Rehoboth Marathon 2012 – Recap

It’s been 4 days since I ran my 11th marathon in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  I’ve been thinking about how I will tell this story ever since about Mile 20 of the race.

Here’s one thing I know for sure:  ATTITUDE is everything.  PERSPECTIVE is everything.

I was really excited about this race.  Getting to the start line feeling fresh and strong and capable after running my fastest ever marathon 6 weeks before was in itself a huge accomplishment.  I was so jittery, so filled with energy and emotion when I arrived.  So happy to be there.  ELATED, actually.

I love the Delaware beaches.  This place is HOME to me.  On the drive there on Friday I couldn’t take the smile off of my face.  My cheeks literally hurt from all the smiling I did.  We were driving along on a route I have taken more times in my life than I can count.  Memories flooded me and filled me up.

This place is where I grew up in so many ways – I spent every single summer of my life here from the time I was a baby until I was in my early 20s.  When I was a little girl, my mother would drive me and my three sisters there at the beginning of every summer.  She would feel nervous as we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – it is a huge bridge – and in order to keep all of us quiet so that she could concentrate on her driving over the bridge she told us that it was a magical bridge.  She called it “The Wishing Bridge” and said that if you are completely silent and do not make a sound or say a word as you cross the bridge you can make a wish and it will come true.  I had no idea this bridge was even called the “Bay Bridge” until I was a teenager.  I thought everyone called it The Wishing Bridge and that everyone made wishes as they crossed it.  I have dreamed a lot of dreams over that bridge in my 36+ years of life … I’ve made a lot of wishes.  Some of them were silly – wishing for a kitten or a brother or a certain boy to like me.  As I got older and I realized my mom had made this whole thing up, I didn’t care.  In fact, it made me love it more.  Especially when I became a mother myself.  Dreaming and wishing is an important and essential part of the way I live my life … it is as necessary to me as the air I breathe.

I NEVER talk on that bridge.  And I ALWAYS make a wish.  I will never stop dreaming.  Ever.

Every marathon teaches you something about yourself.  Every marathon brings you to your knees at some point – it is up to you to pick yourself up.  To keep going.  To fight.  To find the courage and the strength to see the beauty of what is happening within you, even as you hurt.  Rehoboth was no exception to that rule.   In fact, Rehoboth was the most beautiful and the most difficult of any marathon I have ever run.  I loved it so much and I am entirely grateful for the experience.

About a half mile into the race I knew something was wrong.  I knew it was going to be a really tough day for me.  A side stitch on my left side pinched me.  I told myself I would run through it and it would go away.  I have run through side stitches before.  I checked in with my self.  My breathing felt easy and controlled.  My heart was soaring, I was so happy.  My legs felt as strong as ever.  I didn’t understand why I was having a side stitch.  Could I somehow be dehydrated?  I didn’t think so.  Maybe it was reducing my fiber the days leading up to the race?  Could that be backfiring?  I tried to just concentrate on my breathing and on how strong I felt everywhere else.  I tried to just soak in the amazingness of where I was.

Miles 1-6: 7:16, 7:13, 7:03, 7:18, 7:18, 7:19

The stitch was not going away.  I ate one of my gels at Mile 5 and then my stomach started to cramp up.  Awesome.  At Mile 10 I ate another one… this is typical for me I always eat every 5 miles in races.  But by Mile 12.5 I was on the side of the road, hiding behind a bush, dealing with GI issues.   Seriously this was happening to me now?  So early in this race.

Miles 7-12: 7:31, 7:31, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:21

I was determined to get myself back on track.  But I was frustrated.  I forged ahead and tried my best to focus on all of the GOOD things that were happening:  this course was BEAUTIFUL, I was running in a place I LOVE so so much, my legs felt AMAZING and strong…

And then my side stitch moved over to the right side.  It was a GRIPPING pain.  That is the best way for me to describe it.  My ride side just hurt so very much.  I ran through it until Mile 15.  Somewhere during Mile 15 I stopped dead in my tracks and stretched.  Breathed.  Tried to collect myself and give myself a pep talk.  I ate another gel here, just like usual (by the way in case you are wondering, I understand now that I am need of a complete overhaul of my nutrition/hydration plan).  I tried to keep going, to stand tall and feel good, but by Mile 17 I was really in rough shape.  I stopped at a water stop that had a bathroom and waited in line to use it.  When I was done I gave my water bottle to the volunteers.  I carry my water and had been filling it up but I just didn’t want to hold the bottle any more.  I would drink from cups from this point on.

