What a great weekend! I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about the entire event. It was great from expo to after party. I can’t wait to share my experience with you. I apologize if this is longer than other recaps.
I originally hadn’t planned to a do a fall marathon after deciding I couldn’t make the trip to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which took place back in October. But as I got through the summer months, I realized I missed training for a big event. I thought running the “Hat Trick” at Runner’s World would be enough, but I found myself wanting to do more. After talking to my friend Lauren, who ran my first marathon with me in Cincinnati, she suggested doing the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon that she had signed up to do.
After giving it some thought, I signed up and started training. I decided to use the same training plan as I had before, Hal Higdon’s Novice 2. I also found a couple races that lined up nicely with long runs where I got to push myself pace-wise to see how things were going.
Training this fall was great. The weather was really perfect most of the time, although I did head out in the rain or in between showers more than a few times. I really do love fall, it’s definitely tied with winter as my favorite season. It was also great having some friends doing big races too as we were able to meet up for training runs almost every week.
I live in a valley surrounded by mountains, but the valley itself is very hilly. It’s a perfect place to run because you just can’t avoid hills. I’m a firm believer that running hills makes you a stronger runner, both physically and mentally. Even if I tried to plan a flatter training run, it just never really worked out that way.
I have to say, the month of November flew by and before I knew it the week of the marathon arrived. I did one final workout at the gym that Monday and one final short run of 4 miles on Tuesday morning. After that I took the rest of the week off. It was really tough and I felt like I was bursting at the seams with excess energy.
I took Friday off to make the drive. We left around lunch and it took about 5 hours. My GPS had us a bit off the beaten path for awhile in Amish country, but it was beautiful so I didn’t mind. Apparently it was the “fastest route” even though we came back a completely different way. But, I digress.
We went straight to the expo upon arriving in Rehoboth where I got my number, shirt and wristband for the after party. I also met a fellow Penn Stater. Apparently there were quite a few Penn Staters running the race. We’re everywhere!
We stayed with close family friends who have known me since basically before I was born. They had two boys of their own, so I was basically their little girl. They retired to nearby Lewes years ago and whenever I’m in the area I try to connect with them. It was great to be able to stay with them and have a home cooked meal.
Saturday morning was an early one. I woke at 5 and got ready and then spent about 20 minutes rolling out whatever I did to my shoulder/upper back Thursday evening. That didn’t quite fix the problem, but I didn’t feel it during the race so that’s all I was hoping for. I enjoyed a bagel and peanut butter for breakfast and a banana before heading to the start line.
Parking was supposed to be super easy since it was free everywhere. However, with 3,000 runners and then spectators converging on a relatively small area, parking wasn’t the easiest. I ended up pulling off at 6:40 and hopping out of the car to head to the start. I still needed to warm up.
The start was right where Rehoboth Avenue meets the boardwalk so I did a short jog on the boardwalk before doing some stretching and watched a beautiful sunrise over the ocean. I don’t have any photos though as I opted to just enjoy things like we did before cell phones became a mainstay in our lives. Yes, I do remember those times!
The half and full courses started together until about the 5k mark when the half marathoners headed back toward Rehoboth while the marathoners turned to head into Cape Henlopen State Park. I really enjoyed the scenery. There were beautiful homes along that section and you could see the ocean quite a bit, as well. As we headed into the park we left pavement behind for a rail trail surface. We have a lot of rail trails around central PA and they’re great for running, hiking, riding your bike, and more. They’re really kind to your body. The trail we were on was relatively new so it was in great shape.
I couldn’t get over the scenic views on what was a perfectly sunny, cool day. You had marsh on both sides for a few miles as well as views of the Atlantic. In addition, the state park was a military base during WWII so there are lookout towers and underground bunkers that you ran by. It really kept your mind occupied. Eventually you exit the park and head to Lewes past the Lewes-Cape May Ferry. There was great crowd support along this section. It was also when I got to see Lauren and cheer her on as she headed back toward the park.
You then retraced your steps back through the park and to Rehoboth. Mile 18 is right near downtown, which is great since there are lots of spectators.
After running through town you head off on another section of trail. This part was a bit rockier, but still a great surface for running, biking, etc.
Gabe stationed himself at what was about mile 21 and mile 23 since this was another out-and-back. I gave him my jacket and grabbed some orange slices going both ways. They taste so good when I’m running, but normally I’m not a huge fan of them.
My goal was to PR in this race. Part of that came from that fact that it was flat and I thought I had a good shot at it since I train in such a hilly area. I also hoped that my fitness had improved enough to allow me. You really never know when it comes to a distance like that though. My first goal is to always finish, then my secondary goal is to have felt I improved in some way and usually that deals with my time.
My 20-miler a few weeks before the race had an average pace of 9:40. Early on in the race I was near a woman who’s app went off telling her the distance and her pace. At the time she was running with a 9:37 pace. Since we were only 5 miles in when I heard that I worried I was going to fast. I still had 21 miles to go after all. I tried to stay with her, but I couldn’t keep myself from pushing beyond her so I just kept going at well felt good to me. I’m assuming based on when I crossed timing mats (10 mile, 13.1 and the finish) that I hung around a 9:30 pace for most of the race.
I was also trying to keep an eye out for a group of people pacing their friend to a 4:20 marathon. He was an older gentleman trying to BQ. I ended up seeing them shortly after the halfway point, which proved to be a confidence booster since it meant I was on pace to get a PR and still felt pretty good.
Based on my 3 previous experiences, I start to really feel pain after a certain point. At my first marathon it was mile 20, at my second it was mile 21 and at my third it was mile 23. I told myself I had to run until mile 23. When I got to mile 23 I told myself to keep going til mile 24 and then I could walk for 30 seconds. The problem with walking at that point is that it’s even more painful to get back going again so I was trying to avoid that. When I reached mile 24 I stopped to walk. I made it no more than 10 steps before a man came up next to me and said “No, you can’t walk. You’re my pacer. Stay in front of me.”
I immediately jumped back into running and we chatted for a bit. Eventually around mile 25 he passed me, but it still felt really good to know someone used me to push themselves. We reconnected at the finish line and congratulated one another and thankfully he pointed out the water table to me because I’d completely missed it.
The last mile was great. There were plenty of spectators and people were cheering every runner on. I was thrilled to even be able to find one last burst of energy to speed up to the finish. The clock said 4:15 but I was able to check my time on a computer shortly after to see I’d beat my expectations with a 4:10:25!
After we headed into the Cultured Pearl to hopefully grab food and meet up with Lauren. She had another BQ performance and has officially qualified for Boston a second time. That’s so exciting!
After hanging out for a bit, we headed back to our family friend’s to shower and hang out before making the trip home. I kind of wish we could’ve stayed a bit longer and went to check out the park and the beach. But I at least got to live vicariously through the photos others posted in the Facebook group.
I would definitely recommend either the half or full to anyone looking for a late fall race. The course is beautiful and flat, the weather was great, and the race is really well organized. Another bonus is the race offers high quality race photos for free download. Who doesn’t love free race photos? I also thought the volunteers, spectators and my fellow runners were some of the best I’ve come across in terms of support and camaraderie. Signups for 2016 start on New Year’s. I know I’ll be back in the future. Add it to your list!