On Saturday morning, I left my house, and after running for six minutes, I was at the start line of the Salisbury Marathon.
I’ve run to a race before, but I’ve traveled at least an hour for my previous marathons, so this was certainly a change. The race didn’t quite go past my house, but it was pretty close. I could see my house from the course, and one of my neighbors, Matt, was out cheering. There were some local residents out, but I wish more had come out to cheer on the runners.
The race started just after 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 6. I’d let the Eastern Shore Running Club know that we were going to take a group photo at 6:40 a.m. at the start line. I didn’t end up going to the bandstand area since I ran to the start, but it turned out most people were still down there. However, the group made it up and we were able to get a photo with many — but not all — of our members who were there.
This was the first race that gave me the opportunity to write training plans for the runners. I am a certified Road Runners Club of America coach and have been using my knowledge to help the running club, not to take on individual clients. You can learn more about my plans here.
It was fun that I knew several people following my plans, and I also enjoyed checking in weekly with runners on the Salisbury Marathon Facebook group. I was able to get a free entry to the race through this involvement.
I really enjoyed helping runners through their training and providing support and advice when I could. Several of our Eastern Shore Running Club members ran their first half or full marathon on Saturday, and it was so cool to be a part of that. Since I ran the marathon, I did not get to see most of the runners finish, but it was great to see everyone afterward.
I did get to run most of the marathon with friend and ESRC member Woody, who was running his first marathon at the age of 70. We ran together for 19 miles. I normally don’t run races with others unless I’m pacing, but I enjoyed the company and we helped keep each other on track.
Actually, without going back to check all of my previous splits for races, it was probably one of the most consistent marathons I’ve ever run — at least for the first 17 miles.
I’m sure the flat course helped with this. I was really looking forward to running on a flat course because that’s the kind of terrain I train on. While there were a couple overpasses and a small incline leaving the Salisbury University tunnel, I’d definitely consider this a flat course. My adjusted elevation gain was just 202 feet over 26.2 miles (my watch has been weird about elevation, so I’ve been using the elevation correction online).
Miles 1-17 were all between 10:31 and 10:55, aside from Mile 10, in which I stopped briefly to use a porta-potty. Even that mile took a shorter amount of time than my usual bathroom breaks — it was 11:47 (compare that to a bathroom break at the Vermont City Marathon, where an early mile took me 14:40, or Freedom’s Run, where an early bathroom break mile took 13:31). I did make sure to use a porta-potty that didn’t have a line.
I had publicly set the goal of trying to run sub-4:45. This would not be my fastest marathon, but it would be a big step closer. My fastest marathon was my first one — the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon in 2013, which I ran in 4:17:45. My slowest marathon was my latest one before Salisbury — Freedom’s Run — which I ran in 5:26:34.
My other marathon in 2018, the Vermont City Marathon, I ran in 5:07:17.
Although I don’t have all the seconds memorized for every marathon I’ve run, I do know my approximate time for each one. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to run the race in 4:45 or beat my Richmond Marathon time of 4:47-something from 2017, I aimed to beat my Baltimore Marathon time of 4:51-something from 2015 (I just saw that it was actually 4:52-something). My Louisiana Marathon time of 4:53 in 2017 was close to that as well.
On Saturday, with a time of 4:50:41, I ran my fourth-fastest marathon of 10. While I did not quite meet the goal I set for myself, I am pleased with my run and time. I think five minutes is pretty close for a 26.2-mile race. Not everyone may feel the same way, but it’s at least close enough for me that I still feel happy about how I did. Since my first half was practically right on target, that also means my second half was only about five or six minutes slower than my first half, so there was not a drastic decline in pace.
I just looked back at my post with my goals for this race, and I thought my B goal was to finish faster than Richmond, but it was actually to finish under 5:00. So, I did not meet my A goal, but I met my B goal, along with my C goal (finish and not make it my slowest marathon) and D goal (finish the race). I did feel pretty strong for much of the race — another goal I’d noted — but I did not negative split the race or not have to use a bathroom.
Before the Race
Since I often travel to marathons, I’m generally there as a guest. This one was in my hometown, so I set up an Eastern Shore Running Club table at both days of the packet pickup. I also used my half-day from work on Friday to drive to Rehoboth Beach and pick up our new Eastern Shore Running Club singlets. They were definitely worth the drive, because I and several other members wore them on Saturday, and they looked awesome.
We also sold some singlets and had members sign up for the club on Friday. Side note: If you’d like to sign up for the Eastern Shore Running Club, head over to www.esrclub.org. We have group runs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and all paces are welcome — we mean it! I stay with the slowest runner when I’m there (which is most days).
