November 29, 2015 The Space Coast Marathon, Cocoa Village, FL
I didn’t want to run this marathon. In fact, after running Marine Corp Marathon, I was almost completely committed to not training for anymore races. I didn’t run a week after MCM until the Sunday and then ran 8 miles. The following week, I got in 51 miles with back to back mid range runs on the weekend of 10 and 12 miles. The next week I decided if I was able to run 20 miles, I would do Space Coast since Ted said we would cancel the flights and drive to FL with the dogs. I ran a really half hearted 20 miles. The next week, simply 11 miles then it was next to nothing the week of the marathon due to travelling. So what did I expect?!
Let’s back track…
After losing Mum in July, I also lost motivation to race. Even though I did run anything signed up for throughout the summer and fall, it was with a heavy heart that my feet followed each course. Negativity filled my brain. At the end of August, we lost our dearest dog, Shane. My running partner since I began running marathons back in 2010. He was only just due to turn 8 years in October but life is cruel and he passed. This was the pin in my half inflated balloon.
Ted missed Shane as well so we decided to get another German Shepherd and met Luke in September. We brought him home as an 8 week old pup. Personally, I wasn’t ready. I was heart broken about Shane and Mum and wanted to grieve but a puppy forces life and future hopes upon you so we enjoyed our new boy. This was one more reason I hemmed and hawed about running the marathons: I didn’t want to leave Luke with him being so young.
Running Space Coast:
After deciding to go through with the race, I held onto being able to run under 4 hours since this was my 20th marathon. The weather was 66 at the start and would quickly climb to 78 degrees. I was not acclimated to that heat. Still, I opted to follow the 3:45 hr pace leader, an 8:35 pace.
We started slow due to the packed running crowd and the pacer worked to get us back on pace. He was pushing an 8:20 pace for 5 to 6 miles. By mile 9 I let that pace group slip away and wanted to call it a DNF. “But this was my 20th”, I kept telling myself so “try to finish”. I pushed to the half and saw the “worm hole” where marathoners could turn in to finish if they didn’t want to run the entire marathon. No. I wouldn’t quit. As badly as I wanted to stop and get picked up, it was marathon number 20 and I was out there with no injuries just a bad mental attitude. At mile 15 I broke down to tears and called Ted telling him I was walking this one.
The expo, course, and other
The expo was very small, well organized and not over whelming with fitness products. It was located at our hotel, Residence Inn in Cocoa, FL. We did a quick in and out, about 20 minutes.
The course starts in the quaint area of Cocoa Village. The marathon course heads north running along Indian River Drive until the orange cone 90 degree turn to head back towards Cocoa Village. The course then continues south on Rockledge Drive and runners pass the finishing half marathoners upon their return to the finish line at Riverfront Park.
The buses drop runners off at Riverfront Park where large displays and loud music plays. Plenty of porto potties. I watched the lines grow longer and longer as half marathon then marathon start time approached. I wandered around looking at the sound stage with its “musical car” display, Astronaut mannequins, and participants with family taking photos. I walked along the finish area where racks of finisher medals hung in pregnant anticipation. At this point, there was no question of receiving one, my question was if I could run a PR with such little training in between marathons.
Comparing this marathon to the 19 previous ones, it was flat, the weather was good but on the hot side, support great, finishers medal great but the finish area was very over crowded. I wasn’t in a great mood so didn’t look around much but they had loud music and a party-your-butt-off atmosphere.
I lined up hoping to follow the pace leader of choice but we were so bunched in, I ended up next to the 3:55 group leader. She was positive and talkative and if I had only stuck with her, maybe, JUST MAYBE, I would have had another BQ. She worked to catch up over 2 miles then called out to “George” the 3:45 group leader that if he didn’t up the pace, we would pass him. I decided to up the pace with George. Mistake. At mile 9, my mood and determination dropped. The pace was faster than should have been due to trying to make up time but still, if my mental game was on, I could have held on.
By mile 12, I had just about given up and was looking forward to passing through the finish area with an option to quit. That nagging fact that I was in the middle of running marathon 20 kept hounding me. My feet kept going as I wanted desperately to see Ted, Zoey and Luke. At this point, I made a pact with myself to walk when I wanted, run a little, don’t push it, just finish. Go slow. Go so slow as to try to get as close to a 5 hour finish time as I could.
The 3:55 pace group came up on me at mile 18. I was going to try to stay with them but it was to much work so I went back to the plan of going slow and walking when I wanted. I kept being passed by a skinny running girl whom I would eventually RE-pass as she continually stopped to stretch her hamstrings. Then another very short little lady came up on me and passed. I decided to make her my competition and would run up, pass her, then walk eventually, she would come up on me again, I would run, and so it continued to the last mile where I just kept going until crossing that much desired finish line which seemed like a very long run through the covered walkway at Riverfront Park. The young man handed me a medal but it was a half marathon medal. I worked WAY to hard to be happy with that mistake so I went back and said “HEY!….” Got my 20th marathon medal at Space Coast. Not happy with my lack of mental endurance but happy with my perseverance.
More about the course… there were plenty of well attended water stations. Not as many spectators as expected until we looped back through Cocoa Village. It was getting hotter and the conversation among runners who were treading along for their 2nd or 3rd Space Coast said it was noticeably more difficult than the previous years, probably due to the heat. As for terrain, just a few minor hills and since I’m from Upstate New York, they couldn’t be considered hills.
Setting up for a good run:
I did everything right the day before: time off my feet, eating plenty of carbs, no wine. We even drove the first half of the course, stopping with the dogs to take photos along the water.
The morning of the race, I was up at 3 am, ate a Clif Bar, water with electrolytes, a huge banana an hour and half before the race and was able to use the porto potties to get comfortably confident there would be no need to stop. My mistake? I forgot to take gels. I took half of one at 3 miles, then a full gel at 8 1/2 (why did I forget my 6 mile gel???!!!!). Had a mouth full of sports beans but ended up spitting them out because I wasn’t near a water stop and they made me feel ill. After that, I forgot to take any gels. Guess I figured I was walking and quit trying so there was no need.
Net time: 4:11:44, 9TH PLACE OUT OF 133, GENDER PLACE 128 OF 1212.
MILE 6.2 AT 52:42HALF AT 1:54:13
MILE 20 AT 3:04:51
Just grateful I didn’t quit. I think I need to give marathons a rest for a while. I’m not enjoying the race experience anymore. I’ll unload the baggage brought on by 2015 events and see what happens in months to come.