I woke up about the same time I normally would for a race. I got everything ready and headed to the airport on Saturday morning. I used Park ‘n’ Go this time and I have to admit it was very easy and stress-free. They picked me up at my car and dropped me off at the baggage claim door to the airport. I came up at the Check Point A side of the airport. I headed over to the C line since I knew it would be closer to my gate. There was a short line, but it went quickly. I had already checked in and printed my boarding pass since I wasn’t checking bags. I proceeded to the security line. I had no problems getting through security. I didn’t have time to grab breakfast, but did stop and get a bottle of water. By the time I got to the gate, most of the seats were taken or had bags on them, so I stood by the gate area leaving room for people boarding ahead of me to get by. Boarding was no problem and I was able to get my bag over my seat. I pulled out my Kindle and tablet in case I wanted to watch a movie on the flight and put them in the seat pocket before stowing my purse under the seat. I also put the water bottle in the seat pocket. Before long, a nice older lady came to the window seat. I prefer the aisle. I had noticed when checking in last night that the middle seat was empty. Luckily, it stayed that way. I ended up reading my Kindle the whole way. I never even really put it back I the seat pocket. After landing, I got my back and was getting ready to leave and noticed my water bottle at the last minute. I grabbed it.
Since I’m pretty familiar with the Orlando airport, I made my way passed the first bathroom to the one closer to the monorails. There was no wait. My only problem is trying to get inside the stall with a rolling bag. I managed and then mad my way via monorail to the Thrifty counter. The man working it was nice but could not find me. He asked if I was Blue Chip, which I was. He then told me I should proceed directly to the car area in the garage and do not need to check in anywhere. That is good to know for the future. I made my way to the garage and found the Thrifty area. On a board there they have all the names with the parking space of their car. Since I was the only one there, the lady working the window came over and helped me find my car. I was given a nice little red Ford Focus with a sort of hatch back. Everything looked good and I wanted to stop briefly at my Granny’s house. So, I didn’t want to waste time. I thanked the lady and got everything in the car. I noticed all the dash messages were in Spanish and mine is not that good. But at this point I was already leaving the parking garage, so I figured I’d fix it at my Granny’s house. I did have my phone set up as a GPS with directions to Granny’s and it fit wedged nicely in the area where the clock was in the center dash. So, I made my way via 436 to my Granny’s house. My family normally takes the toll roads, but 436 is just as direct and it was early on a Saturday. So, I took a chance. I did not encounter much traffic and even got to see some of the areas I used to know growing up. They have changed considerably.
I made it to my Granny’s with no problems. I think I surprised her. I got there about 10 and wanted to leave by 10:30. I had these big plans of going to the Expo and then on to a sports bar to watch the FSU vs UF game. I am an FSU alum. Well, I grabbed the manual out of the car to try and find the setting to change for the dash. I ended up doing a search online using her computer but I did find the setting to change. I changed it and made sure it worked and spend about 10 more minutes before leaving again. I used my phone again to get directions to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center which is where the Expo was being held. It took a little longer than I was hoping. I had no trouble with the drive there and was on some nice, rural roads. I sometimes prefer that to the boring interstates.
I pulled into the parking area right about the time the game was starting. I figured I’d enjoy the Expo and try to catch the second half. I walked to the entrance but didn’t really know where to go. I saw some flags, but didn’t see anything. I went to the side to ask a security guard since I saw some people with what looked like race bags coming out. While asking, I ran into Nicki. She and her friends were just getting there. She told me there was a table out front where we got the tickets to get through the gates to the Expo area. Although the flag were near the table, there was nothing identifying on the table. That is why I missed it. Next year I think they should put something on the table itself letting you know to stop. I got my ticket and proceeded through the gates after getting my bag checked. I headed towards the Expo area, but probably could have gone anywhere since no one was checking us. I saw the people out front, but proceeded inside. There a man asked if I knew my race number. When I didn’t, he sent me back outside to the people with the papers to get my number. Turns out I was 424. So, I got in the first line to get my race bib. There was only one person in front of me. I got my bib, got in another line to get m pins and a bag, and then wandered the Expo. It was very crowded, especially around the pace groups booth. I walked around seeing the Excalibur run booth. I would so do that race if I lived in FL. Who doesn’t want a crown for finishing a race? I made it to the back wall and turned the corner. It was here in the back corner that I found the race shirts. They also had a basket of Moon Pies. I grabbed a bar and a Moon Pie and got my shirt. There was a line, but it moved pretty quickly.
