, but I think my pace was pretty consistent. 

There was a nice headwind going this direction, which helped with the copious sweat from the humidity. I heard tons more “Go Teams!” and called out my own. I also cheered for the pace groups going in the other direction. I was beginning to enjoy myself. One new strategy was utilizing the water stops at the race. I want to use them in my marathon rather than carry my own so I can carry more actual fuel (UCAN). Most of the water ended up <u>in</u> me rather than on me, and I didn’t feel like it was too awkward. 

Around mile 8, I felt like I needed another bathroom break. I’d taken Imodium pre-race, so I don’t know what the deal was. Don’t eat fried cauliflower or church lady salads before a race? I almost stopped to use a bathroom, but there was a line, so I just kept going. Not very comfortably, but the urge came and went. 

Every so often I would look ahead and see the pace sign getting closer and closer. The pace group was also thinning out. Around mile 10, I passed Confident Man from the turnaround. He was looking kind of beat.

I think I passed the 2 hour pacer during mile 11. 

Miles 9-11 (8:55, 8:48, 8:44 – near marathon goal pace)

Once I hit mile 12, I started doing this countdown thing I do. Basically, I count down from 120 seconds, figuring it’s “roughly” 10 minutes to the finish line and I’ll countdown 5 times. For some reason, this makes me pick up the pace without thinking about it and doesn’t feel any harder. 

I passed a lot of people this mile. This race has a less competitive field and chill atmosphere, so I think it was more that people had gone out too fast and were fading than that I was super-speedy, although I had accelerated somewhat. 

Mile 12 (8:43)

The course takes a hard right into this cute brick walk, which takes you to the finish line in a park. I just focused on running a strong finish. 

Heading to the finish. I don’t love the SPIbelt look, but it was functional I guess

Mile 13 + .1 (8:21, 7:45)

The medal for this race is spectacular. I mailed mine off to my 5 year old iRun4 buddy, Liam (his mom sent me a pic of him with it — it looks better on him than me). Runners also got a beach towel and an iced face cloth upon finishing. I loved the iced cloth and shoved it down the front of my jog bra to cool down. 

 

this thing weighed a ton

 Finish: 1:57 (one of my slower half marathons, but I am very happy with the pacing as a training run)

I texted my husband, who let me know where he and Bethany’s spectators were, and I went to gear check to drop off some stuff, including the medal which was too heavy to tote around. I took in a SiS gel with caffeine (berry flavor — tasted awful, like cough medicine. But my stomach took it fine. I’ll stick to the non-caff pink grapefruit.)

I completely forgot about using a bathroom. 😦

I headed back north where the marathon traveled first and did a jog/walk because I really needed a bathroom and running made it worse. I finally found a porta potty around the marathon’s mile 11-ish. I found my husband a short time later. I thought about waiting for Bethany with her crew, but I was feeling antsy. I knew she was around mile 8-9, so I jogged her way. I was so excited to catch up with her and see how fresh and relaxed she looked. I was a little worried because she’s chosen to wear a long sleeved technical shirt (she’s fair-skinned and worried about sunblock wearing off) and she prefers cold. 

Bethany was using a Galloway method 5 minute run and 1 minute walk ratio. She wore a hydration vest with Gatorade and was taking water at the aid stations. She was also eating a few bites of Lara Bars every 40 minutes or so, as she had practiced. 

About halfway through this section, I desperately needed another bathroom. I sent Bethany on. After my stop, I ran to catch up to her and noted she was ahead of the 6:30 pacer. She and I had a nice chat over the miles. Running with her is very fun. 

She and I ran to the halfway point, which was near the start/finish, where her fan club was waiting. I sent her on and went to grab my gear bag. We then piled into Bethany’s brother’s car to meet her at the next cheer place. (My husband is a total pro at race spectating, btw.)

I think we caught her at mile 16? Then hustled back to the car for another quick drive. I think we were at miles 18/21. This part of the course was where the half marathon also ran. I mixed a bottle of UCAN vanilla and guzzled it down. I also removed my timing chip so I wouldn’t trigger anything weird by retracing parts of the half marathon course. 

