#RaceRecap – Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon

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Wow, I’m still on a high after my races and extended stay in Portland, Maine. This is why it’s been over a week and I’m just now doing my recaps. Since I did two races as part of the 39.3 challenge, I’ll have a second recap for the marathon soon. For now, here’s all about the Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon!

Prior to this trip I had never been to Maine. I have an ongoing quest to visit all 50 states and I had yet to complete New England. I was able to knock out my final two New England states with this trip to Maine with not only a drive through part of Maine on the way to and from, but also a hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Two longtime friends of mine are currently calling Portland, Maine home. I’d been wanting to get up to visit them before they moved again so when I started researching I thought it might be fun to have the trip coincide with a race. In my search I found the Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon, Half Marathon, 39.3 Challenge and Busom Buddy Relay. I decided to go all-in and sign up for the 39.3 challenge, running the half on Saturday, May 14 and the full on Sunday, May 15.

This race has a pretty interesting history. It was ran from 1980-1987, but took a hiatus until 2012. It’s grown steadily each year since. Both courses are USATF certified and the full can be used as a Boston qualifier.

Several aspects drew me to this event. First, it’s on the smaller side of races. The half had 1,500 runners, while the full was just under 900 runners. Both races did sell out several weeks ahead of time. I also appreciated the fact that through the years they’ve surveyed their participants and made adjustments based on what runners want/like most. For example, a shirt is not included in registration, but race photos, a mobile tracking app, personalized video from the half, two complimentary beers (after each race), medals for both races, and more are included. 39.3 finishers even get  three medals and a jacket once they complete the challenge. I opted later to buy a shirt because I loved the race logo, it was a nice tech-t, a unique color, and only $12. Other merchandise was also available including finisher’s jackets for both the half and full, beer mugs, and more.

The race offered a small expo starting Friday and going all through to Sunday. I grabbed a new pair of socks and arm warmers at a nice discounted price while picking up my bibs and shirt. They also had an awesome woodcarving at the race location where multitudes of runners stopped to grab their picture.

Leading up to the event and during, race officials were very knowledgable and communicative about the events and all details relating to it. Parking for the half marathon was at the start/finish and was very easy to find. The race officials were also very upfront about the weather. You just don’t know what’s going to happen on race day until you’re there, especially during springtime in Maine.

On Saturday morning, the race started at 8 am on the campus of UNE Biddeford. The sun was shining and you could tell it would be a warm day. Since Portland is about 30 minutes north, I arrived at 7 am to allow time to park, stretch, and warm-up. I had no trouble parking and relaxed while setting up their free runner tracking app. More on the RaceJoy app later.

Runners were seeded into waves based on expected finish times. Since I was running another 26.2 miles the next day I didn’t want to push it too hard in the half. I was seeded in Wave 1, but opted for Wave 2 so I’d be less likely to go out too fast. The “gun” was actually a conch shell, so that added something unique to the start of the race.

Wave 2 started 3 minutes after the first wave. The course headed out onto Rt. 9 before we eventually turned to head toward the coast.

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The course was mostly flat, with just a few minor hills here to there. The course was not closed to traffic, but for the most part it was relatively quiet on that morning. The scenery was simply stunning. I stopped early to take a photo, but soon realized I’d just have to drive back afterwards to take photos because there was just so much to see. Maine’s coast is truly a sight to behold. My pictures just don’t do it justice.

The volunteers and aid station workers were all great, as well as the local police who helped with traffic. The relay exchange seemed to be pretty smooth when I passed through that area, which was also the start of a looped section and had an aid station. It was a lot going on in a small area, but no one seemed confused.

Mile 11 has a long, gradual hill but nothing overly taxing. There’s another hill near the end of mile 12 when you’re back on campus. The last .1 has you running through a tunnel under Rt. 9 onto a blue painted track to the finish. I was really impressed with the number of spectators throughout the course, but especially at the finish line. Everyone cheered for you even if they didn’t know you. Thanks to names on the bibs, they could even cheer for you by name. It was a nice plus!