While walking back to the front, I ran into Nicki again. She did not yet have her shirt. I walked with her back to the shirt and we stopped by a booth to spin for prizes. We both got the candy. I chose a bite size dark chocolate Milky Way. After she got her shirt and Moon Pie, we went back to the pacers booth. I signed up for the 2:45 Galloway pacer. According to the race booklet, she was supposed to do 1:1 intervals. At sign up, it said 2:1. I got the bib for it, but didn’t take extra pins. I figured I might not wear it because I‘d feel guilty if I couldn’t keep up. At this point, I said goodbye to Nicki. I stopped by the Stick booth and rolled out my right leg. It was pretty tight. I should have done a better job on my hip, but at least I got my leg. I walked around the exhibits about the history of space travel. If I had more time, I would have read every sign. That’s just the way I am. I decided to use the bathroom before I left since I didn’t know how long it would take to find a sports bar. As I was washing up, I got a text from Lisa with her number… 2. I knew she had to be checking in which was just outside the bathroom. So, I went and found her. After hugging and saying hello to her group, I wished her luck in case I didn’t see her at the race. This was her first half marathon. She was very nervous, but I knew she’d do well. Judging by her recent shorter races, I was pretty sure she’d beat me. I said goodbye to them and decided to check my chip at the station before leaving. Everything came up right.
So, I made my way to my car. I used my phone to try and find a sports bar. The one I found looked to be close to my hotel. At this point, aside from a chocolate covered strawberry and my Granny’s house, I hadn’t eaten all day. I had been drinking water, but I was starting to feel woozy. I ate the bite size bar in the car on the way.
I found the sports bar inside a La Quinta. I went in and sat down at a side table by the bar area. It was the only thing open. I watched about 20 minutes of the game. In this time, not one person asked me if I wanted anything. I know I could have gone to the bar, but I wanted food, too. So, I decided to cut my losses and visit the McDonald’s drive thru I had passed and check into the room.
I made a stop first at the Walgreens for some duct tape, a razor, and a candy bar. Then I got my lunch and went to the hotel. It turns out my hotel was across the street for the sports bar. Check in was no problem and the lady at the front was nice. She did tell me I was in the cheap section and if I come back there are nicer areas. I got my keys and drove around to my room. It was on the second floor in the back corner closer to the ocean on the corner by the stairs. There was one building between my room and the ocean.
When I got in the room, I turned on the TV. I was having trouble finding the game, so I thought I’d look up the channel. While I was looking, I started tearing into my lunch. By this time, it was 2. I had a meetup at 3, but knew it went until 5. I wanted to shower before I went. I looked in my purse for my tablet and couldn’t find it. That’s when I remembered putting it in the seat pocket. I was frantic. At this point, I’m over an hour away from the airport and there is no way I’m driving back. So, I call the US Air number which tells me to call baggage services at the airport. I called the main airport number to get connected. I get a machine and leave a pretty detailed message. I finally found the game. At this point, I’m a bundle of nervous energy. I call and tell my husband what I did. I can tell he’s a little upset but understands. I call the baggage service desk back and talk to a man. He tells me anything of value will be taken to the main office and connects me there to leave a detailed message. I get a call at this point from Pizah. I figured she was telling me where she was staying. It turns out, she lost her wallet on the drive down from Charlotte. Since she has no credit card, she now needs a place to stay. Luckily, she had her license and some cash in a separate place and still has them. I arrange to meet her. My room has 2 beds and I’ve met her several times in real life. I had no problem and didn’t think twice about her staying with me. It also took my mind off my problem for a while. After I’m off the phone with her, I watch the end of the game and finish my meal. Luckily, FSU had no trouble beating UF.
