What happens when you take your weekend training run and run it at a race?
Fun. Lot’s of fun!
This was supposed to be my goal Marathon race but as you know, somethings don’t always happen like you want them to. But, I’m done being down about it. I’ve got a new goal race and I’m ready to get myself there. I decided to make this the most fun 13.1 miles ever. I went into this race telling myself not to let the thrill of a race get to me because there is no need to push myself back into an injury. I just wanted to have fun and complete the race healthy. I’m slowly building my mileage back up and treated this as a 13.1 mile long run on my training plan. I left myself Friday as a rest day and Sunday as a rest day so that I could really see how my knee/IT Band was going to hold up to the mileage at a pace my training runs should be at.
Race morning I got up, fueled, and headed for the start line. I was able to get parked, take a bathroom break, and warm up with some drills before the start. I decided to leave my handheld water bottle in the car and just walk through every water stop. This would keep me in tune with my body more and allow me to have a hand free for my phone. I stashed some Gu in my sports bra and a few salt sticks in my tiny shorts pocket. I was ready to go. The starting line was crowded but not hard to maneuver around. I placed myself mid pack so I was forced to start out slower. I know my race mentality and I needed to constantly refocus on making sure I didn’t push too hard. I just kept saying “This isn’t your goal race.”
The horn goes off and away they go. I watch the lead pack take off and I am a bit jealous but I was hoping that it was going to be a beautiful race that I could capture some memories. Right before it started I thought, “Lets go live on facebook for some fun.” This race was all about fun. I figured I’d hold off until about mile 3 when we hit the beautiful battery. As we started we came across these adorable tap dancers who stole my heart. As a dancer all my life I was so happy to see them as part of the entertainment.
I stopped, grabbed a photo, gave them all the thumbs up and told them they were doing great. The mom’s thanked me and off I went to keep on. I grabbed some beautiful shots as we came across the bottom of the James Island Connector bridge as well. This is what Charleston is all about.
We rounded through this stretch and headed into downtown and made our way to the battery. I hoped on facebook to find lots of friends to chit chat with. My pace was a conversational pace so it made it easy to talk and check my phone. Although I’m really surprised at how well I manuevered around without falling while being live on video. I showed off the beautiful Battery to those who were watching and got lots of cheers from friends. It’s very unconventional and I think some people around me thought I was a crazy person talking out loud to herself, but I really truly enjoyed showing those at home what I was doing. Once we finished up mile 3 I signed off of Facebook, put my headphones on, and went into cruise mode.
I stopped by every single performer to take pictures & thank them. I also made it a point to get as many pictures of good signs as I could. You’ll see my favorite one below. There were also some little kids with a sign that said “power up here” that I smacked as I went on. Their smiling faces were just the best. As we cruised along King street I couldn’t help but think, mmmmm breakfast! We ran passed Halls Chophouse and my mouth watered ever so slightly.
Leaving downtown and heading into the warehouse part of North Charleston was probably the most boring part of this race. You have the interstate to your left and warehouses to your right. There was a small amount of crowd support but at this point, you’re on your own. I played around with songs on my playlist, did a little dancing, took pictures of all the entertainment, and just settled into my run. At one point I texted Tony to find out how the girls were doing since we were afraid they were getting sick again. The guy next to me goes “I’m pretty impressed that you can text and maintain an 8:30 pace.” I told him it’s more stupid than impressive. I trudged on trying to help my fellow runners who were starting to feel the burn. Then I saw this “hill” and said some curse words. It really wasn’t that bad but in my mind it was much worse since I’m so used to running flats.
It actually was a pretty hot day. By mile 8 I was sweating up a storm. I was actually thanking my stars that I wasn’t running the full because I honestly don’t think I could have maintained goal pace in that heat. As we started to head towards the break between the full & the half there were a lot of people riding the struggle bus. I tried to encourage each of them because I know what it is like to be in that spot. You need all the words of encouragement as possible and as many people as possible to pull you along. When I was doing RnR Savannah, at mile 11 I was starting to fade. I found a guy who was running fast and I said to him “I’m going to use you if that’s okay.” and he said “Let’s go!” I needed that more than ever so I tried to be that person for others.
Once we got up to Riverfront park, I started taking more pictures again. It was absolutely beautiful and a gorgeous day as well. At this point I’m rounding mile 11 and I knew there were two left to go so I let myself turn on the jets just a little. Running through Riverfront park brought back lots of memories of many 5k races that I’ve run that course on. That course is my enemy, I really never execute a good run when I’m there. But this time I didn’t have to worry about it, I just trotted along.
Coming up towards the finish I had a thought, maybe I’ll go live again for the finish line! A finish line of a half marathon (or Marathon) is exhilerating. You have people cheering for you, the energy just consumes you. If more people could feel that, more people would race. Maybe someone on facebook would see it, feel it, and decide to try it out for themselves. I LOVE when I see new friends on Facebook give running a try. It’s addicting, very addicting. The thrill of crossing the finish line is unlike anything else. It doesn’t matter if you are first or you are last, it’s on another level. So I popped onto facebook live as we were coming into park circe, the last .3 left of the race. The crowds were roaring, the after party was happening, and I was pretty happy to be almost done. I crossed the finish line in 1:51 with an average pace around 8:25/mile. I probably should have been going a bit slower than that, but I’m pretty ecstatic to see a long run at that pace when just a few weeks ago I wasn’t running at all.
Crossed the finish line, waved goodbye to my facebook friends, grabbed my medal and headed to the after party. Included in your race registration is a bowl of yummy shrimp n grits and two drinks. The choices were beer or mimosa’s and I was certainly feeling some champagne. I grabbed a drink, and walked around to allow my body to cool down well. The only focus I had was on staying injury free. I found Lana and her husband JJ (who got himself a PR from his last half marathon! Congrats JJ!!!) and we chatted about the race. Both of us had a bit long 13.22 on our watches but the course is certified. I picked up my bag and rubbed my icy hot on my knees, stretched, and hopped the shuttle bus back to the start where my car was. (The downfall of a point to point race)
My final thoughts: This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race. I high fived so many people. I thanked every officer. I cheered on so many performers. I took so many pictures. I went live on Facebook. It was awesome! Sometimes, running and not racing, can be a breath of fresh air. The next goal half marathon is going to be the Virginia Beach half and I’m kind of bummed that this is going to be a hard race for me because I want to enjoy it like I enjoyed the Charleston half. I think the moral of the story is, I need to sign up for more races as training runs.