I finished in 1:54, which I was certainly pleased with on such a warm day. At the finish the volunteers hand you your medal and offer you a reusable branded water bottle already filled for you. I thought that was a uniquely sustainable idea. From there it’s a short walk to the food tent where there was VitaCoco, pizza, KIND bars, fruit, bagels, pretzels, cookies, and more. I personally loved the fresh cut watermelon!

I hung out to stretch in the sun on the grass watching people finish for a bit. I didn’t want to drive out on the course when it would still be crowded with runners.

Eventually I made my way to my car (a short walk) and headed out on the course to grab some photos.

This was on a looped section around mile 9. The rocky coast and blue, blue water was beautiful.

This was on a looped section around mile 9. The rocky coast and blue, blue water was beautiful.

There were plenty of places to take pics with my medal too. At high tide these rocks are covered in water.

There were plenty of places to take pics with my medal too. At high tide these rocks are covered in water.

As mentioned earlier, the race provides free race photos. It’s always an added bonus when you actually like some of them.

You can sorta glimpse the beautiful coastal setting we were running past.

You can sorta glimpse the beautiful coastal setting we were running past.

After day 1 I was thrilled with how things had gone. They really just did an outstanding job with the organization and flow. I would definitely recommend this event to someone looking for a vacation race. I was a bit more sore than I was expecting, but it was nothing a foam roller and some more stretching didn’t help with. Despite a relatively active afternoon after the race, I was able to rehydrate and refuel well.

One big positive about being in the Maine Coast area in mid-May is that most tourists don’t start arriving until Memorial Day so it’s like the calm before the storm! After the race, I joined my friends for lunch at the Portland Lobster Company in Old Port and grabbed ice cream at Beal’s, a local favorite.

One other thing I wanted to touch on that I mentioned earlier was the RaceJoy app. The app allowed your supporters, whether on site or not, to track your progress on the course thanks to their timing mats. However, if you chose to carry your phone and activate the gps tracking, they would get progress updates almost every mile. I decided to test out that feature on Saturday in the half and it worked well so I used it again during the full. Your family and friends can also send you “cheers.” While I had my volume off, I was able to listen to the cheers after the fact. It was pretty fun. My friends all really enjoyed the updates too!

I’ll be back soon with my recap of the marathon. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

#RaceRecap: Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

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I think Punxsutawney Phil lied. Well to be fair, he’s only right about 39% of the time so can I really accuse him of lying about an early spring? I guess not. Not to mention, I’m one of those people who actually enjoys winter so don’t think I’m complaining about an April snow storm. But that’s just what we got on Saturday, April 9 at the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon.

This was my second time running this race. A friend and I attended last year, and I loved the course and the volunteers so much that I wanted to come back. Last year the weather was in the 40s, sunny and crazy windy. This year was drastically different. What we lacked in wind, we more than made up for with snow. I’d never run a race in the snow but there’s always a first time for everything.

My friend Alyssa joined me this year. She had run the race four years ago and was hoping to improve upon her course time. My plan was to take it easy and just enjoy the race as I had to follow it up on Sunday with a 20-miler. Yep, a 20-miler…33 miles in two days.

Anyway, back to Garden Spot. We got there just in time on Friday night to pick up our race packets. This year you got a clear stadium-approved bag and two shirts, a t-shirt and a tech shirt. Both allowed you to choose from men’s and women’s sizing.

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We grabbed a quick dinner over in nearby Lancaster at Panera before heading to check in to our hotel and go to bed. As usual I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. I think I’m always afraid I’ll have set my alarm wrong or it won’t go off and I’ll miss it.

We woke up race morning and the snow wasn’t projected to start until 8, aka race time. Our hotel was just a short 5 minute drive so we got there around 7 a.m. and hung out in the car for a bit. The race is based and sponsored by Garden Spot Village, a retirement community. Many of the volunteers, from the people who park your car to those working in the food and registration tents, are all residents. Some of the residents even participate in the race.

As usual the race organizers did a great job in preparing for the weather. The tents were heated and dry, although a bit crowded since everyone was hoping to stay as warm as possible before the race.

With 10 minutes to go, Alyssa and I headed out to the starting corral. By then it was starting to snow, but that was only just the beginning.

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After a blessing and the singing of God Bless America, off we went, some of us to run 13.1 miles and others to run 26.2.

