I love this race! This was our 2nd year back and maybe even more fun than the last. This will definitely be an annual tradition for us! We got in Friday round 3pm, we checked into our amazing hotel and then went to pick up our race bibs.

20131210-211953.jpgDerek’s first real race and Em’s first marathon. So exciting!!!

Then we proceeded to Dogfish Head, the only place we ever eat and drink when we are in Rehoboth. Why go anywhere else?

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I ate a really healthy meal. A short rib sandwich with cheese, and mushrooms, and french fries. And on Mondays and Fridays, they have beers through the Randall! Obviously HAD to get that. It was the 90 min IPA through the Randall that was filled with fresh hops. Yummmm.

It was nice to get to Rehoboth so early! We had time to eat, digest (mostly) and get to bed by 10. Last year, we didn’t get in until 8:30 and it was awful. Round 1 of the Dogfish Head Pub was a success.

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Alarms went off at 4:30am and I laid in bed for a while and watched Em and Derek get around. I was ready quickly, but 6:30 came way too fast! We headed down to the lobby and ran into Michele, Jess, and Elizabeth. We walked the 2 minutes to the start, took a quick picture and wished each other luck.

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I lined up with Elizabeth pretty close to the front, I knew if we went too far back we would really be stuck. We chatted a bit about pace and then we were off. I had planned to start around 8:50, but that felt way to slow, so I stuck with what felt good, but not overly fast. It felt great to be running! It’s always a good feeling to start off feeling wonderful, that doesn’t always happen.

I ran with Elizabeth for the first 1 1/2 miles before I decided to pull back, my watch was showing me running an 8:25 second mile and I knew that was way too fast for mile 2. I really love the first 4 miles of this race, it’s a small out and back, you get to see the ocean, it’s early in the race, and this year my mind was brought back to good memories from last year’s marathon. I was smiling, feeling good and happy to see so many of my friends running too! I smiled and waved to Jess, Em, and Derek, as we all got to see each other on the out and back.

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At mile 4, I saw Nick! He had his camera up in his face, and I didn’t think he saw me, so I yelled his name and he finally looked and waved. I think he captured an unpleasant shot of my backside running, so no need to post that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for being our race photographer, Nick!

4 miles down. I couldn’t believe I was already almost 1/3 of the way through the race. I was feeling fantastic! My pace was locked into 8:40ish and I just kept on trucking. I was scared to push yet, I didn’t want to burn out and I knew I needed to save energy for the trail portion.

Mile 1: 8:37

Mile 2: 8:38

Mile 3: 8:35

Mile 4: 8:40

Mile 5: 8:37

Mile 6: 8:37

I kept wondering when the trail started because I honestly thought it started before this point, but at the same time, I was happy it hadn’t hit yet. I knew it was going to be the toughest part of the race. I was also impressed with myself that I kept my splits so consistent! I kept trying not to psyche myself out. Things were going really well and I knew that if I had a strong second half that I could actually PR, since my splits were only about 3 seconds away from my PR pace. But! Every time I thought about that, I told myself this…

“No, it doesn’t matter! You don’t have to PR, you are doing great, you are running a strong race and that’s what matters. You came here to race strong and that is exactly what you are doing, just keep going!”

20131210-211833.jpg I look like a ghost!

And this is where the trail starts. I kind of gave myself a mental pep talk and reset before going into this part of the race. It takes more energy to keep your pace up on the dirt and I was expecting giant puddles because of all the rain (just like last year), so I knew it wasn’t going to be mindless running.

Mile 7: 8:51 (Sad I ruined my consistency)

Mile 8: 8:38

Mile 9: 8:39

The first mile of the trail, I came to complete stop because the lead half marathoner was coming back through with the vehicle and there was a giant puddle that nobody could get around and the 3 people in front of me came to a complete dead stop because they couldn’t go to the left and they didn’t just run through it. Kind of frustrating!

Most of the trail was okay, really hard packed and nice to run on, but other parts were soft, some parts were rocky, and yeah, some parts were muddy and full of puddles.

As you exit the trail, you run through a housing development for maybe a 1/4 mile and this is where the half marathoners split from the marathoners. So we do a quick turn around and head back to the trail!!! I knew I had about 3 miles back through the trail, so I focused on that to get me through the next few miles. And this is where it gets a little rough for me.

rehobothmile9The turnaround.

