I ran my second and last half marathon of the year in Florida. The Space Coast Marathon takes place in Cocoa Beach / Cocoa Village and is a space themed race, what with Kennedy Space Center being right up the road. I was up at 4 am to prepare for a 6 am start. Last time I was up at 4 am was in my 20s and I’m certain that I stayed up until 4.
My brother and sister-in-law found me and took my picture along with a few women that I met in the corral. The trees in the street had these white lights in them that lit up from top to bottom and had a bit of a space theme to it. Our National Anthem was sung and a huge video screen showed a lift off of a space shuttle. Everyone around me was saying how cool it was and they were right! I was pumped and ready to go.
Since Jeff Galloway was a key speaker at this race there were a few people doing the run/walk method. They even had pacers that held signs stating the expected finish time and mile pace. For the first half of the race I was smack in the middle of the 2:30 and 2:40 group. The first three miles of this race were dark. The sun was not up,yet. And just for the record, if you are running a race using the Galloway method, which I approve of, please use the side of the road for your walk break, especially when the course is crowded.
Our path led us down the Main Street of Cocoa Village and into what looked like a private community of fancy homes that ran along the Indian River. It was so dark, at one point a girl called out, “Marco!” To which we all replied , “Polo!” Slowly the sky turned from black to dark grey to grey to light. I had already run four miles and the sun just came out. I was also completely drenched. No, it did not rain. This is Florida and it was humid; Florida humid.
I started to worry about finishing strong. I was not even half way through and I was already exhausted. I wasn’t exhausted because of my pace, which I was doing well with, I was exhausted because of the humidity. Luckily I brought plenty of gels to suck down and luckily that had a water station at almost every mile marker. I played it safe and stopped at as many aid stations as possible.
I knew I’d be ok. In my long runs lately I’ve held back during the first half, stopping for a minute and then finishing strong. We did out turn around at mile 6 and I walked for a it, catching my breathe and letting my body recover quickly. I switched over from. The Beatles to RUSH and my adrenaline started kicking in. Next thing I know I was rocking steady and picking up the pace. But I had to be careful not to go too fast too soon!
Along the run I saw this guy and eventually caught up to him. He was a retired navy man and tapped to his back was a picture of a young man with a born and died date. He was holding our flag high while he was running. I got a chance to get next to him and said, “Thank You for your service, I really appreciate it.” His response was ,”Thank you,too. That means a lot to hear that from people. ”
On the run back there was a nice,cool breeze. It was an overcast day so all in all it was perfect conditions for a race. For the last five miles I did a fair amount of run/walk but always sure to make sure my pace was fine. when I was running my pace was faster than in the beginning so the walking didn’t feel as much of a let down.
Mile 12- no room for walking now. Got to finish strong ! I looked ahead of me and saw what I thought was the finish line, and who I thought was my brother waving at me. Limelight by Rush was playing so I started gunning it. It wasn’t my brother and it certainly wasn’t the finish line. “Aw, crud!” I thought to myself. we made a right turn where I could see the entrance to a pavilion and a ton of people cheering. This is it! So I picked it up and went for the strong finish. Once again, I was fooled. Where the hell is this finish linear? It wasn’t too much further ahead. My body was happy to have stopped. I didn’t see Tim and. Holly, who were standing right at the finish line but my wife was lucky enough to have caught and recorded me coming across the finish on the web cam they had set up.
I saw that the clock read 2:42 as I crossed. This would mean my time was less than that due to not crossing the start for a good two to three minutes. This should be a new PR for me if it’s under 2:41- of course I can’t find my name anywhere on the site’s results page..
I got a little tears eyed when I finished and when they put that cool medal around my neck. The woman who gave it to me said, “here you go,Matthew, you deserve this.” My eyes started to swell. I was happy to be finished run if this race and I am happy to not have any races until the last day of March. I plan on giving my body some rest, but not too much. I’ll return to a more steady schedule at. Sgt. Nate’s class and run one day a week just to keep it up.
This race was a lot of fun and aside from the humidity it was an easy course. No elevations to worry about. The volunteers are dressed like astronauts and the fans and runners dress as their favorite Star Trek or Star. Wars characters. There were plenty of interesting outfits o there on the course. I will return to this race next year, for sure! I mean, look at how cool this medal is!
In closing, I have to thank everyone who helped me, and put up with me, along the road to my running, training and racing. To mom and dad, who come to any race that they can to show their support. I’m glad they got to experience The Broad Street Run, which was a more fun experience for them and they cheered every runner that they saw… all 40,000 of them. To Tim & Holly for helping me with my pre-run food requests, getting up at 4 am for this race and waiting a good 4 hours total once all was said and done. To Sgt. Nate for continuing to encourage and train me in wellness and fitness. He often told me not to come to class in that my body needed rest with all of this running. To Katrina, my running partner and friend who has helped me climb that hill and is really good at giving a swift kick in the rear (mentally) to keep moving.
Lat but not least, to my wife, Morgan. You have put up with all the taper week crazies, long runs where I’m gone on a weekend for several hours, and driving to and from all these races. I love you very much and we get to enjoy some food and craft beer this December.