Heading into Rehoboth last week I didn’t have the feeling I was running a marathon in just a few days. I just felt very relaxed about it. Now, 4 days post-race I’m finding it hard to believe I ran a marathon just a few days ago. But, I did! More importantly, it went really well and was a sure sign of progress.
Now on to my recap! Warning, it’ll be long 🙂
In planning this trip to Rehoboth I booked two nights at a local hotel just down the road from Rehoboth Beach boardwalk area where the race starts. The trip is about 5.5 hours from home and with hotel checkouts being so early and with the rates being so low with it being off-season, I thought it’d be nice to stay and relax after the race. It’s one thing to drive home after a marathon when it’s a 2-3 drive. It’s completely different when it’s close to a 6 hour drive and you can’t shower.
We drove down Friday and arrived around 6:30 p.m. in time to stop at packet pickup. They do packet pickup from 2-8 p.m. and also offer it early race morning. Parking was a bit hairy on Friday evening, but as we pulled up to the tent where the expo was, someone pulled out of a spot so we snagged it and I ran in quick to get my stuff. I hopped back in and we headed to get dinner at Panera. I like to keep it simple and generic before a marathon and since there was not a Wegman’s for subs, we hit the next best option. After, we made a quick stop at the grocery store for bananas and then went to the hotel.
I spent the next hour foam rolling, using my R8 roller, and doing my ankle mobility exercises before hopping into bed for my 4:45 wake up. Surprisingly I slept well until about 2 a.m. when the nerves kicked in and the usual fear of sleeping through the alarm. I finally got up at 4:45 a.m. and started slowly getting ready. Since the start was so close and I’d just be dropped off I wasn’t in a rush. I rolled, did my mobility exercises repeatedly, and got dressed.
For breakfast I warmed up some PB Baked Oatmeal topped with some chocolate chips. I have to say, it’s quite delicious and great pre- or post-long run. It boast 20g+ of protein, carbs, and just enough sweetness thanks to maple syrup and the chocolate chips. It might be my go-to from now on. I then filled my Orangemud Hydraquiver bottle, packed my course nutrition, pinned my bib and we got in the car. Since it was only 6 a.m. and cold and windy, I had Jon park so I could sit in the car for a little and relax before braving the elements. I ate my banana and drank some water. Bonus, there was plenty of parking near the start.
Finally around 6:20 I hopped out only to have to run after him because I left my Orange Mud pack in the car. I then decided I might as well get in line to use the bathroom. Thankfully, in addition to porta-potties, they had the bandstand bathrooms open and they were heated!
After making it through the line, I still probably had 25 minutes. The sunrise was incredible so I snapped a few shots on the boardwalk before going to huddle next to a storefront to shelter from the wind. I spent some time doing some dynamic warm-up moves and chatting with a fellow runner. A few minutes before the start, I hopped into the crowd and found a spot to stand to wait for the countdown. Probably during the last minute before we started, Katy Perry’s Firework came on over the loudspeaker. I still love this song and it’s definitely one that pumps me up. Little did I know that I’d go on to repeatedly sing the chorus in my head whenever I needed a pick-me-up along the course.
Unlike in 2015 when I ran Rehoboth, the race had pacers this year. I had no plans to use one as I prefer to run according to my own race plan. Nothing against pacers as they offer a valuable service (as long as they run the appropriate pace), but my coach and I had come up with a plan that I hoped to execute.
Jon planned to meet me at mile 10, which is a turnaround point for the marathon. Hilariously at mile 9 I saw a man who was in clothes very similar to those I knew Jon had packed for the trip. I started frantically waving at this man and was so perplexed because he wasn’t responding at all. As I got closer it finally became clear that it wasn’t Jon and was some other runner’s family or friend. It was mildly embarrassing, but whatever. It did mean that Jon was still up ahead so I had that to look forward to!
Jon was able to hand me some additional nutrition and take my empty ones. And after a hug and a kiss, I continued on my way with plans to see him back in town as we crossed back through around miles 18-19.
The course basically consists of two out-and-backs. The first varies mildly from the outgoing section on the return, but most is on a rail trail type surface through Cape Henlopen State Park. The marshes are beautiful and you even get glimpses of the ocean at a few points. In addition, there are neat WWII bunkers, towers, and gun turrets to see.
You come back into Rehoboth Beach within a few blocks of the finish, but continue on out of town to another rail trail. I have to say, the varying surfaces really help with recovery post-race. This section is where you start to see half marathoners again. However, I never once felt like the route was crowded. I could easily pass at any time. I was able to give Jon my sweat soaked headband and he said he’d see me at mile 26 to cheer me on to the end.
