The 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon is one of my favorite half marathons to date. Also known as the Seashore Marathon, this race features the option to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles through the beach side towns of Delaware (state #9!). I went into the weekend with no plan. Absolutely no plan at all. I was having some very faint foot pain that I couldn’t induce with poking, rubbing or jumping from a really hard run in my light racing shoes on Thursday but I knew it wasn’t serious. I didn’t want to make anything worse with 13+ more miles of pounding and decided to just take it one step at a time on my tied legs race morning.
My Rehoboth Half Marathon began with a three hour drive from Virginia Beach straight to packet pick-up. Both Saturday events were limited to a total of 2600 runners and I’m pretty sure they all wanted to pick up at the same time. It was cramped and crowded but moved right along as I collected my number, long sleeve tech race shirt (like it a lot), drawstring bag and post-race party wristband. Doug and I checked into our hotel, relaxed for a little while then hit the main drag in Rehoboth for dinner. A delicious shrimp and scallop pasta at Summer House was my pre-race meal while Doug had a perfectly seared filet mignon. I hoped the chilly, wet evening would dry out for the next day’s race and maybe even warm up a bit. After one more look at my weather.com app, it was time for bed and a not too early rise and shine for the race’s 7am Start.
Getting to the Start was very easy. Doug dropped me off a few blocks from the boardwalk and bandstand and a brisk morning walk to the starting area got my Race Day going. I passed locked permanent restrooms and a string of Port-a-Potties with long but moving lines (luckily I didn’t need to use one) as I made my way to the wooden boardwalk to loosen up and get warm. My foot felt solid, leading me to choose a goal of finishing the race between 1:40 and 1:45. Around 6:50 the Nation Anthem was sung and I was a little disappointed with the sound system. It took a second to realize what was going on and the young girl who sang it could barely be heard 200 yards from the podium. There were no corrals at the Starting Line, nor were there signs with paces on them to give people a guide for lining up. I headed towards the front and asked a few people to get an idea of what was around me. With a kind-of plan finally in place, I wanted to start with a 8 minute mile pace group then see how I felt as the race went on but expected it was not going to work out that way.
I was right. The 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon got a little bit of a late start, going off at 7:05 and I crossed the Start surrounded by runners at all paces. The course went straight for a while and I passed lots of people as I clocked an 8:08 first mile. I continued to pass people as the course made a u-turn at the Mile 3 marker, settling into a comfortable 7:50 pace before walking through my first water stop. By Mile 4 I knew I was overdressed in my long sleeves as the morning warmed and I found myself thankful for the clouds that stuck around.
At Mile 5 I walked through a second well staffed and stocked water stop then picked up to a 7:35 pace until the course hit the trails. I knew the course map said trails but I didn’t know they were actual trails. The gravel began at Mile 5.5 and stayed with the course all the way to Mile 11. The wet trail was soft but also a bit slippery on top of being less firm and my pace slowed back down a bit. I took the straightest lines I could through the wide, tree-lined path, passing the 10K sign with 6.26 on my watch. I came to a slow walk at the Mile 8 water stop to make sure I got a decent amount of water down and picked it back up to hit the Mile 9 turn around. I had seen the runners in front coming back towards me since early on the trail and knew I might have trouble holding the same straight lines I had taken out on the way back because of incoming traffic.
Over the next two trail miles I cruised on the shortest path I could, passing a few more people and ready to get back on pavement. I was sad to see the peacefulness of the trails go but happy to have a hard surface again at Mile 11 where it became clear I had done a decent job of sticking with those straight lines because my watch read 11.06. I was clicking right along to finish around 1:43 and eased up to another female runner to help me finish with a little kick. A 90 degree right hand turn at Mile 13 finally brought the 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon Finish into view and I crossed it running easy at 1:42.47.
With my phantom foot weirdness, not fresh legs, soft, slippery trails and no real plan to speak of, I was very happy to hit my sub-1:45 goal. It was definitely a very high quality training run and I couldn’t have asked for anything much better. Walking towards the post-race party, I received a huge medal (my biggest to date) and sucked down two small cups of water. Doug snapped this photo before I took my sweat soaked sleeves of as fast as I could and threw on a dry fleece. I wasn’t sure if we needed to stay for awards, I had seen that not too many ladies were in front of me with the out and back course design and didn’t expect anything but couldn’t know for sure. In the post race party tent, computers gave live race results, which was awesome, and I found I was 6th of 116 in my age group. A huge buffet style breakfast spread lines one side of the tent while unlimited beer was served at one end and bottled water hung out by the entrance. One beer and a protein bar later, Doug and I were headed back to the hotel. I wish we could have hung out at the sure to be rocking post race party longer but we needed to get back home for a holiday party.
I loved the 2014 Rehoboth Half Marathon and can’t wait to run it again someday. Maybe I’ll shoot for the full 26.2 (eeek!). The course was mostly flat with a few slight grades to give the legs a little something different, the scenery is beautiful, the weather was perfect, water stops were solid, the medals are massive and the post race party is fantastic. Crowd support is sprinkled but when they’re there, they’re enthusiastic. There’s tons of running room once you get away from the messy Start and a few squished minutes on the trails in two way traffic are barely memorable. I didn’t for one second notice there wasn’t music on the course most likely because I train without it and also because the scenery is so lovely. The Start area was spacious and being able to watch the sun rise over the ocean isn’t too shabby but some kind of pace organization would have made those first two miles a little more comfortable. Doug had some issues with the text timing alerts not being on time and the timing mat breakdown here doesn’t match my race at all. I think the 8.5 mile mat was actually at 9.1 and caused the problem but the Start, Finish and average pace are dead on, so I’m overall happy with the timers. If you ever have the chance, I definitely recommend making the trip to Delaware’s shoreline for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.
Did you race this weekend? Would you run this one?