13.1 miles – The weather for this event was perfect! After many good years at this race, we were delivered a GREAT day! We had a good number of local runners make the trip up from Palm Beach for this race – the 50th running of the Space Coast Marathon.
Today I was “on duty” as the 1:50 half marathon pacer for the South Course. Last year there were no pace team leaders – so I ran the race as a regular athlete. Anyone who came today with a good goal time in mind was happily rewarded with a more than fair chance of getting that time.
No pacer dinner, but I attended the meeting at the Spring Hill Suites with Maria. It was her first true pacing experience with the big team, she had plenty of practice before this so I knew she would do well. It’s always good to see all of the familiar faces and characters the pacing events bring out.
The marathon and North Course Half began at 6:00 am, our race was to begin at 6:20 am. We were staged on an adjacent street from the Start Line, then moved into position on Brevard Avenue once that earlier race began. I had a nice group with me for the start – and some of my local friends took small videos of me chatting with my people. Below is me getting everyone to make sure their laces are all tied up & ready to go…
I took some names down as we waited for the start – here are some of the runners that started in or near my group…
Dylan, Erin, Jane, Judy, Billie Jean, Caroline, Ashley, Maura Hennessey, Jenny, Elizabeth, Claudia, David from Pembroke Pines, Carole Tordi and Karen Monda. Maura took some of the photos but didn’t end up staying with our group once the race began.
We began the race on time and having positioned my group behind Erica Weitz and her 1:45 gang, meant we had some people to run around in the first mile. Our first mile was 8:39 – meaning the goal pace of 8:22 would be something we built towards. In Mile 2 & 3 we had a nice opening in the crowd so our group ran strong. We saw the really colorful sunrise coming up, I told everyone to pay attention to what’s in front of them as we had various lumps and bumps from tree roots to contend with. I also said keep one eye on the calm water as we run south – it is very common to see manatees and dolphins jumping on this course!
The sunrise was beautiful and I kept the chatter going for the group. I made sure everyone knew the plan was to run at an even pace the whole way. If they felt good and wanted to go fatser, I encouraged them to wait until we had made the turn around and then they could judge their energy for a faster run home. We were on our ideal timing as of the fourth mile. That’s also where the course delivers many unscheduled aid stations – mostly local residents setting up a table in front of their house, some music playing, etc. I saw a Delerium inflatable elephant and a Tremens beer tent setting up on the water side of the course – that was new! I hoped my friends would notice it, too, the beer from Belgium we have enjoyed at local parties.
Running close to me were a mother (Billie Jean) and her daughter (Caroline) and David from Broward County. These three knew many other runners on the route or for Billie Jean & Caroline, the folks staffing the aid stations. Caroline is a local cross country runner from Satellite High School, and her mom was in her first half marathon ever. David recognized and shouted out to a bunch of other runners, too. I had some hoots and “Hey Dave” shouts going up and especially back down the course. We ran very smoothly through Miles 5 & 6. Some of the group formed a small secondary pack right behind us – they were keeping the same pace as we went through the turnaround. I saw Kristen Tinker with her pom-poms right at the timing mat, here is her photo below…
Now heading North, a small breeze was coming at us. Our group spoke less, which is normal, and I kept encouraging them to stay with me or at least in sight of me. Mile 7 was good, Mile 8 a few seconds slow, Mile 9 back to good on-time speed. David was with me close now, he really wanted to get 1:50 or less. Caroline and Billie Jean were running strong next to me also. Caroline commented as we saw many runners heading at us how she didn’t notice any younger girls in the lead group – she may get an age group prize for this race. I looked less than 300m ahead and replied – “What about that girl with the white headband up there?” Caroline and her mom saw this and asked if I thought she should try to catch her. I advised her to wait until Mile 10 – we had eaten into her lead just doing our 8:20s paces, she didn’t need to break away yet.
At the 10th mile, both Billie Jean and Caroline made a move for the girl ahead. I didn’t think they both would have a problem catching her, but I also didn’t want to see Caroline burn her mom out in the 3 mile chase.
David stayed with me, Carole Tordi who I know from home and Karen Monda, a friend of Kristen’s that is very experienced and on the mend from some injuries, Another gal, I think her name was Claudia, was working hard to keep up with us. She dropped off in the last two miles, but stayed within view. She saw me looking back for her several times and encouraging her to stay near us. The final mile and a half is a long straightaway before you enter the Cocoa Villge area – she stayed close enough to be within sight which was good. She didn’t know that being within sight would probably get her the 1:50 time as my true goal was to finish 30 seconds earlier than that.
I encouraged a few runners we came upon to grab onto our pace group for the final 3/4 and 1/2 mile. You can hear the announcer, the music and it helps the runners pep up whatever energy they have left.
I saw a few friends on the Cocoa Village streets, made the last turn into the park and encouraged anyone still within earshot to run for the line. This worked for David, who had strength enough to vault ahead. Once done, I met with Caroline and her mom who both finished in 1:47:xx. This was good enough for a 2nd place finish for Caroline. Photo below is from her father…
David from Pembroke Pines found me at the finish line, he was very happy that I could keep him on pace and that he didn’t start too quickly. As for Claudia, I spoke with her briefly and she was very happy with a finishing time of 1:50:xx. I pointed out the 1:49:30 goal time on my pace band – she realized then the how and why of getting her goal yet finishing a few steps off my lead at the end.
This is a great race experience – all of the runners I had recommended it to last year returned this year, and a few new faces. We stayed for the after party and awards presentation, at which many of our locals brought home Age Group recognition plaques.
Maria did fantastic in her 3:50 pacing duties. She was overwhelmed with how fun pacing is, meeting runners, helping them, and being part of the production of the event.
This was a great weekend – I’m glad I can participate in this each year and that it is relatively close to home!