Watch Out For That Wall!!

This past weekend was the Space Coast Half Marathon & Marathon. I headed up there on Saturday afternoon and quickly checked out the expo at the Kennedy Space Center. Then we boarded a bus and headed to the Apollo/Saturn V Center for a pre-race pasta dinner.

Dinner was fun. First we watched a video on how Nasa raced Russia to get a rocket to the moon. How USA was failing the race to space at first, but how that all started to change when we planned a trip to the moon. Then we moved onto another room to show how the launch pad was the day of the first flight to orbit the moon. Then onto dinner.

We sat in a big room with a huge rocket hanging over us. It was pretty amazing. Each table had a fun fact about space. The food was good and we got to meet some interesting people. A couple at the table was from Tampa and did a lot of race in the area. Then it was on to the keynote speaker - Bart Yasso.

I must admit, I don't know much about all of the well known runners. I haven't read anyone's book. I don't know who all of the elites are. I didn't know what to expect of the presentation he was about to give. I was entertained the whole time. I thought he was a great speaker. He was passionate, funny, inspiring, and entertaining. He spoke about races all around the world, the different people he met, the areas, cultures, etc. I definitely enjoyed my time that night. Then it was off to bed.
Bib, Shirt, and Moon Pie!

Sunday morning arrived and it was cold! We headed over to Riverfront park. I wore a long sleeved running shirt for the first time to race in Florida. The only other time I've done this was in London, and that was for a 5k. I wasn't sure if I'd wind up too hot, but I thought I'd be ok. I'd find out I guess. I headed to the start and I was so cold! I tried to think warm thoughts, but it just wasn't happening. The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that in just a little while I'd be running - and this was perfect weather to run in.

I had decided the night before that I would try running with a pace group for the first time. Previously I had only seen groups for 2:15 or 2:30, but they were going to have a 2:20 pace group. My PR (from just last week) was 2:26:56. Ok, maybe I wasn't thinking of how hard it is to take that much time off your PR, but I knew that I also wasn't good at pacing myself and I usually run hard in the beginning and slow down at the end. I thought that maybe If I ran at an even, steady pace the whole time I'd actually be able to do it. And if I couldn't keep up I wouldn't, but it's worth a try. If I don't set higher goals I'll never get better anyway. So, try it out. I figure, the only way I'll know what works best is to try different things out.

So off to the 2:20 group I went. There were several people already with the group introducing themselves. Our pacer was Pacer Jim, from He was super energetic and had bright blue hair. He reassured us all that if we followed his instructions we would cross the finish at 2:20. Everyone started to get to know each other a little bit before "blast-off".
We started running and Pacer Jim was awesome. He kept everyone motivated. He would pass cops and shout how awesome the 2:20 group was and tell us to wave to the cop. We would hoot and holler and cheer for ourselves. As each mile passed we were on pace. A different runner in the group would hold the pace sign for a mile as well, and he would get to know them and ask questions. And he was telling us jokes and keeping us entertained.

Unfortunately, I couldn't keep up. I was running a little too hard. And starting off that strong I started to get really, really tired around mile 5. I really wanted to stick it out, and I kept with the group for another mile. But at mile 6 I hit the wall. I started to walk. From there on I just felt like I ran a really crappy race.

I ran/walked for most of mile 6 - 7. I was bummed out and felt like crap. Then a woman patted me on the back. She said "Hey you're from the 2:20 group! C'mon we can do this!". It was her second half marathon. We talked a little, and I ran strong for a while - longer than I could of without her support. Then I can upon a water stop and walked though it. I saw Mile 8. Only 5 more to go.
Me looking somewhat decent on the course.  

I remember my right knee aching, my left ankle feeling sore. I wondered to myself why I do this a few times. Then I had a mental battle with myself asking my why I get these stupid thoughts in my head when I know I can do this. I also asked myself why I always think I can train for a marathon when it's hard for me to get through the last 5 miles of a half. Ahhh, the mental component of races.

I don't remember what I thought through mile 9 and 10. I remember being passed at some point by the guy who won the marathon. That's right the Marathon. Oh sure, just run by me. Like it's nothing, even thought you're doing DOUBLE the distance. Super-human man! It amazes me how people can do that. Then I thought about my friends running their first marathon and I wondered how they were doing and how far along they were. I knew they would do amazing, and I couldn't wait to see them at the finish.
Almost at the finish

Mile 12 came and I remember having to walk at some points during that mile as well. I felt like I was moving so slow. I thought I was going to finish well over 2:30. I guess that was fine. Some part of me was disappointed in myself because I had gotten to my goal of a sub-2:30 half, and now I wasn't keeping under it. My right foot cramped up. I had to stop and stretch it out. I felt a little defeated. Then I had to remind myself that I was still going to finish. I was still going to be completing my 4th half-marathon in 7 months, and I had just done one the week prior. That was something to be proud of. Maybe I could finish in 2:35? We'll see. I kept going. I did my run/walk again and as I neared the end of mile 12, I gave it all the energy I had left.
I saw the columned area where I knew the finish line was located through. I knew I was close. I heard someone yell something about a strong finish. I don't know if they were talking to me, but in my head they were. I crossed the finish. I looked at my watch. 2:30:50. I still managed a 2:30 finish time! For as bad as I felt for more than half of the race, I was happy with that time. And my official time was 2 seconds faster. Official Space Coast Half Marathon finish time: 2:30:48. I'll take it.
I most certainly earned this!

Pretty awesome medal =)

After my race was over I eagerly waited for the marathon finishers. And here I want to take the time to say a special congratulations to Carla and Brandi for completing their first full marathon. I know the time and dedication it takes to train, and can only begin to imagine the difficulty in actually completing the marathon. So to get to be there at the end was great inspiration to me to hopefully be able to accomplish something so amazing, and you both amaze me!
Congrats to Carla and Brandi completing their first FULL marathon!

And next week....Rock N Rock Las Vegas...My 3rd in a Row. 

What happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas (well at least the race won't =)