Consistency and confidence: Pacing the 2018 Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon

I snapped this photo after finishing the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon just under my goal time of 2:30 — in 2:29:21. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I ran this year’s Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon next to the same person the entire race. 

This was the seventh half marathon that I’ve paced, and there have been other races in which I’ve run with people for much of the race, but I was side-by-side with a woman from New Jersey the whole time at this one. I had a pretty large group with me for much of the race.

There was a runner from Florida who ended up running ahead of me with a few miles to go — which is totally fine and encouraged — another runner who decided to “leave the nest” in the last stretch, and someone else who mentioned that she really wanted to run under 2:30 — she’d run a 2:30-something at another race. I always let people know that if they feel good when we’re nearing the end, they should go ahead. 

When I finished the race, someone who finished a couple seconds or so behind me asked if I was ahead — I was slightly ahead — so I’m thinking and hoping that she made her goal. 

At the after-party, someone who I recognized running behind because of her coral Marine Corps Marathon shirt came up to me and said I was her hero. She and her friend were running the race and she wanted me to see their butts — meaning that they wanted to stay in front of me. 

Race day — Saturday, Dec. 8 — started out early for me. The race begins at 7 a.m., and normally, I stay over in town with my friend Veronica. She wasn’t able to run this year because of an injury, so I decided I’d book an affordable Airbnb nearby.

Here I am before starting the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon on Saturday. 

I’ve had plenty of positive experiences with Airbnb and would still recommend it and use it again, but the host — who was new and didn’t yet have reviews — never responded to me when I asked how to get into the home, and then when I tried to call her, her number wasn’t in service. I usually stay at highly-rated Airbnbs, but I figured it would be OK to stay at one without reviews since I was planning to stay with my boyfriend rather than by myself. We didn’t want to make the trip if we might not be able to get in, so I called Airbnb and was able to get a full refund. 

I left my house around 4:30 a.m. and arrived in Rehoboth around 5:40 a.m. I needed to be there at 6 a.m. to meet the other Beast Pacing pacers. I got a spot basically steps away from the bandstand, where packet pickup was going on. It was so easy to park, and during this time of year, parking is free in Rehoboth. 

Here I am with friends and Eastern Shore Running Club members Mike and Lisa. (Bob Bryant photo)

I got out of my car to pick up my bib and shirt, but I went back to the car to wait until 6 a.m., when we would get our pacing signs and take a photo. It was only about 30 degrees, and because it was dark, it felt extra cold. Then, I went back to the car and waited a little bit before going to the bathroom and getting into my corral. 

I didn’t get to meet up with all the Eastern Shore Running Club members who were running, but I did get a photo with Mike, who was running his first half marathon, and Lisa, who was running her first full marathon. I also got to meet a guy who reads my blog — he asked if I was Vanessa. I feel like at least one person seems to mention my blog/know who I am from my blog or social media at most local races, which is really fun for me (so if you’re reading this and you see me at a race, please let me know!). 

Once it started getting lighter, it already felt better out. I have been loving my new Brooks LSD Jacket that I received at The Running Event — it’s super light yet warm — so I decided to wear that under my neon yellow Beast Pacing short-sleeve shirt. I also wore my new leggings and sports bra from Handful, which I also received at The Running Event, along with Turtle Gloves I got at The Running Event expo. (More on these items later.) I wore a BibRave Buff to keep my ears warm. 

I felt like I wore just the right outfit — I wasn’t too hot or too cold. 

This was my sixth year running this race in some capacity. It was my first full marathon in 2013, and then I ran the marathon again the following year. The past four times, I have run the half, and this was my second year in a row pacing the half. 

The Beast Pacing pacers pose for a photo before the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon and Half Marathon (Linda Chi photo).

As a pacer, I held a 2:30 sign and wore the neon yellow shirt. If someone wanted to run the half marathon in two hours and 30 minutes, they could run with me, and I would get them to the finish line. As a 2:30 pacer, I’m allowed to come in between 2:29:00 and 2:30:00. If you run with a pacer, you do need to start with the pacer or behind the pacer so that your chip times align. Pacers run a consistent pace the whole time and help keep people on track. 

Because I paced the race last year, I expected to get about 13.2 miles on my watch. When pacing, it’s important to follow the cumulative time because it’s rare that exactly 13.1 miles will show up on the watch. I have to base my time on the mile markers, and I tried to aim for a pace around 11:15 to ensure that I would not be over. I also knew I’d be walking briefly at water stops. 

Although I consider myself pretty consistent when pacing, this might have been the most consistent, mile-to-mile, that I’ve ever run. 

Here I am posing with one of the selfie signs I made for this race. This was the third year they were at the race, and I love seeing people take photos with them!