Mile 10: 9:05

Mile 11: 8:53

I suddenly had awful stomach cramps during mile 10. For the first time ever, I thought I was going to have to stop and use the bathroom during a race. I pushed as hard as I possibly could through this mile. I was sad to see that 9 in the front of the mile. My stomach was a mess and I was struggling. It took these 2 miles to subside, but I was happy that it did. 1 mile left on the trail, I could do this!

I had no idea where I was going to come in time wise, I knew I had sub 2 in the bag, but I wasn’t sure how close I was to 1:55; my A goal.

After the mile 12 marker, I was back on solid pavement, yay! I pushed and pushed to get my pace down as low as I could get it. I had it at 8:10 for a while, but obviously that didn’t work out. The last mile is down Rehoboth Ave, where we are most familiar with. The strip where everything is, so I sort of knew where I was. And finally, I could see the big white tents! The finish area!

I looked at my watch about 100 feet from the finish line and saw I was 7 seconds away from 1:55, so I booked it, but at that point it was impossible to get there in time to finish sub 1:55. Oh well! I was super happy when I finished, I knew I gave it absolutely everything I had.

Mile 12: 8:51

Mile 13: 8:42

Mile .21: 1:44 (8:11 pace)

Official Time: 1:55:13 (8:48 avg. pace)

I think I ran a smart race and I’m happy to be back at this point in my running, when 5 months ago I was hobbling around in a boot. The only regret I have is not listening to music. I really think it could’ve helped me in those last few miles. Next time, for sure!!!

Derek crushed his race and finished in 2:09! He finished in one piece and is feeling pretty good. I’m pretty sure he wants to keep running and I know he will have a much better training cycle next time around.

Em killed her marathon as well! She ran the whole entire time and crushed her goal time of sub 5 and finished in 4:46!!!. I ran with her during the last 3.2 miles and it was absolutely amazing. She was looking so strong! She was talking, wasn’t annoyed at me for making her run this race ๐Ÿ˜‰ and I was going to start crying before she even crossed the finish line.

I’m hoping she will write us a race report to post here, so that she can tell you guys all about it! I am incredibly proud of her and Derek and I am so happy they are starting to love running as much as I do.

Derek captured this photo right as I met up with her to bring her home.

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And this was captured about 1/4 mile from the finish. Absolutely love both of these pictures!!! Smiling like she didn’t just run 26 miles!

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And then we celebrated by going to Dogfish Head 2 more times and drinking lots of beer! We went after the race, stuffed our faces, went back to the hotel and took a nap and then went back for round 3. Cannot get enough.

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Our server at dinner was amazing and we were all drunk and obviously had to get a picture with him. Haha! It was an incredible weekend that won’t be forgotten and we can’t wait to do it all again next year. Nick even said he wants to run the half! Time to sign him up on New Years Eve, that’s how I got everyone last year! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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And we got these GIANT medals, so that was nice! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I have no idea where to start, but I feel like I have a lot to say. Please just bear with me because this is gonna be a long one. This is as much for me as it is for you and I really just want to get all of my thoughts about the race out there.

After a frustrating issue with my car and a waste of $80 on 2 bus tickets, we were finally off to NH in my car on Thursday night. We stayed with my sister and brother in law for the night and then headed up to Burlington on Friday afternoon.

Friday

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We made a last minute decision, which turned out to be the BEST decision ever, to stop at The Alchemist Brewery. It was on the way to Burlington and right off the highway. We were on a quest for Heady Topper! We literally got there just in time. Derek bought a case and minutes later, they were sold out for the day!

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Derek was ridiculously excited after this! If only we had more money, we would’ve bought 3 cases. In case you were wondering, the beer definitely lived up to the hype! We hadn’t tried it before, and it was delicious and flavorful and all around amazing. I know, I’m a great beer reviewer, but trust me, this beer is not to be missed!

We got to the expo around 6:30, I went in and grabbed my race bib, my shirt, and I also bought a Run Vermont shirt before quickly heading out to grab some food. We stopped at this diner style restaurant called Al’s French Frysย and we got a burger and fries and it hit the spot!

Finally, we arrived at Lauren and Evan’s around 9:30pm. It was a long day of driving!

Saturday

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I slept in Saturday morning and felt nice and refreshed when I woke up. We hit the road for lunch and stopped at Moon Dog Cafe, this cute, hippy-ish cafe/shop. I ordered a burrito with egg, salsa, and cheese, but I ended up having a bit of regret, when I saw everyone else’s food. Derek ordered the equivalent of a Thanksgiving sandwich and I wish I had ordered that. Oh well, it was still good, just not amazing.

