Space Coast Marathon RR
On Sunday, I ran the Space Coast Marathon, my last goal race of the year and the fifth one in the series to earn the Intergalactic Medal. As usual, we had tons of fun and even better, we both had great races.
For those that do not know, I had a meniscus tear in early 2017 due to a car accident when an asshole T-Boned me while leaving the Publix parking lot. I guess my car was not the only casualty that night. To read the details of that, read here. In late September/early October, I had a patella issue due to some weakness surrounded the knee, and more PT was needed, detailed here. But still, even with all that, up to last weekend, I had run five (5) marathons plus HMs with my husband, and raced the fastest 10K in six years. Until this race, I had not felt ready to race a marathon this year. But finally, I felt like the knee was fully healed.
The Space Coast Marathon is the oldest marathon in Florida, celebrating it's 46th year this year. After the space program moved on/closed, the race directors tried to keep the space theme alive by making the last five years a challenge. Each year's medal would be of one of the five shuttles, with special challenge medals for those finishing three years (Milky Way Challenge) and/or five years (Intergalactic Challenge). When we signed up in 2013, we wanted to run all five years, my husband would run all the HMs and I would run the marathons. It is a very popular race and they have already published the new challenge for the next 4 years that we might do as well.
Here are the official medals (real medal picture below):
My goal for 2017 was to run a sub-5 marathon post surgery, mostly because I didn't think it was possible for me to run close to my PR this year. At all. So, the Space Coast Marathon felt like the right choice for a goal race, even though the temperatures are less than ideal (coolest day started at 64F with 64 dewpoint). However, I ran a 4:58 at Chicago and that threw me out of sync, really. I shouldn't be that fast yet, I thought to myself. Then I started thinking I could run this one easy and drink around the course (see below). But then, I raced that 10K last weekend and ran 56:16, my fastest in six years. The gig was up, I couldn't run Space Coast easy now! My coach wanted me to race this shit and I was frankly ready to try. But the 10K indicated a number I had not seen in forever as a predictor: 4:23. Accounting on my lowish mileage this year, even a 4:30 sounded so impossible! So, we thought a 4:40 would be good to try. An 18 minute improvement from Chicago, but still a good number I could hit, mentally. By the time I started the race, I thought I could run a 4:37, and frankly, I should have hit that number, but of course, I didn't.
This was the first marathon this year that I was fully running. Since the surgery, I have run all of training runs (unless I run with my husband who run/walks) but have been keeping a run/walk strategy thinking it would help the knee. But after 11 months, I knew I needed to go back to my run straight through, which has given me many fast (for me) races. I would run/walk if I could run my PR doing it, but it's not meant to be. I can barely break 5 hours run/walking, so it was time to let it go.
The course is mostly flat (not Miami flat), with some "rollers", but overall, an easy course. The course goes North for the first half of the race, in and out and back that normally is very tight with the Galloway pacers taking a lot of the space and including a lot of people. The second half goes South, through the HM course, and you get to see the 3+ hour HM finishers (the race has a 7 hour max for both races) as you head to run the second half, plus you see the winner coming in. The HM course has a lot of alcohol stations that I have partake of in prior years. Remember this?
That was a bacon station, followed by the beer station and the hard liquor station. It's a ton of fun!
We drove to Cocoa on Saturday morning, after our ritual IHOP breakfast (had an omelet and some pancakes, which have all the carbs I eat in a week). We arrived at the expo at 3pm and were out by 3:30pm, heading to our favorite Mofongo place, El Guavate. Best mofongo outside of PR, as I always say. The giant mofongo probably included all the carbs I eat in a month, lol. We headed back to the hotel, relaxed, and then ate some Mexican (our ritual in Cocoa as well), and were in bed by 10pm.
I was to wake up at 4:40am to leave at 5am for hubby's 6am start. Someone decided to open their car and close it repeatedly by 4:15am so I was woken up like 10 times between then at 4:40am. OK, I'm up, FFS! We got ready, got my Krispy Kreme donuts and Mtn Dew (of course!) and drove to the start. By 5:30am we were by the start area and...I had to use the potty. Fortunately, my race started at 6:30am so I lined up at the potty line and was able to take care of business before the start. Or so I thought.
It was a nice 54F and low 50s dewpoint, our coolest Space Coast Marathon in the last five years. However, as soon as the sun went up, the temps shoot into the mid 60s and by the time I finished it was closer to 70F. Oh, well. I lined up behind the 4:40 pacer and ahead of the 4:45 Galloway pacer, with a plan to NOT pass the 4:40 pacer until around Mile 10. Proof that I know how to follow instructions, at least in part:
And we are off!
