If you’re looking to do a January half or full marathon next year, want to escape from cold weather/snow, and are looking for a well-organized non-massive race with a pretty course – put the Charleston half/full marathon on your list.
As you guys know, Matt and I were extremely fortunate to have been sponsored by our friends at Cabot to run this race, and they very generously gave us bibs for the race and covered our flights and hotel. Cabot was going to be at the race feeding the volunteers, and emailed me a few months ago asking if Matt and I would be interested in running the race as a fun offshoot to my work with them over the past few years (I’ve been on their Cabot Fit Team twice now, and have done some other projects with them as well). I was surprised that Matt was into the idea of doing another half marathon (this was his second – the first was the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in 2014) – the fact that it was in Charleston was a nice bonus. We’d been looking forward to this weekend away for a long time now! And yes, we are twinning in the photo below. I got dressed first, so I blame Matt. 😉 #CabotPlaid
It was refreshing doing a small race (just over 3,000 runners) after so many massive races lately – the packet pick up/expo was a breeze, as was getting to the race on Saturday morning. In terms of fuel, I brought some things from home for us to eat beforehand – one slice each of this paleo bread from Amazon that I really like (obviously I’m not paleo, but I find it helps keep me satisfied way longer than normal toast does, especially since we’d be eating awhile before the running started) and a banana to share. (Also, it’s called sandwich bread, but it’s really dense so I just use it as a heartier breakfast bread!) We also each had some Vega Pre-Workout Energizer (love that stuff – I have it before all my super early morning workouts because I can’t do coffee first thing/before running).
The race started at 8; we arrived around 7:30. More porta potties would have been nice because the lines were really long, but that was our only complaint.
It was a GORGEOUS morning – in the low 50’s and perfectly clear. The sun made it a tad warm for racing, but considering it was January the weather felt pretty incredible. 🙂
I brought an old space blanket from the finish area of the Nike Women’s Half Marathon to keep me warm, and ditched it right before we started. I also wore my Nathan hydration vest for the race, as always – not a fan of stopping at water stops. Sidenote for anyone else who has this vest – I had problems with the water bladder getting leaks and finally bought this hydration bladder to replace it. It’s amazing – no more leaks, AND the tube is insulated/wrapped so it doesn’t freeze in cold weather. Highly recommend!
Right at 8 and we were off! As I mentioned, we both wanted to race this race – we planned to start together but it would be an “every man for himself” type approach with whoever felt better welcome to take off ahead.
It was really crowded at the start – especially because there some huge leftover rain puddles in the road that people had to bottleneck to avoid – which was a little frustrating since I was trying to get on pace right out of the gates, but I did my best to weave in and out. I lost Matt pretty much immediately – it was crowded and I wasn’t sure if he was ahead or behind me.
Before too long, we came out on the water to breathtaking views. Beautiful houses, palm trees, and water. LOVED this part of the course!
The views made up for it, but the only not awesome thing about this part of the course was that the sun was blasting right in our faces – oof.
As you guys know, I wanted to try to set a new PR (personal record) on this course since it was nice and flat. I knew I wasn’t super well trained thanks to skipping 3 weeks worth of track workouts over the holidays, and slacking on track work this fall, too, but I figured I’d give it my all and see how I felt. I needed to be at around a 7:50 min/mile pace to just beat my PR, so I started out aiming for that.
- Mile 1: 8:11 (crowded!)
- Mile 2: 7:43
- Mile 3: 7:58
By the time we reached mile 4, I knew I was already off pace and my legs weren’t cooperating, but I figured I’d keep trying to go as quickly as I could while enjoying the views, which were still lovely – at this point we were near Battery Park.
Shortly after we turned into the historic downtown area of Charleston and started heading north on King street (the main shopping/restaurants street).
As you can see, I definitely slowed down but my legs were just NOT interested in going faster.
- Mile 4: 8:13
- Mile 5: 8:11
Dear women running in capes: you are awesome.
