The Day Before the Marathon

I knew it was risky signing up for three marathons in three weeks but I also know I was fully capable of pulling it off. In the weeks leading up to this marathon, I was iffy. I thought, why are you doing this to yourself? Isn’t two enough?

But…doing a marathon in a new state on a beach sounded exciting. Plus, it was a smaller race — something I’ve wanted to experience for a long time — and my sisters were coming to run and cheer me on.

I’d dreaded it being FREEZING because it was December but oh did we get lucky! It was so warm I could have worn shorts and tank top and been fine. I didn’t even need a long sleeve shirt to cover up with while waiting. This is crazy warm weather for December and I was a-ok with that!

Lindsey, Shelby and I packed up the car on Friday and took the easy, 2 3/4 hour drive to Rehoboth Beach. No traffic at 2pm in the afternoon and a smooth ride. We’d first stopped at Sports Authority to stock up on Gu, shot blocks and a few other goodies.

The expo was at the Rehoboth Beach Running Company downtown. And let me tell you, this town is SO cute! I can’t believe it was my first visit and I am most definitely going back. It was sooo picturesquely beachy down to the touristy shops, cutely named local restaurants and other little stores.

After we got our gear, we hit the outlets for a bit. Rehoboth Beach is apparently outlet central because they have every outlet you can imagine covering the town. I tried not to browse much because god knows I don’t need to buy anything at this time!

For dinner, we met up with some other ladies running the race in the AM as well. All 7 of us were running the full marathon so it was fun to talk shop at dinner. We had people running their 1st, 4th, 8th, 11th and 81st (yes, you read that correctly) marathons at the table so it was a great mix of experience.

Me, Laura, Theodora, Shaya, Stephanie and Lindsey a dinner.

After eating my now go-to pre race meal of plain pasta marinara with breadsticks and craploads of water, we headed back to the hotel. I fell alseep around 11pm — way later than normal for me on a night before a race (or any night for that matter) and woke up at 4:45am to start prep.

The Morning Of

My stomach had been churning the night before so I hoped it would be gone by the AM. No such luck. My period started hardcore just as I woke and my stomach was all whack plus I had a headache. Worrisome but…I took some ibprofin, drank a little coffee, chugged a short glass of Emergenc-C and ate my whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and honey.

Great perk about small races? You can get the starting line way late. We left the hotel around 6:10 for a 7am race and that was more than enough time. Plus, there was tons of parking! What IS this? The starting line was gorgeous, right in from of the coastline and buzzing with happy runners. Near the starting area:

Lindsey and I waited anxiously as they started the race 10 minutes late. We started I wanted to feel out her pace. I lasted about a half a mile and said see ya later. There was no way I could keep up with her. I had hoped to find the other girls but had no luck pre-race so I set off happily on my own.

Ready, Set, Go!

Within a couple of miles I knew this would be one of my favorite marathons. I totally didn’t mind that there were no crowds of cheering fans. We ran along the water and through beautiful neighborhoods…I was convinced I wanted to quit life in DC and move to Rehoboth Beach.

I couldn’t get myself to go much faster than a 9:30 mile. In Marine Corps, I had no trouble dipping down to 8:30-8:45 regularly but this race it was not going to happen. My body felt okay but the possibility of some major tummy upset loomed in the distance.

I would feel strong for a mile, then feel weak again. It was really weird. Nevertheless, I was loving every second in the first half.

We ran on trails through sandy, beachy areas, into the woods and past gorgeous farmland. At times it felt more like a trail run than a road marathon. I was telling myself — I must do more small marathons, I must sign up for trail races, everything about this is awesome. I was also glad I opted for no headphones. It would have really taken away from the whole experience for me.

I passed my sister once (or…she passed me) on an out and back but that was the last I saw her. I also saw the other girls but didn’t know if our paths would ever meet up. I actually consider stopping to wait for them so I could run with others but decided against it and kept on.

Lindsey just casually running at 3:29 marathon. NBD.

The course had plenty of water stops and lots of very sweet volunteers. I loved that they provided Gu at several aid stations. I didn’t like that bathrooms were few and far between.

At mile 10, my stomach as acting up and I knew it was going to be kind of a long race. At that point, I was on a long stretch of country-ish road with almost no one round me. It was great!

The Second Half

After hitting the half way point, I started feel a bit better and I thought hey, maybe I can pull off another sub-4! My half-marathon crossing time as 2:03 so if I really felt better and pulled it together, it was possible. A few miles later, my stomach started doing horrible things. It was churning and aching due to my period and I also developed a slight headache. My lower back wasn’t feeling awesome either. I kept thinking I had to go to the bathroom but the feeling would go away so I skipped a couple of bathroom stops. Wrong answer.

Note to self: don’t wear these unflattering pants again.

Around mile 18-19, I started to slow down tremendously — or so I thought. It felt like I was going like 11-minute miles at one point. Looking back at my splits though, I apparently never went over 9:45 min/miles. My stomach hurt so much and I was feeling pretty miserable. I knew I would finish but didn’t know if I could make it without walking if I didn’t find a port-o-potty. Finally, I found one.

The Last, Long Stretch

I felt less sick after that but still struggled. Within a few minutes, at Mile 22-ish, I ran into Laura and Stephanie. They told me they were trying to get to the finish by 4:15. Their pace was a little faster than I’d been going but I decided to stay with them. It was hard and had I been alone, I probably would have finished at least 10 minutes later.

I actually didn’t want to push it as much as I did at the end but I also just wanted to get it done. Laura was coaching us through with pace updates and some jams from her phone. We crossed the finish line in 4:14 — and I was just fine with that!

The ladies after! Congrats to Shaya, who ran her first marathon in 3:48 and to Stephanie, who PR’d at 4:14!

As usual, I immediately felt sick and needed to sit down. My body always does a huge revolt and starts freaking out, like…why did you do this to me? Help! What’s happening?!

I saw Shelby at the finish line and she got a few pix! Shelby was ultra-spectator girl all weekend and did a great job. Lindsey and I so appreciated her coming with, cheering us on, taking video, photos and in general, listening to us talk about blogs and marathons all weekend long. She was a pretty good sport about the whole thing 🙂

Shelby, our own personal mascot for the weekend 🙂

Post-Race Analysis

Lindsey had a goal of running a negative split, which she did handily in 3:29! I seriously hope I can see that time some day. She’s going for a PR of at least 3:15 for her March marathon so this was good discipline practice for that.

All in all, I loved this race! I would definitely consider doing it again because hotels are cheap and it’s in a beautiful place. My body finally seems to be used to the distance. Laura, the one who has run 81 marathons, explained it well, saying your body just thinks it’s normal once you do it so many times. Obviously, I’m not at her level but I get what she means.

It’s always hard but it doesn’t seem as much of a challenge as it used to. Then again, I wasn’t trying to PR and I hadn’t trained specifically for this race. Next time I RACE race, I know it will be very difficult.

During this marathon, I learned that  you CAN push through the discomfort. I know that during my first marathon, I might have called it quits or thought it was nearly impossible to finish the way I felt during mile 22. But I knew that I could do it and am better for it. 

We headed to a local restaurant, Crabby Dick’s, for lunch — where my body proceeded to be very confused. Hot, cold, hot, cold. I craved salt and water and…braced myself for a day of a weird appetite.

I was glad to spend a bit more time with my sisters before they had to go home again. I’m so thankful they came out to spend the weekend with me. Running marathons is kind of a thing in my family — a thing I love about us. Even though Shelby doesn’t run them, she is — in her words — a very talented professional spectator. She kind of has to be 🙂 I appreciate her willingness to do that job even far from home. 

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