This was the second year of the 5 year shuttle series. This time, my friend Nicki and I drove down Friday. We actually stayed in the host hotel… Radisson at the Port. The drive was fairly uneventful and took slightly over 8 hours with a stop for dinner. We had 2 other roommates that were already there when we arrived. The parking lot was full except for a few spots in the front marked Expo. The Expo this year was at the hotel instead of the Space Center. I missed going to the Space Center, but the Expo was much easier to go to. We checked in at the front to get our keys and ask about parking. They gave us a tag and told us we were okay parking in the Expo spots. We parked and got our stuff out of the car. While trying to find our room, we ran into the maintenance man. He not only offered to help us find our room, but grabbed some of our bags, too. The door to our room was temperamental. Someone from the inside could easily open it, but there was a trick from opening it from the outside. Luckily, our roommates came and opened the door. We were pleasantly surprised by the room. It was a suite with a living room, an eat-in area with a dorm sized fridge and a microwave, and a separate bedroom area with 2 queen beds. The beds were sleep number. There was a large Jacuzzi tub kind of in the bedroom area. The bathroom was tiny and had a good sized showers with a built in seat area. There was just enough room outside the shower for the toilet and a person to turn around. For the size of the rest of the room, I was surprised by the squeeze. By the time we arrived, it was really time to go to sleep. We all changed and settled in.
The next morning, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant which was a buffet. The breakfast was pretty tasty. I never did get a waffle, but I heard they were good. By the time we finished eating breakfast, the Expo was open. We went straight over. It was a good size and maybe since we were there shortly after they opened, the crowding wasn’t as bad. We quickly got our numbers and got in the line to check our tags and get shirts.
Our tag were all good. When we got to the shirts, we were told they ran a little small. I decided to change to and XL from the Large I was registered to get. It was the right choice since it fit well. We walked around the Expo and played the spin game where I won a shirt. It was a left over tech shirt from another race. I also stopped at the Sparkle Skirts booth and picked up another skirt. This one will go with just about anything. At this point I ran into Vanessa and her husband from my CAPS group. We chatted briefly and then I made my way back to the official merchandise. Although there were some nice jackets and shirts, I decided I didn’t need anything. The crowd was also getting bad at this booth. After a little jostling, I got away from there and decided to head back to the room. I needed to get on the road to see my Granny. When I got to the room, I couldn’t get the door open. I thought the other girls might be inside. So, I called Nicki. It turns out they were still at the Expo. So, I tried a few more times before I figured out the trick. I had to push the door all the way back before using the keys and turning the handle. That worked every time. I stowed my things from the Expo and got what I needed for my side trip. As I was leaving, I talked to Nicki. They were just leaving the Expo. They had a tour of the Space Center booked. I was going to meet up with them later for dinner.
I knew my parents were coming in from a cruise so I called them. For some reason, I thought they were coming into Canaveral since that is their normal port. This time, they were coming from Ft. Lauderdale. They were on the road, but I would be at my Granny’s a couple hours before they arrived. I made it to my Granny’s without incident. We celebrated her birthday (a couple days late) and had lunch. My baby sister, Kassady, even came over to eat with us. We talked for a while and then my parents arrived. I had a great visit with all of them. I decided to leave so I could catch the FSU vs UF game. When I got back to the hotel, parking was hard to come by. The Expo was still going so all the spots were taken. I got lucky and found someone pulling out. I passed the outdoor bar area on my way to the room. I needed to drop some stuff off. The game had started so I watched briefly on my way through. I decided just to watch in the room until Nicki and the others returned. Their tour ran a little long and they had just left when I talked to them. While I was waiting in the room and watching the game, I put my bib on my outfit and the tag on my shoe. Once they returned, we decided just to eat in the hotel again. There were no TVs in the actual dining room, so they let us eat at the bar. There were already several vocal people watching the game. We did find just enough seats. I did enjoy watching the end of the game with others. The food was also surprisingly good.
When we were done, we decided to make it an early night since we had to be up early in the morning.
Our alarms starting going off at 3 AM. We had to be on the bus at 4:30 AM. I was the second person awake. None of us slept very well that night. I think it was pre-race jitters. We all got ready and headed out to the bus. We made it to the lobby just as they were loading the first bus. We checked with the front desk and got a late check out. Once the bus was full, we left. We were driving for a bit when we realized our driver had made a wrong turn. We finally got to the park. We had to wait for many buses to unload before it was our turn. There was a line of port-o-potties back to back. We walked around to the other side and I used a clean one. Then, we hung out in the flag area for pre-race meetup pictures. I did manage to see most of my CAPS friends. We did get a picture with Team runDisney. Shortly after the pbrc picture, we headed to the stage. We took a group picture with the astronaut statue. Then, we decided it was time to head to the corrals. Oh, we did go out the night before to a convenience store to pick up provisions. While we were waiting for pictures, I ate a banana and a protein bar.