We snacked on this popcorn before our sandwiches arrived.

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Salted Caramel Popcorn. Sounds perfect, right? It was delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it! We were then off to the cheese shop to pick up some Grafton Cheddar because obviously we can’t leave Vermont without stocking up on this. The 3 year is the best all around cheese and don’t worry, this wasn’t ALL for us. We shared once we got back to NYC.

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We left the cheese shop stuffed because obviously we have to try every single sample that’s available and pretend like we’ve never had it before. We got back to Lauren and Evan’s and Evan got to work on making homemade pasta sauce for our dinner. We were spoiled all weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Derek helped me make a trash bag dress to start off the race in.

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This is what the weather had in store for us. It rained ALL WEEKEND, all day every day, definitely a bummer, but since it wasn’t a surprise come race day morning, I had been mentally preparing myself for it all weekend. I’ve never run a race in the rain and when it’s raining for a training run, I almost always retreat to the treadmill. Oops.

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Evan made us linguine, topped with homemade sauce, and Grafton cheddar. We also had bread with olive oil and vinegar on the side. It was such a good pre-race meal!!!

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I wrapped up my ipod in saran wrap to prevent it from getting wet and spoiler alert, it worked really well and luckily my headphones were fine too.

Sunday – Race Day!

The four of us left for Burlington at 5am, we had about a 2 hour drive ahead of us and we entertained ourselves by quoting Arrested Development and deciding that I would yell “Steve Holt!” when I crossed the finish line. The rain was off and on at this point, but I was already mentally prepared to be running in rain, so I felt pretty calm about the weather.

We made it just in time for Lauren to be able to pick up her race materials, even though she wasn’t running, she still wanted her shirt! This is also where we ran into Sarah and right before I got denied the real bathroom because I wasn’t elite. Damn. To the porta-potties we go!

The start was a bit confusing, but only because there were so many umbrellas, it was hard to see where the corrals were. We snapped a quick pic in our ridiculous garb and I headed to find the 4 hour pacer. Everything happened so quickly and I just didn’t have time to realize what I was about to do.

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While I was waiting to start, Sara found me and introduced herself! It made me happy to meet her, as I always enjoy having someone to run with. We lost the 4 hour pacer almost immediately, probably before we even crossed the start line, so I gave up on that plan pretty quickly.

Before I even knew what was happening, the race started! I didn’t even know we had crossed the start line until we were already a few minutes past it. I didn’t start my watch and when I did, I realized it wasn’t even cleared out from my last run, so I stopped it, reset it and decided to wait until mile 1 to restart it. Man, way to be unprepared.

I was running with Sara during the first few miles and they felt good. I threw off my garbage bag, my amazing Christmas sweatshirt (courtesy of Lauren) and was feeling comfortable despite the rain. I really had to hold myself back, which was new since most of my races lately have been starting off terribly, as well as ending terribly, so I figured this was a good sign. My legs felt great, and I had a huge smile on my face!

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Between miles 3 & 4

The race course is a spectator’s dream! You basically can stay in one general area and see your runner at least 4 different times.

I loved running on Church Street! There were drag queens, tons of spectators, and there was a point where I felt so wonderful, I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt like my day and I knew everything was going to be great!

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The miles were ticking by and I couldn’t believe I had already passed the 10k mark. This race was going to fly by. I was feeling so positive and happy and was still feeling really good. I found Sara again at this point and we ran together until the halfway mark before we lost each other once and for all around the halfway mark.

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Around mile 8-9

I was starting to feel slightly fatigued at this point, but I purposefully slowed down a bit because I knew there was a MONSTER HILL waiting for me at mile 15. I just kept telling myself to conserve energy and if you can make it over that hill, you are good to go!

Well, the hill came and barely went. It was like a giant wall in front of me! I kept repeating to myself to just get to the traffic lights because that’s where it ended. I put my head down and shuffled on up. It was never ending, I kept looking up and feeling like I was making absolutely no progress. The crowds were amazing going up this hill, but I embarrassingly decidedly to stop and walk. I remember wishing that no one could see me right now and I was happy that the hill would be over before I saw my group of spectators.

Soul. Crushing. I started that hill as one person and finished as someone else completely. I figured I could use the rest of the mile to recover before meeting up with Lauren. Mile 16 came, Lauren jumped in and gave me a hug and was super positive and peppy and here I was, feeling like shit already with a whole 10 miles to go.