Around this point I busted out my fuel – Matt and I both had a café mocha Huma gel (they have caffeine – awesome). I bought us this Huma gel variety pack recently to try and I’m a big fan! They are basically normal gels with a better ingredient list and the addition of finely milled chia seeds. All the reviews raved about no GI issues, which as a runner is key. 🙂 The chia seeds adds a nice little extra nutrition boost, too! I ate it really slowly, taking little bits of it every mile, so I didn’t finish it until about mile 10. I think that approach helps with not having GI issues – and with sustaining energy a bit too.
Despite the fuel boost, at mile 6, my legs were officially tired (walking miles with Matt the day before to explore the city was probably not the smartest idea…) and I knew I couldn’t make up the time to set a PR. New plan: smile and enjoy the rest of the race, and still try to get a good time even though I’d be way off a PR. 🙂
- Mile 6: 8:31
- Mile 7: 8:32
Around mile 7, I ran into Matt! Turns out he was just a little behind me the whole time. I was really excited to see him – gave me a nice boost of energy. 🙂
Matt had tucked in with the 3:35 full marathon pace group (they wouldn’t be splitting off until mile 10) and we ran the next couple miles together, talking a little but mostly just doing our thing. The pace group was doing about an 8:10 so I pushed it to speed back up a bit again and keep up.
- Mile 8: 8:11
- Mile 9: 8:15
I was starting to fall back a little bit after that so I told Matt to carry on without me. I wanted him to see what he could do!
Around this point I also enjoyed reading the back of this guy’s shirt. Love this quote!
A little before mile 10 we split off from the full marathoners. Not gonna lie – I was glad to not have to run as far as they were. 😉
After the split, the course was not so beautiful for a little while – we ran through an industrial area – and I was feeling pretty tired, but just told my legs to keep on moving. 🙂
- Mile 10: 8:29
- Mile 11: 8:35
I was pumped when a little after mile 11 we entered beautiful Riverfront Park.
Pretty views always lift my spirits – this was no exception!
I loved this crazy bike sculpture!
We ran through some North Charleston neighborhoods after leaving the waterfront – beautiful.
Hello, mile 12!
When we turned onto a street entering town I knew we were close. I didn’t have a ton of gas left in the tank but I tried to dial it up a notch. Let’s finish this!
There it is – the finish line! The most exciting part of a race. 🙂
- Mile 12: 8:41
- Mile 13: 8:54
- Pace for 0.27 (according to watch) mile nubbin: 7:44
Check out these gorgeous medals!
I crossed the finish line in 1:50:29. Nowhere near a new PR but still an awesome time, and I’m proud of it! 🙂
I found Matt shortly after I finished – he finished in 1:49:33, crushing our time from his first half marathon (1:54). So proud of him!
We stretched out a little bit and then it was time to enjoy the after party! It was INSANELY nice out (mid 60’s and super sunny) and the Charleston Marathon put on an awesome post-race shindig. Food, drinks, and a band! We grabbed some water and snacks (peanuts – so good post-race – and a chocolate milk) and walked over to the course to cheer on the runners still coming in.
We cheered for about an hour – I always appreciate spectators so much when I’m out there so it was nice to pay it forward. 🙂
After cheering, we continued to enjoy the after party! We were having the best time enjoying the weather. A great band set up and started to play, and we had little tickets on our bibs good for 2 beers (or mimosas, as I discovered!) and 1 shrimp and grits. So southern – loved it!
The mimosas were amazing – I never want beer after a race, but mimosas hit the spot. 🙂
What a fun morning! We finished the race a little before 10 and didn’t end up leaving the after party until 1 p.m. Couldn’t have asked for better weather – or better company. 🙂 It felt really nice to just hang out outside with my best guy with no plans or agenda waiting for us! And the post-race endorphin rush didn’t hurt, either. 🙂
Another HUGE thank you to our friends at Cabot for this amazing opportunity! Speaking of – if you are a fellow sharp cheddar loving running blogger, they opened up applications for their 2016 Cabot Fit Team trip – check it out! This year they’ll be racing in Vermont in May – sounds amazing.
I’ll be back tomorrow to share a round up of where we ate and what we did in Charleston outside of running – stay tuned! Also – wondering how I got action shots during the race? I carried my trusty point and shoot camera in my hydration pack, as always. It’s way easier to use a real camera than a smartphone when you are running!
Anyone else race this weekend, in Charleston or elsewhere? How did it go?
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