Monday, May 2, 2016

Coastal Delaware Marathon race report 2016

Since the last edition of Wongstar's winter adventures, a ton has happened during my marathon training quest.

There was finally a bunch of racing. February saw two races on back-to-back weekends:

The Hearts to Heroes 5k (in "feels like 5*" weather) which also served as our local Team RWB Wilmington/Newark (northern Delaware) kick-off event, and then the Glassboro 10-miler the next weekend. I ended up winning the overall women's race in both, which each came with a bottle of wine! My 10-miler was also a 12-second PR (1:12:17.1, 7:13/mile pace), PR being from 2014.

Kevin and I linked up with the Team Red, White & Blue Dover chapter and our Wilmington/Newark community is considered the northern expansion or spin-off. We actually got sent to Team RWB leadership camp in early March and have been hosting various weekly events like bi-weekly trivia nights, Wednesday night runs, and monthly crossfit. It's been busy, in a good way, and we've been meeting some great people!

We even won the "Logan House Cup" for biggest team at a local 5k.

At the end of March, I raced 3 weekends in a row:
  • At my first 15k (Shamrock Shuffle at Rehoboth Beach), I got 2nd female in 1:06:44.9 (7:09/mile pace). I felt good and am growing to like this 15k/10-mile distance.
  • Kevin is a huge Phillies fan, so we did the Phillies 5k for the second year in a row. Last year I believe I was in the top 20 females on very little training, so my goal this year was top 10. I shocked myself with a 3rd overall, and a PR of 20:49 (6:42/mile pace), out of 3,511 females. I won an autographed baseball! This is probably the highest place I've gotten at such a ginormous race. I remember feeling during the race "this feels like a PR kind of day".
  • I finally did the Caesar Rodney half marathon, which is a local half that is one of the oldest races around. It was a crazy blustery morning, with 50mph gusts and "feels like 20*" with the wind. (I was pretty scantily clad compared to everyone else at the start line!) My goal was to see if I could PR, which is a 1:35:something. I ended up getting 7th female, 1st in my age group, and squeaked out a PR of 1:34:43 (7:14/mile pace). It was super windy, so I'd like to think I can go faster in calmer conditions. I even PR'd my 10-mile time at the split! (1:12:13). And won a whole growler, redeemable for a refill!

winner for least clothed at the start line.

AND THEN WE GOT A PUPPY. Ok, we got a puppy a few days before that last string of 3 races, which will explain the low running mileage during my training program overall. My old pal Guinness--the dog I adopted in 2007 when I was doing my orthotics residency in Dallas and living alone for the first time--eventually succumbed to a variety of health issues and was sent to puppy heaven. He'd been living with my parents for a while now, but will always be in my heart as our first family dog, my first roommate as an adult, and running buddy.

I was pretty sad, as Kevin and I had talked about getting a dog for a while and had actually considered bringing Guinness back to Delaware as recently as last fall (since we were finally homeowners). We went to the Delaware SPCA and after a few days of contemplating, came home with this cutie:

Her name is Aero, like "aerodynamic"! Perfect name for a triathlon nerd and race car guy.

My marathon training continued, and I'm thankful for Strava and my GPS watch for tracking the miles for me, because I am pretty terrible at logging my miles. Starting from 16 weeks out (January 4), I averaged about 36.7 miles per week with a high of 47.2 miles and a low of 21.6 miles. I only did 2 runs over 20 miles but raced somewhat frequently to get my speed up (since I am lazy at doing speedwork by myself, in the winter). The weekly mileage was a bit disappointing going into the race, as I had originally aimed for 55-ish, then downgraded that to 45-ish. With trying to potty train a 4-month-old puppy, I guess it ended up being more 35-ish! But it is what it is and going into marathon weekend, I still had a few goals:

  1. Time goals: 3:15 (C-goal, a PR); 3:10 (B-goal); 3:05 (original aim high A-goal).
  2. Top 3 in the women's field (it's a smaller race, and last year's winner went 3:23).
  3. Qualify for Boston Marathon 2017 (3:40 since I age up to 35 this year).

I did end up throwing out the 3:05 goal as I didn't feel like I trained enough to reach that...maybe this fall...

Okay how about the actual race report...?

I traveled to the beach Saturday afternoon with my coworker Cassie, niece Brittany and sister-in-law Dawn for packet pick-up. The three of them would be doing the 9k distance and we stayed with my father-in-law and stepmom-in-law, who have a beach house about 20mins from the race.