I was a bit worried about how I was feeling, but I was fighting through it and focusing on staying positive and just making it to mile 20, that’s where I was allowed to fall apart if I needed to.

But, things just kept getting worse, I was slowing dramatically, and running like 11 minute miles. It was really hard not to feel defeated and slightly embarrassed. This is not what was supposed to happen. My training was better than this. Why is my body falling apart?

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You’re not supposed to start hurting at mile 16.

Lauren was amazing to run with! Even though I probably grunted and complained a lot, she was so supportive and knew all of the right things to say and do. I tried to have a few conversations with her, but they didn’t last long. She was helping me count down every time we saw a new mile marker. Each one was a small victory.

At many points, my stomach was feeling full and sick and I thought I might puke. I became slightly obsessed with finding a coke to drink. It sounded so refreshing and I needed something to help me burp. At one point, I swear I had a hallucination and spotted a stack of coke cans on someone’s table and stared back at it while I ran by. Lauren probably thought I was going crazy.

I knew I just had to keep going. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to finish, I had to keep pushing and pushing with every bit of energy I had. My training felt non-existent at this point. My hips hurt, my legs were heavy and I felt like I was barely making progress.

There was a giant downhill at mile 22 and I literally started to sprint down it. It felt amazing and I dropped Lauren a bit (sorry about that!), but it felt good to actually run again, but unfortunately that didn’t last long and I took yet another walk break.

A little before this, the 4:15 pace group crept up on me and I tried to hang onto them several times, but eventually they got away, probably around mile 23/24. I walked one last time at the start of mile 24 and I decided that it would be my last one. I was going to power trudge through these last 2 miles without stopping.

I always hate the point where I decide I’m happy to be running a 10:30 mile. I remember that same exact point during Rehoboth last year. Although it happened a lot later into that race.

Finally we emerged from the bike path and Lauren said goodbye, since the finisher shoot was about to start. It was right before mile 26 and the shoot was lined with such amazing spectators. We had our names on our bibs and people kept screaming for me over and over and it really lifted my spirits.

Finally the mile 26 sign came and I gave it every single ounce of energy I had left in me to keep going. I saw Derek and he threw his arms up and yelled “Steve Holt!”, so I did the same exact thing, that was our plan, kind of our theme for the weekend. We thought it would be hilarious if I yelled Steve Holt as I crossed the finish line. But, this was the perfect opportunity since everyone was right there.

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So, I threw my arms up and screamed Steve Holt and had a huge smile on my face for the first time in a while.

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The grassy finish line area came and it was so slippery and muddy, it was really ย hard to run any faster than I was already going. There was a kid in front of me who lost his shoes in the mud, he picked them up and finished without his shoes on while everyone cheered for him.

I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE DONE. It felt like I was never going to finish. I wanted to legit quit so many different times. I was physically done so early on and hurting way too soon that it felt like I was going to run a 5 hour marathon. I was pretty thrilled when I crossed the finish line and the clock said 4:20. Not so bad, I guess.

I know you’re supposed to keep walking after a marathon, but I absolutely had to stop moving and sit my ass down. Some guy was cracking jokes next to me, trying to talk to me, but I just was so delirious and overwhelmed, I couldn’t really respond to him.

I found my group right away and gave my husband a huge hug and everyone congratulated me. They told me my final time and I was oddly okay with it.

I don’t know when it was that I realized a PR wasn’t even going to happen, but I know that when you feel like a 5 hour marathon is happening and you still manage to finish 40+ minutes before that, you are happy. I was also relieved to see that my overall average still had a 9 in front of it. It’s the little things, people. And I also finally got my can of Coke ๐Ÿ™‚

For reference, I fueled at all of my planned spots, which was a Gu every 5 miles up to mile 20 and I continued to drink water and gatorade until about mile 24. I tried to eat an orange slice in the last few miles, but once I put in it my mouth, I immediately took it right back out, my stomach wanted none of that.

I definitely PRed in mental strength, if that’s a thing. My thoughts over the last 10 miles were insane, I really had no idea how I was going to finish, it seemed impossible. If Lauren wasn’t there, I don’t know if I would’ve made it. She seriously helped me so much and I am so grateful and thankful for her being there for me.

She earned some amazing race day karma, that’s for sure!

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Official Time: 4:18:55

Average Pace: 9:53

And, you know, I managed an impressive positive split, so there’s that.