Miles 13-19: 7:49, 7:47, 7:48, 8:17, 7:57, 9:06

Mile 20 was terrible.  I was running through such awful side stitch pain and I just didn’t know what to do to make it go away.   I ate a gel again (so dumb) and after that I was toast.

My stomach killed.  I tried to engage my core even more, tried to push through it and relax and breathe … and then the next thing I knew, I was walking.  I hung my head low … felt sad and defeated.

And wouldn’t you know, that is where the race photographer was!?!  Of course it was.

For the next few miles I would run a few steps, feel terrible, and then walk.  I stretched my arms up.  I pinched my side, massaged it, breathed through it.  I felt angry and frustrated and sad.  I felt helpless.

Miles 20-23: 8:47, 12:43, 11:55, 10:10

And then, at some point during the 23rd mile as I was walking along on this beautiful trail trying my best to focus on how lucky I was to be there because I’d decided I would just walk the rest of the way, I heard a voice come up from behind me.  “Pace of Me?” she said.  I lifted my head and we made eye contact – it was Kristy from “Run the Long Road.”  We had never met before but we knew through Twitter that we would both be there (hello, one of the best things about social media).  She told me I better start running.  That I was way too strong and fast to be walking right now.  She didn’t care WHY I was walking, but told me it was time to run.  I could hang on to her.  And then I woke up from my pity party and realized this girl was awesome and that she was right.  I was going to hurt whether I walked or ran so I better JUST RUN.  And that’s what I did.

The colors changed for me in that moment.  I went from feeling completely pulled apart and sad to feeling strong and hopeful and vibrant.  No, I was not running fast.  NO my pain did NOT go away, or even dissipate.  But I was running.  And I didn’t stop.  I ran into the finish with a time of 3:41:59.  I finished with a smile on my face.

Miles 24-26.8 (I over ran the course I think because of my stops!): 10:08, 8:35, 8:30, 8:23

Reflecting on Rehoboth has been so good for me.  My stomach hurt for two whole days after that race.  My legs felt amazing though – no lingering soreness AT ALL.  For some reason they didn’t get the message that I ran a marathon?  This shows me that I have the fitness and the strength to run a marathon like none I have ever run.  And I am determined to make that happen.  I really, really am.  Yes, it was frustrating to once again be faced with these problems and this time was worse than any other I have experienced.  But I think that sometimes you have to be taken to the lowest point so that you can reach your full potential.  I have a tendency to learn things the hard way and this is just another example of that.

Marathon #11 was an eye opener for me.  I am going to resolve my nutrition/hydration issues and be a stronger runner because of it.  I will forever be grateful for the experience.

18 thoughts on “Rehoboth Marathon 2012 – Recap

  1. Sorry you had such a tough race 🙁

    You are definitely in the shape to run an incredibly fast marathon!!! But, you're right every marathon or race is a learning experience, it's hard to have a perfect race. Once you get that race you've been waiting for, it's just going to be that much sweeter.

    I was so happy to see you and wished we took a picture too! You are a huge inspiration and your personality and perspective on everything is so admirable!

    I'm pretty sure I will be back for Rehoboth Beach next year, I feel like I have way more to give it.

  2. JESS! I need to thank you too! You provided silent motivation during those last 4 miles – I needed that! I was having a rough time maintaining MP but running with you made it easier 🙂

    Looking at your race history, we are a lot alike. Both just ran marathon #11 and both started out as 5 hour marathoners (except that I don't have a 3:25 – yet!). Congrats on that 3:25, btw — impressive!

  3. i’m so proud of you for finishing that race and running the end. you’re mentally so strong!! i’m hoping you can figure out the stomach issues. I’m guessing you are going to try a nutritionist? BIG hugs to one of my biggest inspirations. love you. xo

  4. Such perspective. Often it is adversity from which we learn the most valuable lessons. You did great. You worked through. You persevered and not in a dumb way. Your gratitude is beautiful.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your race report! Huge bummer that your stomach didn't cooperate. I know firsthand (from a half-marathon, though, so not a full marathon) what it is like when your legs, heart and mind are ready to run but you are struck with GI issues. Strange that it started so early in your race — at 1/2 mile you already knew something was off?!