By now the snow was coming down pretty hard and the roads were wet with water runoff. Thankfully the snow was only sticking to the grassy areas so at least our footing wasn’t impacted. By the 2 mile mark I noticed my shoes were already squishy with water. I wasn’t too worried though as I was focused on just enjoying it. I do love snow after all.

I was hanging out with the 2:00 pacer, but found myself getting antsy. I tried to convince myself to just hang out there for the race, but I just couldn’t do it so I slowly moved on at a comfortable pace. I caught the 1:55 pacer around the 5-6 mile mark and again had the same conversation with myself. I lasted a little while with him before again I found myself wanting to keep pushing. There was a small voice in my head reminding me of my 20-miler on Sunday. I didn’t completely ignore it, but I didn’t exactly listen either.

The Garden Spot Village course is quite hilly, but one of the reasons I didn’t slow down was because it wasn’t as hilly as I had remembered. The most challenging part is between mile 7-9. After the half marathon turnaround, you have to head back up hill for probably a mile starting with a short but very steep section soon after the turnaround. What’s great is that there are always people there the full length of that hill cheering you on. It definitely makes you want to keep pushing. Once you get past that it’s just a steady incline for quite some time. You can see that section below in the elevation chart.

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You’re eventually rewarded with a nice long downhill before it’s almost completely flat to the finish. This is a great time to use whatever reserves you have left in the tank to finish strong. I wasn’t trying to PR, but since I had not taken it easy as planned I decided to just keep moving at a solid pace to see how well I’d do.

I finished in 1:51:54, which was an improvement on last year’s time at this race but not a PR. I was more than happy with that time, especially with the weather. After crossing the finish line the volunteers were there ready and waiting to hand you your medal, a foil blanket and a bottle of water. All three were very much appreciated at that point.

Since I had a little time, I decided to go see if there was a line at the tent where they offer free sports massage. Amazingly there wasn’t so I went in and had my glutes worked on since they were  already a bit sore. It was such a nice perk to have that after the race. She spent at least 20 minutes on me, which was way more than I expected.

After I found Alyssa and we headed into the Runner Recovery Tent for food. They offer a great spread for runners, including oatmeal, soup, sandwiches, wraps, eggs, chocolate milk, bagels, bananas, pretzels and more. The tent is also heated, which was a huge plus.

At this point we were both getting really cold after having been in wet clothes for so long. We went outside and grabbed some photos in front of the backdrop then headed off to the car to grab our clothes bags so we could change for the drive home. We used the changing tent, which while dry, was certainly not warm. One of the other perks I haven’t taken advantage of is they open their fitness center to runners. You can use their showers, their pool and hot tub. How many races offer that?!? Maybe next time I’ll take advantage of it.

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I highly recommend this race. It’s on the smaller side with just 1,500 participants (1,000 for the half and 500 for the marathon). You can even decide last minute since they do accept walkup registrations. In addition, they do not have a time limit for either race. There are people who walk both the half and full marathon. While they do eventually switch to manual timing, the race staff and volunteers stay out there until all participants get to cross the finish line. That’s something special most big city races can’t offer. The race is also a Boston qualifier if you’re looking for one.

Another added bonus is it’s the sister race to the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon nearby that takes place every September. If you complete both in the same calendar year you’re eligible for the “Road Apple Award.” Let’s just say it’s an award very fitting for the area 😉

If you want to check out more photos from this year’s snowy race, visit the Garden Spot Village Marathon’s Facebook page.

Now it’s time to get ready for the Rumspringa Half Marathon this weekend. It’s another small-town race in the Lancaster area. I’m heading down with a few friends for the night. Looking forward to another hilly course but hopefully some sunny weather instead.

Did you race or run this weekend? How’d it go?

Friday Five: Favorite Fitness Products

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It’s been awhile since I joined in on a Friday Five linkup, but getting to share some of my favorite things seemed like a perfect way to jump back in. You can join in too with linkup hosts, Cynthia, Mar and Courtney.

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The topic for the third Friday of each month is “Favorites.” I thought I’d share some of my favorite fitness and running items. I’ve personally found a lot of great products I’ve come to love when other people have shared their favorite fitness products. Here goes!

