It was another foggy start. After the Salisbury Marathon the previous weekend, I was ready to start the Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon under a very foggy sky.
But at this race, I had a different goal. At the marathon, I ran a tough-for-me pace, and I nearly met my goal of sub-4:45 — I was close enough at less than six minutes away that I felt like the race was a success.
At the Coastal Delaware Running Festival on April 14, my plan was to run the half marathon in just under 3:00, as the 3-hour pacer with Beast Pacing.
This was the eighth half marathon I’ve paced, and my favorite time to pace is 2:30 — two hours and 30 minutes. The pace band says that’s an 11:27/mile pace, but it’s more like an 11:15-11:20 pace because the watch doesn’t usually match up exactly. Also, I always walk through water stops. I only pace flat races because that’s the only kind of terrain I’m comfortable enough with.
The 3:00 pace is a 13:44 pace on the pace band, but really closer to 13:30 because of the same reason with the watch — I often end up with 13.2 miles or so. Several months ago when the opportunity arose for me to return to this race — I paced the 2:30 group last year — I asked if I could be moved back to 3:00 since I planned to run the marathon the week before.
Before the Race
My friend Veronica and I stayed close to the start at the Atlantic Sands, which was really helpful in the morning, since I had to meet the other pacers at 6 a.m. Some of my friends and fellow Eastern Shore Running Club runners also were part of the pacing team: Lynn was the marathon sweeper, and Matt paced the 1:35 group for the half. I also got to see some of the other regular pacers for our area.
While there, I was interviewed for a Facebook Live that the race did. I mistakenly said this was my seventh time pacing, but once I had a chance to actually count it up, I realized this was my eighth time pacing. I got to talk briefly about pacing, and I really do enjoy helping others meet their goals.
The half marathon started at 7:15 a.m. on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, and I found my place in the corrals before the start. I was in the last of six corrals. I met some people who said they were from outside of Baltimore, so I said I grew up in Carroll County. It turned out that’s where they were from, too, although not exactly the same town.
The corrals were spaced out by a few minutes each, so we didn’t get started until just after 7:30 a.m. I had printed out a pace band for the 3:00 finish that had a cumulative time that I should be at each mile marker, and I wore that on my wrist. I also turned on the RaceJoy app, through which I marked myself as a pacer, to help the race director.
There were people who were near me for pretty much the whole race, but I didn’t really have a group. People around me seemed to kind of be doing their own thing — which is totally fine. I figured I would aim to keep a consistent running pace and walk through the water stops, rather than do a run-walk. People use different intervals, and I figured I would just try to be a consistently moving target.
I was holding my phone to have access to the RaceJoy app, and at each mile, it announced my pace for that mile, my average pace and a predicted finish time. The first one was too fast of an estimation, but as I recall, after that one, most of my predicted finish times were around 2:58-something or 2:57-something. I wanted to make sure I built in some extra time since I’d logged more than 13.1 miles on my watch last year.
Although the pace on the pace band was about 13:44 per mile, I aimed for about a 13:30 something so that I could build in a cushion, since I expected the course to show up as a little more than 13.1 and so that I could walk through the water stops.
The cumulative pace is certainly the most important with pacing, and I try to get to the mile marker before the cumulative time that the pace band says. Like last year, one of the mile markers seemed early, and another one was missing that was on a bridge, but as I ran, I remembered those from last year. I didn’t change my pace for those; I kept my pace consistent.
The 3:00 pacer is allowed to come in between 2:59:00 and 3:00:00 — but not 3:00:01. That ensures that if a runner starts with the pacer and finishes in front of the pacer, he or she beats that time.
The Coastal Delaware course is beautiful, taking runners up and back on the Gordon’s Pond Trail. I love this trail and enjoyed running on it, although it was foggy, which obscured some of the views.
There were a good amount of water stops. There was a loop that kind of served as the halfway point at the end, and that part was a little weird. There were runners coming back toward the start, so I had to cross them to turn left. That was the only part I didn’t really like. There was another very small out-and-back by a water stop that could have been more clearly marked, too.
On that loop part of the course, I talked briefly to someone who had come to the race from Minnesota, which was cool. I’m pretty sure she was with her daughter, who was also running, but I’m not positive (of course, I wasn’t taking notes during the race).
I was also running near a woman for much of the race who had her blog name embroidered on the back of her tank. I thought that was an innovative and awesome idea! If you’d like to check it out, her blog is runningpast75.blogspot.com.
I saw on the results there was one person in her age group, so she’s 75 now. How awesome that a 75-year-old is still running — and blogging! I hope I can be doing both by the time I turn 75 — in 2065!
Although it did feel humid, the weather did not bother me, although I’m sure the fact that I was running at my pacing pace contributed to that. I am comfortable running at the 2:30 half marathon pace, but I did have to change my gait more to run at the 3:00 half marathon pace, which hurt my quads. I did also just run the marathon the week before, so I’m not discounting that as a possibility, either. I felt amazing cardio-wise, but my legs did hurt.
As I was on my way back to the finish after the loop, there was someone with a box of doughnuts. They smelled delicious, but I was not right next to him and missed my opportunity. A little later, when someone else was offering doughnut pieces from a box, I made sure to grab one.
I was doing a good job pacing, and the RaceJoy app was giving me consistent information, too, but the end is always the toughest part. I could see the finish for a while once I got onto the boardwalk, and after the last aid station, I looked down and saw that I’d sped up. I quickly slowed back down and tried to pace my way to the finish.
I was successful, finishing the race in 2:59:42. On my watch, I had a time of 2:59:44.
I actually finished right after the 3:35 marathon pacer. That race had started at 7 a.m., and with my delay because of being in the last corral, we ended up finishing right near each other.
After I handed off the pacing sign to the next pacer to come in (which I’d run with the whole time — people often ask), Veronica and I headed into Grotto Pizza and had some food. There was a plentiful buffet, and I got a couple slices of pizza, some baked ziti and some chicken tenders, along with a beer.
As we ate and drank, we could also watch people finishing their races on TVs inside the restaurant, which I think is pretty awesome.
We also got ice cream at The Ice Cream Store, and I had the All-Nighter flavor, which was coffee ice cream with oreos, cookie dough and fudge. It was delicious!
This race also has great swag. In addition to a shirt, I received a pint glass, magnet, and upon finishing the race, a BOCO Gear visor.
I hope to be back next year to pace this race — it’s always a lot of fun!
Mile 1: 13:22
Mile 2: 13:36
Mile 3: 13:46
Mile 4: 13:28
Mile 5: 13:20
Mile 6: 13:28
Mile 7: 13:53
Mile 8: 13:21
Mile 9: 13:54
Mile 10: 13:38
Mile 11: 13:39
Mile 12: 13:31
Mile 13: 13:17
Last part (watch had 13.27): 3:26 (12:43 pace)
Final time: 2:59:42 (2:59:44 on watch)