Brett Long and I trained together a fair amount leading up to this race and both were in similar shape and going for the same approximate time goal (under 2:40). I went into the Rehoboth Beach Marathon with these specific goals:
- Run with Brett Long for as long as possible and have a good race
- Run under 2:40
- Run under 2:37
I accomplished most of the first goal, and nothing else, by sticking with Brett for 18 miles on 2:37 pace and then fading to a 2:44 for fourth place. But, I can't be too disappointed; this was my first marathon that I've raced since Colfax in 2014. and my fastest since Grandma's in 2013. Plus, I have only run three marathons faster than this. So, despite not hitting most of my goals and crashing headfirst into the wall, I can't really call it a bad race.
Training leading up to the race was pretty good. My mileage was lower than I typically like, mostly owing to the fact that I can really only train on my lunch break during the week. But I had five weeks over 70 miles, and averaged 64.7mpw in the 12 weeks before the race. I had some really stellar workouts that were as good or better than what I was running before I ran 2:39 at Grandma's, and 5:50-6:00 pace was feeling easy. My confidence was high.
For the race itself, a couple factors led to my performance. One, we drove down to Delaware, and I tried not to drink too much, as my bladder is small and weak and I didn't want to stop every half hour. Two, I did not get a lot of sleep in the preceding nights. Three, despite hitting the paces exactly as I had planned in the first 18 miles, the strong wind made the effort much harder. So while I was running 6:00s, it felt like I was running 5:50s, and that came back to bite me. I'm glad I stayed with Brett and the pack we were in, because the alternative would have been to run into the wind all by myself. It was nice having pack of guys to take turns blocking the wind and I could just roll with them, even if the pace did feel a little quick. Four, I missed a couple water/Gatorade stations and was only able to take two gels during the race when I had planned to take four. By the time we hit mile 19 and turned back into the wind, I was running on empty and could only slog the last 6 miles to the finish while I watched Brett and company pull away from me.
I have included some tables comparing my six fastest marathons because I am a nerd. As you can see, this race ranks towards the bottom is every single category. Note that most of these values come from my GPS data so do not reflect the actual splits recorded by the timing systems.
|Average MPW (Previous 12 Weeks)|
|Marine Corps Marathon||85.88||2:48:15|
|Rehoboth Beach Marathon||64.70||2:44:19|
|Difference Between Fastest and Slowest Mile|
|Marathon||Fastest Split||Slowest Split||Split Delta|
|Marine Corps Marathon||5:58||7:15||1:27|
|Rehoboth Beach Marathon||5:52||7:22||1:30|
|Difference Between Average and Slowest Mile|
|Marathon||Avg Pace per Mile||Slowest Split||Avg-Max Delta|
|Marine Corps Marathon||6:25||7:15||0:50|
|Rehoboth Beach Marathon||6:16||7:22||1:06|
|Marathon||1st 10 Miles||2nd 10 Miles||Last 10K|
|Marine Corps Marathon||1:02:41||1:02:10||43:24:00|
|Rehoboth Beach Marathon||1:00:15||1:00:07||44:19:00|
So what has this experience taught me? I'd like to think I learned a few things from this race, despite it not being a PR or even a very successful performance.
- Next time we have a marathon this far away, I would rather fly than drive.
- High mileage isn't required (I actually averaged less miles per week before my 2:39 than I did here), but does help.
- In the next marathon I race, I will turn off auto-split on my GPS and take true mile measurements. This was the closest my GPS has ever been to the actual distance but I was still off by 20-30 seconds by 13 miles. So while I was recording 5:58s, I was really running 6:05s.
- I slowed down more in the last 10K of this race than any other marathon since my first (where I hobbled most of the last 6 miles on cramping legs that would barely function). I blame the hard early effort and the lack of fuel for this more than the training and preparation.
- Most importantly, this experience showed me just how rare a performance like my 2:39 at Grandma's really is. I never hit the wall in that race and felt strong all the way through the finish. I think that was one of those perfect days where everything came together. Even though I think I was in better shape for Philadelphia, and maybe even for Rehoboth, I experienced challenges in both of those races. I can't expect to just waltz my way through any marathon I run now just because I had one really good race. Those days are rare and to be cherished.