On October 17 I ran the Monster Mash Half Marathon in Dover, Delaware.
My dad and I picked this race purely by chance. We wanted to find a race in a state near Pennsylvania that we hadn’t run in yet and Delaware was perfect!
The race turned out to be a great random choice. It was super well organized and we were able to find a hotel very close to where the race started. We went to packet pickup on Friday evening and since it was a smaller race (about 1500 doing both the Half and the Full if I remember right) packet pickup was a breeze. They were selling Gu and other last minute supplies too which was a nice perk.
The swag for this race was some of the best I’ve seen. An awesome tech shirt, very nicely designed bib, a race specific oval car magnet and a few other goodies. The medal ended up being huge too! 🙂
The race director was encouraging runners to dress in costume so I grabbed my red tech shirt and Minnie Mouse ears that I wore for the Disney Half!
The race and packet pickup was at the Dover International Speedway. The race started at 7 on Saturday so we got there around 6:15 which was plenty of time to use the (real) restrooms a few times and acclimate to the chilly weather. It was in the low 40s when we had to get out of the car for the final time before lining up.
The race started right ON the speedway which was pretty cool!
The first mile is literally going around the speedway before heading out and around Dover. It was really cool to see the banked turns on the raceway.
I went into this race knowing I wanted to push myself and try to PR. It was cool and I knew the course was flat so I was hoping the conditions would align for me. I planned to do 1:30 walk/30 sec run intervals to help me keep a regularish pace.
For the first mile I actually skipped my first few walk intervals because it was a bit crowded on the speedway and the sides were pretty slanted. I just let my adrenaline take me. About .75 miles in, I took my first walk break.
As we left the race track and went through Dover I felt REALLY good. I was booking it as fast as possible during the runs and using the walks as a little bit of recovery so I didn’t over exhaust myself. I kept looking at my watch and being happy with how my pace was going.
I hit 5 miles in just under an hour and was really happy. 10k came shortly there after in 1:11:00. I was a bit in disbelief in HOW great I felt and HOW fast I was able to run those intervals but I just went with it. I tried not to fear bonking and instead focused on hydrating at the water stops and taking my Gus at the appropriate intervals. Every now and then I would think “okay you are feeling great, you can keep this up” and I did just that.
When I hit mile 10 in under 2 hours I knew I was in an awesome place. I started calculating how much time I had until I expected to finish and I was shocked that I would not only PR but could come in under 2:40! Finishing in the 2:30s is a long term goal I’ve had since I ran my first half marathon 5 years ago and I couldn’t believe I could potentially finish in that time. As I thought about this there were a few times when I got choked up and thought about how far I had come. Then I’d remind myself to keep going, I wasn’t there yet. 🙂 In the last three miles the race became not about PRing, it became about proving to myself that I could do something I never thought I could.
And then I did it.
I crossed the finish at 2:34:42. The official time has me at 2:34:00 – which frankly doesn’t make a ton of sense. But regardless, I finished COMFORTABLY in the 2:30s. I PRed by 16 minutes from the Path of the Flood Half in May, and overall this means I have cut 22 minutes from my half marathon time this year (my previous PR was 2:56:00.)
I also hit a 3 1/2 minute 10k PR during the first 10k of the race.
I’m glad the medal was huge and heavy for this one because man did it feel good to have it around my neck. 🙂
I wish I could tell you exactly what I did to have such an awesome race. In the week since I have been trying to peg it down to one thing and I just can’t. But I know I am becoming stronger, and if I don’t PR for the rest of the year it doesn’t matter, because I am stronger than I was even 6 months ago.