While in Delaware, I wanted to check out Cape Henlopen State Park. It looked beautiful. With the exception of traveling through Delaware, I haven’t spent a lot time in Lewes, Rehobeth Beach, or Bethany Beach. I’ve heard Delaware State Parks are beautiful, so I’ve always wanted too. When the opportunity to visit Cape Henlopen State Park presented itself, I decided to go. Why not?
The Walking Dunes Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park is a natural, flat trail. While there isn’t much elevation change, it’s a great option to walk your dogs, get outside, or relax. You don’t need hiking shoes or hiking boots.
Cape Henlopen State Park has several things to do, including the surf, fishing pier, hiking, cycling, or just relaxing at the beach. There are also campsites and bunkers if you want to spend a few days there. Near the parking lot and trailhead for the Walking Dunes Trail, there is a seaside nature center and park office. Towards the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, you can find a bait and tackle shop.
When we were down towards the shore, people were looking at horseshoe crabs. Several loop trails are depending on the distance you want to go, but the Walking Dunes Trail was perfect for us. We saw several people out too!
Plus, on the Walking Dune Trail, there is also Fort Miles, which is cool to see some historical sites.
I always enjoy races in Atlantic City. There is plenty of parking and usually flat and fast. Last year I ran the Bungalow Beach 5 miler, and I knew I wanted to come back this year too.
I arrived around 7:10, and after getting lost in the Tropicana, I made it to the start line. The packet pickup line was long, and it delayed the start of the race.
Instead of starting around 8, the race delayed until 8:15. After the race went off, I found myself in the 5th woman.
Last year I won, so it was hard to absorb, but I’ve gotten better at racing where my fitness currently is.
I hit the first mile in 6:43. Around 1.5 miles, we went off the boardwalk and looped around the street. I made my move to pass a woman. I passed her, attempted to look strong, and moved forward. We got back up on the boardwalk around mile 2.
The next 3 miles were a straight line towards the end. One of my favorite parts of AC is I always seem to know a lot of people racing. During the next couple of miles, I got to see friends going the opposite way and cheer for them.
I ran between 6:50-6:55 miles. I felt like I could keep going but struggled to pick up my legs and move any faster. It’s a problem I’ve had lately. I can’t seem to break out of running 6:50 pace. I just trucked along.
Around mile 4, someone yelled, “don’t let her beat you.” I assumed it was too another female. Since I was in third, I didn’t lose my podium spot. I mentally tried to run faster, although I don’t think I did.
The finish goes over a pedestrian bridge into the sand, and me trying to hustle on soft sand is comical. I crossed in 34:14 and as 3rd female. It turns out the person behind me was another male.
This was my 8th year running the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon. Many long term readers know but I grew up in the greater VA Beach area. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend is always a lot of fun.
There are several events from the “Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile”, to the Townebank Shamrock 8k, leprechaun dash, and of course the Yuengling Shamrock Half and Full Marathon. Usually an elite comes out and it’s been Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, and Shalane Flanagan, to name a few. There is something for everyone. My time at the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon: 1:29.52 is neither my fastest nor my slowest. It’s on the slower side, but that’s okay.
Last year I had an incredible experience that would be hard to beat and ran a 1:23. This year the goal was just to finish healthy. My training over the winter was nothing to write home about, and I’ve come to terms that this Spring might be a rebuilding season for me (something I personally seem to need after every marathon?).
Anyway, I arrived at the start around 6 am. The weather was ideal. It was low 40s, some wind but not much. Most importantly, it wasn’t raining. Two years ago,it poured rain and was low 30s.
Before the race, I met up with my good friend Jen. We haven’t seen each other since we both lived in NYS. We’ve both since moved, but it was nice to catch up. She ultimately ran a 1:18 and placed 3rd.
After that, I tooled around and got to the start about 5 minutes early. I talked with rabbit teammate, Nick, and by the time I knew it, we were off.
Since the Yuengling Shamrock half and full start together now, it was crowded. Right off the bat, I felt decent. Plus unlike the day prior, I remembered to start my watch. Since the marathoners and half marathoners are running together, it’s a bit more crowded. I plugged along and cruised the first mile in 6:44. I was near a lot of males wanting to use the race to qualify for the Boston Marathon (and run between 3-3:05).
I felt good and realized a sub 90 minute half was doable if I continued to feel okay through the race — a great goal to make a mile 1.
At mile 2, I saw my dad’s friend and waved. I started getting into a rhythm. The next three miles were relatively boring. The Shamrock half is a scenic course but there are always a few boring miles. I logged 6:44, 6:44, 6:40 (mile 4 on the gradual uphill was my fastest), 6:44. At mile 5, I was feeling good. I thought wow, this is much faster than I anticipated (I didn’t have a goal prerace, but didn’t anticipate being that fast either).
Then we entered Fort Story, and it all changed. Fort Story is a lonely part of the race. Unless you have a military ID, spectators can’t get on the base. It’s right along the water so extremely windy. In fact, one year there was a layer of sand across the entire course.
Miles 7-9 broke me both mentally and physically. I didn’t feel good, and I was running alone. There was some wind but nothing terrible. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel good because I had raced the day before, I just mentally felt disconnected and my legs felt stale. I told myself, make it to mile 10, and you’ll be heading directly home. I ran a 6:55, 6:59, 6:50, and kept it barely under 7 minutes.
I knew the 90-minute pace group was probably catching me soon. Around mile 10, a man started talking to me about “my form”. I wasn’t feeling the greatest and not in the mood to chat. We kept plugging along.
Mile 11 went down with nothing major. I ran a 6:55 and we had some wind at our backs. At mile 12, the 90-minute/3 hour marathon pace group engulfed me. I thought, wow I really did slow down. I also felt my shoe beginning to come untied, and it just felt like the wheels had come off.
