November 30, 2014
This was year #2 of the 5 year Big Bang Series. Last year’s finishers were able to take advantage of early registration so I signed up on February 14th. My husband – although he was registered last year didn’t actually race because of an injury – could not sign up until the next day. Thankfully he got in because this race fills up fast! With taxes and fees it was $91.10 each. I’d forgotten how expensive it is but it really is worth it. The medals are AMAZING!
And again, it was another one of those “sign up so early in the year you sort of forget about it until it gets closer” race.
Fast Forward to mid-October and we begin looking into airfare. The initial plan was to fly down Saturday, do the race Sunday morning, shower and pack up and fly home Sunday night. Well…while we were “aware” that this was Thanksgiving weekend we didn’t think about what that meant and flights home on Sunday were Out Of Control! Crazy expensive! So we investigated prices if we stayed and flew home on Monday; that cut the cost in half. Luckily our house/dog sitter was able to stay an extra night.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH: Our flight was scheduled to leave Indianapolis at 7:55AM so that meant we needed to leave our house no later than 6:00AM. That would give us time for my coffee stop (necessity!), park the car, get shuttled to the airport and get through TSA. We were flying Southwest Airlines so Group A got called to line up but then we were told to sit back down because the mechanics needed to work on something. EEK! The delay wasn’t too long and we were finally allowed to board. Some lady was traveling with a small dog and – they were sitting toward the back of the plane – it kept barking and barking. When the pilot came on over the PA he said that the good news was - we had a tailwind so we’d make good/better time getting to Orlando. He said the bad news was – they were out of dog biscuits. FUNNY! Once the engines were fired up and we were in the air, you really couldn’t hear the dog any more or all the children on the flight. We landed in Orlando ahead of schedule, got our rental car and we were on our way to the Expo.
This year the Expo was NOT at the Kennedy Space Center but at the Radisson Resort at the Port (the pink hotel) but – in my opinion – it was worse than the setup at KSC. Parking was horrific, the expo space wasn’t any larger or if it was they added too many booths so it was just as crowded. We did get our bib numbers quickly; that area wasn’t too bad. It was once you rounded the corner to the vendor areas. JAM PACKED! But thankfully the very first vendor booth had a familiar face. BART YASSO. Of course I asked if we could have our photo taken with him. He was so nice. He asked which distance we were doing and seemed genuinely interested and then he and my husband talked about Ironman Arizona. Bart had completed SEVEN Ironman races.
I wasn’t going to buy anything at the Expo. I certainly didn’t NEED anything but since I didn’t get to make a shirt for the event, I caved and bought a short-sleeved Space Coast technical shirt to wear for the race. As we were about to leave, I saw a familiar face. Dave Mari – the amazing marathon/half marathon social media king.
The next stop was checking into our hotel. I tried to get reservations where we stayed last year but by the beginning of May, it was already full. All of the host hotels were full! That’s almost SEVEN months before the race. CRAZY! But I was able to find a spot at the Best Western Ocean Beach Hotel & Suites. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much but I got a good deal on it ($99.86 taxes included) and we only needed it for one night. And lets face it, we’ve stayed in worse before a race. But I was mostly pleasantly surprised. It wasn't luxurious but it was good enough. After unloading all of our stuff, we naturally went to the beach.
We walked for a bit, enjoyed the sunshine and scenery and I gathered a few shells for my Mom. We then headed back to our room, made a grocery list and went to the store for supplies. After shopping and taking the stuff back to our room, we went into Cocoa to the Applebee’s we ate at last year. Before heading back to the hotel, we drove a portion of the course to give my husband a feel for it since he didn’t do it last year. It was lights out early since I was setting my alarm for 2:45AM to be on the 4:15AM bus.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH: The plan was to wake my husband up when I was leaving the room at 4:00AM. He was going to take the 5:00AM bus and we had planned on a meeting place near where the Half Fanatics picture was to be taken. He wouldn’t be taking his phone with him so hopefully this was all going to work out.
The bus line was already lengthy when I got there but I wasn’t too worried about it. Last year, two buses were there to take the first group of runners. Well, the bus seemed to be running a little late but I still wasn't that concerned and engaged in conversation with the people in front of and behind me. However when only ONE bus arrived – and it was past the scheduled pickup time - I got a little concerned. Granted, if I missed the picture, I missed the picture. But I really wanted to be there for it.
Sometimes timing is everything. As we were waiting for another bus to show up, I had turned around and happened to see my husband step outside from the lobby. So I shouted his name and he walked over. He had gotten up and ready and remembered that the hotel was going to start serving breakfast at 4:00AM so he thought he’d check it out and while he was there he stepped outside to see what the line situation was. Since he was ready and had everything, he decided to just wait with me and get on the next bus. However he did quickly run back to the room to get his banana…but he had plenty of time.
