On Sunday, November 30, 2014, I participated in the Space Coast Half Marathon in Cocoa Village, Florida. This was my second of five years running this race for the Big Bang Series. The Big Bang Series, is a five year plan, in which they will offer a finisher medal of one of the space shuttles each year, with a three year Milky Way Challenge medal, and a five year intergalactic medal if you complete all five years.
Last year the medal was for the Space Shuttle Columbia.
This year, the medal recognized the Space Shuttle Challenger. The medal was very meaningful to me, because as a kid, I grew watching the shuttle program, and was watching the day Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. The medal has 7 stars on it to represent the lives of the astronauts we lost on that day.
The morning started early. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, one of the host resorts. We were up and out the room by 4:30 AM to get to the start.
I rode with friends Greg & Stephanie Jackson. The half marathon start was at 6:00 AM and the full marathon start was at 6:30 AM in the opposite direction. The marathoners start 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 several other friends at the start (Michael & Tara Bell and Matthew & Kira Champagne).
The start yet again was awesome! 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.
There were no corrals, just estimated times that you arrange yourself accordingly. Of course, when it is done in this manner, you have those that get where they shouldn’t, and it clogged things up at the start.
Like last year, the first few miles were really dark because the sun had yet risen and the street lights weren’t strong enough (one weakness that still needs to be addressed). We all activated our GPS watch & phone lights to get through this area. When the sun did rise, what a beautiful sight. We were running along the Indian River 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. There actually was a line of runners who actually took him up on this!
The water stops for the run were awesome. Most all of them were in various space attire to greet us. It made it quite entertaining. At the halfway turn, was a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead club!
So the run was an out and back. We ran about 6.6 miles and then turned around and came back. Not a big fan of these, but because of the view and support above, made it quite enjoyable. Since this was my 2nd time running this course, that also helped with comfort. The particular road that we run on it cantered from the center, so if you run this race, try to stay near the center line, otherwise, it feels quite awkward.
My finish was a 1:58:00, which is about 23 seconds slower than the race in 2013. Here is my Garmin Data for the course.
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, pizza, juices, sports drinks, fruit, & water. There was probably more but I was stuffed! It was fabulous!
After the finish, they have an astronaut with the “2014 Finisher” sign that you can stand with for a finisher photo.
While I was waiting around the finish area for my friends to finish, I was waiting in line for a drink when I saw Bart Yasso. Runners will know who this is, but for those that don’t, he is very influential in the running community. He assists with training plans, race advice, etc. He was gracious enough to take a photo with me.
Saturday (Day Before Race)
On Saturday we left home in Charleston, SC about 7 AM to head to Florida. Last year, the expo was at the Kennedy Space Center, and was quite crowded. This year they moved it to the Radisson Resort at the Port. We arrived around 1:30 PM. What a debacle this was, it was worse than last year. There was no signage on A1A that this was where the expo was. Once you parked, the hotel was a maze without signage, only to find out it was in a convention center at the back not associated with the hotel. Once inside, there was no room to move. There were lines everywhere and on top of each other. There was not staffing to greet you or make sure you were in the right lines. Runners were in incorrect lines, only to wait 30 minutes to find out they were in the incorrect lines. This needs to be rectified. I was ready to spend a lot of money at the expo, but this drove me right out the door once I had my race bib.
After the expo, we went and checked into the hotel and rested a few minutes. We then headed over to Fishlips on the inlet to hang out with friends and watch the cruise ships sail out. After this, we went with our friends Matthew & Kira to Kelsey’s for dinner. We had eaten here before a cruise in the past, and it was yet again really awesome.
Hope to see you at the race next year. Sunday, November 29, 2015!