Once the game was over, I hopped in the shower. This room is older and looks like something from the 50s. I noticed my feet were black from walking on the carpet. So, I made sure to always wear my shoes. The shower worked and had warm water. I washed my hair and shaved my legs. I got dressed and blew my hair dry. One of the meetups was for the Run Space Coast Facebook group. We had a bracelet made. That made things so much easier to find others. I would suggest that to any group that doesn’t know each other. I immediately ran into someone in the lobby at the Radisson. I also say the Piggy balloon which was my other meetup. I signed up for the Three Little Pigs challenge. It is basically a stop on the course where you get 3 pieces of bacon to eat. Luckily, they don’t make you eat it there. I get a swag bag from them and check in. It had a few nice things in it. Then I went back to the girl in the lobby. We talked and more people started to join us. Finally, Jason, the person who started the group, comes. We all get a picture together.
I left at that point to get to my CAPS dinner meetup at Outback. I have been talking with this group online for about a year now. So far, I’ve only met one in person. I was really looking forward to meeting more of them. I got to the restaurant about 10 minutes late. They were all hanging around the area by the hostess. One of them recognized me right away from my profile picture. I also recognized most of them. After another 10-15 minutes we were finally seated. I had a great meal and enjoyed getting to know all of them better. I’m so glad I had the meetups and dinner to keep my mind off losing my tablet. It really helped. As I was heading back to the hotel, I texted Pizah. I still had not seen her and needed to get her a key. She was waiting in the hotel when I got back. I met her and gave her a key. We talked for a while in the room and got all our stuff together for the next day. We chatted for a little while longer and then went to sleep. As usual, I ended up waking about every 2 hours. I had to use the bathroom and kept worrying that the alarm on my phone didn’t go off. Finally, Pizah woke up about 20 minutes before the alarm.
I got up about 3:20 and got ready. I decided not to wear the pacer bib. I could always stay with them if I wanted. As part of the swag bar, I had a full sized protein bar. I decided to eat that for breakfast since it was too early to try to find my usual Starbucks. I wanted to fill my hand held water bottle with ice. The ice maker closest to our room wasn’t working. So, I continued on a walk around the U shaped building before I finally found a working ice machine. I filled my bottle and went back to the room. I filled it with the water left from my bottled water bought the previous day. There was still a little left. I took it with thinking I could use it to wash down the protein bar. We got everything and made our way to the front for the 4:15 bus. The first bus was already ¾ full when we got on. We heard people talking about the front desk giving free late checkout by 1 to racers. We didn’t think we would need it. The buses finally left just after 4:15. I know there were at least 2 from our hotel. The ride was uneventful. They dropped us off on the road next to the port-o-potties. I knew some of my meetup friends would be by the water, so I made my way over there. I ran into a fellow Princes Posse member. We had our picture made together. I also saw some of the Run Space Coast people. I should mention I was in a flaming Sparkle Tech skirt with a white tech shirt made to look like the bottom 2/3 for a Saturn V rocket. I had made a headpiece out of styrofoam that was the top of the rocket. It was tall enough that I didn’t put in on until we were off the bus. Everyone noticed it. In fact, the first thing I heard before I saw my CAPS friends was one of them commenting on my headpiece. I hung around this area for probably about 45 minutes talking to different people. Everyone is so nice and friendly in these groups. I talked to several new people who were members of the Half Fanatics. Space Coast was my qualifying race for that group. While conversing with people, I ate my protein bar and finished off the water in the bottle.
After about 45 minutes, we decided to make our way to the start area. We walked passed where the bus had dropped us off. This park had some restrooms as well as the long line or port-o-potties. I noticed the lines for the restrooms as we walked. Luckily, I had no need to use them. They had astronaut statues on the stage area for pictures. I noticed they had no lines. So, I got Pizah to take my picture. We got to the street beside the park and I realized that was the marathon staging area. We could vaguely hear the music playing in the start area. We walked the block along with several others to the start area.
There were already a lot of people there. I think it was about 30 minutes to start at that point. They had signs up with expected min/mile times in order to line up appropriately. The last one listed was 12. This seemed a little strange to me since there was a 7 hour time limit as the course would be open for the full marathon time. We lined up right at the sign. I was expecting to do about that time. The Galloway pacers were nowhere to be seen. Someone said they were still meeting in the park. That’s when I decided I was glad I hadn’t worn the bib. I would not be following a pace group. I would just try to keep them in my sight.