1. RockTape RockNRoller

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I got this from my massage therapist after my last marathon and it’s awesome. She actually put on a foam rolling class where we all got to try it out so I knew what I was getting prior to purchasing. The “fascial fingers” as the nodules are called help work on those knots and other sore areas in your muscles. The interior of the roller is hollow so you can use it for storage of balls, bands, wallet and or car keys. It also has a strap for easy transport. My massage therapist always packs it in her suitcase and uses the inside for her delicate items to help save some room.

2. RockTape

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.03.07 PMSince I’m already focusing on the brand, I have to also include RockTape. I absolutely love this tape. It’s really helped me with some biomechanics issues I have and also helped me perform more efficiently. In addition, it’s great in recovery. One other perk is that it comes in a ton of great colors and patterns, although I’m partial to pink, purple and the RockTape logo shown above.

3. Spibelt

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I think I’ve talked about this before, but I really love it. I purchased it on a whim prior to running the Marine Corps Marathon so I could carry my phone with me easily. I just hoped it wouldn’t move. I was not disappointed. It stayed exactly where I placed it and I didn’t even know it was there, even with my phone in it. I often use it on long runs for my phone or gels. It’s really been a great addition to my gear.

4. Old Navy Compression Crops

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Don’t get me wrong, I love great high-end running crops.  However, some of the brands these days charge an exorbitant amount for pants that are often sheer, don’t stay in place or aren’t of good quality. I love to splurge now and then when I find a great pair, but have been extremely happy with my affordable purchases from Old Navy.

I have the above in basic black, as well as the black that has a subtle pattern. They fit true to size, which is a medium for me, and are not sheer even when in downward dog or a squat. They wash well and last a long time. The price also can’t be beat.

5. Lululemon 5m Reversible Yoga Mat

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This was my Valentine’s Day gift and it was such a nice surprise! I’d been using a cheap yoga mat and it was just not cutting it, especially when you’re in a class where you’re sweating up a storm. This is the perfect solution and I can’t wait to test it out in class soon.

Do you have any favorite fitness products or gear? What are they and why do you like them?

Running into February

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Does anyone else feel like 2016 is flying by? I can’t believe it’s February. In fact, yesterday Groundhog Day and it sounds like we’re in for an early spring…that is if you actually believe a groundhog’s predictions.

I love winter, especially the snow, so I wouldn’t mind if we had a few more snow storms. However, based on how this winter has gone and the fact that there were earthworms on the sidewalk as I walked into work in the rain this morning, I’m going to guess that Punxsutawney Phil might have lucked out in his prediction this year. I just hope it doesn’t get too hot too early this year. I have lots of training and some races on my calendar and I prefer cooler running weather. We’ll see!

After setting a goal to get back on track and consistent with my workouts last week, I’m pleased to say I did just that. In an attempt to continue the positive trend, I’ve once again mapped out this week’s workouts.


Monday – Strength Training

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Strength training, lap swimming

Thursday – Circuit training, 4 mile run

Friday – Circuit Training

Saturday – 6 mile run, core

Sunday – 13 mile run


I originally had a run planned for last night, but went to see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago instead. It was a great performance and also gave me a much needed rest day. I need to remember to also make sure I build those into my schedule. It’s always a good idea to give your body a chance to rest and recover.

I’m only getting 3 runs in this week, but I’m ok with that as it’s early in my training program. I don’t want to overdo it, especially since 4 runs a week is new for me. I’m looking forward to making progress and getting stronger as time goes by.

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The next challenge is really reigning in my eating habits. I haven’t been doing so hot lately and I know this impacts the quality of my workouts. I need to get back to keeping my food journal. I had started out in January doing really well with it, but have since stopped. I’ll make that my goal for the remainder of this week.

What tips do you have for staying on track with nutrition to provide you with what you need to perform at your best?

 

Marathon Training

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After a rough start thanks to some snowy weather and just being plain busy, I’m charging full steam ahead into marathon training. I’ve signed up for the Shipyard Maine Coast 39.3 Challenge in May and will run the half marathon on the first day and the full marathon on the second day. Apparently after doing the Hat Trick at Runner’s World this past October, I thought I should take on a slightly bigger challenge!

