31 December 2013

Space Coast Recap

Flying Across the Causeway to Kennedy Space Center
My final race of the #90daysofinsanity was the Space Coast Half Marathon.  I had been looking forward to this race for two reasons: (1) the BIG BANG SERIES and (2) dressing up as the Toy Story aliens with my #CorralG peeps.  

Let me explain a little more.  The Big Bang Series was announced earlier this year, as a five-year series for the Space Coast.  This event takes place in Cocoa, FL and has been a small, local race for a few years.  #CorralG member Jen had done it the year before and had good things to say.  I had wanted to do it last year, but it didn't work out with my schedule.  However, once the series was announced, I knew I HAD to figure out how to get to it not only this year, but for each of the next five years.  See, the series is in honor of the Space Shuttle fleet - each medal representing one of the five shuttles in the recently retired fleet.  If you completed either the half or full for three of the five years, you earned the Milky Way Challenger medal, and if you completed all five, you would earn the Intergalactic Finisher medal!  And let me tell you - having seen the ACTUAL medals in person at the expo, you can bet come hell or high water, I will be at EVERY event until 2017!

#CorralG getting ready for the start
The other exciting part of this race was that a lot of the #CorralG peeps, being Florida locals, were planning on running.  Originally, Captain Linzie was planning on making the coast to coast trip a second time in three weeks, having just joined us at Wine and Dine, but unfortunately, he couldn't make it.  Krafty Kira put together some AWESOME headbands for all of us, and even sewed both her and my sparkle skirts!  So krafty!  We met up that morning, having come from a variety of places around the area, and just managed a group photo before it was time to head over for our 6:00am start time.  The sound system was having some issues, so the singing of the national anthem was different, but once they started playing the launch countdown video, complete with shuttle launch, we were ready to go.  Well, we tried to go.  Things were a little crowded right at the start line, and we slowed down to a walk... let's just say since this was the first sell-out year, there were some logistics that needed figuring out.  But once we cleared the start line and moved through Cocoa Village, the crowds thinned out and we were on our way.  We planned on 2:1 intervals and I was pumped to have Coach Marcia chiming on our "running/walking" intervals!

The race was along the river, on the mainland side, through a very residential area.  A lot of the neighbors were out cheering us on, which was fantastic considering it was very early on a Sunday morning, and not so great weather.  We were off before the sunrise, and we basically missed the sunrise because it was so overcast.  And MUGGY! Ugh, so muggy.  Let me tell you - it is the strangest thing to run a race in below freezing conditions on Thursday, and 98% humidity on Sunday!  Quick promotion: I'm sure the ONLY reason I didn't get sick was thanks to ENERGYbits.  Super pumped to be #poweredbybits and you can be too - use "PREACH" for 25% off!  Ok - back to the recap.

I HAD to take my photo with the Shuttle
The half marathon course was an out and back.  The best part of the morning was when we made the turn around and Jen shouted out "I didn't know part of this race was a trail!"  Yes folks, we ran through about 2 feet of grass, which in Jen's mind qualifies as "trail running."  Ah, we love her!  Each water stop had a theme - down at the turn around they were parrot heads, and even had a Key West buoy.  There was also Star Wars and Star Trek stops, Buzz Lightyear (we were pretty popular at that water stop), and they were run by various local groups.  My favorite water stop was a Star Wars themed one, where a man dressed as Darth Vader let us take a photo with him, and then whispered to us, "this is Luke, and I'm his father. And, yes, that's really his name."  HILARIOUS!

We found these guys hanging around!
As we ran back into the park, we made our plans for crossing the finish line.  We decided no conga line for this one, but we would take up the ENTIRE course holding hands.  Partly because some old guy yelled at us for doing that at one point during the race.  But mainly because #CorralG is the awesomest!  

We grabbed our swag - the kicka$$ medal and a towel - and then headed to grab FREE PIZZA AND BEER! We had a few other friends running the race, including Jeff Galloway and Krazy Aunt Krissy (KAK), so we hung around for a bit to watch them finish.  Jeff managed to qualify for the Boston Marathon using a :30/:15 interval plan. Yes, that's 30 SECONDS running, 15 SECONDS walking - AND HE QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!  This man is AMAZING!  Our friend Krissy was also hoping to "BQ," but the weather got the best of her.  Waiting at that finish line for her to cross, I was so nervous watching the minutes tick by.  I was so proud of her when she came through the finish shoot, and can't wait to see how she does at 26.2 with Donna, our next marathon in February.  

Me and My Bling!
Seriously, this race, aside from the logistics of having 5,000 runners in a smallish space, was fantastic.  This being the first year with that many runners, I can't wait to see how they adjust for next year.  Because you KNOW I'll be there again next year, and the year after that... I highly recommend it to anyone.  Although, don't take my spot!  You can still earn that Milky Way Challenge medal, along with four amazingly beautiful medals honoring the shuttle program.  

**I have a special affinity for this race because my grandfather (my dad's dad) worked for NASA, first when it was NACA in Cleveland, OH, and moving to the Cape in 1959 to begin the great space race.  My grandfather served as the Director of Launch Operations for Mercury and Gemini and gave President Kenneday a tour around the now-named Kennedy Space Center.  My grandfather also worked on the design team for the shuttle before he retired and I am so proud of that family legacy.  During the final two years of the shuttle program, I drove down to Florida for five shuttle launches, and was thrilled to watch the final launch, Atlantis, in July 2011, with my dad - who, while he had seen almost all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches, including Apollo 11, he had NEVER seen a shuttle launch.  I cried at every one, and still cry every time I watch Apollo 13, because of the bravery and sheer insanity of these men risking their lives to expand our scientific horizons.  I am grateful to the men and women of NASA, from my grandfather's generation to today, for pushing us to think outside the box and taking us to new frontiers.  Because of this personal connection to NASA and the Cape, I am beyond excited to participate in this race series.
This was a display in the KSC Visitor's Center!

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