I had the pleasure of pacing Greg for the first few miles of his marathon last Saturday! He ran the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon in Delaware. This course currently holds my marathon PR from 2018, and Greg wanted to experience it for himself.
|Rehoboth Beach, DE|
My original plan was to be a spectator and not participate in the race at all. But when I ran my marathon a week earlier than planned, it gave me an extra recovery week (4 weeks instead of 3). So I felt like I could run with Greg as a half marathoner until the two races split in different directions, and then finish off the half myself. So I registered for the half marathon two weeks before the race.
Greg and I would run together for 4.5 miles, I would proceed to finish the half marathon, run back to the hotel to change and grab my phone, then go back to the course in time to cheer him on at mile 19.5, and again at the finish.
Before the Race
Even though I wasn't planning to "race" the half marathon at full effort, I made preparations as if I was racing. I figured I might as well get as much fueling and hydration as possible, and avoid foods that might upset my stomach.
We drove to Rehoboth the day before the race (Friday) and it was just under three hours. it was short
compared to our trip to Corning/Rochester in October and our trip to western West Virginia in November. We had dinner at DiFerbo's which was only two blocks from our hotel. They had a "pasta your way" and I ordered the rotini with marinara sauce and chicken.
The race started at 7:00am so we set our alarms for 4:49. I always like to set my alarm for a non standard time because everything else in life occurs on a standard time (4:30, 5:00, 5:30, etc). I had an English muffin with almond butter + the Maurten Drink mix 160.
The race started right next to our hotel so we waited until the last minute to leave the hotel room. I was getting nervous because it was 6:40 and we were still in our hotel room, but Greg assured me that we had plenty of time. Ultimately this was good because I had not brought a throwaway shirt. I jogged around the boardwalk to stay warm, wearing just a tank top and shorts in the 45 degree weather. And it was windy on the boardwalk near the start.
I decided to wear the New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite shoe. I don't like it as much as the Adios Pro because it doesn't feel as fast. But since I would be treating this run as a workout and not a race, it made sense to wear this shoe.
They didn't have an official gear check, but you could toss your throwaway into a bin and the bins were brought to the finish. Greg had an old race t-shirt that he put in the bin, and we didn't care if he got it back again or not. I looked around for my friend Carrie, who was running the full marathon, but I didn't see her. I would also be cheering for her once I finished my half.
The race started without much of a warning. All of a sudden the gun went off and people started moving. Greg and I had positioned ourselves somewhere in between the 3:15 pacer and the 1:40 half marathon pacer (there was no 3:20 pacer). Greg's marathon PR was 3:19:51, which he had set earlier this year at the Two Rivers Marathon. His goal was to beat that, and I believed he could shave at least 5 minutes off of it.
Now would be a good time to mention that I am Greg's coach. I have been writing his training plans for the past 3 years. I am not an RRCA certified coach but that doesn't matter to Greg! I create his plans by understanding his strengths and areas for improvement. I give him workouts that challenge him without burning him out. For this cycle, I had him running most of his weeks in the high 50's, with some of them into the low 60s. He naturally has a lot of speed (he ran a sub-40:00 10K on New Year's day of this year), so if he developed his endurance, he should be able to run a sub 3:10 marathon.
So I don't give him a ton of speed work. For this cycle, I gave him a medium-long run (11-13 miles) and a long run each week. I incorporated progression runs, marathon pace work, and lactate threshold work. He also needs needs a lot of recovery so I gave him a rest day each week and had him run no more than 5 miles the day after his long run.
|Mile 2, photo by Fredman|
I was able to pace him fairly accurately and the only hiccup we ran into is when the 1:40 half marathon pace group passed us on the boardwalk, crowding the area and making it hard for us to stick together. Greg said he didn't like running near pace groups because of the crowding and I agree with him. The benefit, however, was that the boardwalk was windy and the large pace group helped block the wind.
I carried a water bottle for the first few miles and I took a Maruten gel 15 minutes into the race.
I had so much fun running with him and being his pacer! I was so excited for what lay ahead of him and I knew I was setting him up for a strong finish.
Mile 1: 7:41
Mile 2: 7:39
Mile 3: 7:35
Mile 4: 7:37
As we approached the break-off point at 4.5 miles, I said my final words of encouragement to Greg as he continued onto a gravel path I turned around with the half marathoners. My plan was to speed up just slightly after leaving Greg and then gradually get faster and faster, depending on how I felt. I didn't have a goal time, but I wanted to see how much my legs could give me after running a 10K PR just 9 days prior.
|Mile 7, photo by blog reader Megan|
As I started to speed up I began to wish for my adidas Adios Pro shoes. The New Balance Fuel Cell wasn't really responding to my increased effort and the shoes felt bulky. They were great when I was going at a more relaxed pace but trying to push the pace felt a little awkward.
It wasn't long until I caught the 1:40 pace group and then passed them. It felt awesome to be passing so many people and leaving the pace group in the dust. I've had many experiences when they have come up from behind me and left me in the dust! I took my second Maurten gel at 55 minutes into the race which would be enough to power me through to the finish.
