Here’s a simple test to see if you can understand the mind of someone like me. You’ve just waited in line almost an hour for a roller coaster. The ride lasted less than 3 minutes. At one point it made you ill, at another point you slammed your knee into the car so hard you may have a bruise, and your hair is a disaster. But overall, the ride was quite a thrill and you are glad you got in line.
Do you now:
A. leave the amusement park
B. get in line for a less intense ride
C. buy the t-shirt that says “I rode ____” and swear never to do it again
D. get right back in line to do it again
Clearly the answer is D. The only possible answer is D. That is, if you’re like me, the answer is D. I find there are many many runners and triathletes who fit this profile, so I may have found my true tribe after years of searching.
At the conclusion of the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon on September 8, I was disappointed in myself for my finishing time. I didn’t expect some sort of miracle BQ or anything, not even a 10 minute mile pace. I just thought I should do better than the spring. To recap, my first half-marathon at Disney was a disaster as a race, with a time of 3:58:27. I could only improve from there. Three months later, at Garden Spot Village, I ran 3:13:51. HUGE improvement. At Bird-in-Hand, I was again undertrained, and regaining weight. 3:33:25. (Yes, for anyone confused, these are actually HALF marathon times, not marathon times. If this seems quite odd, check the name of the blog again.)
The big goal for the year was the half iron, which I completed at Beach to Battleship. I still had that on the horizon when I finished Bird-in-Hand. Even so, there was a part of me that wanted to do better at this distance before the year was out. I was still stiff and sore, and online looking for races. Criteria: Saturday, late fall, not too far away… will I find anything?
Lo and behold, I found the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon and Half Marathon. I was only a week away from the Dewey Beach sprint triathlon, so it sounded good to me. At the Dewey race, I met the RD for Rehoboth at the finish, and she convinced me it was an excellent race, and she was right.
How can you go wrong with a race that starts and ends near the boardwalk, is dead flat, guaranteed not to be too hot, and features the 16 mile brewery beer wagon and a live band at the finish? And, I love to run a half where there is a concurrent full, so that when I finish, I’m not all alone out there.
Meg and I stayed at the AmericInn, which is a nicer motel than your standard low priced chains, with a fireplace in the lobby. We opted for the jacuzzi room and asked for late checkout on Saturday. The desk clerk says “let me guess, here for the race?” We weren’t the only ones hoping to shower up before checking out. We got comfortable, ordered Grotto delivery (because we could) and turned in early, to be well-rested.
It was nice to go to a race of this length where we didn’t have to get up at 3am. Less than two miles in the car to downtown, where we found a parking spot near the finish line, along the course. The simplicity of setting up for a running race, as opposed to a triathlon, was welcome. I couldn’t imagine pulling into town a half hour before the starting gun of a tri. (The ultimate way to do this race is to stay at the Hotel Rehoboth. Down to the lobby, you’re there.)
You have to love December races. We saw a few Santa hats and skirts, but this group was clearly the best. That’s another thing about running. More people wear costumes and have fun with it. Triathlon is fun too, but the collective vibe is more hardcore, less whimsical. You don’t see many costumes at a tri, unless you count this guy, who isn’t whimsical, but a real inspiration.
Short walk to the start, right by the bandshell on Rehoboth Ave. I had to see the ocean before we started.
And we were off. Nothing too exciting about the race itself, it is dead flat. The first couple miles go through the residential part of town, then an out and back leg along the coastline at Cape Henlopen State Park, back through town and out to do about half the race on a nature trail which is closed to motorized traffic. We spent a lot of time on out-and-back legs, so I could see faster people coming the other way a lot of the time. This has the effect of making me not take walk breaks, and also making a lot of people smile as they see the DOUGHBOY shirt. I even had one person going the other way, tell me she reads this blog. IF you’re still out there, say hi in the comments!
Meg had intended to run the whole way with me, but after about four miles, she had enough of my pace, and got going ahead of me. That’s cool. I don’t like to talk too much while I run. I did get to talk to one person running at my pace. She was running her first half, is in her mid 30s, and fighting cancer. She’s scheduled for surgery this week. It had to wait until after the race. You go Heather. I’ll be praying for you.
When my garmin read 9.3 miles, the marathon leader went running by me, with two motorcycles as escorts. I love that sensation of knowing the person going by you has run more than twice what you have, and continues to fly by like a gazelle making you look like you’re standing still. I had already seen all but the first place winner of the half-marathon go by. He passed the intersection about a minute before I made it there at just over 1:12. I was at mile 5 at that point. Unreal.
There was great course support, though I did carry my camelbak for water and to hold gels and my phone/music. I took in gatorade wherever it was offered, sipped my water often. The weather was warm for December, we were in the 50s the whole time. I ran in shorts and short sleeves, taking my hat off halfway through. The sunglasses never made it off the top of my head. Easy weather and course for most people to run a PR.
Well, about that…. I didn’t follow through with a solid plan for training or weight after September, and I knew I was not going to PR this day. But once I got over that, I refused to wallow in self-hatred and guilt over the failures and frustrations, and decided to enjoy the day like I always do.
And I did. I finished in 3:22:15. I was happy to go under 3:30. So, better than fall, but not a PR by any means, and with a flat course, it’s really about the same as fall. But even with a lack of training since Beach to Battleship, my base strength and fitness are worlds ahead of where I was a year ago. Instead of finishing bloody and broken like at Disney, I was just slow and sore, but functional.
The finish line really was well done. The food tent had many options, the aforementioned 16 Mile Brewery and live band, and massages. We skipped the massages and went back for one last soak in the jacuzzi. I was glad to stretch out and lie down for a bit before the drive home. We had to get the kids in Turbotville, so a drive up the Northeast Extension allowed me to take Meg to the Powerhouse near Hazleton on the way home. As this was supposed to be our rapid-fire weekend away for our Christmas gift, a high quality meal after a race was in order. We didn’t even look at the dessert menu, that’s how good dinner was.
I can now starting working on my year end recap for this blog, and I have yet to write about Girls on the Run, or my dinner with Darren. And, the next phase of the DB2IM project is still a bit shaky on the details. But I continue to move forward. This year had some great highs, and some frustrating lows, and to be honest, the main purpose has been faltering, but I can’t quit now. More on that later. For now, I am thrilled to add another medal to the pile. These are just the half-marathons.
Thanks for reading. Keep moving. More to come soon.