Space Coast Half Marathon. It had been a few weeks since I had been able to share a running trip with my dear friends Brina and Tracy, and it was a great opportunity to see many of my other running friends from afar. On top of that, Space Coast Half marathon has an awesome reputation for a gorgeous course, excellent support, an awesome medal, and of course, the Space Coast theme. Because the race was about 4 hours away from home, we decided to make a mini-vacation of it. Hus-beast and I stayed together at one hotel in Cocoa Beach, while Brina and Tracy shared a room at one of the host hotels.
But being at different hotels didn't really mean all that much, we still spent most of the weekend together enjoying the sights and sharing laughter. After picking up our race packets at Kennedy Space Center, the four of us purchased tickets to the park and wandered around for awhile. I was so excited to be there, but I was in a lot of pain in my right foot.
For months, as I had been battling this chronic injury, I had done really well at masking my pain and not letting anyone know how bad it was. I had become resigned to the fact that the doctor was doing everything he could to help me get better, and that there would just be residual pain leftover. I wore my boot because I knew that I would be spending extra time on my feet (although the doctor told me that I wouldn't need to wear it anymore). I was sore, and hurting, and every step was torturous. So although there we were seeing the most phenomenal exhibit on the space shuttle Atlantis (and actually seeing it up close), my heart wasn't into it, and I really just wanted to go back to the hotel and cry. Eventually, when the 3 of them teamed up on me to tell me for the 6574654563874845347th time that I needed to go to a new doctor for a second opinion, I broke. I couldn't deny it any longer. I knew there was a problem.
The course was straightforward and lived up to all expectations. The race started in the Village of Cocoa Beach, and headed south through an absolutely gorgeous residential area, flanked on the easy by the intercoastal waterway, and on the west by what I can only imagine was multi-million dollar beach mansions... but not the kind of multi-million dollar mansions we see in South Florida, more of what I would think of when I consider other parts of the east coast... more rustic in a way. If that even makes sense.
There were a lot of people. With a race of over 3k half marathoners, an equal number of full marathoners, and various speeds, there were always people to pace with and chat with. Although the ground was slick, I was making good time. After the pain from the day before, I had trouble putting my heart into this race and really wanting to be there in the moment, but by mile 3 I got there. Using the skills that I had developed the past few months with quickening my steps but shortening my stride, I seemed to be doing fairly well pace wise. But because this was a shared course between the full and half, and because the half was actually the second portion of the full, the course was open to participants for a full 8 hours, I had no real need to push for a good time.
And that was good, because by the time I hit mile 9, the pain was coming on in fits and starts. Only now, I was having difficulty with my lower back. and somewhere around mile 10 I realized that I was having trouble holding my head up. I slowed to a walk, and if you looked at me, you could probably tell something was wrong. While I was moving in a full upright position, I couldn't keep my head from rolling back. I spend the next 4 miles (literally) looking down my nose at the course.
Whereas I had spend the first 9 miles at a pace that would have ushered me into a personal best by at least 10 minutes, the last 4 miles had me struggling to even force one foot in front of the other. I was so out of it and so exhausted, unlike in other races from this year where I can remember every moment of coming into the chute and crossing the finishline, I have absolutely no memories of this.
I distinctly remember crouching down to let a little girl put my medal around my neck, standing up and then having the medical team pulling me out of a box of towels at the finish line. Apparently after all that movement, I must have crouched and stood too quickly and I keeled right into a box of finisher's towels! At least it was a soft place to land, right?
Not a PR, but not far off my PR, so I call it a successful race.
I met up with the rest of the group somewhere in the post race area, had a beer, had some pancakes and we headed back to our hotels to clean up. I felt good. But would I be ready to do it all again the following weekend at the Palm Beaches Half Marathon?
Female 30-34: 215/258
That afternoon, I finally lost my first toenail (which had given me trouble in Sept but never fell off). I think I can officially call myself a runner now.