As with every pacer I have seen, the 4:40 pacer and the 4:45 pacer went out TOO fast. The 4:40 pacer went and disappeared ahead of me, while the 4:45 Galloway pacer passed me by Mile 1.5. That shouldn't have happened because I saw my pace on my watch and I was way ahead of both paces so that confused me. There goes that plan.
As we headed North, I felt like I was running too fast, but the pace was closer to 11mm than anything else. I felt like I couldn't breathe, that it was humid, that I was dying, I don't know. I felt off. But I continued hoping I would warm up soon. I did. My laps here were 10:43, 10:35, 10:22, 10:01, 10:09. Around here I had passed the 4:45 Galloway pacing group and by Mile 5, I had passed the 4:40 pacer. I felt strong and that didn't go away for the whole race.
The North part of the course is the less flat of the two sections, but I was able to keep up with my pace. I was running mostly by feel (what I felt was MP) and it turned out to be around the pace I run my MP, albeit a bit slower. The HR was even below my MP heart rate so I didn't feel like I was overdoing it. My laps were 10:07, 9:59, 10:01, 10:10, 10:44 (I had to stop here and retie my left shoe as it had come a bit loose and the foot was just dancing around the foot). Around here I saw my friend Phil and we high-fived! Unfortunately Miles 7 to 20 were towards the sun and this is where things start feeling hot. This year it didn't disappoint.
As we head back to Downtown Cocoa, I was wondering if I would see my husband around the halfway point, as most years when he is done by the time I pass by. At Mile 12 I had to fix my sock for the first (OF MANY) times that day. I have hallux rigidus (toe arthritis) and it makes my toe very rigid and it keeps the left side of the sock in place but the other four move the sock and bunch it into a ball by the ball of the foot. It needs to be fixed from every mile to every 7 miles, depending on its mood. Today was one of the 1 mile days during the second half. My laps here were: 9:58, 10:51 (sock), 10:11, crossing the halfway point at 2:16 something, a bit faster than I wanted but boy, I felt great (famous last words)! Hubby took my picture around here:
Here is where I lost my PR, I am sad to say. You can see from the splits where I fixed the sock and where I ran through. I passed the alcohol and bacon stations, but couldn't pass the beer one and I took one on the run and drank beer while running. Oh, so good! I also had to stop at the medical tent at Mile 18 to get some Body Freeze on my good ITB because the slanted road had hurt it a bit. The guy put BioFreeze on both knees. My laps were: 10:14, 11:04 (sock), 10:23, 10:46 (medical tent), 11:21 (sock), 10:33, 11:48 (sock).
I was angry at sock by now, lol. I am used to by now after 10 years but it's annoying to say the least. By Mile 21, I took the right sock off hoping it would resolve the matter. It did for a while. At Mile 23, I pulled my iPod out because it was jumping up and down, and I had to stop to pick my iPhone and my last gel because everything went off the pocket. I guess I get stupid on the last miles. At Mile 25, I had to use the potty again (FFS) and I lost 3-4 minutes here. While I waited, I put the sock back on because a nice blister was starting on my foot. My laps were: 11:57 (sock off), 10:50 (getting slower now for sure!), 12:22 (can I just be more stupid and just dump everything on the floor, please?), 11:13, 14:29 (potty), 11:07.
As I headed to the Mile 26 marker, I quickly texted my husband, all while running (I never stopped running except for the stops) that I was coming in soon. Every year he takes my picture and I always say something to him, basically cursing or complaining. But this time I felt great and I felt strong and I was just singing out loud so not sure what he heard but I am sure I said DADDY YANKEE here:
I cruised to the finish line without much left to give but still moving well, but at 10:46 pace. My name was mentioned and I crossed the finish line feeling awesome. I knew I had my fastest marathon since NOLA in early 2016. I never expected to run a 4:47 in 2017, at all. I should have cruised much faster, but that was not to be. But I knew it was the best performance I've had in 2+ years and one to be proud of. And apart from stopping, I managed not to walk a single step.
Here are my splits:
I MIGHT be done with 2017 races (I am eyeing a HM in a couple of weeks maybe). I can't complain about the second part of the year. Six marathons this year, a year that started with my DNF in Houston because I couldn't run with the pain of a meniscus tear. Like my surgeon said on the day of the surgery, let's get me back to 100% so you can run some more marathons. He did as promised.
And I think I am in PR shape and should give that a test soon. But first, I need to go back to training without socks to finally see if I can run a marathon without them. I am not a triathlete but I can fake it, I guess!
Here are the medals for the challenge:
Oh, my husband? He had a 5 minute PR from Seattle in June. BOOM!
Woot! What a great year 2017 has turned out to be!
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