I swore I would never go back.
And yet, there I stood in Cocoa Beach town center.
The panic attacks began to bubble over as I stood at the Space Coast Half Marathon. Although this was only a half marathon, all of my horrible memories and uncomfortable feelings about this race came racing back. My friends, Mica, Chrissy and Haley tried to settle my nerves before blast off. At least our outfits looked cute. I called this ensemble “starry night”.
While we took photos to take my mind off the impending Space Coast race, I noticed we stood in the crowd ahead of the 2:15 pace group. My goal was to stay ahead of them for the duration of the race.
Once the race was underway, I began to feel better. Chrissy and I paced together for the first mile. Then, just after the first mile water station, Chrissy sped ahead and I stay behind attempting to maintain an easy pace.
At the 3 mile mark, I still held onto my easy pace. Although Space Coast’s definition of a “flat course” has more inclines than I’m used to compared to the very flat roads around my ‘hood, I still made relatively good time.
At the 10K mark, I impressed myself with my pace and managed to stay between the 2:15 and 2:30 pace groups. My good spirits allowed me to crack jokes along the way. “You down with OPD? Yeah, you know me.”
Once we turned the corner at the 7 mile mark for our return trip to the finish line, the wind hit me like a wall and I felt like I couldn’t move. My body fought the wind and my legs resisted running. I knew I would struggle with the second half of the half marathon.
And then the 2:15 pace group passed me.
I tried to keep up with the pace group for as long as I could, but they slipped away further and further as the wind and my legs held me back.
Shortly soon after, I began to feel phantom pains in my feet as reoccurring Space Coast sadness and despair flooded my brain. Why am I even here? I hate this race.
I decided to focus on the spectators and volunteers instead of my Space Coast discontent. A space themed race does have its advantages.
I only wish I had dressed as the TARDIS or marked my face and arms with tally marks to warn others of The Silence of Doctor Who. Then like a blinking beacon in a starry sky, the only TARDIS in the entire race passed me and it made me smile. I should have worn my dress too.
At mile 12 I thought to myself, “I’m almost there. I can do this and finish close to 2:17.” And then, I hit another wall. My body just shut down and refused to run any more. It was if my mind didn’t want to be there and wouldn’t let my legs run.
I was so angry with myself. Why was this happening? Was I doomed from the start? Did I do this to myself? Is it truly mind over matter?
There were several of us walking at this point. I tried to stay positive and reminded myself that I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace group. I found my momentum once again and tried to run the last stretch.
This last half mile looped us around the park through a colonnade as an emcee announced our arrivals at the finish line. I don’t remember hearing my name or my finish time. I was just glad to be finished.
Ave Pace 10:44
I found Chrissy and learned she had PR’d by a minute. Mica had yet to still cross the finish line, so I waited for her. As soon as I spotted her, the waterworks began and we swapped stories about our miserable Space Coast experience.
Of course, we smiled for our finish photos.
And like true bling whores and race junkies, even after all the loathing for this race, we promised to return next year for the Challenger medal in attempt to earn a Big Bang Series Medal.
One year down. Two more to go.
Can you believe I’m even considering running the full next year? And I may even dress as the TARDIS.