Soul Searching – Rehoboth Seashore Marathon Race Report

I have a feeling this race report is going to be kind of a stream of consciousness type thing, primarily because I’m still not really sure how I feel about the results of this race. A lot of mixed emotions and, as you may have guessed, soul searching, occurred. I actually never intended to run the full marathon in Rehoboth. I have already run a marathon in Delaware, but Kate, Patty, Amanda, and some Oklahoma friends were all coming, and the three of them were doing the full. Amanda hadn’t run a marathon since April and was worried about keeping up, so I told her that I would run the full if my training after Prairie Fire went fine. It did, so full marathon it was.

I went into the race feeling confident. Amanda and I have been training hard using the Run Less, Run Faster plan, and although we haven’t been perfect, our training runs have gone very well and we’re doing a lot more speedwork and consistent training than we usually do. We decided that our goal for the race was to finish under 5 hours, which would be a post-surgery PR for me and what we thought would be a pretty easy pace.

But first, we had to get to the race. Amanda and I met Kate in the Charlotte airport, where we took our time getting drinks and ended up being the last ones on our flight. Oops! The Winthrop University basketball team was on our flight and 3 players were sitting behind us and very amused by the 15 selfies we tried to take. Fairly poor planning on our part resulted in a 7:30 pm arrival to Baltimore, followed by a 2.5 hour drive. After picking up our rental car, we didn’t get to the house where we were staying til almost 11 pm! You would have thought we were 90 years old with how dramatic we were. I rushed poor AJ off the phone because OMGSLEEP.

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Photobomb courtesy of Kellen on attempt number 15. Yes, we learned his name, and yes, he had that many opportunities to photobomb.

Fortunately, it was just a short walk to Patty’s hotel and the race start in the morning. We were able to meet up with the other ladies, grab our bibs, and relax before heading to the start!

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The security to get into Patty’s hotel was like freaking Fort Knox. Um, sir, we’re 3 small women we’re bright yellow shirts with obvious identifying information…we’re clearly not trying to kill anyone.

Of course, we missed the Maniacs picture (like always) so we took our own with some other poor planners.

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The town of Rehoboth Beach is actually quite lovely. Yes, Charlotte ran in that Santa outfit the entire race. She is amazing.

I went off looking for my friend JC at the start and FINALLY saw him. I was running over when I was suddenly stopped by a reader, Theresa, who said “T-Rex Runner?!” and we ended up chatting. By the time I turned around, JC was gone and the race was about to start! Theresa turned out to be extremely cool, though, so it worked out. And I’m still always surprised when someone recognizes me!

Our plan for the race was to run 10 minute miles as long as we could. Kate was hoping to PR that day and wanted to head out a faster pace, so we waved goodbye to her at the start. We were less than half a mile down the road when I saw two Team T-Rex shirts running side by side! I knew one was my friend Murray, but who was the girl next to him? I ran up and said “I like your shirt!” and she looked at me and said “OH! Oh gosh!” Turns out, her name is Jordyn and she is awesome. Seeing the two of them running together made me smile, and then also feel a little bad because I forgot to wear my shirt. Oops!

Around mile 4, the marathon course headed on to an unpaved multi-use path. I had no idea that was going to happen because I’m an idiot and never, ever check the course description unless I’m planning to PR (so, basically never). The soft, uneven surface (kind of like a sand/gravel mix) didn’t bother me at first, but a couple miles in and my wonky left ankle was already a little achy. I’ve had tightness and pain in it since my stress fracture last summer, but it doesn’t usually bother me when I run. I figured we’d be off the trail soon enough and put it out of my mind.

The trail wound through a salt marsh and was really beautiful!

We were sticking to our 10 minute miles pretty well and Amanda, Patty, occasionally Murray, and I were having a blast running together and waving and yelling to all our friends along the out and back portions of the course. I usually really like out and backs because you can occupy yourself by cheering for all the people on the other side. That changed during this race, but we’ll get there in a minute.

Our friend Heather took this picture of me, Patty, Murray, and Amanda. I look so happy!

Amanda’s hips started bothering her around mile 9 and she occasionally stretched at the water stops. Still, we were mostly sticking to the plan, but once we got back on the trail, I grew increasingly concerned about my ankle. It was hurting a lot at the halfway point. Amanda said she needed to slow down because of her hips and I was ok with that because of my ankle (which, by the way, normally only hurts AFTER I run…ugh), so I told Patty and she decided to go on ahead since she was feeling great.

