Space Coast Marathon, Cocoa, FL

Elevation Gain: negligible; High Point: 38'

November 29 , 2009 - At six a.m 2300 hardy souls set off in the dark from Riverfront Park in Cocoa for either the full or the half marathon journey. Temperatures were at a cool 56 degrees so most runners had something with sleeves for the start, at least. While a relatively warmer run for me, I still dressed in a light jacket in case winds along the Indian River were chilly. It was great to be out in the pre-dawn with a bunch of other crazies to start the day this way.

After arriving at 5 a.m. to compete for a place to park I made my way to the start and aligned with others seeking about a 3:40 finish. Astronaut Mike McCaulley addressed the contestants just prior to the start which itself was displayed on a huge video screen of maybe ten by ten feet; we started to the countdown of a shuttle launch with ignition being the starting signal. Everything was appropriate to the Space Coast theme.

I could tell even within the first mile, setting off at an even pace that the quad and hamstring muscles of my right leg were close to cramping due to all the driving I had done lately. Immediately I backed off a bit and watched other runners move ahead of my careful pace. Today would not be a day of full effort, especially after racing in Atlanta three days previously and twenty some hours of driving this week.

Following the Indian River north to the turnaround at 6.5 miles I was doing my own thing and ignoring the rest of the field. People continued to pass me for the first hour, and while I felt I had backed off my normal pace considerably I still hit 5K in 25:12 and 10K in 50:38 and covered perhaps 7.3 miles in the first hour. The sun came up over the river between morning clouds and gave everyone a boost. I yielded to passing runners until about mile ten, at which point I was confident I had worked through any cramping possibility. From here back to town and the halfway point, which I reached in 1:46:59, I began to hold ground on even the half marathon finishers that were speeding up to finish, and I even started passing a few people.

Beyond half way I dug deeper and passed more people than passed me through the turnaround going south of town. I hit 20 miles in 2:44:23 before deciding to slow down for tired legs. Aside from weary legs from all the driving I was satisfied with the effort so far, but was not willing to push it for any reason. People passed me mostly during the last few miles, but I passed a few. Overall I kept pace and never really extended myself or got into labored breathing like many others. I was comfortable when I came back into Riverfront Park and crossed the finish line in 3:46:06 for 155th place of about 700 finishers - an 8:38 pace. I kept my light jacket on the entire way while most others stripped down; nonetheless, I was comfortable with the 70 degrees at the finish line.

While it was my slowest marathon ever by a little bit, I'm also at the oldest I've ever run a marathon. I believe I could run well under 3:30 again on a good day, but it still pales in comparison to the races of the glory days of yonder years. I found running this distance on pavement made my feet sore while running, probably since most of my training is on trails and dirt roads.

A recovery party ensued in the park after the event. The carnage and celibrants were spread out everywhere. Breakfast was free, but I didn't feel like eating just yet, so took my medallion and beach towel awards and headed back to the Resort at Cocoa Beach where I would be able to recover during the following week of our vacation.