I think it was in this time that I turned to look and saw Lisa and Joe waiting a couple people away. I greeted them and we chatted for a little while. I could tell Lisa was a little nervous since this was her first half. I knew she would do fine and told her I thought she would beat me. Her nervousness made me realize how far I’ve come as a runner. I no longer worry if I can finish, I just sometimes worry how long it will take me. With about 10 minutes until start, I finally saw the Galloway pacers for 2:45 and 3:00. They positioned themselves in front of me a little bit and were side by side talking. I really think that was a bad choice since the 2 groups should not be running the same pace. I think at that time, it was hard for all the people wanting to run with them to join them since it was already pretty crowded. Soon, the announcement was made that it was almost time. They had a lady singing the national anthem. When the sound cut out, everyone in the start area started singing. The sound cut in and out several times. Hearing all the runners singing was actually very moving to me. It was hard to see way back where we were, but the start of the race is a shuttle countdown and launch on a big screen. Being taller, I could see more than a lot of people around me. I was surprised when the countdown was done to see smoke rising. I’m guessing they must have a smoke machine or something that starts when the countdown ends. It was a great effect. It took a little while, but eventually the group started walking to the start line. I did get some spectator and marathoner comments on my costume as we were walking.
Finally, we reached the start line and I started my GPS. I use the Endomondo app on my phone. Once I had that going, I started my intervals on my watch. I noticed people were starting their walk breaks. I looked at my watch and realized it had not started. It was trying to set. After fiddling with it for a minute, I got the intervals started. As a result, I ran for about the first 3 minutes before I started the 1:1 intervals. The start was very dark. Since it was also cloudy, there wasn’t much sunrise to help. A few runners had lights and I can see why they might be needed. After the first mile or so, it was light enough to see. The run is along the waterfront in a residential area. For the first half, the water is on the left and the houses are on the right. There are some beautiful houses on the course. Many people were out in their yards or on their porches cheering. Due to the lack of a good sunrise, I never really took any pictures. I think the first 3 minutes of running also took its toll. I can’t remember the race in detail, but here is what I do remember…
I caught up to the 3:00 Galloway pace group in Mile 3. I leap frogged with them until I finally passed them at Mile 4. It was a pain trying to run near them since my intervals didn’t match theirs. They took up the half of the road we were supposed to be on. At this point, it wasn’t as big of a deal because the other side was not heavily in use yet. They also did not move at all during walk breaks. They just walked wherever they were at in the road. I wish the pacers would at least inform their groups of the race etiquette on this. I would pass them on the left and then get to the right before my walks. I’m sure that added mileage. I do not mind having Galloway pace groups. I just wish it would be easier on the people who weren’t running with the pace group.
The turnaround was in Mile 6. I remember seeing the parrot heads at the water station. Then I realized we had to turn left and run a ways more before the actual turn around. I do like how they had that set up, though. There was something to run around and they had a couple guys misting you as you went by. One commented that I was getting my rocket fuel so I could blast off. I really appreciated the witty remarks. They took my mind off my running. We got to run through the parrot head group again on the opposite side of the road. I will say, all the groups with water stations were friendly and encouraging. The support from all the people along the way was amazing, too. At about Mile 10, the 3:00 pace group caught me again. I knew I was slowing down a little, but didn’t think I was worse than a 3:00 time. I started leap frogging them briefly. It was such a pain with the marathoners starting to come on the other side, that I just let them get a head of me. I think I took an extra walk break to ensure it. At about Mile 12.5, I started to shorten my intervals. I would wait about 10-15 seconds after my beep before starting my runs. At Mile 13, the crowd swelled. I knew we were getting to the park which was the finish line. When you enter the park, there are a bunch of signs on the ground. Also, you run in a paved circular walkway. I knew this, but didn’t realize just how long that circle was. I ended up taking 2 brief walk breaks in the circle so I could run strong through the finish line.
My official finish time was 2:58. Since I could not see the 3:00 group, I wondered how much faster they ran than 3:00. After the finish line, there were several people handing out the medals. I chose the tallest one and squatted down so they could put it over my headpiece. I kept walking and before finding any food, I ran into some CAPS members. I talked to them and heard similar complaints about the Galloway pace groups. I guess that’s an area for improvement next year. I decided I needed some food and drink, so I moved on.