Oh, what a suckfest the next 13.1 miles were.

I got a sharp pain in my back at mile 15 and could have just killed myself. I knew I was taking a risk by running two marathons so close together (just two weeks between Route 66 and Rehoboth), but I had really hoped that since I had taken it easy in Tulsa, I would be fine. I was instantly so angry and disappointed in myself for putting my back through this. I’ve never really felt like that before; it’s kind of hard to explain. Normally I just get frustrated because I’m hurt, but this time I was frustrated because I’m stupid. Does that make sense?

Pre-suckfest in the state park. These are the only hills of the race.

Despite generally not feeling all that great, we kept running. My back kind of stopped hurting, although my ankle did not. We were a little more liberal with the walk breaks at water stations, but we kept moving forward at a decent pace. We were thinking we were off the trails for good, but just our luck – a looonnnnnggg out and back began around mile 19, and nearly the entire thing was on another trail.

Another trail? Ugh Jesus take the wheel.

In the best case scenario in my mind, we would hit mile 20 at 3:30. That would give us a full 90 minutes to finish the last 6.2 miles, meaning we could basically walk the entire thing and still finish under 5 hours. Well somehow, despite how generally awful we were feeling, we hit mile 20 at 3:33! Hooray!

We hit mile 22 at 4:05.

Yes. You read that correctly. It took 32 minutes to go TWO MILES. We were running/slogging along and all of a sudden, my heart rate went through the roof. We’re talking over 200 bpm, checked multiple times. I even sat down for 5 minutes and checked it every 60 seconds and it didn’t budge. Walking didn’t help, sitting didn’t help, but we sat anyway, for quite awhile. Then, we started walking slowly and eventually jogging, hoping to avoid getting caught in another tachycardia. At mile 22, we still had not reached the turn around of this eternal out and back. We had been heading out, out, out for 3.5 miles watching all the people coming back towards us with no end in sight! Certainly not the ideal situation in the later miles of a marathon.

The last few miles, Amanda and I were determined to just keep moving forward. We talked a lot and did a lot of soul searching, as we had the entire race. Some of the questions we asked were, “Why does it feel like marathons are getting harder instead of easier? Why are we doing this to our bodies if they clearly do not appreciate it? Why bother training hard if we’re just going to have bad races? Where are the on-course margaritas when you need them?” [Note: I have never encountered an on-course margarita. If I did, I would drink it, finish the marathon, and then never run another one because that would be the pinnacle of racing for me and nothing could top it.]

Normally, the last couple miles of a marathon go pretty fast for me. This time, not so much. We crossed the finish line in 4:54 and some change, under our 5 hour goal.

As always, I just really wanted to sit down. Any curb will do.

Nearly a week after the race, Amanda and I still aren’t sure how we feel about it or about training or marathons in general. Yes, we reached our goal, but I think we both expected it to feel a lot easier than it did. The reality is, it didn’t feel easy at all. Was that naive or inaccurate expectations on our part? Maybe, but I don’t think so. We’re committed to finishing our training plan and seeing how the race goes in February, but after that, we’re really not sure. Maybe it was just the trails, or maybe it was me running marathons too close together and her too far apart. I don’t know. What I do know is that running should be fun, and life is too short to be doing things that aren’t fun and that cause you pain. So, we’ll see. Either way, I always love running with one of my best friends, and seeing Patty and Kate and the girls was great too! Kate PRed, by the way, and Patty had a great race also! These memories are always worth it, no matter what.

Post-race picture in the Fort Knox-esque hotel

If my friends weren’t so awesome, maybe I wouldn’t want to run so many marathons with them all the time 🙂 Either way, I’ll be making sure to put at least a month between marathons from now on. I’m certainly not risking hurting my back. But I guess you don’t know your limits til you test them, right?

The Winthrop basketball team was also on our flight home after getting beaten by my alma mater – GO TERPS! Kellen was perfectly happy to take a non-photobomb picture with us, though.

So, yeah. Still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but I’m glad I went regardless. LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever had a tough race that makes you question why you run a given distance or if training is worth it?

