Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Marathon- Race Report!

Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Marathon- Race Report!

I’m HOME!!!

My husband surprised me at the airport with ALL the kids.  I thought he would only have the little two with him but he checked the big two out of school at noon so they could all greet me at the Little Rock airport.  I missed them all so much but I must admit that I had an AMAZING long weekend with my sister.  It was truly a weekend that I will NEVER forget and I am so thankful that we were able to share it together.

This is going to be a bit of a rambling sort of race report. Sorry! I guess that’s what happens when you randomly switch marathons at the last minute!  There was not a lot of time to process or prepare for this one but I’ll do my best…

Quick Timeline:

Fri. 11/2- Learned NYC Marathon was cancelled around 5:30.  Got back to where we were staying ASAP and registered for the D&L Heritage Marathon at 7:10.  Race was full by 7:30! We were so happy and relieved that we both got in! Of course, we new nothing about the course but of the two “nearby” marathons (on the east coast) that weekend it sounded the best.

Sat. 11/3– Took train from NYC back to New Haven, CT to get Tricky’s car.  Then we drove to Bethlehem, PA to my cousin’s house.

Our cousins got us a good luck cake!
It was delicious!

Sun.11/4– RACE DAY! The time change came at the best time.  I also enjoyed being able to sleep in until 6.  I would have had to wake up at least by 4:30 if we were doing NYC.  The race was only 10 minutes away from my cousins house which was very convenient.

We got to the race at 7 to pick up our number and packet.  I decided I would ask the volunteer at the Information table about something I read online.  The website said “Heritage Heartbreak Hill is calling all marathon runners–are YOU up for the challenge?”  Heritage Heartbreak Hill?  I needed to know what mile this was at so I could be prepared.  The race worker said it was between mile 20 and 21.  She said it was a big hill but the view would be well worth it.  Too bad I wasn’t planning on stopping to take pictures.  She said the rest of the course was relatively flat. Surely I could handle Heritage Heartbreak Hill- even if it was during the last 10K.

I started to question whether I was under-dressed.  Tricky and I kept our coats on as long as possible and checked our bag at the last minute.  It was freezing! Well, not really but this mom from Arkansas is not used to racing in 30 degree weather! Then it was time to line up.

We are left center on start- I’m in the hot pink shirt.

My goal was to average 7-7:15 pace per mile as long as possible.  In the last marathon I ran in March I averaged a 7:28 so I knew this was a bit aggressive but I knew I needed to push myself and based on other races this pace was not unrealistic.

Miles 1- 7:15.  My feet felt like bricks because they were so frozen.  I knew it would just take a few miles to warm up!
Mile 2- 7:01
Mile 3- 7:02
Mile 4- 7:08
Mile 5- 7:14. Had some GU & water
Mile 6- 7:06
Mile 7- 7:00
Mile 8- 7:03
Mile 9- 7:03. Shot Bloks & Gatorade
Mile 10- 7:04
Mile 11- 7:06. I had a bit of a freak out moment during this mile.  I’m not exactly sure why.  I guess it hit me that I wasn’t even halfway through and I got scared.  Negative thoughts started to find their way into my head.  Who am I kidding- I can’t keep up this pace. I still have so far to go!  Why do I run?

I had to pull it together.  It was too early to be feeling this way.  I knew my body could handle the pace.  My mind had to stay tough.  I told myself to focus on the first task which was making it to the halfway point.  I could do that.  Only two more miles. I wasn’t going to think about mile 20 or anything else.  I just had to focus on getting to mile 13.1.
Mile 12- 7:09
Mile 13- 7:15
Half Marathon Split- 1:33:30-ish? (I just looked at my watch- no official split)
Mile 14- 7:23. GU & water
Mile 15- 7:08
Mile 16- 7:09
Mile 17- 7:07
Mile 18- 7:24. Shot bloks & Gatorade. Mentally I was starting to fade. The next few miles were tough. 
Mile 19- 7:27
Mile 20- 7:36
Mile 21- 8:22.  Heritage Heartbreak Hill. Hardest mile in a race I have ever run in my life.  Hands down. The fact that it was during mile 21 of a marathon was just icing on a cake.  It was so steep.  I’ve never run even in training up something like that.  It was like climbing a long staircase made of rocks.  Tricky has done some of the Tough Mudder challenge runs and Warrior Dashes.  She said Heritage Heartbreak Hill beats them all and is in a league of its own.  I did not look at my pace while I was climbing the hill because I knew it would only make me mad.  I was moving so slow I could have been walking but I told myself I was not going to walk in a race! I got water at the top of the hill and took some more GU. Needless to say, I completely forgot to look at the view. I was just so happy to be at the top of the hill!
Mile 22- 7:39- During the next few miles I was by myself on the course.  I saw no one.  It was just me and the gravel trail. It was hard. My pace was not what I was wanting and I could not do the mental math in my head to calculate my estimated finish time. I was tired.
Mile 23- 7:34
Mile 24- 7:41- I saw two runners up ahead.  I was gaining on them.
Mile 25- 7:31.  I passed a guy and a minute later I passed a woman.  Up until that point I had been 5th female.  By taking her out I knew I could at least win my age group.  (She looked like she was in my AG and sure enough she was.) Took one more GU.
Mile 26- 7:06.  I really dug deep this mile.  I felt a surge of energy that I had been missing since mile 18. I really tried to make it in when I saw a 3:10 on the clock but I just couldn’t get there quick enough. Regardless, I am proud of this mile.  I finished on a strong.
Mile 26.23- 1:36 (6:50 pace)