Splits:

  1. 9:20
  2. 9:04
  3. 9:02
  4. 8:55
  5. 9:17
  6. 9:08
  7. 9:04
  8. 9:13
  9. 9:22
  10. 8:50
  11. 9:21
  12. 9:20
  13. 9:23
  14. 9:32
  15. 9:54
  16. 10:56
  17. 10:03
  18. 9:41
  19. 10:57
  20. 11:02
  21. 10:56
  22. 9:44
  23. 10:48
  24. 10:29
  25. 10:55
  26. 10:38
  27. .2 (9:39 avg. pace)

We went out for pizza and beer after at a place called American Flatbread. It was recommended by Laura and I’m so glad we went. The pizza was brick oven and they brewed all their beer on location. Perfect post-race meal!

A huge thanks to my sister and brother in law, they came out from NH just to cheer me on! It meant so much to me to see them there along the course. My sister in law even brought her friend, Kayla, who snapped so many amazing pictures for me, which is a running blogger’s dream, right? Ha!ย They stood in the cold rain for hours, just for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks guys, I owe you big time!

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Also, a huge thanks to Lauren and Evan, they went above and beyond this weekend with their hospitality and cheering at the marathon, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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And my husband. He’s the best race husband ever! He’s my biggest fan and supporter and I love him. We had a fantastic weekend in Vermont and we may already have plans to go back. Hopefully it won’t be raining next time around.

It was pretty grueling at the end and toย say that I am proud of finishing is an understatement.

There’s obviously a huge part of me that wishes I finished with a faster time and I’m still trying to figure out what went wrong, what I could’ve changed either in training or during the race. The difference I felt between miles 15 and 16 was incredible and I’m really not sure what triggered it.

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The race was really well organized and I think I will definitely be back for some redemption! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I had a fantastic birthday weekend! Saturday was filled with lounging and then heading out to a nice dinner with friends at Thymari over here in Astoria.

Derek and I went there a few weeks ago and loved it, so I figured it was a great choice for my birthday dinner. I got the Vegetarian Moussaka and it was amazing! I definitely made the right choice, it was tasty and full of delicious cheese. We also loaded up on appetizers and cocktails and I even had a ‘Marathon’ beer!

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Sunday morning was the Central Park 10 miler put on by NYC Runs. I was so happy when they announced this race, since I was really hoping to be able to race on my birthday. I signed up immediately and was hoping to be in the same marathon shape come my birthday, but that didn’t happen. It’ s okay though, I figured I would use this race to see where I was at physically and mentally.

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I met up with my friend Jeremy and his girlfriend Kat, before heading to the starting line, which was nice and empty (compared to NYRR races). My plan was to test out 8:45 min/miles, but I just couldn’t seem to get in that groove. I was either going way too fast or too slow. Even so, after about 3 or 4 miles, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to hang onto that pace for the whole race and it was about this time that I ran into Meggie! I caught up to her and ended up running the whole rest of the race with her. It definitely made the miles fly by, so thanks Meggie for keeping me distracted and running strong.

Erica Sara was out there taking pictures, so thanks to her for some of these great shots!

This was right before the finish, where a huge group of our friends starting singing happy birthday to me as I ran by! You guys are the best and really know how to make a girl feel special! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finished in 1:31:54

Average pace of 9:11

After the race, a few of us went to brunch to stuff our faces and booze it up on bottomless drinks. I only had 2, but that was more than enough because I left very happy and ready to celebrate the rest of the day. Thanks to Leticia for organizing a fun birthday brunch, it was awesome!

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Derek and I then headed to Target to pick up a few things with our gift cards we got for Christmas, including a new set of weights. Then we headed to our friends house to watch the Patriots game. Happy they won! I’m not a hardcore fan, but, Derek definitely is. The game led into the Golden Globes, so we stayed and watched those too, since we don’t have cable.

It was a nice and relaxing birthday! I usually go out and drink too much every birthday, and this year I just did not feel like doing that. I wanted to feel good and not wake up feeling like crap, I did enough binge drinking in December anyway.

And, like I said I would, I did my first set of Strength Training for the week tonight! I used the weights that I bought at Target andย  I’m happy to say that they weren’t too heavy and they felt right. If you are looking for free weights, they are on sale at Target right now, it was great timing for me.

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Did you do your first set of strength training for the week? I know I’m not the only one out there who would celebrate their birthday by running a race, which races have you done on your birthday?