Arrived in Cocoa Beach area and went to the race expo (which was actually about 20 minutes away from the hotel) and then headed over to the hotel and checked in. Next, went over to Ron Jon's Surf shop to buy the boys some swim suits and also since you have to stop by Ron Jon's if you are in Cocoa Beach. Had dinner at a little pizza/pasta place next to the hotel called Kelsey's which was just right, nice but not too fancy/expensive.
Woke up at 4:40 this morning to try and leave the hotel by 5:00, which we did basically. We thought we had a good handle on where to park but it was a bit confusing with no one there directing you. We found a spot, walked to the start line then I ran back to the car to get the camera (about a 5:00 minute total jog which was my warm up).
Race started a few minutes early. For the start of the race they had a video of a space shuttle launch which ended with a (10-9-8) countdown to start the race. Weather was a perfect 55°, no wind and no noticeable humidity. So, I had missed almost two weeks of training this past month due to injury, had just gotten over a cold, jabbed myself in the side with the coffee table corner, and had my foot run over by rocking chair on Thanksgiving day. That's ok, because it balanced off the PF in my right foot. So, I wasn't completely sure how the day would turn out. At this point I was actually not feeling too bad.
7:29, 7:16, 7:31, 7:19 (plus 16 seconds garmin adjust), 7:26
We took off and the first mile felt ok, second mile a little faster, and then third mile slower. For the fourth mile my garmin beeped way earlier than the mile marker (16 seconds early), fifth mile was the same. Now it wasn't looking so good but I also remembered that a lot can change in a marathon and can even change for the better.
7:11, 7:08, 7:05, 6:52, 7:06, 7:02, 7:08, 7:08
And for quite a while things got a lot better. Approaching 6 miles I could start to see the fastest people already turning back. First the wheel chairs, then the elites. The half and the full marathons share the course which is 6.5 miles north and then back down the same road. The road has lots of small rolling hills, pretty easy to run on and good for giving the legs a variety. On one of these little downhills I finall picked up some speed and was able to finally lock into a good pace which I would hold to mile 20. I also started to hit all the mile markers just before the garmin beeped. I was feeling pretty good and even hit one of the miles at sub-7:00, but then no more after that (not the day for that yet).
Heading back towards the start line in Cocoa Village there were a lot of people cheering. I was pretty much by myself so it felt good to see all those people cheering. Just past the crowd I saw Kathryn (she and her husband and two kids drove all the way out from home just to see me and another of her friends run this race, thank you very much Kathryn!), at first I was afraid that I had missed Jenny in the crowd but Kathryn said Jenny and the boys were just up ahead. They had a great spot picked out and were the best cheering squad ever. Not too far past where I saw here was the half way point, the clock read 1:34:28 (maybe I could make 3:10?).
7:07, 7:08, 7:10, 7:08, 7:11, 7:16, 7:11 (+21 second garmin adjust)
After the half way point things were still going pretty well for a while. It was a bit lonely. The half marathoners had split off, the faster people were out of sight so it was mostly just me. It was starting to feel a little harder but I was getting a little more hopeful the closer I got to the turn around point.
Just past mile 19 was the first turn in a series of squiggles for a rough tear drop turn around. There were volunteers at the first turn but then there were a couple of turns where I was guessing which way to go. There were more turns than I had seen on the map. At one point I really panicked but finally saw a runner up ahead, almost out of sight so I breathed a sigh of relief. I finally made it through all the turns and was back on the road home. Unfortunately with all of the turns I must have blown some of the tangents and now the garmin was way off from the mile marker, it took me 21 seconds to catch up to the 20 mile sign.
7:35, 7:31, 7:37, 7:37 (+ 7 second garmin adjust), 7:35, 7:34, 1:24(0.21@6:46)
One of the runners ahead of me was a very fast woman who I had finally caught up with. Unfortuntalely, I was not thinking logically, if I had caught up to her without speeding up, that must have meant that she had slowed down. At one point I realized that I was running just behind her at a 8:00 pace. I sped up but found it difficult to get back to my old pace, but managed to at least get the next mile in 7:35. At this point I was determined to not blow a good PR by really crashing in the second half. I wanted to at least get faster than 1:40.
There were lots of runners coming in the other direction so I no longer had my choice of which lane to run in. The road was canted to one side or the other and was slightly twisty. This was causing my left foot to start to hurt on top and the big toe (this was the rocking chair injury foot), maybe from tendon damage or something. I was getting other random pains but those didn't scare me too much, I just didn't want my foot to blow up on me. It was a challenge to hang on. I felt a bit guilty about not trying too hard but it can be a thin line between running a smart race and just not trying hard enough. Each mile gave me a little more hope and finally I was at the 25 mile marker. I didn't speed up much until I saw Jenny and the boys cheering for me near mile 26. They had stealthily constructed and transported the best sign ever.
I turned into the park and managed to get back at a 6:46 pace for the last 0.21 miles. I had no idea what time I would get until I saw the clock which said 3:11:32 when I went under it (chip time was 3:11:29). Results were soon up and I had placed 4th in my age group (missed 3rd place by 8 seconds).
We hung out for a bit and cheered on Kathryn's friend Leslie who had a huge PR and took 1st in her age group. They had a nice pancake, eggs, sausage breakfast.
Overall it was a great race, weather was perfect. I was glad to have overcome the little obstacles, show up and run another marathon. I am very thankful to my family and friends and all of their support they always give me.