I spent awhile before Christmas trying to find a training plan for such a challenge, but wasn’t having much luck. Then it dawned on me that the Goofy Challenge at Disney World is the same thing. I found several training plans for Goofy, but none really seemed like they would work for me. Then I found an article about training for Goofy that involved Hal Higdon. I’ve used Hal Higdon’s plans many times. He recommended his intermediate marathon training plan.

The plan is ambitious and includes back-to-back Saturday/Sunday runs, as well as three 20-milers. What I like is that like with all of his other plans, you can modify for your body’s needs. The intermediate plan has five runs a week, but he said you can drop one of the short runs early in the week if that’s too much for you. I know it’s too much for me, so I’m focusing on four runs per week plus various cross training options. I know I’ll have to adjust as I go, but I’m feeling good about it.

I’m also signed up for a few races that will add some fun to all the training. I have a few half marathons on the docket, as well as a 5k next week and maybe a local 10-mile race later on. I’m excited for what the next few weeks and months have in store.

Another thing I’m excited about are the Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon medals. You get three for doing the 39.3 challenge. The full and the half medals are pretty similar and the 39.3 medal is its own unique design. I love them!

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After a challenging start to my training, I’m hoping this week is the start of many good weeks. I mapped out my workout schedule in advance, which includes my runs, and it’s really helped me stay on track. Here’s how my week mapped out. So far so good!


Monday – Circuit training (45 min)

Tuesday – 4 mile run, strength training

Wednesday – Circuit training (30 minutes), 30 min. lap swim

Thursday – 3 mile run, core

Friday – Yoga, strength training

Saturday – 6 mile run, core

Sunday – 8 mile run


 

Hopefully continuing to map things out in advance will help me stick to the schedule. Obviously things come up and I’ll adjust as needed, but it helps to have things on the to-do list. I love checking things off when I’m done!

How do you make sure you get your workouts in when life can often get in the way?

 

What to Do and Not to Do Before You Workout

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Ever wonder what you should eat or drink before a workout? You might be curious to know if it’s ok to have that cup of coffee, for example. You might also want to know if or how much you should stretch? What other questions come to mind?

Health Perch recently shared the infographic below that answers all those questions and more. Check it out!

There are a few areas I thought it might good to dive into a bit more. While I’m not a coffee drinker myself, I know a lot of people who enjoy a cup before they head out on a run. You might be wondering about the caffeine. While again I’m not getting caffeine from coffee (or really anywhere else), when I’m out on a long run I have noticed some of my gels have caffeine in them. I personally haven’t had any issues. I think it all depends on what feels good for you and that might take some trial and error. Ultimately the most important thing, regardless of the type of workout you’re doing, is to be hydrated.

When it comes to stretching and warming up, I’m a big fan of a dynamic warmup rather than static stretching. In fact, some of the exercises shown in the infographic are used at the gym I go to in our dynamic warmups. I’ve also incorporated some of them into my pre-run routine. I find it helps to make sure my hips and legs and even my upper body are warmed up before I take off. I usually save static stretching for post workout.

Finally, some other things the infographic suggests we think about is the weather, our sleep and our clothing choices. I love cool and cold weather running. It can be hard to know how to dress for that. You don’t want to overdress, but you also don’t want to have missed the boat entirely and not be able to stay warm either. Sometimes it’s simply too cold outside and it’s better to move the workout indoors. Other important things to remember are sunscreen and sunglasses regardless of the season. Even in winter the sun can be pretty intense for our skin and eyes.

Health Perch shared their own thoughts along with their infographic. If you have a few minutes, check out their tips and tricks too.

What is your pre-workout routine like?

#RaceRecap: Rehoboth Seashore Marathon

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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.

This was taken on the trail near miles 15 or 16. You can see the surface and get a little bit of an idea of the view.

This was taken on the trail near miles 15 or 16. You can see the surface and get a little bit of an idea of the view.

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.

21 miles and counting!

21 miles and counting!

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!

I love the medals! They're really big and fit the race perfectly.

I love the medals! They’re really big and fit the race perfectly.

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!

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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!