#13 of 13in2013! Space Coast Marathon Race Recap

The bling for the series!
Goal:  Run 13 races in 2013, check!  What better race to run to cap my running goal for the year than my first full marathon at the Space Coast Marathon!  This was not scheduled to be my first marathon.  Back in April, we registered for the WDW Marathon in January 2014.  We started training for it in July and as it turned out our training run on November 30 was a 23-mile long run. This happens to fall on the same weekend as the Space Coast Half Marathon/Marathon which we had already registered to run the half. With a momentary lapse in better judgment, my husband and I decided to run 26.2 miles instead of our scheduled 23 miler!  We figured since we were running a long run anyway, why not earn a medal doing it. Thus, the Space Coast Marathon became the first marathon that we trained for. What makes this special is that this is the only space-themed race on the planet!  This year is also the first race in a series of 5 races in 5 years called The Big Bang Series.  Run 3 of 5 races and you earn a Milky Way medal, run all 5 and earn the Intergalactic medal.  We intend to run the series and earn all 7 seven medals in the next 4 years!

It took 22 weeks of training to get us ready for the marathon.  Or as ready as we could be with the time that we had. The longest training run we did was 17 miles. This gave us a little bit of apprehension because other runners have suggested that running 20 miles would have been better because we would really know and prepare to feel the "pain" that this distance somehow gives a runner.  So, ready of not, we reached the 22nd week of training and race day was just days away.

Race shirt with our bibs
Packets were available for pick up at 10 am on the Monday before race day. I was at the store by 11 am.  I suppose I was a tad excited. I really didn't know what I was expecting to find in the race packet but it was nothing really special.  It had a white, long sleeved race shirt, a bib with our name printed on it, a clear plastic check-in bag with label, and the official race program.  I was told to take as many moon pies and protein bars laid out on a table.  I took two of each for Ralph and me.  Before leaving the store, I scanned our D-tags to make sure that it read the tag for tracking time.

We followed the marathon gurus' recommendations to start carb loading days prior to the race. This was not too difficult to accomplish since the race happens to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving!  I have never stuffed myself with so much food and not worry that I would gain weight!  I savored every bite of pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cakes, salad, that I pushed in my mouth.  This was followed by two more days of eating nothing but rice, spaghetti, and bread.  We were advised by race organizers that the weather on race day might be warm so we had to hydrate.  So hydrate we did.  I am not a big water fan but I had to force myself to drink as many ounces a day throughout the week.
Year 1 of the series!
The day before the race we went to the expo.  It was held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.  We decided to check it out mainly to take pictures for my blog and maybe get some free products.  The expo was not the size of Disney races or the Melbourne Music Marathon but we thought it was just big enough.  It was packed when we got there but still managed to get a free Publix drawstring back and purchased 26.2 decals for the cars.  Of course, we expected to finish the race!  With only a handful of vendors, we were in and out of the expo within an hour.

My race gear..
The night before the race, I was very anxious.  I laid out all of my race gear.  I made sure that I had Body Glide for my recurring pinky toe blister that somehow always appears at mile 6!  I cut my toe nails and shampooed my hair to save time in the morning.  I packed my ifitness belt with Gu, some Tylenol and Beanno pills, extra plastic bag for my phone if it rains, and extra toilet paper.  I filled out one of the water bottles just for emergencies since I knew that there will be water stops throughout the course. You never know when you are parched and the next water stop may not be nearby.  I have had problems with plantar fascitis and knee pain before so I taped both feet and right knee to help protect these areas.  I should have taped both knees! I suffered for it later.  I was done by 9 pm and decided to call it a night. Since I was a bundle of restlessness, anxiety and excitement I didn't fall asleep until two hours later.

4 am came all too soon!  Our friends were picking us up at 5 am so we hurriedly got ready.  We each had one toasted cinnamon raisin bagel for breakfast.  This usually tides us over for the first 3 miles.  We got to Cocoa Village and the half marathoners were already being called to the starting line.  Their race was set to blast off at 6:00 and the marathon at 6:30.  Half marathoners head south on the course while marathoners head north for the first half and head south to the half marathon course for the second half.  After the half marathoners left, marathoners slowly headed to the starting line.