The next out-and-back is also scenic for the most part. It’s wooded with some farmland views in spots. It’s also home to Flag Alley where they display flags from all the states and countries of participants and where they have a DJ of sorts doing shout outs to passing runners, which I thoroughly appreciated. At the turnaround they had a camera that snapped photos, which appeared in the app for those tracking you.
It was at the turnaround that I started to slow a bit. While the course is probably one of the flattest I’ve ever run, the return to town from mile 22-25 has a gentle incline that probably under most circumstances isn’t even noticeable. However, when you have 22 miles on your legs you notice a lot more! My splits during this time slowed from consistently being in the low 8:40s to 8:53, 9:10, 9:08, 9:13, and 9:13. What I didn’t allow myself to do was stop or walk. I remember seeing this sign sometime between miles 23 and 24 that said “There is strength in pain.” It was so perfectly timed and was a mental boost that helped me keep pushing.
I came back into town, crossed the bridge and was actually able to speed up over the last probably .3. I saw Jon, gave him a kiss and kept running to the finish. It was around this time I started to barely hold it together and there are some not-so-lovely photos of me trying to not ugly cry as I ran into the finish.
The women who handed me my medal and foil blanket were awesome and exactly what you want when you finish a race. They were full of congratulations and hugs and just helped make the moment special. Jon appeared soon after and was so proud. I’m always so thankful he is there to cheer me on and help me hobble around afterwards.
While the race is known for its great after party, the last thing I want is beer after a race. Thankfully at the finish they have the basics, including the all-important chocolate milk. Jon also had some coke for me, which is probably one of my favorites after a long run, although I realize not the healthiest option. We headed slowly to the car and headed to the hotel to shower and relax.
I ran a 3:50:37, an 8-minute PR. I’m really happy with that. I thought I was capable of that, but prepared myself to be happy with a 3:55. Obviously, I was really happy to see that finish time. With the goal of BQing some day, this race was a definite confidence booster and proof that my training is working.
I have to thank Jon for all his support. We worked our schedules a lot around when I could get runs in over the past several months. Sometimes I was out of bed at 5 a.m. and depending on the length of the run, I wouldn’t get home in time to see him before he left for work. Other times it meant he sacrificed gym time of his own so he could get home to let the dog out or I ran over lunch to make sure he could get to the gym too. Then there were the times we worked it out that I’d go for a run and meet him and dog at the end of it (after they had done a training session themselves) for a ride home. He also occasionally rode his bike along with me on long runs to keep me company. We worked together to make it all fit and I couldn’t have done it without his support. He’s also the best cheerleader I could ask for, bouncing around a course in an area he’d never been, carrying kids applesauce squeezepacks for me and making sure I have a soda at the finish just in case I messed up my fueling and got woozy. So thankful for him in every way!
I also want to thank my coach. We connected in May and she has been great! Courtney has helped me progress, challenged me, and has always been understanding that sometimes life gets in the way and I don’t always get every run in, but I do my best and we make it work. I’m running more mileage than I ever have and I’m seeing and feeling progress. I’m excited for what’s to come with her as my coach!
I also want to thank my running buddies, especially Bill and Jodi. While we haven’t trained for the same races for some time, having them join me for entire runs or just parts of runs, or riding a bike along with me, it all made a huge difference in this training cycle. While I enjoy running alone, sometimes it helps having people to talk to or to keep you going when the going gets tough.
- Organization: The race team has this down to a science. The race has only been around 12 years, but is better run than races that have been around much longer. I once again was impressed with just about all of it.
- Medal: I love the medal! It might be a new favorite. It’s a great size, neat design, and the ribbon is so pretty. I still love the one from 2015.
- Volunteers: Happy, supportive, numerous, friendly…you name it! Volunteers can make or break a race and they definitely help make this race.
- Course: The course is stunning. Yes, it does have out-and-backs, but the scenery is beautiful in both sections so there’s so much to look at and enjoy. Oh yeah, it’s almost completely flat! I like my hills, but it’s nice to take on the challenge of a flat course too.
- Tracking app: The race used Sporthive as the tracker. I’m not 100% sure how it works, but Jon could see where I was on the course map via a red moving dot. It seemed to update my pace any time I crossed a timing mat. I didn’t need to carry my phone with GPS running for the app to work either. I hope they keep using this for future events.
The Not So Good
I have nothing to put here. I thought it was a wonderful event and I’m planning to go back next year!