The group engulfed and went around me and it stung. I hit mile 12 just over 1:22 and I knew I was still at 1:30 pace. Now I was just much closer than the start of the race. It made me feel a little better the group was ahead of their goal pace.
The last mile goes to directly into the wind. When you’re close to a time goal, running into the wind the last mile is the last thing you want to do. You can see the tent and King Neptune and it just never feels like it’s getting closer.
Then at mile 13, I saw it click 1:29:10. I needed the luck of the Irish for a sub 90 minutes.
I tried to sprint as hard as I could to the finish. I didn’t have much gas left but it was enough and I crossed the finish line under 1:30. After that I headed to the post-race party and finish line celebration on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The race gets you four free Yuengling beer tickets and have Murphy’s Irish Stew (which is always delicious). I waited and cheered for some of the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon runners.
I’m pleased with the race but know I have a long way to go fitness wise. In all, another good Shamrock Half Marathon. It’s one of my favorite races of the year and I always enjoy seeing local friends as well as others that come from far.
Last week, I took a drive out to Cattus Island Park in Toms River. Initially, I wanted to enjoy the shore while still doing something active. While laying on the beach is fun for some, it isn’t all that fun to me. I get bored after a few minutes. Ocean County Parks have all been beautiful with great views. One of the parks I’ve wanted to get too is Cattus Island in Toms River, so it worked out. There are miles of trails including the red trail, orange trail, blue trail, all through the pine barrens.
Cattus Island State Park is an easy trail suitable for a leisurely walk, small kids, or pets. You hike through the Pinelands, on a boardwalk, and along the beach. There is even a massive Osprey nest! The hike itself at Cattus Island Park is one of the easiest I’ve done, with a mix of sand, boardwalk, dirt, and pine needles. If you combine all of the trails at Cattus Island Park, it ends up being about 6.9 miles.
One thing I appreciated about Cattus Island County Park was the map available at the front and parking lot. Obviously, everything is available online beforehand, but it’s nice to have a paper copy out.
I did hike most of the trails at Cattus Island Park, but it got to be a bit windy along the shore, and I was getting cold. Plus, I also wanted to beat the traffic on route 70.
Starting along the sections of the boardwalk at Cattus Island Park.
You can see the Salt Marsh, Silver Bay, Barnegat Bay, and Scout Island.
You can see the Osprey nest in the background at Cattus Island Park:
Marsh and Wetlands at Cattus Island Park:
Then all of a sudden the trail at Cattus Island Park went through the pines.
And along a small creek at Cattus Island Park:
Then all of a sudden I was along the shore at Cattus Island Park:
This is when things got windy. It got cold quickly at Cattus Island Park. It’s hard to believe because the rest of the week has been so warm!
I was excited to run the Belmar 5 all month. The plan was to get a gauge of where my fitness was. I was ready and prepared until last Tuesday when I got a stomach bug.
As I said yesterday, I’m not usually a runner with stomach issues but last week I felt like I got drop kicked in the stomach. I took both days off from running but even stretching my legs out on Friday didn’t feel great. I knew I would have to change my expectations and goals for racing but it still didn’t take the sting away.
I got to the race around 7:15. Since I was unfamiliar with the area of Belmar I wanted to get there extra early. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. I did a 2-mile warm up, dropped my bag off and headed to the start.
The weather was hot and muggy. It’s July, it’s on the shore and the sun was out. It’s not like the weather was a surprise. The majority of the race course was on the boardwalk so it was flat but with no shade.
The race started a few minutes behind schedule. Once the race began I realized I had started too far back again. I had made a conscious effort to get towards the front but I guess I didn’t start far enough forward.
During the first mile I passed a lot if people. It was very motivating because I was passing people but I didn’t feel my best. I knew I could gut out a five-mile race but that was my limit. Anymore miles and my stomach would have said no thanks. I hit the first mile in 6:27.
The second mile headed along the shore with the direction of the wind. I felt good but it was because we were going the same direction as the wind. I hit the second mile in 6:27. I was actually shocked with how fast I was running and how many people I was passing. My stomach was holding up well too! I thought I might be able to still reach my goal of 32:30.
As the race began to turn and go around a lake, I realized why I felt so good in the beginning. The wind began hitting us in the face. Luckily I was near people and could see I was not the only one struggling. I hit the third mile in 6:48. I felt awful, I looked awful and I was defeated.
The fourth mile went back on the shore and was going the opposite direction as mile 2. The wind continued to hit us. Running on any boardwalk can result in lots of wind. Instead of focusing on the wind, I had my eyes set on a pack of four females about 30 yards in front of me. I wasn’t getting any closer to them but they weren’t getting any further. The fourth mile was uneventful and I ran it in 6:47.
At the beginning of the fifth mile a man was calling out places of women. I was surprised when he said I was number 14. I was expecting somewhere in the top 30 but not that low. When I heard I was 14, I decided to make it my goal to be in the top 10. There were four women not to far in front of me.
The last mile was in the neighborhoods with almost no wind. It was flat with minimal turns. I continued to pick people off and ultimately found myself battling for 10th at the final stretch. I sprinted as hard as I could to the end. My last mile was my fastest and I finished it in 6:24.
I finished the Belmar 5 in 33:04 and 10th women overall. It was a little bit off my goal but due to my stomach and the wind I’m satisfied. It was a great experience for me to get more familiar with Belmar as well. I’ll be returning there for the Belmar Chase 5k on August 22.
Questions for you:
Do you like running along the Boardwalk?
Would you consider yourself to have a “stomach of steel” or can you only eat certain things?
Honestly, I can normally eat about 1-2 hours before a run and feel fine.