Race Day (Sunday)
On Dec. 1, 2013 I ran in the Space Coast Half Marathon. This is the first race of five in The Big Bang Series. The series will award a commemorative shuttle medal each year for the retired Space Shuttles. This year’s medal celebrated the first shuttle, Columbia STS-1.
The morning started early. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, one of the host resorts. We were up and out the room by 4:45 to get to the start. I rode with fellow Running of the Ears friends (ROTErs) Greg & Stephanie Jackson. They were doing the full marathon. The half marathon started at 6:00 AM and the full started at 6:30 AM in the opposite direction. They started a half hour later and in the opposite direction so most of the half marathoners would be off the course when they got there. I met up with longtime friends Michael & Tara Bell at the start. They were also doing the half marathon, so we all started together.
The start was fantastic! They had a jumbo-tron screen at the starting line. When it was one minute to start, they put up an actual shuttle launch on the screen. It went through the normal logistics of a shuttle launch, and when it was 3,2,1 lift off they fired us off in smoke billowing like a launch. It was almost too think to see going through the chute, but no issues.
The run was on. The first few miles were really dark because the sun had yet risen and the street lights weren’t strong enough (one weakness that needs to be addressed). We all activated our GPS watch & phone lights to get through this part. When the sun did rise, what a beautiful sight. We were running along the waterfront the entire race. It was an awesome 13 miles of scenery. The race was through a neighborhood, so many came out into their driveways to cheer us on. Some had special treats to offer like Smores, eggs & grits, candy, and one home was a bartender making bloody Mary’s. I’m interested to see how many runners actually took him up on this!
The water stops for the run was awesome. Most all of them were in various space attire to greet us. It made it quite entertaining.
So the run was an out and back. We ran about 6.5 miles and then turned around and came back. Not a big fan of these, but because of the view and support above, it was good. On the return back, about 4 miles out it started to get dark & cloudy and the winds picked up off the water. It created a serious headwind we had to plow through at the finish at Riverfront Park.
The finish line party is probably the best ever. Disney needs to take some notes if they are going to continue to increase their prices. After we crossed the finish line and received our medal, they also gave us a huge beach towel with the race logo on it. It was nice to wrap up in since the winds were making it a little chilly. But wait… There’s more! We were given unreal food selections: pancakes, eggs, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, pizza, juices, sports drinks, fruit, & water. There was probably more but I was stuffed! It was fabulous!
Since Greg & Stephanie were doing the full marathon, I took a shuttle back to the resort for an ice bath and freshen up to head to Disney World.
Here are some of the photos taken along the course by MarathonPhoto.
Saturday (Day Before Race)
On Saturday we left home about 7 AM to head to Florida. We arrived at the Kennedy Space Center around 1:30 PM where the race expo was held. We received complementary tickets to get in, but it was limited to the building where the expo was. If you wanted to tour KSC you had to each purchase a $50 ticket. We were there in 2011 so we did not do this; however, we got four more trips so I can go in to see Atlantis space shuttle. Because of the popularity of the race, the building was far too small for the expo. It was packed (another issue to hopefully be resolved in the future). We got my race stuff, which included a nice white tech long sleeved shirt. Once we made a few circles we got out. As we were leaving we met up with Greg & Stephanie. I also met a fellow running blogger, Sarahnaut.
After leaving the expo we went to the hotel to check-in. We then met a lot of the Running of the Ears for dinner at FishLips. We chose this restaurant because it is along the waterway where the cruise ships leave out. This was planned because the Disney Fantasy sailed out while we were there. It was a little sad watching or sail away and not being on it! We spent about three hours together then headed to the hotel to begin to rest the legs and watch the Gamecocks beat Clemson. Unfortunately Greg & Stephanie are from St. Louis and were pulling for Missouri who beat Texas A&M to earn a spot in the SEC Championship game, ousting the Gamecocks. So I had to suffer Greg’s annihilation Sunday morning before the race. It was good fun.
Sunday (After Race)
After we checked out the hotel on Sunday we headed to Disney World for a few days. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge which is awesome for Christmas. Once we checked in we went to Magic Kingdom and met up with friends we met on the Disney cruise in September. It was an awesome reunion. We spent two days at Disney and headed home on Tuesday evening.