This post was submitted by Run Oregon reader Randy Grant.
As you may have noticed from the Facebook photos generously posted by the race event, this past weekend Susie and I ran in the Delaware Running Festival in Wilmington (yep, that’s the place where many of those annoying junk mail credit card offers come from). Perhaps not surprisingly, the title sponsor of the weekend event was Discover Bank. On Saturday, April 28, we ran the Twilight 5k together. On Sunday, April 29, Susie ran the half and I ran the full marathon. By running the events both days, we participated in the “Dare Devil Challenge,” for which we received an extra medal (it’s all about the swag).
The highlights of the weekend were that we were joined (and chauffeured) by Susie’s brother Chuck, and we got to hang out with Bill and Darcy Miante (and their awesome kids).
The trip included a couple of long flights (and a couple of short ones), but overall the travel component went well. Our flight from San Francisco was a bit delayed, but in the process of prepping the plane they realized that Susie’s headrest was broken. To resolve the issue, they moved us to premium seating, where we were forced to endure exit row legroom, no charge movies, and as much complimentary food and beverage as we cared to order (that we could order from our seat screen and have delivered throughout the flight). Our return flights were more mundane, although the bouncy landing in Seattle was quite exciting.
After sleeping in on Saturday morning (no dogs to wake us up) after having started the previous day at 3am, we ventured to IHOP for breakfast. Normally that probably wouldn’t be a report-worthy event, but to my simultaneous delight and chagrin, I discovered their English sticky toffee pancakes. For those who followed my January adventures across the pond, you’ll know that I have a bit of a weakness for English sticky toffee pudding.
Our oversized breakfast led to a late lunch, so at 3pm we headed to a little shop near the hotel filled with healthy options (including gluten-free choices for Susie). We ended up eating ice cream. We rationalized it as carbo-loading for the 5k that evening. This is why I have to keep running.
The Twilight 5k started at 6pm and featured a lovely out-and-back along the riverfront (including passing the ice cream shop that lured us under the pretense of healthy food). The high Saturday was in the 70s, so it was still a bit toasty, but overall a pleasant way to shake out the legs for the next day. We finished in a respectable 32 minutes and change. I’m happy to report that the post-race dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack featured a nice healthy meal of rice, veggies, and blackened redfish (I didn’t see one fish, two fish, or blue fish on the menu).
Sunday morning saw a 5am wakeup for a 7am start (with a mile walk to the start line). The weather was noticeably colder on Sunday, which was a welcome sign, though a bit chilly waiting for the start. So in our trash bags we trudged to the start line at Tubman-Garrett Park and took care of the usual pre-race business.
The course looped through some of the nicer parts of Wilmington, including the downtown, by the zoo, through Little Italy, and through neighborhoods with lovely old homes. With only a slight variation, the second half of the marathon simply repeated the loop that formed the half marathon course. There were hills, but nothing too severe, but certainly fun to anticipate the second time through.
Unlike the Knoxville Marathon in March, spectators were few and far between. I recall two signs, which may well constitute the majority of signs that were out there. The first was the classic, “Run random stranger, run!” The second had a Mario Bros. mushroom that you could use to power up (sound effects provided dutifully by the sign holder).
Running occasionally leads to some gross moments; hopefully this one won’t be too offensive. As I was approaching a runner from behind and noting the “15 timer” tag on his back (meaning he had run all 15 offerings of the marathon), he turned and blew a snot rocket in my general direction. Where I normally would have been far enough back, the wind managed to catch this particularly offering and splatter my way a bit of the residual (fortunately just down by the ankles). He apologized for his wayward blow; I just rationalized that it was some type of anointing or blessing by a 15 timer.
Lack of general crowd support was not an issue for this marathon, however, because I had a great crew helping me out. Susie and I ran the first six miles together, Darcy ran with me from miles 6 to 11, and Bill joined me for miles 18-24. The combination of running partners made the time fly by, even though it was not a particularly fast day. I finished in 4:56:05, but on the trip home I was struck by the question, “Did I just run a marathon today?” Don’t get me wrong, my gait was not normal afterwards and soreness is real, but I was so effectively distracted that this one was easy peasy, as marathons go. This sport can be such a mental game, and you never know what the next race will bring.
State marathon #35 is now in the books (#43 total marathons), just in time to run Bloomsday with 40-50 thousand of our closest friends. Cheers!