I had heard that Cocoa Beach was an awesome race to run, plus it was definitely doable for an overnight racecation. I had been trying for years to recruit Chris to run a half and could not believe her agreed to run this one with me, although he claims he was drunk when he agreed. His problem, not mine.
My training went pretty well, I followed an Another Mother Runner 15 week plan for most of the training. A month out I decided to use my old coach Jess, from Race Pace Wellness, for the rest of the training. I had become overwhelmed with all the workouts I wanted to do in addition to running, plus I knew I wanted to use her for my training for the Naples Half. This was the best decision I could have made, because I was definitely headed for a big burn out without her guidance.
I trained well, but did suffer a little bit of a hip soreness/thigh injury two weeks before the race. Most of my training those two weeks consisted of rest days. If you have read my blog or follow me on instagram you will know that it is super hard for me to rest, but I did. Chris on the other hand trained minimally, his longest run was 8 miles. I knew he could complete the half, but I won’t deny I was a little bit worried.
Our first stop in Cocoa Beach was the race expo to pick up our bibs.
Thankfully, this was an well organized expo. Picking up the bibs was easy and I was super excited that we got to pick the time of our shuttle bus, I was nervous we’d end up on a 5 am shuttle, which would have sucked, but we got 6 am.. The expo itself was small, but had everything we needed. Tsamma Watermelon Juice was there and they literally gave us cases of their juice to take with us. I happen to love watermelon juice and this juice was awesome! I also purchased the one thing I wanted, a Headsweat visor.
After the expo we headed to our hotel to check-in. I booked the International Palms Resort which was the only hotel affiliated with the race that only required a one night stay. Well, this “resort” was definitely shady, but it was directly across from the finish line, I mean we could actually see the finish line from our hotel room. So it wasn’t the Ritz, it worked and we could easily walk to the shuttles in the am and easily get back after the race. I’d say that was a win.
We got our room and then headed out to the beach for a walk. It wasn’t the best day for the beach, pretty cloudy and to be honest, I thought the beach kind of sucked. There was seaweed everywhere and the water was not the nicest, nothing compared to the gulf beaches for sure.
After our short walk we headed to a late lunch/dinner. We ended up at a local seafood place. It was pretty good except for the sangria. The “homemade” sangria sucked, pretty sure they got it out of a can or something. I ended up drinking almost all the sangria and had a lobster roll with coleslaw and sweet potato fries! Love me some lobster!
After eating we headed back to the hotel where we hit the bar. Mind you it was early, like 5:00 pm early. I had a few glasses of wine and Chris had a few beers, but we were done by 6:15-6:30. We headed back to the room where I laid our our #Flatrunners, set our alarms and just rested for the rest of the night.
Five am came pretty quick. I felt good. I got up immediately, had a honey stinger and got ready. Chris was a little slower, but we were out the door by 5:45 am. We headed to the shuttle aka a school bus which left pretty quickly for the 6 mile ride to the start. I was nervous and had to pee as soon as we got there, nervous pee always gets me at races.
I did pee again before the official start too, after I got a pic with the lady dressed as a Genie lamp.
As we lined up for the race Chris and I said our goodbyes. I was headed closer to the front of the pack, hoping to follow the 1:50 pacer, while he was going back a little further hoping to follow the 2:10 pacer. My pacer actually never showed, which didn’t turn out too bad for me.
The race started about 7:10 am. I started at a really good pace and I felt like I could carry that pace for 13 miles for sure. The weather was a little humid and we were running against the wind, but overall I felt good. I had my Garmin set to watch so I only saw my mile splits. seeing my pace tends to stress me out, plus I am trying to run by feel rather than relying on the Garmin. The first few miles were good and then my stomach started bothering me. I ended up getting slower as the miles went on. I debated from mile 6-9 on whether or not to stop at a bathroom. Finally I stopped at mile 9 because I knew this was the last chance before hitting the beach, which was basically a 3 mile stretch.Can I tell you how much better I felt!!!! I should have stopped sooner. I think in a longer run if you have to debate whether or not to stop, you should stop.
The beach itself was a struggle. I literally felt like I was dying with every step. The first mile was sloped, which sucked. The next two miles weren’t as sloped, but were still painful-as you can see from the pic below.
Somehow I managed pretty good paces despite the sand, but mentally I gave up on my race during the beach portion. Pretty much I figured I was running a 1:58 half and I gave up on scoring a PR. When I headed back on the roads I was met with the walkers. The race looped so w there was a mile overlap between the front runners and the walkers. While the race director directed them to stay to the left in the beginning of the race, they did not and I ended up having to weave in and out of people to maintain my speed.
I was so happy to round the corner to the finish line and was completely shocked when I saw a 1:51 on the time clock. Not only did I finish a hell of a lot faster than I thought, I PR’d by over 3 minutes. Apparently I am much stronger than I think I am. Had it not been for those beach miles, I would have surely ran a 1:47-1:48. This finish gave me the confidence I needed for Naples.
I grabbed a beer and headed to the finish line to wait for Chris. He crossed around 2:16 and change, which was amazing!!!!
And he is not adverse to running another, I’d call this a success. We hung around for the awards and I won 2nd place in my age group!!!!
The age group award was a hand made painting!!! One of the best awards ever!!! It’s already hanging in my sitting room!!!!!!
This race was great!!!! It was well organized and I would definitely consider running it again. My biggest issue with this race is the beach portion from miles 9-11. I would rather have run the beach miles earlier in the race. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right????