Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Marathon State #37 Rehoboth, Delaware

December 2, 2017

As my daughter drives away, in a hurry to get home before everyone hits the highway, I climb into bed feeling sad. Post Thanksgiving there such a thing?  I know I will see her again for Christmas, but it doesn't ever fill the void of not having her around on a regular basis.  How do I combat my depression?  Well running always works, but I don't feel like lacing up my shoes...The next best thing is to find my next race.  I holler at my husband from the bed, "Do you want to run a marathon next Saturday?  No, I am not kidding! I am seriously signing us up!"  He says what he normally say, "Of course!"  I make him click the submit button for registration and the airline purchase to prove he is not an innocent bystander. Ultimately, he is responsible since his finger did the actual buying, right? So much for our marathon season being over for the year. What is one more...little marathon to run.  
It makes us that much closer to finishing our crazy 50 States quest before 2020. With the ease of click and buy, the internet makes charging almost too readily available.  There is no cooling off period to think through irrational thoughts and with the stroke of a computer key, a trip to Delaware is now really happening. There is no time to dwell with a quick trip on the calendar. But instead of running or putting the house in order, we go to In-and-Out for lunch and talk about our next state which a few hours ago wasn't even a possibility!

My husband works until 1 pm on Thursday afternoon and we fill our bellies with a Rubio's burrito~one of our favorite lunch spots~before heading to the airport for another night flight to the east coast.  It is a backpack kind of trip on the redeye flight into Baltimore.  Since it is my crazy idea, I drive the entire trip and give my husband a little break.  After arriving early, we try to take a nap in the airport before heading to the rental counter, but we get immersed in a conversation between a Chinese man and a lady from India. It is fascinating to hear interesting prospective's from people from different countries.
Once I am more alert, we make the quick trip to the rental counter and in no time, we are on our way to Rehoboth Beach. We catch the sunrise on our way. The sun is unbelievably bright and blinding. The drive is pretty simple and we arrive at the boardwalk by 7:30 in the morning.  The thing that hits me as I exit the car is the cold wind.  It is a delightful beach town~the largest in Delaware.  The tiny town of 1,500 swells to 20,000 in the summer months and I can see why with the nice stretches of beach along the ocean.  The town also has lots of shops and places to eat.
It's so cold...even the birds are huddled up together!!
We venture down to the water, but do not last long...too darn cold for me. We decide to find our hotel in the nearby town of Dewey.  Our last minute marathon add...results in an extremely high entry fee and limited hotel space so the Hyatt Hotel is one of the few choices left.  We walk in at 8 am. I cautiously ask what is the earliest time we can check in and the front desk clerk says, "How about right now?"  What a pleasant surprise for weary travelers and there is even breakfast available.  After eating, we take a nice nap before heading to packet pickup.  Packet pickup takes place in the big white tent which will serve as the party palace where smelly runners will congregate to eat, drink and celebrate after the marathon.  I am disappointed that I am given a 1/2 marathon 
bib even though it says full at the bottom in small print. They only have large  misfitting shirts left, but I get over it.  We don't pick the best place for lunch, but I get over that too.  I came here to run a marathon not stuff my face even though that is probably my best talent.  After some bench sitting and people watching, we decide to call it a day and go back to the hotel and relax.  Limited sleep takes a toll on the mind and body.  We prepare for our early morning run.  The hotel happily gives us a late check-out time which will allow us plenty of time to run and enjoy the after-party. The hotel experience is such a nice contrast to some of our disastrously unpleasant and noisy hotel experiences this year.  I can't believe how nice the staff is about accommodating us with an early check-in, breakfast and late check-out.  They even put us in a quiet room because they know runners need to sleep.  What customer services! Something that has been severely lacking in many of our  2017 marathon jaunts. It is amazing how the little things can make a trip so much better. I could not sleep right away, but it wasn't because of noise just the rattling in my own brain, but I finally get some quality sleep.  I wake up before 
 the alarm and we are ready and park near the finish line in no time. We stay in the car for is chilly out there.  Once we start walking to the start the cold...cold...cold hits me smack in the face...and can you believe, people are actually complaining on the Facebook page about the weather being too warm...what!! We hangout inside Dunkin Donuts to soak in some last minute heat before hustling to the start line just in time for the Star Spangle Banner.  There is an unofficial drop bag bin and my husband ditches his jacket.  There is no way I am parting with my jacket or gloves.  
We line up close to the front.  I am feeling ready and do not want to dodge and weave.  When the gun goes off, we run down the main street of Rohoboth Beach and wind our way through a residential area before hitting an out and back trail section.  My running is going well and the miles fly by. I am hesitant to go too fast too
early, but the slippery bridge around mile 5 on Gordon's Pond Trail really slows me down which ends up being one of my slowest miles.  There are a few mild up hill climbs in the first half, but nothing strenuous.  There is a nice view of the ocean at mile 7 and I see my husband on the way back and he is running really well too.  The cool weather is definitely benefiting him. I am leap frogging with a couple who are running together.  They pull ahead of me as we reach mile 10 another water view of the Delaware Bay.  The Dairy Queen is passing out ice cream which is way too cold to eat, but a nice gesture.  The volunteers are doing a great job. There is plenty of water and Gatorade on the course along with GU packs, but plastic cups? As we turn back to run the same trail back, I start to feel really good and pass the couple for the last time.  Once back on the trail I start picking off runner after runner and this is when it becomes super fun.  Just over the half way point, my running kicks into the next gear. I decide to target specific runner's up ahead to catch and pass. They are dropping like flies and each time I pass someone it just gives me more energy. I am soaring like an eagle and yet I am still holding back waiting for the crash...
I am usually the the eagle!
The crash never really comes, but I am waiting for it to happen. 
Once we are back in town around mile 19, I get the best encouragement ever by an older gentlemen.  He says in a quiet but convincing voice, "you are doing so awesome!" It is just the way he says it that is so heartfelt and believable. His voice and the way he conveys his message directly to me is so powerful that it gives me so much more strength.  "Thank you kind just don't know how helpful your words are to me!" I take my extra burst of energy into the final out and back section of the course.  The lead runners are on their way back to the finish along with lots of the half marathoners.  I wonder if people think I am running the half too with my yellow bib instead of the marathon pink bib.  My focus is on maintaining pace and getting to that turnaround point so I too can head for the homestretch.  They have state and country flags at the 21/23 mile points with music and an announcer. A welcome distraction.  It is helpful to see runners in both directions. It gives me something to think about.  Once I get to mile 24, I realize a PR may be possible if I can hang on to my pace and push myself.  Around mile 25 there is an ambulance coming my way.  A runner is down and receiving medical attention.  I find out later on the marathon page that he is okay and recovering in the hospital. It is a reminder to never take even one day for granted.  Now, to finish that final mile.  I am tiring and I give up on the idea of getting a personal best.  I just want to keep running as strong as possible.  Where is that finish line anyway!!

