Race Recap: Cocoa Women's Half Marathon

January 20, 2017

I haven't raced a half marathon since June 2015 and I haven't beat my best time since 2014. My goals of 2017 included PRing my half marathon time of 1:36:xx. Ultimately I want to break this 1 hour 30 minute barrier that I just can't seem to get past! When I signed up for the Cocoa Women's half I wanted to see where my time was at and then race faster the next half marathon in March.

LuluLemon Hotty Hot Short (new favorite, so comfy!)
Clif Bar Shot Blocks + Gel

Race morning I woke up at 6am and ate oatmeal, a banana, and sipped on gatorade and water. My sisters came to support me at my race (which was the best!!). We left to head downtown an hour before the race. We watched the costume contest, I stretched, we prayed and then lined up to start. The race directors had 6:30-7:00 minute/mile pace runners start at the front. I headed up there not knowing what I wanted my pace to be but also making sure I started at the front to not fight the crowds. We began the run and I positioned myself fourth female. From the beginning I chose not to look at my watch and only focus on how I felt.

When I ran this race three years ago, I lost track of the front pack and got entirely lost. This time I wanted to stay with the front runners so I knew where to go. This year was marked clearly, officers and volunteers at every major turn, and cones/arrows showed us the way. Definitely an easy route to follow! The run maneuvered through the downtown streets and I stayed with the front pack. There were numerous points in the run where it was two-way and I could see the other racers. At mile 3, where the 5k and 10k cut off, I looked at the bibs of the front pack. I had a brown bib which meant half marathon. Pink, red, pink.... the top ladies were running either the 5k or 10k which meant... I was the first half marathoner. At mile 4 the bike escort told me he would come back for me as he led the 10k winner to the finish. OMG.

As I got to another two-way point I was cruising through the miles, taking in all the applause and thumbs up from the other racers, and wondering how long I would keep up being in the lead.

I'll share my playlist in another post because it was too good. I love racing with music and purposefully set the playlist up to start slow and end with faster songs to keep my head in the pace game. I took in gu chomps every two miles. I had one gu chomp left at mile 7ish and panicked because that was my source of energy. I planned to stay fast and if I crashed then I would learn from the mistake. I held off on my last one to take near mile 9. I took gu gel at mile 10 and ate a bit every so often to the finish. One thing I would change is how many gu chomps I brought with me ;)

The bike escort met back up with me around mile 5 and I had him to lead me the whole way. Rather than focusing on my watch/pace, I focused on staying with him. At mile 7, where the relay point met and where people could watch, I was still in the lead and I was thinking that I wished my sisters were there so they could see this. That morning they had joked I would win and I, with all my pre-race nerves, said I had no idea how I would do.

With the bike escort leading, I turned my music up and ran through the miles. I felt great the whole way and made sure to thank every volunteer. They probably thought I was crazy as I would take the sports drink provided then find a trash can and throw it in rather than toss on the ground.

This whole race I could not stop smiling. I was leading the race and I couldn't see another racer behind me. I cruised through and threw up a number one sign to the photographer around mile 12 as I was confident I would win.

I took my headphones out as I rounded the last corner to take in the moment. The bike escort rattled his bell telling everyone the first place half marathoner was coming in to finish. My sisters were waving their arms and cheering. I couldn't contain my excitement I yelled to them "OMG I JUST WON I JUST WON!!"

I literally can't think of a time when I was happier. I was smiling this entire race!! I have won my age group in plenty of races but to win the whole race?! Never! I always see the first place finishers at races and think "wow, they are good and strong and fast" and this time it was ME.

1:35:41 finish time// 1st Overall out of 400+ participants// Splits:
1- 6:57
2- 7:29
3- 6:56
4- 7:09
5- 7:05
6- 7:13
7- 7:13
8- 7:31
9- 7:23
10- 7:24
11- 7:37
12- 7:31
13.1- 6:58

Afterwards we enjoyed the post race chocolate covered fruit, pancakes and chocolate syrup, and hot chocolate. Did I mention it was the Cocoa Half? Huge shoutout to all the volunteers, police, race directors, race photographers, and my bike escort to make this a fun, safe, and exciting race!!

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