I picked up my packet on Thursday at the locals’ pickup at Evolution Craft Brewing Co., and since I was there pretty early, I got Bib No. 32. Bib No. 8 or 9 was actually left as well, but there were two piles, and I happened to be in the higher-number line. Either way, I thought that was cool. My friend Susan had Bib No. 2.
It was fun to see several runners at the packet pickups. On Friday at Salisbury University, I chatted with a guy from Colorado who was running his 50th state/district marathon at this one. Because he included Washington, D.C., he had one state left after Maryland — Hawaii. At age 47, he’d been on this journey since 1992.
He provided a bunch of suggestions for marathons, and I also told him about BibRave.com, where people can read and write race reviews.
The First Half
Saturday’s run was one of the foggiest runs I’ve ever done. It didn’t make much difference with my running, but it was still interesting. It was foggy for at least an hour or so.
To meet my sub-4:45 goal, my plan was to try to run each mile under 10:45. I would take one mile at a time. Woody decided to stick with me, and we ran side-by-side for the race. I did end up checking my watch more than usual, but we were able to keep up a pretty consistent pace. We’d talked about maybe going to every other water stop, but I ended up stopping at pretty much all of them anyway. I skipped the first one.
The 4:45 marathon pace is actually 10:52, but since I usually end up with a little more than the distance on my watch and I wanted to give myself somewhat of a cushion, I figured aiming for 10:45 would be good.
I ran each of the first six miles in less than 10:45. The seventh mile was 10:50, but still under 10:52. Then the next two miles were both under 10:45, too.
I’d been having to go to the bathroom and had been checking for an open porta-potty when I saw them. I was enjoying running with Woody and I didn’t want to leave him, but I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant having to pee for another few hours. I spotted one during Mile 10 and was able to make a pretty quick stop. I caught up to him around Mile 12, after he made a quick stop.
That bathroom stop mile was 11:47, which is certainly one of my faster stops.
I came across the Eastern Shore Running Club water stop right after the marathon and half split and gave my yellow volunteer bracelet to Liz, who was volunteering at our stop. It was great to see her smiling face. We were each given a yellow bracelet to give to a volunteer along the course.
The marathoners and half marathoners ran together for about the first 10.8 miles. There were 360 people who ran the half and 192 people who ran the full, so the runners were much more spread out after that split. The full marathoners ranged from the winning time of 2:42 to just before 8:00, so we were pretty spread out on the country roads in the Fruitland-Eden area.
I crossed the halfway point with Woody in 2:22:52, according to the results. I remember seeing 2:22-something — I think it was 2:22:50 — and saying out loud that I was going to have to keep up exact splits to meet my goal.
This was cutting it extremely close for my goal, and I’m sure that affected me mentally. I don’t think I have ever run a marathon with negative splits. The second half was almost certainly going to be slower for me than the first half. However, I pressed on.
The Second Half
I felt like I sped up a little bit after that halfway point. The next three miles were just slightly faster at 10:41, 10:40 and 10:37.
The Camp Odyssey water stop was not too long after we crossed the half marathon point, and I got to see my friends Harlan and Olivia. I gave Olivia a hug before continuing on.
Around Mile 16 was where the distance really seemed to start affecting me. There wasn’t one particular problem, but I was starting to feel tired. I felt something small in the back of my right knee. There was nothing that was super serious, but the distance and the pace were starting to wear on me. I could tell Woody was getting tired around the same time I was.
The time on my watch for Mile 18 was 11:32. This was my first mile starting with an 11 since that bathroom break mile. That disappointed me, and I squeaked out the next mile in 10:58.
At Mile 19, Woody and I were both struggling, but I thought I had something left, and I wanted to see if there was a way for me to meet my goal or at least get close. I told him I was going to go ahead, but that he might catch up to me. I alternated between feeling like I was getting a second wind and then feeling really tired.
I kept running and used the water stops as walking breaks. I know I took at least one or two other walk breaks toward the end, but primarily, I tried to run to the next water stop. I got to one, stopping somewhat abruptly before getting some water, and one of the volunteers, Claire, asked if I was OK. I told her I was just tired, which was true.
There were gels at some of the stops, too, but I just got water — I’d started getting two cups — and used the UnTapped fuel I’d brought with me.
At one point, probably during Mile 22, I pulled over to the side and took a puff of the inhaler I’d brought with me. I recently got a prescription for the inhaler after having breathing problems on some of my longer training runs. I felt like I was struggling to get enough air, even though I’d taken two puffs in the morning.