At the Diet Coke cart, I ran into Lisa, Joe, Lisa’s mom, and Kayla (Lisa’s daughter). It turns out that was the area Lisa’s mom was volunteering at. After talking to Lisa and finding out she did indeed beat me, we took a picture together. I decided to get some pizza and hit to port-o-potties. There were several lines for pizza and I found a short one. I got one slice and walked towards the port-o-potties. One of the only issues is to get to the port-o-potties (or the buses), you have to cross the circular race area. I waited until there was a gap and ducked through. They do have a string of flags running around that area to block off the running area. I finished my pizza and then made use of the port-o-potties. It might have been because of the restrooms, but even at about 3:30 after the half start, the one I used still smelled like air freshener. I think that’s the first time I’ve had that at the end of a race.
I decided to duck back under the course and go to the stage area. There was supposed to be a costume contest and I thought I’d hang out. I didn’t think I’d win, but it was worth a shot. While waiting around, I ran into the military wife. We had been leapfrogging during the last half of the race until I saw her down on the side. She told me she was fine so I kept running. I was glad to see her. She told me she just had some cramping. Her husband was recently deployed and she had a saying on her shirt that she was running for him. I also found out that she was in the military and had already been deployed several times. I have great admiration for our military even though it’s not a lifestyle I could live. I also ran into another girl I was leap frogging. It’s hard for people to forget me with my headpiece. A lot of them only noticed me when they were behind me so they thought I just had a rocket on my head. I know I grabbed a banana in there sometime and ate it. I said goodbye to those two and waited some more. I arn into another girl I had leapfrogged with during the race. She was dressed in a tutu as an alien and had “Take Me To Your Leader” on her shirt. She told me she was running with the 3:00 pace group. For the first half, she said there was a second person with the leader that was keeping pace and kept telling her to slow down. She’s not sure what happened to that person, but the second half the leader was on her own. That was when they caught and passed me. She said at that point they were too fast for her so she just did her own intervals. That kind of confirmed me feelings that they were going too fast for the 3:00 pace.
About this time, they started the awards. I found the official time board. It was broken out by age group and then alphabetically. I was so happy to see my name on there. This race did a great job of updating everything through the last runner, at least for the half. Being from NC, it was easier to see my time. State was one of the last fields before the time. I checked my watch and realized there was no way I would make regular check out if I stayed for the contest. I decided it was worth a shot and knew they were not charging. So, I called the front desk and got a late checkout. After the awards finished, I asked the race person when the contest would happen. He told me in a few minutes. I waited around for a while until they finally make the announcement. Five of us (all women) made our way to the stage. The contest was judged by crowd applause. Since it was so long after, and later than announced in the program, most people had left. I know there’s not a better way to do this, but it is a little disappointing. I guess if I want to place next time, I’ll have to make sure all my friends stick around and are loud. A girl with a Toy Story alien hat and color coordinated outfit won. The I Dream of Genie full costumed lady came in second. They took a picture with all of us.
13:03, 13:17, 12:26, 12:13, 13:05, 12:49, 13:02, 13:53, 13:38, 14:00, 14:20, 14:34, 14:34
At that point, I wanted to get back to the hotel to beat the motorcycle event. If you didn’t make it out before noon, it was going to be an extra hour. I had to duck under the course again to get to the buses. There was one bus for the coast hotels. I took off my headpiece and boarded it. A few minutes later, we left. The bus driver decided to go to the northern most hotel and work his way south. That meant a left in and out of just about every hotel. Not the way I would have done it, but I was just happy to not be driving. My hotel was the last stop. I go off the bus and made my way to the room. I tried my key, but it was not working. Luckily, Pizah was still in the room. I’m guessing the system shut the keys off at normal check out time. I took a shower and got everything packed up. Pizah and I double and triple checked to make sure nothing was left. We got everything out and in our cars and said goodbye. I drove up to the front desk to check out. Even though the room was definitely low budget and made my feet black, the front desk staff was amazingly friendly and helpful. If I could get a great rate on a nicer room, I’d be tempted to go back.
