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Space Coast Marathon – A Runner’s Milestone

Today’s post is written by Nanci Cernak from This Crazy Life of Mine.

Running Space Coast Marathon in 2014 was very surreal for me. After swearing that I would never run a full marathon, despite the 10 half marathons I had already run at that point, I got the bug one day to go for the 26.2 distance. Once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop. Next thing I knew, I was signing up for my first full marathon.

Why Space Coast?

I chose Space Coast Marathon Cocoa, FL because it was mostly a flat course and it was along the water. I also heard from several others that it was a great race to do as a first-timer. And I have to admit, the space theme won me over and I knew I wanted that Challenger medal.


I was fortunate to sit down with a runner friend of mine to go over training plans and pick one that would work best for me. I modified it by making it 18 weeks and I moved the long runs from Saturday to Sunday and made Monday a shakeout run rather than a rest day. Tuesday became rest days. This same friend is also the one who told me not to be overwhelmed by the training as a whole. She told me, so simply, “It’s just running. Just get out there and run.” Best piece of advice ever.

I completed about 90% of the training, but never missing a long run. Training for a marathon is no joke – it takes over your life. While I knew I had to train to run those 26.2 miles, I also knew that it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I am thankful that my husband kept me company during my training runs and that my dear friend Corinna decided to run it too so we trained together. 

Nanci - Space Coast 1

Race Day

I was excited for race day. Was I nervous? Yes, but not about the running. I was nervous and anxious because we stayed at a hotel the night before so I didn’t have my bed to sleep in or my normal routine of being at home. I was ready to get out there and run. I knew in my mind, I would hit one of three goals I set. The first was to finish – I had seven hours to do it. The second was to finish in six and a half hours. The third was to finish in under six hours. Anyway I looked at it, I knew Corinna and I would stick together and cross the finish line at the same time.

26.2 Miles

The first half of the marathon went by quickly. I felt good and we stuck to a pretty even mix of running with walk breaks thrown in. Seeing our families at the halfway point was great and they restocked our snacks and water. That was a huge perk of that course, being able to pass right by the start line and see everyone as we made our way to the second half. The second half of the race went slower, as too be expected. It was getting warm and oh my feet hurt. There were bathroom stops and water stops galore throughout the last 13.1 miles, but we kept pushing forward.

Just before the finish line, I got pretty emotional. Running through the shoot with spectators on either side of you cheering you on was amazing. Seeing the finish line and crossing it with Corinna by my side was even more amazing. And seeing my husband and mom there to congratulate me made my day. And to top it off, we finished in 5 hours and 58 seconds, just under our third goal of 6 hours. 

Nanci - Space Coast 2

It is a day – and a triumph – I will never forget. The girl who once swore she would only run if being chased, ran a full marathon. I will forever be proud of myself for taking on the challenge and doing it, proving to myself that I can run 26.2 miles.

Anyone who is thinking about running their first marathon in Florida, I highly recommend Space Coast Marathon. I am so glad I chose to run that one. The event, the course, the volunteers, the spectators, and the medals made it all worth it.

I will forever be a marathoner!

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