I paced my 10th half marathon at this year’s Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon

View of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in Rehoboth Beach
The sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean on race day, Dec. 7, 2019. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

On the sixth anniversary of my first full marathon, which was the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon, I paced my 10th half marathon.

This is one of my favorite races, and I’ve returned every year since 2013, making this my seventh time running Rehoboth. It was my third consecutive year pacing the 2:30 half marathon with Beast Pacing.

As a pacer, I run a consistent pace throughout the race in order to help runners shooting for a certain finish time meet their goal. I use a pace band that has cumulative times on it, and the average pace on that for a 2:30 finish is 11:27/mile. However, because I never end up with exactly 13.1 miles on my watch, that involves some additional work to make sure I cross the finish line between 2:29:00 and 2:30:00.

Selfie of Vanessa with the 2:30 sign.
Spoiler Alert: It was a success!

On Saturday at the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon, I ran with my close friend and fellow pacer Veronica for the entire race. She wore her pacer shirt as well, but since I was the one signed up as the pacer, she let me take the lead as far as my usual strategy of matching the mile markers to the pace band and stopping at the water stops.

Before the race, there was someone who seemed shocked I was going to be pacing 2:30 — she thought it was for the full. There were others who asked if it was for the half as well. So, if they thought for a second I could possibly run a 2:30 marathon, that’s flattering.

Rehoboth Beach is such a beautiful place, and I enjoy the race course. We start by the bandstand, run up Wilmington Avenue, and then start heading up toward Gordons Pond.

Eastern Shore Running Club members pose for a photo.
Eastern Shore Running Club members pose for a photo before the race. (Bob Bryant photo)

Since this part is an out-and-back, you see the faster runners coming back as you’re heading toward the turnaround around Mile 3. Unfortunately, I called out the wrong name for a friend, so I thought about that for a while and waited for the next turnaround so I could call her the right name. To be fair, she was going really fast, and something just got mixed up in my mind! I also cheered for other friends and fellow pacers as I saw them heading the other way.

After the turnaround, which is around the Mile 3 marker, the marathoners turn right to run in Cape Henlopen State Park, and the half marathoners go back the way we came from.

We then ran toward the Junction & Breakwater Trail and out and back on the trail, turning around at the Mile 9 marker.

Unfortunately, while we were heading out on the trail, a runner who’d been with my group the whole time fell. I felt an additional connection to her because Veronica and I met her and her friend at dinner the night before.

Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon medal with the backdrop of a yellow shirt that says "PACER."
Here’s my finisher medal against the backdrop of my pacing shirt. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

She was right behind me, so I didn’t see it happen, but I heard something. At first, I froze. But Veronica reminded me I had to keep going — people were depending on me to pace.

Since other people had stopped with her, I did keep going, but I kept thinking of her. At the next water stop, which I estimated to be about 3/4 of a mile later, I mentioned to a volunteer that a woman had fallen. I hoped I’d see her heading toward the turnaround as I made my way back.

Unfortunately, I did not see her again, and later learned she was injured and unable to finish the race. I did see a couple of the runners who’d stopped, though. One of them, Elaine, was able to catch back up to our group and finish in front of me.

Vanessa poses with her 2:30 sign by the finish of the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon.
Here I am after finishing the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo)

Overall, I felt good during the race. I had a little bit of leg pain and one of my toes was hurting during some of the race, but there was nothing debilitating. I’d been matching up each mile marker to the pace band and letting our group know if we were on pace or ahead.

I noticed during some of the middle-later miles, around Miles 7-9 or so, that I would hit the time just slightly before I got to the mile marker, so I picked it up a little bit so that I could make sure I was getting to the mile marker before I saw the time on my watch. I wanted to allow for extra time.

The end is always the toughest part for me when I’m pacing. As a racer, you try to give it whatever you have at the end. As a pacer, you have to make sure that you don’t come in too fast, and, more importantly, not too slow. I picked it up a little bit during the last mile just to ensure that I would not come in late.

I ended up coming in with 2:29:22 on my watch, so I could have gone a few seconds slower in that last mile. However, that means that even people who finished after me could have still hit the 2:30 time. My time on the results was 2:29:21.

I’m proud that my times at the timing mats were so consistent — the results show an average pace of 11:24/mile at the 3 mile mark, and 11:25/mile at the 9 mile mark, with an average pace of 11:24/mile.

There were also a father and daughter who ran with us the entire time, even catching up after bathroom breaks, and finished ahead of us.

Lynn, Vanessa and Veronica pose with their race medals.
Here I am with friends Lynn and Veronica after we all finished the half marathon.

This race always has a great after-party. I enjoyed the after-party in the tent, with plenty of food, beer and even some Fireball poured into my mouth from Team Fireball (I didn’t have to drive!). There was also plenty of dancing.

After staying at the party for several hours, Veronica and I went back to our hotel, exchanged our shirts, which were cut small, at the Rehoboth Beach Running Company, and enjoyed more food and drink in Rehoboth.

I plan to pace this race next year, and I hope the woman who fell can come back and run with the 2:30 group! (I know her name but I didn’t know how many details would be appropriate to share here. Sending her my best wishes!)

Splits

Mile 1: 11:22
Mile 2: 11:12
Mile 3: 11:21
Mile 4: 11:11
Mile 5: 11:35
Mile 6: 11:40
Mile 7: 11:17
Mile 8: 11:11
Mile 9: 11:32
Mile 10: 11:22
Mile 11: 11:07
Mile 12: 11:21
Mile 13: 10:52
Last part (watch had .21): 2:13 (10:31 pace)
Time: 2:29:21 on results / 2:29:22 (11:18/mile on watch)

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8 thoughts on “I paced my 10th half marathon at this year’s Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon

  1. I saw you as we were cheering at the Mile 1 marker and for the life of me could not recall your name…ugh…I wasn’t even running! I was too busy at the Grove aid station to find you again, but I’m so glad to hear that you did well and enjoy the pacing so much. I tried pacing a friend recently and the wheels kinda fell off at the Philly full.

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    1. Thanks, and thanks for being out there!! Sometimes it’s hard to remember when you aren’t planning to see that person, and they are running by! Lol! I’ve never tried pacing a full. My times are less consistent between my own fulls. Pacing a friend could also be tough because then you probably want to slow down if you have to in order to help them, but you can’t do that when you’re pacing a group.

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