Monday, November 28, 2011

Marathon #6. Space Coast, Cocoa, Florida

I arrived in Florida at 5:20.  I arrived at the race site at 6:40.  The lovely Francine saw me as I approached the starting line, asking people along the way to direct me.  One of the timing guys was there with Francine, and we started somewhere around 6:45.

We were a little panicky, given that neither of us knew the course.  We headed out, yelling at spectators who were still hanging out a half hour after the start, and got directed around the appropriate corners.  Before a half-mile is over we started north along what turned out to be a long out-and-back section.  One mile done.  Not bad.  After yesterday (which was Friday back home) the distance was going by in a hurry.  We figured that there would be some walkers at the back, and sooner or later we'd see them.  After about 4 1/2 miles, we finally saw someone ahead of us.  The leaders started coming back at us as well.  Francine was with me the whole way, even though it was probably painfully slow for her.  Still, she was there for me the whole way.  It took us all the way to the turnaround at near 7 miles to figure out how the course worked.  We caught a guy about then who told us that the course went back to where we started and then on a long out and back the other way.

In spite of being on my feet for 9 1/2 hours the day before, then sleeping on airplanes for two nights (crossing the dateline gave me an extra long Saturday), the day was going well.  After fighting so hard for every kilometer in New Zealand, the flat, paved roads of Florida were a snap.  We continued to pass people right up to the end, finishing in a little over 5 1/2 hours.

As we enjoyed post-race refreshments including sausage, eggs and pancakes, the announcer started telling my story.  I made my way up there to see him, and then right behind me came Katherine Switzer to congratulate me and give me a hug.  Wow!  One of my running heroes!

Let me just put in a plug here--Space Coast Marathon--Great medal.  Great beach towel.  Nice shirt.  Nice organization.  Do it!

One thing I commented to Francine on along the way.  I hadn't heard during the last few marathons, "Hey, aren't you Don Kern?" Being a race director and a generally "outside the normal orbit" person I get that a lot.  Well, after getting cleaned up and hurrying to the airport for my next flight, I walked up to the AeroMexico counter and the woman there said, "Hello Mr. Kern."  Wow.  Ok, it wasn't because I'm famous.  It's because I was the ONLY person not yet checked in on the flight.  Famous by process of elimination.

Orlando - Mexico City - Santiago - Punta Arenas.  I'm at the south end of Chile, and it looks like everything is a go to fly to Antarctica tomorrow.  This is exciting. The mission is almost complete.  Had dinner with my old friend Brent Weigner and a couple of new friends from the trip.

I'm about dead--time to fall asleep.  Hugs and kisses to everyone back home.  Especially the lovely Francine.

1 comment:

Team 413 said...

Hey, I was there, too! Good times, a little warm to be running though... I preferred the weather we had at the GR marathon! :-)