We headed straight to the picture area. It was nice to have my husband there so that he could take some photos for me.
We both decided to pay a visit to the porta-potty one more time and then headed to Brevard Avenue where the race would start. We decided to hang out on the side until the race actually started and then jump in. Luckily, my husband’s pace corral was right where we were.
Together we watched (mostly listened to because we were so far back) the playing of a Space Shuttle countdown and liftoff on the Jumbotron and then my husband made his way in with the runners. I had to wait just a tad bit longer but eventually made my way on to the course as well.
The weather didn’t seem nearly as humid at the start this year and I probably could have worn the long-sleeved race T-shirt that we were given.
The plan this year was to keep my phone in its holder. But I just couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture of the sunrise!
There were a few things along the course this year that I didn’t remember (and maybe they just weren't there) from last year – such as the two adult beverage stations. One of them was just handing out beer but the other had mixed drinks and they were cooking food. But since I told my husband that I’d hoped to finish in 2:30, I didn’t stop. On the way back in though, I did briefly stop to get a picture of this sign.
My husband was hoping to finish in under 2 hours. I saw him at/or near the 8 mile marker (he was headed back in to town) thus I would have been at/or near the 6 mile marker. He looked strong and – if I remember correctly - was in between the 1:50 and 1:55 pace groups. After the race he told me that the wheels fell off for him around mile 10 and he couldn’t maintain his current pace. He did meet his goal and finished 1:59:03….but of course he still wasn’t happy with that. UGH!
Not much else to write about this race. I was once again struggling and taking too many walking breaks. Around the 10 mile marker, the 2:30 Galloway pace group caught up to me. I figured “what they heck” and joined in with them. My hope was to stay with them for a little bit and hopefully pick up steam and finish ahead of them. NOT! I think I hung with them until 12 1/2 miles and then I needed to walk before it was time for the break and I never caught back up. Thus I finished 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than I “wanted” to.
I saw my husband as I was making my way around the north side amphitheater area and then again at the finish line. Got my medal, my finishers beach towel and a cold hand towel which is always a welcomed “gift” at the end. We then walked over to get our free breakfast. The one thing that puzzles me about the finish line area of this race is that (unless I overlook it every year) there isn't any water anywhere except AT the finish line. And the water at the finish line is in coolers and you have to fill up a small cup. You can find sodas, beer and OJ but no water elsewhere. I really think they should change that.
I didn’t see any of my Indiana friends in the finish line area so we headed over to the bus area to catch a ride back to the hotel. Thankfully the Best Western had extended check out for folks doing Space Coast – not that we were pressed for time – so we were able to go back to the room, shower and take about an hour nap before we had to check out. Ideally we would have just stayed here Sunday night but since that wasn’t our original plan when I made the reservations, there wasn’t anything available so we had to switch hotels.
We packed up, grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds and then headed to the Kennedy Space Center so that I could try and take the medal picture I was hoping to capture. We didn’t want to pay to park just to get a quick picture and we got shooed away when we stopped in a little nook on the side of the road. After re-routing and pulling over in a “No Stopping” area, I got this. It isn't the best. I was too far away and the wind was blowing but it would have to do.
After getting the medal photo, it was then on to Orlando, check into our next hotel and then to the airport to return the rental car. This might have been a better option than staying in Cocoa Beach after all since our flight Monday morning was at 6:25AM which meant we needed to be at the airport at 5:30AM. (I really need to start booking our flights so that we can sleep in!) There was some miscommunication about getting the hotel shuttle after dropping off the car but we eventually got it figured out. It turned out that the shuttle guy was at lunch so we needed to take a taxi and the the hotel would reimburse us. Sadly, the girl at the front desk told us NONE of this when we were asking what we needed to do (we checked in and dropped our bags off first) when telling her we needed to go to the airport to drop off the rental car. Even the taxing stand guy and the taxi driver weren’t communicating with us effectively (or “at all” truth be told) when trying to get back to the hotel. Why is all of this so difficult these days. EEK! My blood was beginning to boil just typing about all of this again.
But we eventually make it back to the hotel, watch a little football and then decide to take another nap. We didn’t sleep long though. Both of us were getting hungry and we needed to find some place to have dinner. Being without wheels, it needed to be within walking distance and sadly the only place was Hooters.
It was back to the hotel and early to bed since we had to get up at 3:45AM. We needed to be in the hotel lobby at 5:00AM to board the shuttle.
Obviously, I’ll be doing this race next year since the plan is to do all 5 year and complete the series.
I’m curious to see if we get the bonus medal THAT day or if they will send it to us. I hope it will be that day.
Above on the left is the participant shirt and on the right is the shirt I bought to run in.