    I now take an Immodium before a half or full marathon and that has helped with my GI issues. But I also am constantly experimenting with food/fueling/drink to try and fix them through just diet. So frustrating.

    Congratulations on finishing what sounded like a very tough race. Such an inspiration as I am sure your mind was telling you to quit. I love how much Rehobeth felt like home and that is a beautiful story about the Wishing Bridge!!

  6. Your memories of the Wishing Bridge are so sweet. What a wonderful thing to take from your childhood into adulthood. 🙂 I'm a new runner and deal with GI issues because I have crohn's. I'm watching with interest to see what you will find works for you. I don't know that I'll ever run a marathon but I'm training for a 1/2 right now and I'm *extremely* concerned about GI issues more than anything else. WTG for finishing when feeling so awful. I also love the race community. How awesome that RTLR found you just when you needed it.

  7. I gain so much insight and perspective about running from you, Jess!! I had issues in my 2nd half marathon(Annapolis) 2 weeks ago with my knee/IT Band miles 10-11:( I was running my strongest-averaging around 8minutes, 30 seconds for miles 1-9. I was determined in the end to still go for a PR of Sub 2 hours!! I looked at my GPS watch going into mile 12 and realized I just had to lift my knees high and run to the finish!! I did it!! I finished in 1 hour and 57 minutes:) I am spending these dark winter months strengthening my IT Band and quads. I am learning to learn from my running/races and it is because of you!! Thank you!!

  8. The marathon is so humbling, isn't it? You just never know what will happen after mile 20. I have so much empathy. You know what Jess? I am more inspired by this race than any other you have done. It was more difficult and you showed us who you are deep down, out there.. a BA runner and a fighter to the finish. Keep wishing, keep dreaming, this is just one race in many that you will do. It's not the bad races that define us but how we react and, what we do in those races that does. You're amazing, strong and beautiful!

  9. What an experience! The marathon is not my favorite race for this reason, it's so unpredictable what your body will do over 26 miles… I'm so glad you ran into Kristy and were able to finish with a smile on your face. Get the nutrition figured out, and I can't wait to see you crush your pr!

  10. I absolutely love your outlook on life. You have such an amazing way of putting things into perspective. I smiled reading the beginning of the report of how ecstatic you were heading into the race. And my heart breaks for you in how it turned out. I absolutely know that you have this BIG, FAST, AWESOME race in you and you will definitely get it. In time.

  11. I grew up going to Rehoboth, too! Love it!

    I feel for you about the GI issues. Such a frustrating turn of events when you've trained so hard. I had about a 10 minute stop in the middle of my best half marathon yet – talk about a way to ruin your PR!

    Good luck!

  12. Everytime I read a marathon recap it gives me a realstic approach to what I'm going to be getting myself into. It's such a great experience, teaching us to get through pain on our worst or best days. I always so thankful for the ones who pull us through the last miles when we begin to doubt ourselves. Thank you for sharing and man you're speedy!!! I can only aspire to be that quick one day 🙂

  13. I grew up going to Bethany Beach every summer… the “wishing bridge” has special meaning to me too. I always called it the Bay Bridge, I wish my mom had shared some creative idea like that with me.

    Congrats on pushing it through some really tough spots in the race, it could have been very easy to just drop out and walk when you had that awful stomach cramp, but the way you kept going is simply inspirational!

  14. I have been a silent follower of your blog for a while. Your posts are so inspirational, and you find the positive side in everything and i love your outlook on life!
    I was so sorry to hear the GI issue interfered in your past 2 marathons, for which you've trained harder than ever. I know what it's like to cover a long distance with GI issues and that's the LAST thing you want stacked against you. Fortunately, I have never had any GI problems during my 3 marathons so I can tell you what works for me.
    I eat lots of vegetables (which im sure you do anyway) in the weeks leading up to sorta clean out the system and make it regular, and then do the starchy non-fibery pasta & protein 1 or 2 days before. I also do crunches the morning of the race as soon as I'm awake enough and this gets my system moving. Crunches also make me feel stronger.
    I know everyone's situation is different and it seems like you may need to look at every little aspect, but I just had to give my 2 cents in case it helped!

  15. To get prepared for my best run I am taking Navy Seal Formula manufactured by MGNutritionals. This pre-workout supplement is the best engine for me! I feel strong, full of energy, and ready to achieve whatever goal I have set.

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