13.1 – This race and its logistics get easier each year. I know how long the drive to the start area takes, where to park, and the ins and outs of getting situated before the start. We had a big group at dinner and the photo of our team was impressive.
I started with a good group – most noteworthy was Johnny Pettygrue, Pacer Tia’s husband. He said he had just recently done a half marathon at 8:04 pace, so he’d be good going with me. Other notables were Nimia Gonzalez, a runner from my town that I helped her last year reach a new PR. A gal named Jessica from Orlando, Joe from Vero Beach (or Ft Pierce) area, Mike, an older gentleman with blue shirt and red shorts, and a woman named Kelly. My friend Maureen started with us but broke off at Mile 4 for the restroom. Only a few of the runners paid attention to me giving the basics of shoe lace tying and how to run through a water stop. At this pace, many must feel comfortable in their personal setup beforehand.
Starting on the South course is great, because there’s not a crowd in the first mile. The first two turns have you wondering how some of the walkers and slower folks got ahead of me, but like always, some see the word “race” and believe their 16 minute per mile pace belongs right up along thew chip mat. Yeah, that. I did the first mile in 8:01, the temp was great for me, 65 degrees. My group was together for the first five miles before I noticed a few had fallen back. Jessica, Nimia, Joe, Mike and a younger kid we picked up were strong and right with me. The sunrise came and our runners were in good spirits. Jessica was tuned into earbuds but running with us on the outside. Joe and Mike were close to me. Nimia was right behind me but I recognized her breathing so I knew when she was close. We did a few water stops where I demoed how to crimp the cup and run through without breaking pace. A few of them were glad to see it and tried successfully.
We ran as a group in the dark for the first 5 miles. I joked and reminded them of the “bar” on the course that serves mimosas and tequila. Approaching the turnaround, which is in a slightly different spot, we had 4 or five of us tightly packed at the pace. I saw a few of the others right as we started North again and I encouraged them to stay within sight of me and the 1:45 sign. Now we got to enjoy the cheering and encouragement of the folks coming down the course to their turnaround. We were at a good pace, maybe a few seconds slower than perfect as is usually the case with some slowing at the turnaround. Joe and Jessica were up front with me, Nimia fell slightly behind. I told the group that I had to finish on time, but if they felt good in the cool weather and wanted to go faster, they could. I recommended they wait until after Mile 10 when all they’d have left was a “familiar” 5k distance to cover.
At Mile 8 there was more thinning of my group, as I now ran with Mike, Joe and Jessica just behind. We picked up a guy in his 20s, perhaps he had fallen off the 1:40 group. He ran with me for 3 miles. At Mile 10, Mike said he felt he could go ahead for a better than 1:45 time, so he did. He stayed right ahead of us by only 50 meters until the final mile. then he worked to keep up with Joe and I as we passed him in the village of Cocoa.
We passed by Kristen Tinker’s house, now on the course at mile 1.25 and 11.7 miles on the way home. She was outside with two of her kids, taking photos and cheering for us. Here’s a quick video she took as I passed on the way back…
The final mile is a good one, only Joe and I ran the last few turns together. It never got warmer, just brighter with the sun out. We finished moments apart, he was very happy achieving his goal and he came back after hydrating for a photo with the official race Marathon Foto photographers. I found Johnny at the finish, he was about 2 minutes behind us with a 1:47 something finish time.
The post race party was well done, this year no rain! I had eggs and mac and cheese, strange combo but looked go to me having not eaten anything during the race. I didn’t use gels, and took one salt pill at mile 5. That made me feel sick at mile 8 so I stayed on water only the rest of the race. My right rear leg muscles – glute or hamstring were sore today, something needs more time off to heal down there so I can do A1A well at the end of Jan and go for a fast time at Two Rivers Marathon in Pa.