Thursday, December 4, 2014

Space Coast Half Marathon Recap

Hello, everyone!

Talk about a stressful week back to work--I was leading a professional development session on Tuesday night and didn't get home until almost 8pm!  Then, on Wednesday, I had to attend another PD session til 4, then I helped tutor my neighbor--on top of all the housework and cooking I planned on doing.  Top that off with a needy puppy who was NOT ok with me being on the computer, and you have a lack of blog post yesterday and a late one today.
BUT, I needed to get today's post out to you because I wanted to tell you all about the Space Coast Half Marathon I ran on Sunday!  It was my last half marathon of 2014, 12th total race of 2014, and likely my last half marathon until Baby Fish arrives.

I first heard about the Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon series from a flyer in my packet from the Firecracker 4 miler back in July 2013.  I kept meaning to register for the race in 2013, but after putting it off, I tried to register after they'd reached the cap for the race.  Bummer!

The race series takes place in Cocoa, FL, which is just inland from the Kennedy Space Center.  It's the "only space-themed race on the planet", and right now, they have are doing the Big Bang Race Series from 2013-2017.  Each year's medal features a different space shuttle, and if you run 3 out of the 5 races, you get a special medal.  If you run all 5 of the races, you get an additional special medal.  Talk about bling!
Image Source
Now let's talk about Sunday's race.  I was unable to attend the expo thanks to my flight back from VA, but a friend of mine picked up my packet for me.  I heard good things about the expo, so I look forward to attending that in the future.

The race organizers set up a bunch of different host hotels with buses on race morning, so getting to the starting line was very easy.  The starts of the half marathon and marathon were 30 minutes apart, and the 4,000 half marathoners started promptly at 6!
The street we started on was PACKED, but they did had a rocket launch countdown on the screen to get us started.  That was really neat!

The course was an out-and-back course and started going south along the Indian River.  It was a beautiful morning to be running by the water and witnessing the sunrise!
Before the race, I wasn't able to go to the port-a-potty a second time because they ran out of toilet paper!  I was HURTING by mile 1.5 because I had to go so bad (thanks, Baby Fish, for messing with my bathroom habits!), and I wasn't the only one who had to stop.  Luckily, there were plenty of port-a-potties, but I had to wait in line.  Not the best way to start the race!

I shook that off and kept on going.  For this race, I ran for about 6 minutes at the beginning, then began my run/walk/run intervals of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking.  I felt really great running-wise throughout the race!  The scenery certainly helped.
I LOVED the evidence of the space theme throughout the race.  All of the volunteers were given NASA space jumpsuits to wear, which was really fun.  The water stations were manned by different charity groups, and many of them wore Star Wars, Star Trek, or other space-themed costumes.  All the mile markers also had astronauts on them.  Fun times!
Two frustrating things for me during this race: first, I had to stop for the restroom 3 times on the course.  I'm not used to having to do this, but being pregnant isn't necessarily conducive to skipping the restroom.  That certainly slowed me down, BUT I did stop my RunKeeper app when I was waiting so I knew my "true" time for the race.
Mid-run selfie!
The other frustrating thing was the Galloway pacing groups.  Now, I am certainly not knocking the run/walk/run method, especially because I was using it!  However, we were running on a two-lane road and had to stay to the right since faster people were coming the other way.  These groups were so big and were running about 4-wide, that they took up the whole road!  I know I said "excuse me!" in a very annoyed voice to most of them, but hey, they were in my way!  I was able to get around the groups each time I reached them (happened more than I'd like due to my bathroom stops), but it was still a little annoying.  Again, at least I had pretty scenery to look at!
The 13.1 miles passed quickly, and I made it to the finish feeling great!  The finish area was really neat--we ended at a park, and we ran around a sheltered walkway to finish.  The energy was great with the crowds standing on either side, and they had lots of space-themed decorations to go around.
My official finish time: 2:43:02--a pregnant PR!  That was my goal for the race, so I was really happy that I reached it!  Check out the sweet medal.  We also got a finisher's beach towel (that's what's on my arm in the picture below).
I'm glad I kept up with my time on the RunKeeper app, as my time without all the restroom stops was much, much better!
Oh, well!  My official time still was better than the previous two half marathons I've run while pregnant.  

The finish area/park was decorated with all sorts of space suits and great photo opp areas.  Check out this one with all of the medals for the Big Bang series!
I was able to meet up with Bobbie Jo at the end of the race, and we also found one of her friends that finished around the same time we did!
Bobbie Jo's husband, Derek, was running his first marathon, so she went to get a spot to see him finish.  We both saw him running south as we were running north to the finish (the marathoners did their last 13.1 on the half marathon course), so she knew he'd finish relatively soon.  I was HUNGRY and went to grab the pancake breakfast provided for the runners.  Yum!!!
I had to get back to my hotel to check out, but before I left the race area, I had to take a selfie with the astronaut suit!
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this race!  It was well organized, the course was beautiful (even for an out-and-back course), there was great amenities, and I had a lot of fun!  If only those Galloway pace groups didn't get in my way...

I will definitely be looking to run this half marathon again in the future!  I missed the first year, but I can still get the 3-year special medal over the next three years of the Big Bang series.

Question for you: Have you participated in a multi-year race series before?

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