Saturday (12/10) was the Rehoboth Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. Last year I was a spectator and my wife ran the full. We brought the girls with us last year and myself and the little ones got to watch mommy win the whole darn thing!
Well this year, after her doing the Chicago and NYC Marathons in October and November, she opted to just do the half. I was not in the best shape ever and have been dogging it since Chicago (I've picked things up a bit since Thanksgiving). I finally decided to throw my hat in the ring and signed up for the half. I was hoping for a 1:35, but I really had no clue what level of fitness I had. Leading up to the race, I put in a few 4-5 mile runs and finally ran 10 the Sunday prior to the race. Needless to say, I probably wasn't properly trained for a PR, but I was hoping to start at a reasonable pace (7:20ish) and pick it up the last three or so if I had anything left in the tank.
The weekend began Friday night with a pretty decent sized crew heading to the beach. In all, we had 4 other guys we run with stay at the family condo in Ocean City. We also knew quite a few other "XMP'ers" were running so since it's a relatively small race, we had a pretty good representation at the RB Marathon. We drove down and arrived just past 7 at packet pickup. We got our packets, Brad switched from the full to the half with no issue (out of our 6, 4 of us would do the half and 2 would do the full). It just so happened the Italian restaurant directly next to pickup was having a "marathon special" with pasta and a beer for $15. Obviously we had to take advantage of the offer. The food was pretty good, the beer cold, the company fantastic. Post dinner, we were on our way to Ocean City to unpack and hit the rack. We had a 7am gun time so not much time to fool around.
Wake up call was about 5 (the alarm was 5:30, but the guys were plenty vocal to get us moving). Threw down a bagel, mixed up some EFS with Pre-Race and drove to Rehoboth. We got a spot close to the start but opted to sit in the car for a bit. The forecast called for a low of 28, but we were pleasantly surprised to wake up to mid 40s - perfect race weather. I decided no throw-away top was necessary and went with short sleeves, gloves, and beanie.
We made our way to the bathroom and then race start. The half and full both start and finish at the same spot and we made our way to close to the front. Soon enough, after the National Anthem, the gun went off and we were off running. I settled into just under a 7:30 pace for the first two and when we hit the third mile I was shocked to see my Garmin at 2.75...huh??? I just assumed that we'd make that difference up as we went along, but I assumed wrong. It appears that the entire race turned on an out and back too early. While this was a well organized race, there were spots on the course that could have been marshalled much better (more on this to come). Oh well, not much I could do about the discrepancy and I just figured it would work itself out in the end. After all, I wasn't after a PR so I would just run by feel and hope I had something in the tank after 10 miles or so.
The half and full marathoners run together for the first nine miles and then the halfers turn around and head back. This was the first time I'd be able to gauge Chrissy's situation. While I knew she would have a shot to win the overall, you can't control who shows up so the win wasn't guaranteed. I hit mile 8 and figured I would be seeing her soon and a few minutes past the 8 mile mark, she and Brad were heading back to the finish. I gave her a shout of encouragement and then a few seconds later I saw the #2 woman. I yelled back to Chrissy she had about 10 seconds on #2 just to let her know (it was probably a bit more than that, but running my own race, 10 seconds seemed about right to me at the time. After that, it seemed like it took quite some time to get to the turn around, but I finally hit it and headed for home.
I ended up running probably 5-6 miles along side a 16 year old kid running his first half. He was shooting for a 1:40 and I told him at about 10 that we were going to hit 1:35 if he could hold on. He said he'd never run more than 11 (sounds like my first 10 miler experience). We hit 11 and I told him if he could run the final two in 15 minutes we'd easily be under 1:35. As we hit 12, I pulled away a bit from the kid and hoped he'd hang in there. As I made my way to the finish, there was an older guy up ahead with about a half mile to go. I made it my goal to catch him which I soon did. Then, I spotted a girl soon after. I wanted to try to catch her too. Despite the spectator yelling to her to not let the guy catch her, I did with maybe a quarter mile to go. There was no one else in the area so I was in pure "hold on for dear life" mode. I finally saw the finish and crossed in 1:32:39 for a PR...sort of. My Garmin showed 12.89. So, it seems we turned around a bit too early at mile 2.5ish. My wife, Brad, and Dan were all at the finish. My wife took the title! She ran a 1:25:09 and won by :39. Man she's awesome! Brad took 4th in the 35-39 age group, but was pacing Chrissy. Dan got 3rd in the 40-44. I ended up 9th which I'll take any day of the week!
We decided to head to the car and get some clothes on and then head over to the 21 mile mark to see if we could cheer on Ken, Jeff, and Greg. I gunned it over to the area and we worried we may have missed at least Ken. We were lucky and hadn't missed anyone...including the leader (we called these guys Team Beard pre-race - there were a few of them all bearded out).
And eventually Ken came running by...
Soon enough we were back to the awards party, grabbed some food, awards, beer, and then were headed home. Another successful race for Team Graham (especially the female contingent)!