I’m coming down from my post marathon high. My body feels good, but I’m trying to give it the rest it deserves after months of training and finally running my last race of 2016: the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon. I’ve entertained a few workouts, most of them pretty low key, but I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t run for at least a week… Dog walks, aqua spin, yoga, and my regular Power Train classes (although I had to modify some workouts on Tuesday in class), but no running yet.
So what does a runner do when they have promised not to run? They write about running! HA! This race seriously deserves a high-quality write-up because it was a high-quality race! Now, there’s always room for improvement, and I have a few things on my “Rehoboth Wish List” if I were to see a few changes within the race… But ultimately, this is absolutely going to be one of my favorite marathons of all time.
The race course starts right next to the bandstand in downtown beachside Rehoboth. This means the most glorious start line I’ve almost ever seen (almost because I ran the Malibu International Half Marathon with my little brother in 2010 and there were dolphins jumping through waves at the start… pretty hard to beat). Gorgeous sunrise over the ocean, salty breeze in your face, and the energy in the crowd was completely palpable! I had a slight panic moment when I saw the line for the bathrooms but found a row of portos around the corner. 😉
The gun went off a few minutes late, which is fine – because if you were uptight and upset that you had to stand watching the sunrise over the beach for a few extra minutes, then this wasn’t the race for you anyway. We took off through town and made our winding way over to Cape Henlopen through Gordon’s Pond and the state park. Now, if you’re the type of person who needs constant crowd support to stay motivated, perhaps this isn’t the race for you… If you’re like me and can make friends with anyone you run next to for 26 miles while enjoying your natural surroundings then you sign up for this in 2017 immediately. There aren’t a ton of spots where spectators can get to the course, and there’s also not a ton of race support either. I don’t mean this as a bad thing because I always run with my hydropack anyway, but you’ll go a few miles without much support. What you’ll get in return is a stunning run through some of this country’s most spectacular wilderness without feeling like you’re in the middle of the woods running brutal trails. Which brings me to my next point… FLAT. Yes, flat. The whole way! Sure, some will argue there was that little hill here and that small incline there – but now really? I train in Columbia, Maryland… there’s no such thing as a flat run here. Rehoboth is flat and that means FAST. I shaved 8 minutes off my 5-year standing PR on this run!
While running it with a bunch of women from our MRTT running group, and all of us as different paces, I also never quite felt alone on this fairly isolated course. The interesting thing about the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon is it’s primarily two out and backs (which can pose some mental challenges of its own). So you pop out of Gordon’s Pond and run up Cape Henlopen, then loop around at mile 10.5 and head back through Lewes to Gordon’s Pond again… Which, BTW, is so stunning I was absolutely grateful to get to run through it twice. The second out and back is a little more mentally challenging because you see the mile 26 sign and you know you’re running away from the finish. Ugh, if you’re not in a great headspace, this can mess you up even more. Thankfully, I was still all smiles as I headed into the woods at mile 20 for the Junction and Breakwater Trail. They pump you up with a DJ booth at Wolf Neck Road on the trail intersection, even yelling your name as you run past them (both times!). But the best part was seeing some of the women I had been training with conquering these last few miles. Their smiles, their determination, some of them on their first marathon and still putting one foot in front of the other…
I have to be honest, I got a little choked up around mile 25, bringing it in for the home stretch. That last mile I blasted my power songs (Sia “unstoppable” and “alive” back to back), holding back tears because I knew I was going to break my 5-year standing personal record for a marathon. I also slightly expected to see my husband and my son around every corner and the thought of them cheering me on to the finish (which has only happened in ONE marathon, mind you) really got me emotional. (For the record, they didn’t make it… but I won’t hold it against them) I came across the finish line and all the hard work, all the miles and hours of training and cross-training had paid off… All the weekends dedicated to long runs with (or without) friends, all the frustration, the joy, the pain – lots of pain – everything had come together and I had my most successful run of my life. Not only was it my fastest 26.2 miles ever, it was also mentally a success as well. I didn’t get discouraged, I kept the goal in sight but more importantly, I focused on the current actions that would see me through to that goal. Because ultimately, and maybe most importantly, our goals are not “results” – our goals are a series of actions that we have to endure and accomplish and that’s what this race was.
Alright, before I get a little too choked up remembering the brilliance that the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon was for me, let me also tell you about the post-race party. Although they ran out of beer (what?!? I know… I know… it happened… Those damn half marathoners were thirsty), the food spread was incredible! Waffles, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy – and MORE gravy – macaroni and cheese, potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, hamburgers, chips, soda, the list goes on and on and it was almost as beautiful as the run itself. Most races, I’m happy to walk away with a bagel and a banana – but not Rehoboth… THE WORKS. Which I believe was catered by the Cultured Pearl, so massive shout out to them, RBRC for hands down one of the best runs I’ve ever participated in, and all the volunteers, police officers, park rangers, and anyone else who contributed to make this race happen. Also, mad props to Denise for lining us up with a phenomenal place to stay for the weekend, within walking distance, too! What an event! I’ll be back next year!