On Sunday, November 27, 2016, I ran the Space Coast Half Marathon in Cocoa Village, Florida for the fourth time in as many years. This was the fourth 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 Challenge medal if you complete all five years.
This year, the medal recognized the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Endeavour was NASA’s fifth shuttle orbiter was built to replace Challenger, and had its first launch on May 7, 1992 as STS-49. It flew 25 missions.
The morning started early. We stayed at the Courtyard Cocoa Beach, one of the host resorts. We woke up at 3:00 AM and were on the shuttle bus at 4:15 AM for our 6:00 AM race launch.
When we arrived at the race start we met up with many of our friends. However, in keeping with the tradition of the past years, I met up with Michael & Tara for our annual pre-race photo.
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. As you can tell from the data, the temperature was a little warm at 68 degrees.
Like previous 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 part!
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!
With all Space Coast races, when you get to the 10k timing belt, there is an erry looking house, that actually has a creepy mannequin in the attic window. It is the hit of the course to get a photo.
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 4th 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.
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 medals, they also gave us a huge beach towel with the race logo on it.
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 “2016 Finisher” sign that you can stand with for a finisher photo. Unlike the past few years, I have taken this alone; however, this year I was able to take it with my friend Becky.
Well, I got a sub two hour finish at 1:59:05; however, this race continues to defeat me. It is a great race; however, I just cannot seem to conquer this simple course.
So, after four years of the Big Bang Series at the Space Coast Half Marathon, the collection is almost complete.
Saturday (Day Before Race)
On Saturday we left home in Charleston, SC about 6:30 AM to head to Florida. The expo was at the Radisson Resort at the Port. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind a very bad accident on the interstate which caused us about a 2-hour delay. We arrived around 2:45 PM. Because of our familiarity with the expo layout, we were in and out in 15 minutes.
After the expo, we went and checked into the hotel and met up with Matt & Kira. We then went to dinner for a Fifty States Half Marathon Club Meetup at Papa Vitos. We had over 40 clubbers come out. It was great to put faces to names I had not yet met, and catch up with fellow runners I had met before.
Hope to see you at the race next year for the final race of the Big Bang Series. Sunday, November 26, 2017 we will go for Space Shuttle Atlantis!
After the race, we always go over to Disney for a few days. It was such a good time spend time with friends in the park. We always start the visit with a dinner & bowling outing to Splitsville Lanes at Disney Springs. It is always hilarious, because typically our legs don’t really work well.
This was my last race for 2016. After completing eight half marathons, of which five were in the last ten weeks, I am ready to take a race break over the month of December. My next race will be the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon in Jackson, MS on January 7, 2017.
Here is the 2016 Half Marathon collection.