As soon as I finished walking this race with Jane last year, I knew I was in for the next four years if at all possible. I knew that if I completed 3 years out of the next 5, or hopefully 5 out of the next 5 years, I would be able to get the extra bling included in the Big Bang Series Medals. Last year’s was awesome and this year’s is even better.
This was Race #12 in my quest to do 14 Half Marathons in 2014. Because I had the flu, I missed one in October, so I’ll be busy doing the final 2 half marathons 7 days apart on December 14 and another on December 20. I will also mention that I have a 5k in the morning on December 20, and then my last half marathon is an evening race. Uh-oh. But no could ever believe back in August of 2012 that I’d ever walk again, much less complete these half marathons! God is so good!
Last year our plans were unorganized and we were unfamiliar with the area. This year we were ready to be more organized and have a better time at the hotel, the expo, and after the race. We headed up to Cocoa Beach, a three-hour drive from our home. We knew that traffic gets backed up on the highway near the Disney/Orlando area, so we got a route that went the back routes to avoid the traffic. Unfortunately, when we plugged it into the Microsoft SYNC program in my car, somehow we ended up right on the highway near Disney in Orlando, so we realized we gained nothing from our planning ahead in that department.
Regardless, we headed straight to the expo – well, where the expo was LAST year. I really need to learn to read those emails, not just print them and bring them along for the ride. It turns out they didn’t have the expo at the Kennedy Space Center like last year, but instead, it was at the host hotel, the Radisson’s Convention Center! UGH! After driving an extra 20+ miles or so, we finally arrived at the correct location.
It was kind of cool though, the timing of it – we ran into our dear friend from church, Mary B., and chatted with her a bit in the parking lot. Then we went straight to the restroom (given the long drive and all), and I ran into Tia P., just in time for a quick selfie with her LOL! We headed into the expo which was okay but pretty uneventful compared to some of the expos I’ve been to. I grabbed my bib/bag and got in line to get my shirt. Jane went over to the Galloway pacing table to see if I had to sign up.
I picked up my shirt – which fits and I’m thrilled because it’s not only navy blue (love the dark shirts), but it’s long-sleeved and a technical shirt AND it fits! YAY! I went back to the Galloway table and talked to the lady who would be doing the group I wanted to join. There was no sign up, but the pacing they listed on the website, in my emails, and even on the table at that moment, were apparently not what she was going to use for that group. My Garmin was already set to the other time, and I’m a little technologically crippled trying to use that Garmin 620 of mine, so I figured I’d just let her take the lead the next day.
We left the expo and decided to catch an early dinner so we went to the place right next door – Kelsey’s Pizzaria, which was actually very good. We got back on the highway headed back toward our hotel. I booked a room at this hotel right after last year’s race trying to catch a deal. Next year I’m going to wait and see if I can’t get something a little more classy at a good price instead of just grabbing this place. Anyway, we got to our hotel, we checked in, went to our room, unpacked, got my clothes and gear ready for the race (took a quick “flat Debi” pic), and went to bed early.
We turned the television on, football was on (surprise, surprise), so I fell asleep pretty quickly. The phone in the room kept making a clicking sound like a time bomb, so I yanked the plug out and then it was quiet again. I woke up feeling like I overslept and I checked the clock on the nightstand which said 3:40, so I started to rush around and get up because I wanted to catch the 4am shuttle. I grabbed my cell phone and rushed to the bathroom, only to realize the clock was an hour fast, and it was only 2:40. I went back to bed and gratefully went back to sleep. When I got up, I drank the pre-packaged protein shake I brought with us and headed to the shuttle bus. The hotel office had courtesy bags that included banana, an apple wrapped in cellophane and a protein bar.
I had a map for the meeting place for the half fanatics, but I wasn’t really getting where they were meeting. I kept myself amused by checking out the medals, the towels they hand out and a quick astronaut photo.
I finally asked someone if they could help me read the map. They directed me to the meeting place and I finally made it to the photo op! I also ran into Della, her husband, Paul, April, Patricia, and Dave M. (who took one of his infamous selfies for facebook!) I also got to meet Sara – a woman I feel like I’ve known for a while but met in common groups on Facebook – a sister in Christ – whom I had never met live until that morning.
It was finally time to line up for the race, so we headed over to the start line. I headed toward the back of the group to find my pace. We didn’t cross the start line for almost 6 minutes due to the crowd being packed on a pretty small road, but we did start out at a nice pace and we kept that pace for several miles. I followed the Galloway group for about six miles. I was ahead of where I expected to be, but I just couldn’t keep with them anymore.
As expected, the crowds seemed very friendly, people were polite when passing, it was overall a nice course with nice scenery. The creepy, beautiful house still had the woman in the window, this year I opted for a selfie with her LOL! I know, I suck at taking selfies, but I just couldn’t help myself.
I felt pretty good, I was happy with my pace, I had joined the pace group right behind the one I fell out of, and was nearing mile 9 when suddenly my knee was hurting so much it caused me to stop and look down. When I saw my knee, I saw it was swelled and I wondered if I would call this race a DNF (did not finish). I knew if I didn’t finish, I would have to find another race to cram in if I was going to meet my goal of 14 in 2014, so I made the decision to run/walk as I could and push on.
I’m betting I walked the entire 11th mile, but then I knew I was dragging things out and that the pain would only be temporary, so I got back on the run/walk cycle and forced myself to finish the race. I began thanking God for all the gifts He’s given me in my life and asked Him for the strength to just cross the finish line standing up. He answered my prayer, I crossed the finish line and immediately sat down after picking up my bling and towel. I was hurting so bad I didn’t even catch the finish line photographer for my standard finish pose, but thankfully, Jane took this picture of me running to the finish!!
Jane was there and helped me over to the medic table where they gave me a bag of ice. I hobbled out to the car, poured myself into the passenger seat and popped that ice on my knee. I used my souvenir towel to wrap it around my knee and I left the ice there for the next three hours on our drive home. I didn’t even want to go eat somewhere and opted for a drive-thru! I just couldn’t walk on that knee another step at that point.