I hit every mile marker a few seconds before I needed to be there — maybe five to 15 or so seconds. At each mile marker, I announced what our cumulative time was and what was on the pace band I was wearing — it has the cumulative times that I should reach each mile. We were always just ahead of schedule. 

I was also pleased to see that my average times from when I hit the timing mats were extremely close. My pace up to Mile 3 was 11:24 minutes/mile, my pace from there to Mile 9 was 11:25 minutes/mile, and my pace from there to the finish was 11:22 minutes/mile. The average pace was 11:24 minutes/mile. 

As I mentioned, my watch rarely shows exactly 13.1 miles for a half marathon. So, on my watch, I logged 13.21 miles and an average pace of 11:19. 

I love Rehoboth Beach, and I love the course for this race. Runners start at the bandstand, go up the main street — Rehoboth Avenue — and then head toward the beautiful Gordons Pond Trail. Half marathon runners turn around rather than continuing on the Gordons Pond Trail. As I headed toward the turnaround, I was able to see some fellow running friends on their way back. I called out to them as I ran, and I also called out to the other pacers.

We were then on our way to the Junction & Breakwater Trail. We went through a residential area and got on that trail a little after hitting Mile 6, and were on that until about Mile 9, when we turned around and headed toward the finish. 

At the World Famous Grove Park aid station, I saw a sign that featured the Eastern Shore Running Club as an attending club. Gary Extract had asked on the Facebook group for this race — which is a very active and fun Facebook group — for the names of running clubs attending the race and people running their first full or half marathon and other milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries. It was cool to see us included on a sign! 

I stopped at all of the water stops except for the last one. I stop at water stops during my races anyway, but I also like doing this so my group can remember to drink water and get a mini-breather. 

Here’s my race shirt with my bib, pace band and finisher medal. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I didn’t feel like I was going that fast toward the finish line, but that was actually my fastest little stretch. I guess it’s tough to hold back at the end of a race — and I didn’t want to cut it too close to 2:30. Last year, I came in at 2:29:58. Since I came in more than half a minute early this time, though, that allowed anyone who had been running slightly behind me to still come in under 2:30. My time was 2:29:21.

I got the pacing signs from the 2:15 pacer and waited until the 2:45 pacer came in so I could hand them off to her. I then headed toward the after-party. 

Here’s a photo from the inside of the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon and Half Marathon after-party in the tent. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

This race has a great after-party, and it’s known for it. There are two parties — one in a tent outside and the other inside The Cultured Pearl next door. The line looked long for the party in the tent, so I headed into The Cultured Pearl, which also had a long line. I felt like this was the longest I’d waited in line at this race, but I made it upstairs and was able to get a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA as I neared the food. I loaded up my plate with mac and cheese, a pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw, waffle sticks and bacon.

I hung out with Mike, the friend mentioned above who ran his first half, and then we headed into the tent briefly so he could get a different beer that wasn’t an IPA. SeaQuench and Lupu Luau were available in the tent. 

I definitely did not go hungry at this race! (Vanessa Junkin photo)

The party in the tent always has a very festive atmosphere — DJ Petch gets the crowd moving and there’s always dancing, even though the majority of the attendees just ran a full or half marathon. I later went back to the area after getting some of my St. Michaels Running Festival discount cards to bring back to the store, and I heard singing from outside of the tent. 

Here’s my finisher medal displayed by a walkway onto Rehoboth Beach. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I also always enjoy seeing people take photos using the selfie signs I made for this race two years ago — this was the third race at which they were available, and I hope they keep coming back each year.

I’m happy with my performance pacing, and I look forward to returning to this race for year seven in a row next year. 


Mile 1: 11:20
Mile 2: 11:14
Mile 3: 11:25
Mile 4: 11:09
Mile 5: 11:24
Mile 6: 11:25
Mile 7: 11:24
Mile 8: 11:19
Mile 9: 11:25
Mile 10: 11:33
Mile 11: 11:05
Mile 12: 11:19
Mile 13: 11:06
Last part (watch had .21): 2:13.5 (10:36 pace)

Total on watch: 2:29:27 (11:19/mile); results time: 2:29:21 (11:24/mile)

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10 thoughts on “Consistency and confidence: Pacing the 2018 Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon

  1. This is such a great idea! I’ve always toyed with the idea of being a pacer. How do you get involved? Do the race directors usually have any requirements or how do you get to be a pacer?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This race is paced by Beast Pacing, which paces races around the country. If you’re interested in pacing, you can email with your three latest half marathon and/or full marathon times (the distance you want to pace). You’re eligible to pace times 10 minutes slower than your slowest half of those three times or 20 minutes slower than your slowest marathon of those three.


  2. You’re getting to be a total pro at pacing! Congrats on a great performance! Love that picture of the race medal on the fence along the dunes too.

    Liked by 1 person

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