As I sit here listening to my Marathon playlist on iTunes, I’m reluctant to even put words down on paper (so to speak) about my first marathon experience. I’ve been putting off writing my marathon race recap, because I frankly don’t want to admit that it’s finally over! I had such an amazing, incredible time at the 2015 Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon on December 5.
I strategically—read: stupidly—planned The Angry Toddler’s third birthday party for the day after the marathon, since my mom, her boyfriend, my sister, and my brother-in-law all traveled from out of state to cheer me on at the marathon.
The day before the race, all I could think about was running the marathon. What would post-20 miles feel like? Would I hit the dreaded “wall?” Why the heck do I have to get up so early to go run for five hours? What if for some freak reason I get injured on the course and have to DNF?
I was also wicked excited to see my family, and they all arrived from New Hampshire and Massachusetts around 5 p.m. EST on Friday. We quickly put away the literal pounds of food that my mom always brings with her, chatted for a few minutes, but then Tom (my awesome husband) and I had to quickly run out the door in order to get to packet pick up in time.
We were staying in Ocean City, MD, which is about 45 minutes away from the race start at his family’s condo. We could have just stayed at our house, which is about an hour from the start line, but we don’t have a lot of spare sleeping space, so we thought we’d give it to family. Plus, I honestly wanted to be able to sleep soundly without The Angry Toddler waking up having to use the potty or having a cat butt in my face all night.
We got to packet pick up around 7:30 p.m., which was right near the Cultured Pearl (one of the post-race after party spots), and I was surprised to see so many people there still, since pickup ended at 8 p.m. They set up a huge tent almost right across from the Rehoboth Beach Running Company, and it was a conveyor-belt feel of getting your bib, getting your free tech t-shirt, and getting your free bag. I think some people were disappointed that the bag didn’t have any free goodies in it, but I didn’t really mind. I was more upset about the bag itself. Last year’s bag was a cinch bag, but this year’s bag was like a reusable grocery shopping bag almost (so things could fall out of it easily). But hey, I can’t complain.
After picking up my stuff, Tom and I went into the nearby Starbucks, since we were freezing and needed something warm to drink. We met a couple from North Carolina. They were both running the full, had seemed to pick this race on a whim, and the woman (hi, Amber!) and I both had similar time goals and nerves.
After chatting for about half an hour, I tried to give Tom “the look” to signal that we really should be going. All I had eaten that day was some peanut butter toast (I know, I know), and I was starving for dinner. I had originally planned to avoid fried foods, just in case my intestines decided to rebel. It was getting so late though, that we decided to grab some French fries from Five Guys and hit the road to Ocean City. Before we got to the condo, we then picked up a large pepperoni pizza from Grotto Pizza. Welp, that fried/greasy food plan went right out the window! We finished eating around 10 p.m., and there was no cable at the condo, so instead of staring at each other intently to see who would blink first (I’d totally win), I decided to lay out my clothes for the marathon. I wore black capris, my PlowOn running jacket, and my lucky neon orange Feetures running socks.
I also made a makeshift sign to put on my back to call out the people I run for—Joey and Jene—as well as The Running Lifestyle Show. And of course I made sure to charge my GPS watch and iPhone, figure out where to fit all of my six Gus, and prepped my headphones and Under Armour running headband.
Around 10:30 p.m. I decided I should probably try to get some sleep (with some urging from friends on Facebook who saw that I was still up). I think I was so tired from not being able to sleep the last few nights, that I fell asleep and stayed asleep until my iPhone alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. I wanted to get out the door by 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to the start line early.
I had also planned to meet up with my friend Chrissy to grab a goodie bag from the fabulous Kari Gormley of The Running Lifestyle Show. I was able to use one of the public restrooms beforehand, get some pictures taken, grab the goodie bag to toss Tom’s way, and position myself around the 11-minute-mile sign before the race started. It was freezing at the beginning of the race, because it’s right near the boardwalk and ocean. If/when I do the marathon again, or even if I just do the half, I’m definitely bringing throw-away gloves!
The race didn’t start until about 7:05 a.m., which was good for all intents and purposes. Chrissy and I started off together at a moderate 12-minute pace. Chrissy was running her tenth marathon (her third in a month), so she planned to take it nice and easy. My goal was to make it in under five hours, so I knew I needed to keep up an 11:30 pace or faster to meet that goal. Chrissy and I chatted for a few minutes, but we quickly broke off into our respective paces. Here I am at the start of the race:
In previous half marathons, I always had to remind myself to slow down at the beginning of the race, but this time I fell into a very comfortable 11-minute pace. The first part of the race runs through some residential paved areas, so there wasn’t a whole lot to look at, aside from this:
The first nearly 7 miles were a breeze. I saw the first porta-potty just before Mile 7, so I decided to stop there. There were two people in front of me, and I felt like I waited there for at least three minutes. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but I had my time goal in mind, and I didn’t want to miss it by waiting to use the restroom. Thankfully, the person in front of me was speedy, and I was able to get in and out fairly quickly. While I was waiting, I texted Tom and my sister to let them know where I was.
