Since I started running in Charleston 3 years ago, I have always missed out on the Isle of Palms Connector Run. This is a run that takes place in one of the most gorgeous areas of Charleston. Tourists come from all over to stay in the Isle of Palms area and take in the gorgeous views, delicious food, as well as everything else Charleston has to offer. Not only does this race take place in a gorgeous area, it benefits some amazing causes. Last year they raised over 50,000 dollars and it was donated to 7 different children charities here in the low-country. I’ve read race recaps from other local runners and heard a bunch of mixed reviews. Some years this race has been so incredibly hot that people are on the side of the Connector throwing up, others talked about how gorgeous the views on the course are that it makes it completely worth it. I always want to try out every race that I can in Charleston, so when I had the opportunity this weekend to actually race it, I took advantage.
Race morning I got up at 5:00 to start my usual pre-race routine. I still needed to pick up my race bib and I had to beat the bridge being closed down so I got an early start. I grabbed a piece of toast, water, and my running gear and headed out. Parking was actually super easy and so was picking up my bib. After I got myself ready, I headed out for a two mile warm up down the main street. Running along this street included lots of just gorgeous rental houses along the beach. I could smell the salt water in the air and I could hear the calm waves of the ocean. The sun hadn’t risen yet so I took my warmup out to the beach and captured some beautiful pictures. Something about a beautiful view like that can really just put your mind at ease.
I had no fears going into this race because I had no goals or expectations. I had already ran 7 miles the day before at marathon pace so my legs were far from fresh. I just wanted to go out and enjoy a new race. Before the race started I walked around, checked out some of the vendor stands, and chatted with some of my runner friends. Then we all headed to the starting line. This race has both a 5k and a 10k option, both have the same starting line and starting time. I opted for the 5k because I had 14 miles to put in the next day and I really didn’t want to run those 14 miles on super sore legs. Up at the starting line, I looked around to see a few of the elites of Charleston out there racing. It’s always fun to see the people you aspire to be, out being great at their craft. I pumped up my music, settled into the idea of just going on feel, and heard the gun go off.
Mile 1: 6:55 The first mile took us around the corner and directly up the bridge, I had fallen into a pack of both 5k and 10k runners. As I headed up the hill of the bridge I just decided to put forth as much effort as I could so that I could sort of see where my uphill tempo would be at. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the first mile was a sub 7 pace with the incline. At this point I had a few girls around me and I decided that as soon as I hit the top of the hill, I would let my legs go and ride the downhill as fast as I possibly could. The views from the bridge were stunning and certainly made the race much more enjoyable.
Mile 2: 6:49 HOLY MOLY A NEGATIVE SPLIT! So a few things happened in this mile. First of all, when I let my legs go coming down the hill, I separated myself from that group of women who were around me. We hit the half way point at 1.5 miles and that was the turnaround to head back to the finish line. It was a bit of a good feeling to watch all the 10k group continue on and knowing I was halfway done already. I definitely wouldn’t have been feeling the 10k had I signed up for it. So I made the turn and I also got to see a lot of runners on the other side of the road. It’s definitely helpful when you have other runners/walkers cheering you on. When I looked down at my watch for mile 2 I never ever expected to see that I hit a negative split. Not only that, it has been a long time since I’ve seen consistent miles under 7 min pace. The last time I had these kind of numbers was back in May when I hit my 5k PR at the Race The Landing. So now I told myself there was only 1 mile left and to give it my all.
Mile 3: 6:59 A third mile under 7 minute pace and I’m elated, for the most part. I had to push really hard back up that hill in order to keep my pace under 7 min/miles. Thankfully there were a lot of photographers on the course, so I was just playing model and trying to get as many awesome shots as I could. One of the photographers looked up at me and said “you’re the second female!.” It was very sweet of them to let me know where I stood in the pack. I knew I was 2nd female but what I didn’t know was how close the 3rd place female was behind me. I tried to get a glimpse or listen for the volunteers cheering behind me but I also knew there were a group of guys behind me as well.
.1 sprint to the finish was in a 6:14 pace. I came around the corner and could see the finish line clock tick away… 21:27.. 21:28.. 21:29. I finally came in at 21:36 as the 2nd place female. I went through a lot of emotions crossing the finish line. First off, I was extremely pumped that I saw 21:xx. It has been a long, hot, humid summer of not seeing those numbers. I hit 3 consecutive sub 7 minute miles and I could not be more happy with that time. Considering I had to climb the bridge out and back, I could not be more proud. However, I was only a few seconds off from my current 5k PR which is 21:31 from Race the Landing. So then the thoughts of what could have been circulated through my head. What if I had rested the day before instead of running on tired legs. What if I bothered to give it my all starting in mile 1 instead of holding back a bit. There were a lot of “what if’s” going through my mind but I just had to remind myself that there will be more races coming up and in even better weather conditions with a flat course.
The PR is coming, I know it. I know it with everything I have that I’m going to see 20:xx very soon.
After the race was over I did a slow 1 mile cool down to bring my total miles for the day up to 6. I went for the most important part of the race, a nice cold pbr. There were tents set up for a massage, there were bananas & oranges for the runners to munch on, and a really great band playing some old school tunes. I walked over to the finish line to congratulate my friends who ran the 10K. I got to see Amy and Larry finish in awesome times. I found my friend Carl and we talked about the race, got some more beer, and waited for the awards ceremony to start.
I took 2nd place female with my time of 21:36! I got a really nice medal, a beer glass that is lightly etched with the race information on it, $60 cash, and $40 in gift cards to a local shoe store. Honestly, this was one of the best races I’ve done in Charleston in a while and I can’t wait for next year. Maybe I’ll even do the 10k next year to switch things up a little bit and check out the rest of the course. The weather, beer, and atmosphere were all great and I look forward to running this one again next fall.