On Sunday, November 26, 2017, I ran the Space Coast Half Marathon in Cocoa Village, Florida for the fifth & final time in the Big Bang Series. The Big Bang Series, was a five year plan, in which they offered 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 Atlantis. Atlantis was NASA’s fourth shuttle orbiter. Atlantis took half the time spent on Columbia to be built. Its first launch was on my birthday, October 3, 1995 as STS-51. It flew 33 missions, with is final mission and the final mission of the Shuttle Program on July, 8-21, 2011.
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.
Friends Matt & Kira stayed at the Courtyard as well, so we rode the shuttle to the race start together. 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, this was a different year in that the temperature was a less than 60 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 5th 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. After 5 races, we no longer have any need for beach towels.
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 “2017 Finisher” sign that you can stand with for a finisher photo.
Since this was the final year of the series, they also had an Intergalactic backdrop for those that finished all 5 races.
Well, I got a sub two hour finish at 1:58:58; however, this race continues to defeat me. It is a great race; however, I just cannot seem to conquer this simple course. After the race, I stuck around to see all our friends finish as well. We all decided to wait on Becky who was running the marathon to try, and succeeded, at qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
So, after five years of the Big Bang Series at the Space Coast Half Marathon, the collection is complete.
Once we got to Disney, Matt, Kira, and myself posed with all seven medals.
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. We arrived around 12:45 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 and hung out at the beach a little while.
We then went to dinner for a Fifty States Half Marathon Club Meetup at Zarrella’s Italian & Wood Fired Pizza. We had about 15 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.
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. This year we stayed at Disney; however, we went to Universal Studios for this trip.
On Monday we went with Matt & Kira.
We always start the visit with a dinner & bowling outing to Splitsville Lanes at Disney Springs on Sunday night post half marathon. It is always hilarious, because typically our legs don’t really work well.
On Monday night, we all met back up for dinner at Whispering Canyon, which is a hilarious place to eat.
They took care of my tea and Splenda needs.
Then he realized we wanted a picture of us, and he helped us out!
This was my last half marathon for 2017. I am planning to do a local race, the Nexton Cocoa Cup 5k on December 16th. My next half marathon will be the Augusta, GA Half Marathon on February 24th.