Let me just say up front that it felt a little strange training for a race that was going to be run on the beach in December. I could not wrap my head around the fact that while I’m dressed like an overstuffed marshmallow desperately struggling to stay warm in 19 degree temperatures I’d soon be enjoying sunshine and beautiful blue skies while wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
The marathon was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware but because of flights and other considerations I decided to land in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then rent a car and drive the 2 hours to Rehoboth. When I think of eastern cities my classic stereo type would have to be Philly, The City of Brotherly Love! How the heck they ever got that motto beats me. I nearly got in a fist fight to the death at the gas station just trying to fill up. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After landing and getting my rental car I headed to Delaware. Once I was out of the big scary city the drive was beautiful. I programmed the GPS to avoid toll stations so I got to see the more scenic areas.
Once I arrived in Rehoboth Beach I couldn’t get over how nice it was. Even my cheapo EconoLodge was well maintained and took on the appearance of a much nicer motel than those I’ve stayed at in other cities. Since I took the ‘red eye’ and I had a few hours yet before the Expo so I took a little nap, cleaned up and then headed over to get my race packet.
I was again apprehensive because of my predetermined idea that every place on the east coast will look like Philadelphia. Which meant no parking, crowded streets, fear of being mugged, ect. To my great surprise I found tons of free parking. Large open, clean boardwalks lined with wonderful shops and restaurants! And not a single mugger in sight! It was such a delightful place. The expo was tiny in comparison and was held in a large temporary tent that had been set up next to where the start of the race would be. Not much in the way of swag per say but that’s ok because most of the crap they give you in your goodie bag gets tossed since it’s usually all ads and stuff you don’t need anyway.
After picking up my bib and t-shirt I took a stroll to the beach passing all the shops along the way. I’m sure I looked like a total tourist snapping selfies and pics every 2 seconds but I didn’t care everything in this small town was so perfect. Here I was walking on a sandy beach in a short sleeved shirt with waves washing up to me while sea gulls flew all around. It felt like a perfect spring day and to think that just yesterday I was freezing in my home state of Utah dressed in a parka, gloves and ski cap. I didn’t want to leave this place ever.
I met a large group of running friends for dinner at one of the many nice restaurants called the Salt Air. To be honest it wasn’t my first choice. Don’t get me wrong it was a great place but the menu was mostly salads and light stuff and not the carbo loading diet I strive for before a marathon.
(QUESTION) What do get when you put 30 marathons runners all together in one place for dinner?
(ANSWER) Non stop conversations about running. There were glory stories about a million different marathons and training stories and stories about injuries and diets and on and on but the stories that seemed to dominate where about personal achievements. Ugg, after a short time I was pretty bored with whole subject and politely thanked everyone for a wonderful time and went back to the hotel.
I just couldn’t get myself to go to sleep. Finally, some time after midnight, I passed out only to be woken up by what I thought was a prison riot or something. Sometime around 12:30 a group of 5 drunken young men thought it would be good sport to kick the metal trash can which was located right outside my door like an oversized football down the hall! I awoke with such a start I nearly fell out of bed! Good thing I’m a runner because my heart was pounding so hard had it not been in good shape I think I would have had a heart attack!
I quickly put on my leg and went to the door to see what was going on. As I opened my door several others from the neighboring rooms opened their’s too. Apparently I wasn’t the only person staying in hotel that night who was planning on running in the marathon the next morning. A man from an adjacent room yelled out, “Keep it down we need our sleep for the marathon in the morning!” Well this only got the group of drunk men to yell insults back at him and within seconds fists started flying! I quickly shut my door because I wasn’t going to risk injury the night before a big run! As a side note you probably don’t want mess with anxious marathoners before a race!
The race started off great. The weather was perfect, the air was filled with excitement and enthusiasm. This course was the most beautiful I have ever run. Blue ocean, green fields, clear windless skies and luxurious homes. Unfortunately for me there was quite a few miles of rough trail running. My running blade doesn’t do well in this terrain so my goal of running a PR (personal record) was not to be. I did Finish in a very respectful time of 5 1/2 hours which when I consider the trail running isn’t too bad.
The ‘after race’ party was incredible. Food and music and dancing and more food. As I was entering the party tent, which was the same tent used for the Expo now loaded with tables and chairs and a banquet style feast, I was stopped by 3 different guys, fellow runners who were strangers, and told me I had missed the fun and the party was over. Looking around I saw table after table loaded with food and dozens of cases of soda pop. This confused me so I asked what they were talking about. One guy after the other proceeded to let me know that all the beer had been drunk up and there was no more so there was no need for me to stick around. For a second or two I actually thought of explaining to them I was a Mormon from Utah and I didn’t drink but instead I just said, “That’s ok I’ll just get some food and a Sprite.” Apparently they weren’t going to let one of their fellow running brothers go without some suds and so the most drunk one of the three pulled out a hidden beer from his pocket and put it in my hand and said he was saving it for himself but I could have it instead. That’s when I lost all my new friends because I had to come clean and let them know I didn’t drink. From the look on there faces you’d have thought I told them Santa Claus was not real.
Which brings me back to the near fight to the death at the gas station in Philadelphia. After leaving Rehoboth Beach and driving back to the airport in Philly I needed to fill the tank before taking it back to Avis. After driving through 3 stations and finding out even though their lights were all on that each one had no gas. I asked the gal at the third station why they remained opened even though they had no gas and she said they made more money selling beer and cigarettes inside so they weren’t so worried about keeping the tanks full. Wow. At the fourth station they had one pump out of eight that still worked. I waited in line for a half hour only to be cut off by a car loaded with angry young men just as my turn to use the pump came up. I didn’t think it would be good to die while trying to get gas so I backed down and waited some more. The ‘city of brotherly love’ should really think about changing the name.
The flight home was very comfortable and the time passed quickly. 42 states down 8 more to go!