When I completed my first 5K in 2011, I remember asking my dad what a half marathon consisted of. He told me, and I laughed and told him “yeah, right!”. Several days after crossing the finish line, I am proud to say I completed twice the half marathon distance: a full marathon! Yep, I can now cross “run 26.2 miles” off my bucket list!
I chose to register for Space Coast in July after I had ran a slew of PRs. While I wanted to spend a lot of time training to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, I also wanted to test myself. Though I haven’t ran a sub 2hour half YET, I figured it would be just as great of an accomplishment to run 26.2 miles! Let me say, I chose the best possible race to do so!
The Space Coast Marathon took place all through out Florida’s “Space Coast”, around Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral! Being that I am college student and had some school related tasks left, one reason I chose Space Coast is it’s proximity to Orlando! It was less than an hour drive though I had to do quite a bit of driving, which I will get into later!
I left Orlando the day before the race, November 30th, as packet pick up was not offered as an option per the race website. (I found out this was actually not the case the morning of the start) Packet Pick up was appropriately located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex along with the health and fitness expo! In order to enter, all participants were given a comp ticket which was a nice little incentive as it was one attraction I had not visited!
Packet Pick Up was not as organized as some races I have done as the space the organizers were given to work with was rather tight, however I quickly picked up my bib and explored the expo! Though the expo was rather small, there were some great samples being handed out as well as some Brooks apparel customized for the race! Here, I also signed up to join one of the many pace groups offered for both the full and half by Marathon Pacing and Galloway pacers.
After the expo, I headed 45 minutes in the opposite direction to my hotel! Space Coast had a slew of host resorts however, they all sold out quickly! My mom reminded me that there was an AFB in Cocoa and low and behold, they had a ton rooms available! Perks of being a dependent! The base was also 20 minutes or so from the race site which was another win!
I spent the remainder of the night carboloading and watching FoodNetwork until bed time at 8! I also tested out the running clothes I brought to find the perfect ensemble, which, for a runner, means “Chafe Free”!
I set my alarm for 330 as that was the latest I wanted to be up. I was on the road by 415 and arrived at Cocoa Village about 90 minutes beforehand! I walked around and used the porta potty about 3 times before we headed to the start line at 600!
I met up with the 4:30 Galloway pacer, made some conversation, and then it was time to go! The walk/run ration was 3 minutes of running 1 minute of walking. We ran around a 9:10 pace which was faster than I would have liked but I hung in there as long as I could! By mile 10, it hit me….my first race bathroom break! I had already used the bathroom 3 times beforehand but at the start, I knew I had to pee :P After my break, I saw I had just missed the 4:30 running group and realized the galloway group was going SUPER fast! My legs were already heavy but I was having fun! I used my own 3/1 method the remainder of the race!
I hit the half marathon mark around 2:13 and then slowed down! The course was ALL along the water and in some of the most beautiful residential areas I had ever seen! It was cool and there was a great breeze! At that point, time meant nothing; I just wanted to finish!
I ran into a guy who was also with the Galloway pacers and fell off, and he asked if he could run with me! Of course, I said yes however, after some time he thanked me and told me he was having some knee pain! The great thing was, I still saw him cross the finish line a little after me!
Around mile 20, I really started to walk a little more. My hamstrings hated me me though I still tried to do as much running as possible. By mile 22, the 4:45 pace group passed me and I laughed. Any other time, that would have bothered me (I’m super competitive with myself) but who can be mad when they have ran 22 miles and only have 4.2 left! During my leisurely run walk, I made some small talk and cheered on other runners! Not to mention, I even saw some runners from IG!
Half way through mile 26, I started to jog and high 5 the countless spectators, including some half marathon finishers and a friend of mine who gave me all sorts of advice prior to the race!
The homestretch was absolutely great! Nothing but spectators, vendors, and families cheering on every runner, regardless if they knew them or not! Once the finish line was in sight, another runner sprinted by me but I kept my pace and smiled! I was happy I made it this far though my legs felt like they were ready to fall off! at 4:55:07, I did it!
I thanked the volunteer who gave me my medal, and spent the next half hour walking around and 15 more minutes cheering on other runners before I headed home!
Most of the races I complete are through Track Shack and RunDisney, however this race will become a ritual for me! The course was beautiful, flat, and scenic! There were just enough runners and most importantly the volunteers were EXCELLENT! After mile 8, there was GU at EVERY mile and I ALWAYS knew when the next gatorade/water stop was approaching! There was no guessing or hoping there was water coming up, especially considering the humidity! Many of the residents came out to cheer on runners and even handed out candy, water, and oranges! The price was absolutely great as well! The race was less than $100 and came with quite a few of great post race goodies including pizza, beer, pancakes, and a finishers towel!
I enjoyed every second of my marathon and cannot wait for my 2nd race, WDW Marathon in January! I learned that I will never have a reason to doubt myself again and quite honestly, as a recreational runner, 26.2 miles is not as grueling as it sounds! If you put in the training and learn to love every second of it, you will enjoy everything that comes along with it! Nothing is impossible, you just have to want it enough!
All in all…I am officially a marathoner!