I calculated that it had been about five hours, so I figured I would try it since it had almost been six hours (it wasn’t like I’d just taken it) and I’d brought it with me. I don’t think it helped immediately, but it might have helped later on. I think the breathing problems were more being worn out and maybe not from asthma.
On Riverside Drive or Riverside Drive Extended, I also found a dime, which I stopped to pick up.
I also got to see a sign that ESRC member and friend Steve had put at his house, marking four miles to go. He’d let us know it would be out there, and it sounded like several of us looked for this sign.
A couple miles later, I was back at the Eastern Shore Running Club aid station and got some water. It was great to see people I knew.
There were only about two miles to go. I tried to pick it up a little bit.
About a mile later, I came across the Midshore Multisport aid station, which was set up like a finish line with an arch. There were tons of people there and I felt like I had a personal cheering section. It was great to have so many people cheering for me by name — definitely a perk of doing a local race! I got a water just to splash on myself. I kept moving, knowing the finish line was not that far ahead.
I tried to pick up the pace in the last mile, and I did, but I did not have that much energy left. I looked forward to sitting at the end, or at least stopping. I actually wouldn’t sit for a while.
I ran the last mile in 10:46, a return to the pace of the first half’s miles, and the last 0.4 (my watch had 26.4, but it is a certified course), I apparently ran in a 10:06 pace. There were lots of people cheering at the end, too, which definitely helped. I got announced by name at the finish — and even announced as the coach for the race.
Waiting by the finish were several Eastern Shore Running Club members, who I chatted with, and I got to see my boyfriend, Mike, as well. The Eastern Shore Running Club awarded our inaugural scholarships at the race, and although I missed the presentations because I was still running, I am really excited about that.
I missed seeing most of my friends finish the race because they had either run the half or were faster than me in the full, but I did want to make sure I saw Woody’s finish, since we had run together for so much of the race. I also got to see my friend Lynn finish. She was pacing the 5:00 marathon group and came in right on time.
I had been doing a lot of training with another ESRC member and friend, Susan, and she had called me the night before to thank me. I wanted to make sure I saw her finish, so I tracked her on the app and was able to be back at the finish line. I’m really glad I got to see her finish, and I think she was happy to see me.
Right after Susan finished, a group from TEAM 360 with several runners who I knew crossed the finish line, helping an athlete from his racing chair so he could cross the finish line on his feet. That was also cool to see. There was another runner coming in behind the group, and I cheered for her as well, but she simply pointed ahead and smiled. She didn’t want the cheering.
I kept running into more and more people as I tried to make my way to the beer — which was totally fine. It was great to chat with so many fellow runners.
There were bananas, oranges and granola bars, but I definitely wanted to eat some more. I also got a water and a Gatorade. Bananas seem to be too green at every race I do, but I did grab a granola bar. (I don’t like oranges, which I know is weird, but I just don’t like them.) Lynn and her husband, Mike, also gave me a less-green banana and a pita with peanut butter.
After that, I enjoyed the craft beer from Evolution Craft Brewing Co. — I really appreciated the craft beer afterward — and chatted with friends while I waited for my boyfriend, Mike (there are lots of Mikes), to finish up with his volunteer duties. He coordinated the water stop volunteers and did a great job.
I also know the race director, Jason Chance, and I thought the race was well-organized. Everything seemed to go smoothly. There were plenty of volunteers, numerous water stops and a well-marked course. He also sent out an athlete guide created to share important info and answer questions runners may have.
It was great that so many Eastern Shore Running Club members participated, and it was fun to see people wearing our new singlets, too.
Afterward, Mike and I got some more food at Evo and drinks at Rise Up Coffee before we headed home and I took a shower and a pretty long nap. It was an exhausting day!
Mile 1: 10:31
Mile 2: 10:40
Mile 3: 10:35
Mile 4: 10:44
Mile 5: 10:47
Mile 6: 10:35
Mile 7: 10:50
Mile 8: 10:42
Mile 9: 10:38
Mile 10: 11:47 (bathroom stop)
Mile 11: 10:55
Mile 12: 10:51
Mile 13: 10:43
Mile 14: 10:41
Mile 15: 10:40
Mile 16: 10:37
Mile 17: 10:55
Mile 18: 11:32
Mile 19: 10:58
Mile 20: 11:14
Mile 21: 10:54
Mile 22: 12:20
Mile 23: 12:25
Mile 24: 11:32
Mile 25: 11:35
Mile 26: 10:46
Last Part (watch had 0.4): 4:04 (10:06 pace)
Final Time: 4:50:43 (11:01 pace) on watch; 4:50:41 (11:06 pace), according to results