23 thoughts on “Soul Searching – Rehoboth Seashore Marathon Race Report

  1. I have been right where you are 2 years ago in the Kiawah marathon were I walked for 7 miles. I swore I would NEVER run another one. Stranegly enough, I used the same plan you did too. It wasn’t until I threw out a time goal and stuck to heartrate training that I finally love running a marathon again. I hope your next one is exactly what you want it to be. Numbers never make memories, people do. My 2015 Mantra! 🙂

    1. Uh oh! That’s not good news for the RLRF plan. I’ve been thinking about trying heartrate training but am a little scared of the results! I love your 2015 mantra 🙂

  2. Rock n Roll Marathon in DC. Margarita’s everywhere when you go through the student housing section at Howard. Also: smoked brisket. I kid you not.

  3. I did a half in October that really sucked. I wasn’t trained properly, I hurt, and ended up with a horrible time. All my previous halves were pretty great. I’m gonna try one more and see how it goes but seriously considering just doing 5 and 10k races from now on. It just was not fun.

  4. I did my first AND LAST full marathon this past Sunday. My goal was. Sub 5. I came in at 5:11. It was so much harder than I imagined and I NEVER imagined sobbing at the finish line… But I did. And I still do when I think about it.
    Kudos to you, girlfriend! My 44 year old body is telling me ‘1 and done’. I will now be the master of the half!

    1. Ah, nothing quite like the first time! I am so proud of you for toughing it out. They ARE brutal. I sobbed at the finish line of my first one, too – I think out of sheer exhaustion 🙂

  5. Ever have a suckfest? Yes, October 18th at the Indianapolis Marathon. It was marathon #4 for me–was shooting for 5 by the time I turn 55 in May. Goal was to match my previous sub-5 PR. Didn’t happen. Finished in 5:36–which I’ve dubbed my PW (personal worst). Mile 22 was the longest mile of my life–hip pain, recurrence of a foot problem, felt ill. That “life is too short to be doing things that aren’t fun and that cause you pain” thought raced through my head. So, I did what any insane moron would do. I ran another two weeks later–for redemption. Got my 5 marathons in, earned maniac status. Preparation. Failure. Redemption. Insanity. Such is the life of a runner, right? Loved your post, as always.

  6. AHH. You keep coming so close to me and I would love to meet up at some point. I honestly think we have all had those races that really just stink (no if’s, ands or buts). I’ve had a couple that made me straight up take a week off of running and question why I even did the sport.

    1. Well, I still need to do a New Jersey Marathon, so there is still time!! And I think I might do NYC next year. I often question why I do the sport, haha!

  7. My first marathon, MCM, 6 weeks ago. I can’t even look at my race photos or medal. The whole experience was just awful. Everything hurt, even my teeth hurt.

    While my tachycardia is for a different reason than yours, I can relate. When it revs up during a race, I hate the entire world.

    1. I felt the same way for a very long time after doing the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon a couple of years ago. It took me months to get over how awful I felt. You WILL get over it. Congratulations on your first marathon, either way!!

  8. I knew I saw you! I was running the half and saw you up ahead of me around mile 3? I was planning on saying hi, but the marathon course splits way earlier now (it’s a new course), so I missed you.

    Anyway, yes I totally get having a sucky race and it really makes you question everything. It’s important to take a step back, maybe take a break from long distances, or have a proper training cycle where you only run 1 marathon at the end. It could be too much too soon, who knows?! Running is crazy and I hope you find your happy place with it soon!

    1. Aww, bummer! I wish you could have had a chance to say hi! I am definitely thinking about going through a whole training cycle again. I thought I was kind of doing that now but I realize my idea of a “proper training cycle” is a little bit…uh, unique 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing this Danielle … I know it isn’t easy putting it all out there, and it is frustrating – and I have absolutely no words of wisdom for you.

    I think you are doing some amazing things, but you are right – there comes a time where you have to decide between what you want to do in your head and what your body will allow. I’ve talked about my wife’s joint issues and arthritis on the blog, and the bottom line is it means we will never run together. And we’re a couple who loves to share things, so that is sad. But it is life and we share the things we can.

    As for my worst – for me it was the PA Grand Canyon Marathon last summer where there was 20 miles of torrential downpours, and the course elevation summary was completely wrong (it was the first year, they fixed it later). That was m,iserable – as was climbing steps to get on a plane for work the next morning! haha

    1. I guess, unfortunately, I’m learning that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything. That’s not a very pleasant realization to have but it seems to be the case. I’m not sure where training and running will take me from here, but I’ll be sure to write about it either way.

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