We ran into Pizah as we were walking to the corrals. I was glad to see she made it there okay this year. I decided to be ambitious since I finished in just over 3 hours at Myrtle Beach and start with the 2:45 pace group. I found the leader and worked my way over.
As I was standing, I recognized someone on the side. I went over to say hi thinking she was a member of the Glass Slipper Challenge facebook group. She and her other friends were nice. As we were waiting for the National Anthem to start, one of her friends pointed out the International Space Station that was passing over us. It was a great way to start the race. I realized after I got home that although she is a member of that group, I recognized her from following her blog, Run the Great Wide Somewhere. Soon, the National Anthem started. Then the countdown and blast off on the screen up front. We couldn’t really see it from the back, but they do shoot out smoke which we could see. As people started moving forward, the racers that had not been on the road merged in.
It was hard to keep up with the pacer as he somehow managed to weave right through all the people. He was doing a 1/:30 interval. I thought I’d be able to do that since that’s what I run in training. I figured I could always lose him in the last few miles and still do well. I had a very hard time keeping up with him in the beginning with all the crowd from the start. We were passing on the left since no one was coming the other way yet. I had to run a second or 2 longer to catch up. After about 2 miles, my side was hurting and I could feel the protein bar in my stomach. At mile 3, I decided I wanted to enjoy my race and left the pacer. Somewhere before Mile 4, I met up with 2 ladies that also fell off the pacer. We ran together for about a mile. When I decided it was time for my first GU, I told them to go ahead. I ran by landmarks for a little while to let my body calm back down. Soon I realized I needed to start my interval watch if I wanted to keep a pace. I will say, the people that lived along the road are great support and encouragement. The volunteers manning the water and Gatorade tables are awesome! I especially love the Parrotheads that do the table right before the turnaround.
My phone died about Mile 7 so I didn’t get many pictures this time. The course is the same from last year, so if you want more visuals, check out my report from that race Space Coast Half Marathon 2013
After the turn around, I saw several of my friends including Lisa. I did not find out until after the race, but she had an injury. I thought it was strange she was so far behind me when she finished a good bit ahead of me last year. I kept waiting for the 3:00 pace group to pass me. Luckily, I made it to about Mile 8 before that happened. My knee started bothering me shortly before they passed. I did participate in the bacon challenge again. I chose gummy bacon this year. I easily found the tent along the course to stop.
They gave me the gummy bacon and medal. I put the medal on. After running an interval, I took it back off and put it in my pocket. It was too heavy to run in. I also ran into one of the 2 ladies I ran with in the beginning. She was having bad IT bands issues. Since I was already having knee issues and wouldn’t PR, I decided to walk the rest of the way with her. It was nice to talk and encourage each other through. It actually helps me to encourage someone else. We walked the last 4.5 miles, except for jogging through the picture areas. We did jog once on a slight downhill but it aggravated my knee so I chose to keep walking after that.
When we saw the crowds, we knew we were close to the end. Joe, Lisa’s fiancé, spotted me and said hi. I told him Lisa was behind me not too far. We made it to the walkway to the finish. I knew I couldn’t run the whole way. I waited until we turned and went under the trellis. Then, I kicked it in (what little I could) through the finish. My official time was 3:09. Not what I was hoping for in the beginning, but much better than what I feared having walked so much. I got my medal and towel. The lady thanked me for helping her. Then I went in search of Lisa’s mom. I knew she was volunteering in the finish area. Last year, she was at the Coke truck. I grabbed a Diet and did not see her. Then I moved over to the pizza since that’s what I wanted to eat.
I saw Lisa’s mom there handing out pizza. I also ran into Vanessa and her husband again. We chatted a while and then Joe and Lisa came over. After hearing what Lisa was dealing with, I was so proud of her for finishing.
I got a slice of pizza and chatted some more. We took a few pictures and then I went to find Nicki. I walked all around but did not see her. I went to the medical tent thinking they might have some Tylenol for my knee. They didn’t have any meds, but sat me down and wrapped an ice pack around it. After about 5 minutes, I decided to head back to the hotel. I would have texted Nicki, but my phone was dead.
The bus ride back was good. I made it to the room, plugged my phone in, and sent Nicki a text. At that point, they were getting on the bus to head back. I jumped in the shower hopping to finish before they were back. I succeeded. Once they were back, we all washed up and got dressed. Nicki had some icy hot type stuff I used on my knee which helped a lot. We gathered all our things and headed to the front. My car was still parked by the front. After checking out, we got everything in the car and left. We stopped at a drive thru across from the hotel. Then we hit the road. We encountered some traffic and Waze detoured us off the interstate a couple times. We ended up making it home in about 9 hours.
I really enjoy this race and experience. I would like to do a tour of the Space Center one time. I have 3 more years in the series. Maybe I’ll have time during one of them.