We took the requisite photo shots while we all still looked fresh and happy!  A few minutes later, someone took the mic and sang the National Anthem, then the tv roared the thunderous sound of shuttles blasting off to space and we were off. Ralph and I had decided to walk or jog slowly for the first mile.  So choosing a pacer to run with was really not useful for us so we just kept to the back of the pack.  We wanted to bank some leg power for later in the race.  We had 26.2 miles to the go after all.  We started behind a 6 hour pacer, fell behind to the 6:15 pacer, and after a potty break, fell behind the 6:30 pacer.  In the end, got passed by the 7 hour pacer after, you guessed it, another potty break!  Darn compression shorts/tights!

Ralph, Lorna and I at Mile 24!
The first half of the race came and went without much incident except for a trip to the medic tent for my pinky toe blister and two potty breaks!  The second half was a different story.  Between miles 14 and 23 I had different body parts start to hurt.  My untaped left knee started to make it's presence felt followed by my quads screaming from tightness.  A few miles later, my biceps started to cramp!  Who gets cramps in the arms? I had to run like I was hitting a boxing bag to stretch the muscles! Somewhere between this distance, we had caught up with a friend. With my knees hurting and her calves cramping we decided to do a slow walk/fast walk interval instead of a run/walk interval! We figured this would keep us moving forward.  After a while, we just dug deep and kept with our 1/1 run/walk interval. My legs were too tired at this point.  In fact, it had been tired since we passed the half way mark! Mile markers were coming by slower and slower it seemed.  The relay from the brain to the muscles to run when the beeper goes off was also slowing down.  My legs were heavy that I really had to force them to move!  When we got to   mile 23, we all knew that only we had but a 5K to go and we could hear the music from the finish line.  It seemed that we got a second wind.  We kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Rounding the bend to the finish.
The final .2 mi is said to be the longest distance in a marathon!  This time, it wasn't. At mile 26, a friend met us and told us the end is just around the corner!  We could hear the announcer as a runner crosses the finish.  We took another turn and we were met by friends cheering us on to the finish!  They were taking our pictures and were making a lot of noise.  We ran the final few yards with the most fan fare of any race I've ever done!  It was so heartwarming to have a lot of friendly faces at the finish.  Ralph and I held hands as we crossed the finish line!  What an exhilarating moment it was!  Our prize, a beautiful medal with a miniature Space Shuttle Columbia on it and a beach towel!  The after race party was long done when we finished.  They were still serving pancakes and eggs to the finishers but that was about it.  They ran out of sausages and oranges but there were still bananas available.  There were also still beer and soda.

I will forever remember my first marathon.  I read that only 0.5% of the US population has run and finished a marathon.  I am proud that my husband and I are now a part of the "club".  This would have been my one and done marathon, if only I didn't already sign up for the WDW Marathon in January 2014.  At least, I have one marathon to look back on and learn from so I know that I will finish it as well.

We are marathoners!

Lessons learned along the way:

  • Train, train, train!
  • A 17-mile training run is enough to get you to the finish.
  • Whatever you don't put KT tape on will hurt after 15 miles.
  • You need upper arm strength to take your compression tights off and put them back on.  And this strength weakens after mile 8.
  • If you don't hold on to anything you can hold on to inside the portalet you will fall! 
  • Men have the bushes - enough said!
  • Your pinky toe may start to blister at mile 6.
  • You will walk funny the day after the race.
  • There is no shame in finishing 7 minutes over the race limit.  The medal earned by the first place finisher came from the same cut as yours.
  • Running for 7 hours is too long! 
  • Because 26.2 miles is way, too long!
  • "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed" - Theodore Roosevelt
  • Just run!

Beautiful early morning view at race time!
 Runners getting ready to start.

 Filipino Strong!  Representing the Philippines all running the marathon!

Still smiling and looking fresh at Mile 1

Rocket garden!


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