This year was Year 3 for the Big Bang series. I already decided I was in for all 5 years. Thank goodness I have a loving, supportive husband who doesn’t mind.
I flew down to Sanford on Allegiant Air the Friday after Thanksgiving. I spend Friday night with my family celebrating my Granny’s 88th birthday. My parents were on a cruise. They did get back on Saturday morning. I got to spend some time with them since Nicki and I decided not to head over until after lunch. She came and picked me up Saturday afternoon. It took less than an hour to get to the hotel. We stayed at the Radisson at the Port again this year. This is the hotel that hosts the Expo. We got lucky and found a spot around the front. We went straight to the Expo. It was more easy to navigate this time. We got our bibs and shirts and shopped a little. We spent some time at the Sparkle Skirts booth. I can’t stay away from the sales racks! After collecting our things, we went to check in to our room. It turns out, they were still waiting for them to be cleaned. It was after 5 PM and they knew about the racers. I think it was pretty bad that we had to wait over 20 minutes to get a room that late. We took our things to the car and then hung out in the lobby. Soon, we did get our room. The good thing was, Nicki had called to change our reservation since we only had 2 people. The third person backed out. When she did that, we somehow got a better rate.
Our room was on the second floor in the back right corner. We were in a suite again and noticed this one had been remodeled.
The beds are no longer sleep number, but they are comfortable.
The jacuzzi is still in the common area which is strange.
The room is quite large.
We dropped our things and freshened up. Then, we went to grab an early dinner. After driving around a little, we ended up at Beef ‘o’ Brady’s. I got the sliders with fries.
Since it was rivalry weekend, there were tons of college games on to watch while eating. I am an FSU alum, so I wanted to finish up and get back to the room before my game started. The food and service were both good.
Once back at the hotel, we had trouble finding a parking spot. Eventually we parked in the grassy area. Back in the room, I turned the game on and we both set out our things for the next day. They had told us there would be bagged breakfast in the lobby. So, we didn’t stop to get anything. Nicki went to bed while I attempted to watch my game. I ended up getting into bed at halftime. We had to be up at 3 AM so I figured I better get some sleep.
Too soon, the alarm went off. One of the first things I did was check the game score. My team had won. That definitely started my day on a high note. We both got ready and gathered our things. We got to the front about 15 minutes before the frist bus time. The breakfast bags were already mostly gone. We both found a banana and bottled water and I got a granola bar. Others behind us weren’t so lucky. Maybe that’s why we’ve never known about this before. We waited a few minutes out front before someone directed us to the side. There several school buses were lined up and waiting. We got on the first one in the line. It filled up quickly and we were on our way. No wrong turn this year. We did have to wait for the drop off. Unfortunately, the area is small so only about 4 buses can drop off at one time. Once we were off the bus, we wandered around looking for people. After talking to a few, we made out way to the port o potties before group picture time.
All groups tend to take pictures in the same place. It makes it easy for people in multiple groups. I was personally in 2 of them. Somehow while standing around I made it into the official recap video, too. As soon as the pictures were done, we made our way to the start area.
It was more crowded than last year since they increased the number of runners. I went to my pace area and tried to stay between the 2:45 and 3:00 pacers.
My original thought was just to keep up my intervals and hope to break 3:00. They gave instructions and sang the national anthem. Soon, the countdown started and we were off. Well, the people up front were off. It took a little while to get moving in the back. I found out the 2:45 pace group was doing 30:30 intervals. I decided to try to stay with them for a while. Since I was pushing myself, I didn’t take any pictures during the race this time. I did manage to keep up with the pacer through Mile 6. Then I decided to run my own race. An older man who was staying with me in the pace group decided to stay with me when I fell off. He was a great help and got me through a few times I just wanted to walk. I told him to go on ahead when we reached the park. He reluctantly went ahead. Once I got to the covered walkway, one of Nicki’s friends that I’ve met on several occasions passed me. She urged me to run from there to the finish and so I did. I ended up finishing in 2:54:17. I did finish in under 3 hours. Considering I hadn’t been running since Myrtle Beach 4 weeks before, I consider that a win. I also stayed with the pacer twice as long as last year. I liked the lady that paced this year better. I hope next year I can stay with that pace group all the way.
I got my medal and towel. I spotted my running partner and just had to get a picture with him.
Then I went to the second set of people to get my 3 year challenge Milky Way medal. The challenge name was the inspiration for my costume. I found a bucket with hand towels in cold water. I put one of those around my neck. I went straight for the Coke area and grabbed a regular Coke. I haven’t had one of those in a while. I found Joe and Lisa after that. Lisa’s mom and daughter were handing out pizza. Joe convinced me to wait in line for the official finisher picture. Turns out it was a good idea because they had the previous 2 year’s medals to use in the shot.
I got a slice of pizza and then took a picture with Joe and Lisa.
Once I said goodbye to them, I walked around. My phone had locked up due to my sweat. I found the bananas and also some Publix drawsting bags with them. The bag was handy to put all my things inside. I decided to have some breakfast this year. I got some scrambled eggs and put on extra salt. The pancakes looked good, but my body was telling me no to that. Once I finished my eggs, I finally got a text from Nicki. She was already at the buses. I walked around the huge blowup slide for kids and found the bus lines. It was a bit disorganized, but we only had to wait about 15 minutes for the next bus.
The ride to the hotel was uneventful. We showered and changed. The only issue we had with the room was that the shower curtain rod bows out but the lip at the bottom is straight.
So, water from the shower is all over the floor when you’re done. Then, we packed up and checked out. We hit the road for our 9 hour drive back to Charlotte. We decided we would do the full marathon on Year 5 and stay until Monday. I know I’ve got some training to do for that one.