Kevin and our friend Amanda came early Sunday morning to cheer us all on! I lined up at the front since I was going for an overall place, and gun time counts. At the starting line, Kevin said "don't do what you always do, and go out too fast..." while I laughed it off.

I then proceeded to go out too fast. I had it in my mind to go for a 3:10 goal time (7:15 pace), which I know is back-to-back 1:35's, basically my half marathon PR. But I tend to run very even splits and go the same speed for any distance over 10k. Assuming my fitness is there... (foreshadowing!)

I was pretty excited to be out in the front when the gun went off, and there were no other women around me. I actually was leading the women's race probably through mile 5 or 6 before I felt like I was in trouble. In trouble WAY TOO EARLY. The eventual women's winner caught me around then and I had the gall to try to stay with her/race her for a couple miles.

What I should've done from the start was gone out more conservatively with the 3:15 pace group (7:26 pace), the fastest pace group available. I was still running under 7:20's and slowed a bit to drop back and run with them, but the pacing was a bit erratic and the pacer threw in a sub-7 mile somewhere at that point, and I couldn't keep up any more. The second place woman was right in that pack, but I let them go and still went into the half marathon split at around 1:38.

Of course by then, I was mentally disappointed, and my legs were tired and sore already. I ended up fading into 4th and then 5th before getting some good butt and leg cramping the last 10-miles. I ran with my Camelbak and felt like I hydrated and fueled well, and that it was more lack of fitness that caused the final fade. (Then again, while I am good at practicing my fueling at 9min pace, when I run low 7's it is tricky to breathe hard, drink and/or eat...) I walked some here and there and then kept catching back up to the 4th place woman, passing her, then walking again. (I was that asshole runner!) Eventually I just wanted to get it over with, and reminded myself that my friends and family had come out to support my marathon, so JUST KEEP RUNNING.

With three miles to go, I was solidly in 4th place, and since the overall awards were 3 deep, I actually had the thought "well at least you know you'll win your age group". Because 4th place is not first loser, it's first age group winner! ;) By then we were passing the back of the half marathon field, a bunch of walkers, so it was nice to get a boost from their energy and actually pick people off. I just tried to run as fast as I could without cramping up, which was like 8-minute pace.

The last mile finally took us back through the town of Dewey Beach, which is where Kevin and I got married, so nice memories there. Unbelievably right around the 26-mile marker, I saw the 3rd place woman up ahead. As crampy and hurting as I was, I told myself "JUST F---ING GO! TOP 3 IS RIGHT THERE!" So I tried to sneak up to her and gauge what she had left in her tank. I knew from talking to her earlier it was her first marathon, and she had mentioned she was running faster than she was supposed to. (Didn't we all!) As I caught up to her, I told myself "it's now or never" and made a break for it. It was only 0.2 miles around the corner to the Rusty Rudder. As I approached the corner, I saw Kevin and my father-in-law, both were holding up 3 fingers to show I was in 3rd place and I had an awesome sprint finish.

So everyone that came to watch me run saw me looking super fast and strong even though I had some painful walking/shuffling miles back there. ;) I ended up missing my PR by about 10 minutes, going 3:25:40. Turns out 3rd through 5th all finished within a minute apart (3:26:07 for 4th and 3:26:33 for 5th), so that was exciting, eh?

I was really happy to be done and got to hit up the finish line celebration VIP-style (yup I paid the extra $50 for the VIP package which came with guaranteed parking, private bathrooms, post-race massage and BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS!). This was definitely my favorite part of the weekend, just hanging out at the beach with some of my favorite people after a hard day's running.

I was happy to get my other two goals of hitting top 3 (at the very end!) and qualifying for Boston. My PR of 3:15:02 was from 2009 when I was living in Korea as a full-time pro triathlete with Team TBB, undernourished, and training 30-ish hours per week. I think I actually would've been close to that time if I actually paced it well, started the first half more conservatively, and maybe trained just a touch more. The marathon definitely has my respect and I'm thinking of doing a fall marathon after 70.3 season. And Boston next year!

Anyway, thanks for following. And special thanks to Kevin for putting up with my marathon training grumpiness and post-marathon grumpiness. I love you!


  1. You are an inspiration and motivation to girls like me who give up when life brings a small hurdle to their lives. I'm not much of a sporty person , I've more interest towards arts & stuff but you inspire me, you truly do.

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