Finally, it is one turn away.  I  continue to catch and pass people but one lady zips by me...darn hope she is not in my age group.  I pass one final lady who is definitely younger and cross the line four seconds over my best time according to my watch. I am happy to be done, but disappointed in myself for not pushing just a little harder to better my time.  It turns out my chip time 3:46:30 gives me a PR by one second, but I see it more as a tie, matching my best time of 3:46:31 in Boston 2011. Now that I know it is still possible, my 2018 goal is to beat that time by at least 30 seconds.  After changing in the car into warm dry clothes and lots of layers I make my way into
the tent of fun.  They have lots  of food and drinks for runners and I stuff my face until my husband finishes. I am always so hungry after a marathon, but it takes my husband awhile to feel hungry. I have a hamburger, beans, mac and cheese and three beers.  The music is loud and the people are drinking and dancing.  It is one of the best after parties we have experienced. Once we have plenty to eat and drink we go back to the hotel to clean up before driving back to Maryland for our early morning flight home. We even see the sunset as we return. 
We wake up early to get to the airport, but there is an hour delay.  I use that extra time to graze in the airport. Our pilot makes up for the delay in the air and we still land on schedule.  It is so nice to be back by noon which makes the three hour drive home so much easier than fighting to keep the eyes open at our normal 2 am drives home. We actually both end the year with our best times for 2017 and are very happy for spontaneously signing up for a spur of the moment trip that takes us one step closer to our goal. It is also a distraction even after seven years as empty nesters~it never really gets easier!!

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