My course time at 10 miles was 01:52:16 with an 11:14-minute pace. So I knew I was still on track. At one point, we entered Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE, which involved trail running, as well as running on a metal bridge structure. In my mind, I kept thinking, “When is this bridge going to end?!” It didn’t hurt to run on at all, but I’m primarily a pavement runner, so it just felt odd to run on. (I apologize for my lack of descriptor; I simply don’t know how else to describe it!)
On my way back (since this section of the marathon was an out and back) along this metal bridge, I chatted with a gentleman who was trying to do fifty marathons in fifty states. He was on his 20+ marathon for that goal, and he seemed surprised to hear that this was my first marathon. He said that I looked really strong, which made me beam. I really did feel strong!
When I hit the halfway mark, I saw the mile marker and had a slight sliver of panic where I thought doing double the distance was impossible, but I knew it was just a mental block that I had to smash. Clearly I’ve run 20 miles before, so I knew I could at least make it that far without dying.
I hit Mile 16 at 10:07 a.m., and my iPhone battery was at 20%. That made me nervous, because I typically don’t run without listening to a podcast or music, so the thought of running nearly 10 miles without audio was scary!
My mom, her boyfriend, my sister, my brother-in-law, and The Angry Toddler were supposed to meet me just after Mile 18, but my sister texted me saying, “We’ll be cutting it close for Mile 18. Fingers crossed!” At that point, I put my phone into airplane mode to conserve the battery. At Mile 18 I didn’t see my family, so I figured they didn’t make it in time. My sis texted me saying, “Missed you. So sorry!! Parking now. Will see you at the finish, your’e so close!!!” That put a smile on my face, and I wasn’t at all disappointed that they couldn’t make it to Mile 18.
I knew that Tom would be at Mile 21 near Wolfe Neck on the Junction and Breakwater Trail, so I just had to run a few more miles to get to him. When I saw him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Where’s your sign?!” I knew he and The Angry Toddler had made a sign for me, so I was all excited to see it. He laughed and said that I’d see it at the finish line. Tease! I gave him a quick kiss and a hug and kept on going. He had to hop in the car and drive to the finish line, so I knew he didn’t want to linger, and I knew if I stopped too long, I wouldn’t get going again. Here’s Tom’s sign that I got to see at the finish line:
After that point, my goal was to simply get off the trail. Although I like trail running, parts of the trail were very rocky, so I was nervous that I’d fall.
Around Mile 22 or so I turned on my Marathon playlist, which gave me an extra boost to get to the finish line. It was only 10 songs long, so don’t laugh.
- Burn – Ellie Goulding
- Blow – Ke$ha
- Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
- Work This Body – Walk the Moon
- One Foot – Fun.
- Hold You – Gyptian
- Waves – Mr. Probz
- Where are U Now – Skrillex and Diplo (featuring Justin Bieber)
- Firework – Katy Perry
- Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Once I hit Mile 25, I knew it was a cake walk. I didn’t hit the dreaded “wall” once, and at no point in time did I think to myself, “When is this going to end?!” My right calf was starting to ache a little, and of course my legs were sore, but overall I felt amazing throughout the entire race. And get this—I didn’t get any blisters! Oh, and did I mention that I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, because I hadn’t eaten anything before my long runs during training, so I didn’t want to break the mold.
Overall, this race was very well staffed with volunteers, had water stops at nearly every two miles, and even gave Gu out at two points along the course. Also, I have to say that the crowd excitement and turnout felt much better this year than when I ran the half marathon last year. I always say, “Good job!” or “You can do it!” to other runners along the course as well, because I think that’s very important.
I would highly recommend this race to both half marathoners and marathoners alike. You can get a discount around New Year’s, so I’ll definitely be looking out for the e-mail notification to sign up for 2016!
Here’s the finisher’s medal; I actually think I like it more than last year’s version. Oh, and do you see my Tuvizo running pack behind it? I can’t thank Neon Is My Color enough for the discount code to get mine for free. I use it during every single run now, and it’s so lightweight and easy to access while running. Praise the fanny pack!