The gravel section started just before mile marker 8. Up until then the race had been on the road and the boardwalk. I wasn't too worried about the gravel. Even though the gravel in my most recent marathon posed a challenge, it didn't pose that much of a challenge when I did this marathon in 2018.
Mile 5: 7:27
Mile 6: 7:22
Mile 7: 7:22
Mile 8: 7:21
One of the coolest things about this race was the fact that so many people recognized me from my blog and from Instagram. There must have been 10-20 people who called out to me while either running or while cheering for Greg. They also took photos of me and sent them to me.
The gravel was more challenging than I remembered. It could have been due to the leaves on the ground making the surface more slippery than in 2018. Regardless, I still continued to pass people on the gravel section. My legs were beginning to tire and I wasn't able to continue to speed up as planned. By mile 11 I was ready to be done with the race, but I kept pushing because I knew I needed to finish fast to have time to see Greg at mile 19.5. I honestly did not care about my time at all; I just wanted to make sure I would be there for Greg.
I continued to pass runners and nobody passed me. Finally, I could see that up ahead the gravel was ending and we would be back on the road.
As I came out of the gravel section, I noticed a group of at least 8 half marathoners joining the course from another direction. This confused the heck out of me. Where did they come from? They were fast too. I only had one runner in my line of sight, and there were way more of these other runners. Did I somehow miss a turn? I didn't think so!
I continued to run hard but I was worried that I had run the wrong course. I kept thinking the finish line would be at 12.6 or 12.7 because I had taken a short cut, but no- that did not happen. I did, in fact, run the correct course but that group of runners made a wrong turn after coming off the trail and ended up having to double back. (I found this out later on Strava. Some of them ran 13.45 miles).
Mile 9: 7:23
Mile 10: 7:24
Mile 11: 7:36
Mile 12: 7:36
Mile 13: 7:15
Final 0.21: 6:29 pace
Transition from Runner to Spectator
I gunned it hard to the finish line for an official time of 1:38:40. As I finished, the announcer said, "Elizabeth Clor finishing. She has a great Instagram! You should follow her!" I was shocked but also beaming with excitement. The announcer knew who I was! This race was so full of wonderful support from my followers!
|I somehow finished next to a guy dressed similarly to me!|
I collected my medal and my cape, walked for a minute to see if I was going to vomit, but did not vomit! I guess that only happens when I race full-out. The hotel was 0.6 mile away. I jogged for 0.5 mile and walked the last 0.1. It was not easy to go right into jogging after that hard effort! I totally felt like superman running with a cape around me and holding a medal!
At the hotel, my first order of business was to get my hands functional. I soaked them in a sink filled with warm water along with my wrists and lower arms. Because of my Raynaud's, my hands go numb in the cold even if the rest of me is warm (which it was in the 51 degree weather).
Once I had the use of my hands, I used a wet washcloth to wipe all the sweat off my body and changed into warm dry clothes. I grabbed my phone and headed back out. I realized that I had less than 10 minutes to get to my spectator spot to see Carrie. I expected her at around 9:20 and in order to make it there in time I had to once again jog. Ouch, that hurt! I wasn't exactly sure where I was going either so I had to keep checking the map on my phone.
Cheering for Greg and Carrie
With less than one minute to spare I reached my spot and Carrie came flying by looking strong! Five minutes later I saw Greg and cheered very loudly and enthusiastically for him! He said that it was already hard, but that's to be expected at mile 19.5.
I cheered for every runner, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Carrie and Greg. Carrie came into view and I cheered her into the finish. Greg followed shortly after looking strong.
I met up with them both after they had collected their medals and they were very happy to be done. Greg ran a time of 3:21:24, which makes this his 3rd fastest marathon, right behind CIM (3:20). Greg might write a guest blog here on Racing Stripes with more details! He was happy with his effort and I am very proud of my athlete!
After Greg finished, he wanted to go back to the hotel immediately. I needed food. I had not eaten anything after my race and the hunger was setting in. He walked back to the hotel and I ate a biscuit + gravy, a waffle and some mac 'n cheese. As I walked around, I ran into several people who introduced themselves as Instagram followers. One of them actually lives about 20 minutes away from me and she runs around my same pace! She's doing Boston in the spring too and suggested that we do a training run together. I love meeting new runners.
Before heading back to the hotel I found Greg's "throwaway" shirt in the bin and wrapped it around my waist. Once I got back to the hotel, he napped while I enjoyed the heated pool inside the hotel, which is actually more like a large hot tub. A fun day for everyone and a really well-organized race.
Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways
This was harder than expected! It's crazy to think that I ran the full marathon on this course at an average pace of 7:25, and I couldn't even average that pace for a half marathon! (My average pace was 7:32). Granted, I wasn't racing it full out, but it still has me totally respecting my accomplishment from three years ago. And of course, wondering if I will ever beat that time!
- I placed 31 out of 931 women.
- I ran a negative split.
- It's really fun to pass a lot of people at the end of a race.
- Running a race as a workout is more fun than racing a race!
- Doing a workout in a race setting makes you push harder than you otherwise would