November 29, 2013
I first learned about this race (and the series) when in some other race goodie bag, there was a postcard for it. This would be the start of a 5 year series and if you did 3 of the 5 years, you got a bonus medal. If you complete all 5 years, you get 2 bonus medal. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!?!?!?!
But how was I really going to get this done? Indiana to Florida isn’t just a day trip. So I waited but kept an eye on it. The website had a countdown clock and an “at capacity” meter too. It was all the buzz on Facebook and I started to get nervous when it was at 70% so I pulled the trigger and registered. I emailed my husband and asked him what he wanted to do. The reply was that he wasn’t willing to commit to the whole series. Umm, okay. The next day, the half marathon was sold out. So, he now had to sign up for the full. Live & learn. Oh and all of this took place in July for a race in December. I was able to get a $5 discount through my Half Fanatics membership so the entry fee then became $70 but once all the fees/taxes were added in, the total was $75.25.
There were several race “host” hotels. The main hotel was already sold out but I was able to get in to the next one listed which was the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront. Original room rate was $179.00 but the race price was $119.00.
Side note: My husband bought a book to help him with a condensed marathon training program but began experiencing some calf pain. The doctor diagnosed it as Exertional Compartment Syndrome. He had already backed out of the half marathon in Alabama and now wasn’t going to be able to run this event either.
After knowing that we were in the race and we had a hotel lined up, I really didn’t think much more about this one. I had plenty of other races ahead of me to tackle and wanted to move up a level in Half Fanatics. Plus, the original plan was that we would drive down on Friday, stopping at some point but getting to Florida on Saturday and then we would start the drive back on Sunday after the race again stopping about halfway or so and getting back to Indiana on Monday. However, out of the blue one evening my husband surprised me by saying that we would cash in some credit card points and fly down there. SCORE!!! I called the hotel to see if I could get a room on Friday as well. They had a room available but couldn’t get the discounted rate. Oh well.
So fast forward to Friday, November 29th; our flight left Indy around 8:30am. This was the day after Thanksgiving and thankfully the airport was not very busy. We had a brief stop in Atlanta and arrived in Florida around 12:30pm. That was one of the easiest smoothest flights I’ve ever experienced…and then we had to go to the car rental area. All of the people before us seemed to have issues. Once we finally made it to the counter, we were in and out. We wanted to turn around and say, “See how easy that was people?!?!” It was a little over an hour drive from the Orlando airport to the hotel. As we got to the registration desk, I asked the lady if there had been any cancellations so that we could get the group rate for Friday as well. She worked her magic and told us that it was taken care of. NICE! Basically we went up to the room, unpacked some of our stuff and took a quick nap. The room had a refrigerator so we went to the store and got our supplies for the weekend; Gatorade, waters, chocolate milk, tea for my husband and snacks. Then we just hung around in the hotel room until it was time for the “meet & greet” that was taking place in our hotel.
It was called the “Marathon Mingle” & was a free pre-race party with light hor d’oeuvres and live music with some drink specials. They had a race themed light apple martini and so I got one. Yep, still not a fan of martinis. The food was pretty good and my husband enjoyed the musician. I thought he was “fair” mostly because it wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to hear at that time. But it was good that it wasn’t too loud so that you could still have conversations with people.
There weren't many people down there at first but I was pretty sure that I recognized Jeff Galloway sitting at one of the tables. Eventually I went over, introduced myself and had my picture taken with him. He was so nice and throughout the evening he talked to everyone that approached him and took pictures with each person as well. At anther table I thought I recognized some people from the Half Fanatics Facebook page but upon going over there and introducing myself, that wasn’t who they were. They were still really nice and I stayed there and chatted with them a bit. At one point a lady come over and join me & my husband at our table. She was from California and had done the race before. We didn’t stay too long; It had already been a lengthy day. There was also a meet up for the 50 States Running Club (and I kept getting the two of them confused about what was going to take place) but it was at the Radisson which was 4 miles away.
But before going up to our room we ventured out to the beach so my husband could put his foot in the ocean. Yep, we are tourists through and through!