I drove to my Granny’s house from there. I did run into Pizah on the road although I’m not sure she realized it was me. She was headed to The Villages to stay the night with a friend. I’m not sure when we went separate ways. I do know I was on the toll road briefly. I didn’t think it would be an issue. However, it got me off at the first exit which was an un-manned 50 cent toll booth. Luckily, there are no arms, only stop light type things. After checking briefly for change, I realized I had to do something I almost never do and drive through without paying. I felt terrible, but I had no choice. I called my parents on the way there since they were meeting us for dinner. They had gotten in from a week long cruise that morning close to where the race was. However, they got in later than expected and didn’t think they would be able to get there and park in time to see me. So, they headed home. My mom reminded me of the back roads I used when I lived in Palm Beach Gardens to get there. When I was about 30 minutes away, I got off the phone and found the Tampa Bay vs. Carolina game on the radio. I listener to that until I got to my Granny’s house. My parents were already there. We turned on the game so I could watch the rest. Thank goodness Carolina was playing a FL team so I could see the game.
We ended up getting Chinese take out for dinner. After my parent went home, my Granny and I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie. I had a good sleep that night in her guest room. I decide to get up early the next morning so I could have extra time at the airport. I wanted to take to the Baggage Service people in person. My Granny got up and kept me company while I ate breakfast. I was on the road to the airport with change from Granny for the toll road. The drive to the airport was easy even on a Monday morning. I got there plenty early. The signage for rental car returns was pretty good. I was the only car arriving for Thrifty at that time. So, it was very quick. I made sure to double check that I didn’t leave anything in the car. I guess leaving the tablet has changed my habits now. I made my way into the airport and all the way to the far end to US Air. I quickly printed my boarding pass noticing that my plane was full. I asked the agent about lost and found and she told me to check at Baggage Services but they didn’t open until 9:00. I had about 20 minutes to kill. I decided to get Starbucks while I waited since I didn’t get any for the race. The Starbuck is located on the opposite side in the ticketing area. I made my way over there and waited in a short line. The people working the Starbucks were friendly. I got my Pumpkin Spice Latte and made my way back to the baggage area in my side. I still have about 5 minutes until they opened. So, I sat down and read my Kindle. At 9, I made my way down to baggage claim and found the office. The man working had just returned from vacation. He went back to the safe area and came back with a large manila envelope full of tablets and phones. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t one. He then checked the found reports. Again, nothing matching mine. He put in a lost report with all my details. I wish I had known about the lost report before. I could have opened one over the phone the day I lost it. He said normally when they find an item; they will check any lost reports out there. However, my tablet could have been found before I submitted my lost report. Wish they would check them more than once…
I made my way to airport security. I should say I was wearing my medal. I earned it and I wanted to wear it. I sent it through the x-ray at security and then put it back on. I had no issues with security and didn’t have to wait too long. I caught the monorail to my terminal. I decided to make a bathroom stop before heading down the concourse to my gate. Luckily, I ended up in the handicap stall so no baggage wrangling this time. After leaving, I ran into Derrick. He’s the husband of my friend Lisa in Charlotte who ran the Princess with me. I knew he was coming to Orlando for work, but it was funny running into him in the airport. We chatted briefly and then I continued on to my gate. I decided to grab a bottle of water before getting on the flight. I stayed in a seat until my zone was called. It’s funny the number of people that crowd around the boarding area long before their zone. I boarded the plane with no issues. We had a great flight and arrived early to Charlotte. We had to wait a few minutes for a gate to open.
After deplaning, I made my way to the pickup area for Park ‘n’ Go. As I was about one section away, I saw the shuttle leaving. After only 5 minutes, the next shuttle arrived. There were a lot of us getting on. In fact, there were even 2 pilots that boarded. After talking to them, I can’t remember which airline they worked for, but they said they didn’t get employee parking. This lot gives them a great deal. I think it was the flight attendant when I was going to Orlando that told me that even the employee lot was having theft problems. So, it’s comforting to know they trust this lot. The shuttle did drop me off right at my car. The driver even loaded my bar into my car for me. I will definitely be using them again. The checkout was easy. Once I realized which way I was going, I had a quick drive home. There were a few bumps on the road, but overall it was a great experience and I look forward to the next 4 years of the 5 year race series.
This race also qualified me to join Half Fanatics. I am officially Half Fanatic #5808!