It took me 20 half marathons to finally break that 1:40 barrier – and then another 10 to break 1:35.
On December 3, I ran my third Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon and 30th half marathon. I was determined to beat my then-PR of 1:37:58, which I felt was pretty soft given my recent 3:18 marathon finish in Chicago.
And I did, running a 1:33:19, finishing 12th overall female and second in my age group! As always, this race was a complete blast and the after party was lit, and I cannot wait to sign up for the 2023 race.
Here is my recap!
Rehoboth is my happy place
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I have been traveling to Rehoboth Beach since I was very young and that I have run many races there. In fact, I ran my first BQ five years ago (!!) at the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon and smashed my longtime goal of a 3:30 marathon at the 2021 Coastal Delaware Running Festival. I was signed up to run the Rehoboth Seashore Half in 2020, but we all know what happened that year. I would have run it last year, but then Coastal Delaware was postponed from April to November due to COVID, meaning it was just about three weeks before Rehoboth Seashore. So I deferred to 2022.
It ended up working out great, because our good friend Shannon was in nearby Bethany Beach celebrating her 50th birthday and invited Micah and me to stay at the Airbnb she rented for a long weekend. The race is always on a Saturday, so Micah and I went down after work Friday night, picked up my race packet, and had dinner at the Cultured Pearl sushi restaurant, one of my favorite restaurants in Rehoboth and also the location of the inside portion of the race after party. I had two eel rolls and two sakes, which I suspect turned out to be a poor choice. More on that in a little bit.
The forecast was looking to be less than ideal, with rain the whole time and heavy winds (haha, like I didn’t experience enough wind in Philly??!) But it was also supposed to be warm, around 56-58 degrees. I dressed in shorts, a singlet, arm warmers because of the wind and rain, and a hat, but I could have easily ditched the arm warmers and I almost did during the race!
Micah dropped me off at the race start around 6:40 and went to get brunch at Egg, and the race started right at 7. We had a gorgeous sunrise that I wish I could have taken a photo of, but before I could, we were off and running. And for now, it was still dry, but warm for December. I lined up between the 1:30 and 1:40 pacers. I thought 1:30 would be a little too fast for me, but I expected to be way ahead of 1:40.
The course had changed since I’d last run in 2019. We left the bandstand and went down Rehoboth Avenue, then turned left and ran through the neighborhoods along Silver Lake, then down the boardwalk before running into north Rehoboth and, for the half marathoners, turning around at Cape Henlopen State Park. I really liked running down the boardwalk, and lots of people were out spectating!
I ran my first 3 miles in 7:10, 6:59, and 6:55. I knew it was risky to be ripping off those sub-7s so early, but I just went with it.
It was at about mile 4, after the turnaround at the park, that my stomach started to bubble a little. If you read my recap of the Chicago Marathon, you’ll recall that I had stomach issues and felt like barfing during the last 8 miles. I blamed the rich Italian dinner from the night before, but for lunch the day before, I had also had sushi and sake, just like I had at the Cultured Pearl. Sooo……
It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me!
The night before Philly, I had my tried-and-true veggie burger and fries, and felt great during the whole marathon. Food for thought. Literally.
Also around this point, I was seeing a lot of other runners who were a mile or so behind me on the other side of the road. One woman called out to me “You have a fighting chance at top 10!” so I knew there weren’t many women ahead of me. I did start to notice it was getting windy and there were a few times when I ducked behind taller men in front of me to draft off of them. However, the wind was still nothing like what it was in Philly, and again, it was about 30 degrees warmer.
These miles were pretty fast, too:
Mile 4: 6:50
Mile 5: 6:48
Mile 6: 7:05
We headed out of the town of Rehoboth and toward the Junction and Breakwater Trail at mile 7, and then entered the trail right before mile 8. The trail is a mix of crushed stone and gravel, but it’s pretty easy to run on, in my opinion. I ran mile 7 in 7:10 and mile 8 in 7:04.
At mile 9 of the half marathon and mile 23 of the marathon, runners run beneath what’s called Flag Alley, which is where flags from all over the world are hanging up above the trail. There are also volunteers playing music, and you run over a timing mat. When I ran past, I smiled and waved my arms and one of the volunteers said “Here’s Allison from Edgewater, bringing the energy today!”
Which was a nice pick me up, because I was really starting to feel like crap. I was burping and tasting that morning’s coffee and I really thought it was going to come back up right there on the trail. I also started to slow down a bit, running mile 9 in 7:15 and mile 10 in 7:19.
But I knew I was going to smash a 1:37 half and told myself to keep pushing – I could puke at the finish line.
The rain also started coming down pretty steadily when I reached mile 10, and continued through the last few miles. I felt bad for the marathoners, most of whom had several hours to go!
I noticed another course change around mile 11.5 from what I had previously remembered. Instead of turning left and heading back toward the finish on the road, we went straight on the trail until it intersected with Rehoboth Avenue. This portion was my only complaint about the new course– there were so many fallen leaves on the ground and given that it was now pretty wet out, I was a little afraid of slipping and falling. But I didn’t, and soon enough we were off the trail and back on the road to the finish. Mile 11 was 7:11 and mile 12 was my slowest mile of the race at 7:34.
Around mile 12.5, I saw 2:45 half marathon pacer Vanessa (here’s her recap of the race!) and I yelled out that I was getting a PR. I knew I was under 1:35, and definitely well under 1:37, but I didn’t have my Garmin on elapsed time so I didn’t know how far under. I just knew the 1:30 group was a few minutes ahead. To be honest, I kind of like being able to race by feel instead of staring at the damn watch the whole time.
I ran mile 13 in 7:04.
When I made the final right turn to the finish line, I saw 1:33 on the clock and threw up my hands in excitement. I also expected to, well, throw up in general. But a volunteer handed me water with my medal and heat blanket and I sat down for a minute and then felt better. I still blame the sushi and sake combined with hard running – as much as I love my sushi and sake, perhaps it is best to avoid it the day before a race!
This race has become known for its insanely fun and wild after party. There’s a huge food buffet, plus all runners get three Dogfish Head beer tickets (and, uh, it’s never a problem to get more. My PR from a previous year was seven tickets, and Micah had to physically remove me from the party.) And, of course, Team Fireball. In pre-COVID times, the members of Team Fireball – they have personalized hats and all – passed around a bottle for people to chug from, but this year, we were a little more public health friendly and took shots out of plastic shot glasses.
I started boozing pretty much as soon as I walked into the party tent shortly after 8:30 and continued through the early afternoon. Even though the food is always great, I didn’t really feel like eating and made the stupid decision to have a liquid brunch/lunch. At one point, I tripped while reaching for a shot of Fireball and skinned my knee (and here I was afraid to trip on those leaves on the trail!) Micah came and picked me up around 2 in the afternoon and took me back to the Airbnb.
In other years, I’ve been able to rally and hit the Purple Parrot for karaoke in the evening, but this year my hangover hit me like a ton of bricks around 7 pm and I just sat on the couch for the rest of the night and went to bed early. I blame not eating at the party. Rookie mistake! I guess this just goes to show that I may still be able to run relatively fast, but I am nonetheless 42 years old.
I have this thing where I get older, but just never wiser.