Total Time- 3:11:20 official time (7:18 avg.)
Official race results can be found here.

As soon as I crossed the line I got some water and someone handed me my gear check bag.  I found my phone in my bag and called John.  I could hardly talk but I had to share my race with him.  He has been at all my other marathons and I really missed him.

Then I put on some warm clothes so I could look for Tricky as runners came in.  I didn’t have to wait long because she was ahead of her goal time.  She was hoping to break 3:30 and when I saw her the clock said 3:27!


We did it!

After the race we had some warm soup in the Runners tent.  Then I collected my age group plaque and we hopped on the race bus shuttle back to the starting line.

The race director insisted I take a picture with her, Smokey the Bear and the nameless mule.

Post-Race Thoughts:
It was definitely not the marathon I left home to do- quite the opposite.  But I can honestly say I had an incredible experience.  The race was just one little part of the weekend.  I am thrilled with my PR but I know I will race better (more focused for sure) when I run in the St. Jude Marathon next month. 

I really loved the course.  Most of the trail went along the Lehigh river and it was beautiful at this time of year.  Mile 21 was crazy hard but besides that it was perfect! Some miles were a bit lonely (especially when I didn’t see anyone for a few miles at the end) but I know I needed this. I learned a lot from this race.

The rest of this week is all about recovery.  I do not plan on running any earlier then Saturday.  My legs are extremely sore and my knees are achy.  I will probably get a massage from the local sports PT.

This past weekend was truly one I will never forget.  The entire journey was better than anything I could have predicted on my own.  All the months I spent training for NYC, I thought that race would provide some amazing experience.  The truth is that it really wasn’t about any race.  It was about spending time with my sister and sharing in the entire experience with her.  I am so thankful that God knows what’s best.  He knew all along what we needed and He took care of us. 

22 thoughts on “Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Marathon- Race Report!

  1. It’s so reassuring to hear that even incredible runners have mid-race doubts. It sounds like you absolutely nailed your training, your taper and your pacing. Congratulations and enjoy your recovery.

  2. Oh WOW. I am so delighted for you!!! It was a BIG PR and did you say, gravel?? How much was gravel? Oh BOY. you have another PR coming up!

    I love that you and your sister wasted no time in finding this race, and how the Lord placed you in just the right time and place to be able to stay with a cousin, share some PRs with sisters, and make lemonade out of lemons. Seriously don’t know what to expect next from you!

    It is funny how the doubts try to creep in early on in the race. But you pushed them back and had your day. Congrats to you Tia, and your sister! I bet your kiddos & hubby are happy to have you back 🙂

    1. Thanks Raina!! Yes, I’d say a large portion was gravel. Only the first 3 miles were on a street road. The majority of the trail was soft gravel but miles 20-23 were on a harder gravel surface. I could feel every rock! Not ideal but it really was a GORGEOUS trail course. Maybe it will make St. Judes feel easier next month!

      You are so right- we were placed in the right place at the right time. Thanks for all your encouragement!

  3. What an amazing weekend for you and your sister! Congrats to you both on running PR’s and salvaging the weekend. What an adventure! You are so amazing, by the way. Running a 3:11 on a mostly gravel course with a gigantic hill at mile 21?! Such an inspiration, Tia!

  4. Awesome job, ladies. Tia, wow! You should have no problem in your next one meeting your goal. So glad you all had an amazing time together. I want to see that hill. I can relate to that sister/accomplishment feeling. I am so scared of a marathon. Also a little scared of a 1/2. Congrats to both of you!!! Thanks for keeping us updated.

    1. Thanks Tayarra. One thing a little less intimidating about the full is that you can go at your slowest race pace (compared to every other distance). That is my favorite part about it!

  5. Bam! What an awesome job you did! So glad you were able to find and pull of another marathon that quickly. Clearly you were trained and ready to go. Congrats on an amazing time!

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