Bethany passed by and we did a 5 person wave. She was looking a little tired (she later mentioned that just before seeing us was a rough time, but she snapped out of it and it didn’t come back). We spectators stayed put, but crossed the street to continue cheering. We cheered for everyone, which was super fun. Several runners recognized Bethany’s crew from the other points of the race and were happy to see them (Mostly. By mile 21, a few people weren’t interested at all in anything but finishing the damn thing). The weather was perfect if you were spectating.

Then Bethany arrived! And I jumped into the race to run the final miles with her. I’d spent time on the sidelines stretching my hamstring. It mostly felt OK, but it was tight. I was glad to get it moving a little again. 

Bethany was running strong, although she had slowed down some. We had some great conversations here. I really enjoy running with Bethany — she’s one determined young woman. She has outstanding cardiovascular because of her endurance swimming, so she has no trouble carrying on a conversation. Her legs get tired before her heart and lungs do for sure. I joked that my hardest job just then was keeping her from jumping into the water and swimming to the finish.  
 

Still going strong!

 One of the interesting turns of our chat was discussing how she felt with about 40 minutes to go in the marathon vs 40 minutes to complete her English Channel swim. Answer: not really comparable. 

We saw Bethany’s cheer squad again around mile 23 or so, then they scooted off to meet us at the finish line. 

I tried to be positive and motivating (tried is the operative word here — I stumbled with a few boneheaded but well-intentioned remarks) as it was warm in the sun and Bethany was understandably tired. In the last few miles, after Bethany took a bathroom stop, the seven hour pacer caught up to us. We decided to ensure he didn’t pass us, so that kept moving things forward. 

Soon we reached the brick path that signaled the finish line was near. We were both all smiles. The music blasting was Dirty Dancing’s Time of My Life. The announcer called out, “Give it up for Bethany!” and I cheered and waved my hands like a Muppety fool. 

She was a rock star and I am so proud of her. We had two big goals of finishing with a smile, uninjured and in good shape and beating the course time limit. We did all of those.

After, we went to grab some food. I was really glad to see Bethany had an appetite as she had struggled with some stomach issues post-workout during training. Fueling and hydrating on the run had been two big components of her training plan that she experimented until I think we finally got right. (Sorry, Bethany, for being such a pest about this!)
 

Shark tacos! I liked the Ahi ones I’d eaten the night before even better

 The day after the race, we met Bethany and her sister-in-law at the Kennedy Space Center. She was sore but moving around pretty well (going up and down stairs not so fun, but to be expected). We enjoyed a fun afternoon, although I fell asleep a couple times during the IMAX film — a warning precursor to me getting sick as I never fall asleep in the movie theater — then went out for fantastic fish tacos. 

I was in bed Monday night by eight, then slept in the car on the way from Cocoa Beach to West Palm Beach. We got to my step-mother-in-law’s by five and I laid down for a nap until 8pm, ate the plate of dinner that had been set aside for me, then was back in bed asleep before 10pm. I was not feeling well. If you read my last few post, you more or less know the rest of that story. I still have a phelmy cough two weeks later. 

I ran another half (Palm Beaches) the following week as another training run. probably pushed my luck

So, it was a great time in Cocoa Beach, but the funeral and travel and 23+ miles on Sunday seem to have been a bit much for my system. Still, I’m lucky and grateful to have been a part of Bethany’s journey and was thrilled to see her finish in great style.  

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7 thoughts on “Space Coast Marathon & Half Recap

  1. Happy to hear it went so well. I would have been sick simply because of the abrupt weather changes, not to mention the emotional roller coaster. Take care of you.

    • Thanks! I hope a BQ is still forthcoming in 2016. My next big race is the NYC Half in March, and then I’ve signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in October for my next BQ attempt. Have you run the Wineglass Half? It’s a really nice race.

  2. Darlene says:

    I got rejected from the NYC Half lottery for the 2nd year in a row – bummed! And no, I haven’t but I want to someday. I’m think of Cape Cod in September.

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