My 14th time pacing was a success in Coastal Delaware

Vanessa Junkin is at right wearing a Beast Pacing shirt and holding a 2:45 sign as a race pacer, with two other nearby runners.
I paced the 2:45 group at this year’s Coastal Delaware Running Festival on April 16. (Race photo — it says 2022, but it’s from this year.)

I headed up to Rehoboth Beach early the morning of Sunday, April 16, to pace my fourth 2:45 half marathon in a row with Beast Pacing. I’m picky about which races I will pace, because I’m only comfortable pacing flat, local half marathons, but despite warmer-than-I’d-hoped-for temperatures, the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon was a success for me.

This was my 14th time pacing a half marathon, and now that I’ve become accustomed to pacing 2:45, it was a comfortable run for me. Of course, there’s always a lot to think about and a lot of mental math to do, and I was worried that the warmer temperatures could potentially affect my time. However, I made sure to hydrate well leading up to the race and I felt great.

Whenever I’m pacing, I wear a neon yellow Beast Pacing shirt and carry my sign with the finish time on it the entire time (people always ask, and I heard someone ask a pacer near me at my recent marathon, too). I always wear a pace band that tells me what cumulative time I should be at each mile marker. I use my watch throughout the race to make sure I’m on track when I hit each one.

Because I’ve paced Coastal Delaware several times, I knew what to expect — for example, there’s never a Mile 9 marker for the half because it’s on a bridge. I usually end up with about 13.2 miles on my watch, so I also know the average mile time on my watch needs to be under the 12:35 average that’s listed on the pace band.

Sun coming up over the ocean with a sand dune in the front and a bird flying.
It’s always nice to see the sunrise before a race in Rehoboth Beach!

The Coastal Delaware weekend was three weeks out from the Providence Marathon, so I wanted to run 20 miles the day of the half. However, I also wanted to ensure that I did not wear myself out before the race, even though I had to get there an hour and 20 minutes early to meet the other pacers and might have had the time to get in at least three or four miles. I decided to do a mile-and-a-half slow warm-up, alternating a two-minute run with a two-minute walk.

Then, I got into the corral so people could join me for the half marathon. I had some people who ran with me for a few miles, and one who was probably with or near me for about 10. I enjoy run-walk intervals, but when I’m pacing, I like to be a moving target, and I always do a consistent run pace and walk the water stops.

The race starts on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and then goes through the neighborhoods a little bit before heading north into Cape Henlopen State Park and on the crushed stone Gordons Pond Trail, onto a loop trail in the park, and back toward the Boardwalk on the Gordons Pond Trail.

Vanessa Junkin takes a selfie with her 2:45 pace sign.
Here I am after finishing the race.

The race features a scenic course. It is not filled with spectators, but on the first stretch on the Boardwalk, there were some spectators to send everyone off, including someone who held a sign reading “WHY?”, which I thought was funny. In all my years of running, there are sayings you see often, but I’d never seen that one.

There were parts of the race that were crowded, but I was able to keep up my pace. Things went well, and I generally stayed slightly ahead of the cumulative time to make sure that I’d come in under 2:45.

During Mile 7, there was a surprise water obstacle that was unavoidable. It was short, but we all had to get our feet wet. There was also someone on a motorcycle there to warn us about a hole.

That was my slowest mile of the day — not by too much — and I kept ticking off the miles while paying attention to my pace band and watch.

Last year at this race, I started to slow down when I got to the start of the Boardwalk going toward the finish line, and then I had to speed up again in order to cross the finish line just barely under 2:45 in 2:44:59. This year, I didn’t want to cut it quite that close and I remembered that I had more of the course left than it might seem — runners can see the finish line for a while.

This year, I crossed the finish line in 2:44:42, again meeting my pace goal. It was getting warmer, and I was glad I had done the half marathon instead of the marathon. I waited for the next pacer to come through so I could hand off my sign, and then I set off for the other 5.4 miles I would need to finish out my 20. I ended up doing 5.7 for a total of 20.3 for the day.

I felt good while I was pacing, but I guess my energy was zapped once I crossed the finish line and waited around for about 15 minutes. If I knew people were depending on me, I think I could have run faster, but I was alone at this point and knew my job was done, so I lost the motivation. I had a hard time with these later miles, and after running 13.2 miles in an average 12:28 pace, I did the next 5.7 in an average 15:21 pace.

However, I got the miles done, and I went to get an iced coffee at Rise Up Coffee, picked up an order to bring home at Frank & Louie’s, and got a quick bite at the after-party. It’s a nice after-party with plenty of food and beer, but after my exhausting run, I was ready to get home.

This race always has nice swag. I picked up my packet Friday, which included a shirt and pint glass, and upon crossing the finish line, I received a BOCO Gear finisher hat, and of course, the race medal.

I hope to be back next year as the 2:45 pacer!

Coastal Delaware Running Festival race medal with the beach in the background.
I had to take my finisher medal to the beach!


Mile 1: 12:00
Mile 2: 12:16
Mile 3: 12:37
Mile 4: 12:39
Mile 5: 12:23
Mile 6: 12:38
Mile 7: 13:04
Mile 8: 12:27
Mile 9: 12:32
Mile 10: 12:18
Mile 11: 12:11
Mile 12: 12:41
Mile 13: 12:31
Last part (watch had .23): 2:31 (11:06 pace)

Final time: 2:44:42 / 12:34 pace; time on watch: 2:44:54 / 12:28 pace

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