2015 Charleston Half Marathon Race Recap

January 20, 2015

This past Saturday I ran my 19th half marathon in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina with my friends Emily, Gerri and Nathasha (here is her recap). 

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Image: Charleston Marathon

This half has been on a bucket list ever since I read Nevie’s recap from last year’s half.  When I was drafting my race schedule for this year the Charleston Half Marathon was an easy choice – charming city, historical sites, amazing food, and “warmer” weather. 

Traveling

After work on Friday, we took an early afternoon flight from DCA to CHS.  The flight was quick, a little over an hour, but we ended up sitting on the tarmac for about 20 minutes because there were no gates available upon arrival.  By the time we exited the plane it was nearing 8:00PM.  We quickly found a taxi van and took a 20 minute ride to our hotel, the Courtyard Marriott – Charleston Waterfront. Supercute, right?

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We checked in and made our way to Fleet Landing Restaurant (thanks for the rec Rachel) for our dinner (I’ll have a separate food post this week).  By the time we finished it was nearing 10:00PM.  At that time we wished the half was on a Sunday vs. Saturday, but we knew there were perks to a Saturday race (able to enjoy the rest of the weekend).

Packet Pickup / Expo

Luckily for us, there was packet pickup on race morning.  We left our hotel at 7:00AM and walked about a mile to Burke Middle High School.  Cool truck, right?

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Packet pickup was housed in the middle/high school gymnasium.  There were also a couple of vendors in the area – which was convenient if you forgot a gel or needed gloves.  It wasn’t too cold out, maybe the 40s/50s, but it was nice to stay warm inside and use an indoor restroom.

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When we arrived the lines were maybe 4-5 people deep, not too bad. This is the first time I saw a bib hanger like the below.  There were laptops available if you forgot your bib number.

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Here are the goodies from the race – personalized bib (pretty standard now), long sleeved technical tee, and a spike bag.

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Here is an up close view of the shirt design.  A local artist produced this – pretty, huh?

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Image: Charleston Half Marathon

Instagramming it up of course! Thought this picture was adorable!

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All proceeds from our events benefitted the R. Keith and Deborah C. Summey Youth Endowment for the Arts (YEA), a local non-profit that supports fine arts programming in Charleston County Schools.  There were art installations in the gym – which was fun to look at.

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It was fun to meet Amy and Abby after following their training the past couple of months – very nice and super helpful!

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After a bathroom stopped we headed outside towards bag drop and the start.

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

If you asked me what my race goals were this past fall it would have definitely included a sub 2:30:00. 

  • A – Break 2:40:00 (12:13 min/mile)
  • B – Break 2:45:00 (12:36 min/mile)
  • C – Break 2:50:00 (12:58 min/mile)

I was a bit bummed that my foot and flu derailed this training cycle – but I know it was important to allow my foot to recover so I wouldn’t miss the spring season or risk further injury! I didn’t get the mileage I would have liked, do I knew I had to adjust my goals based on recent training runs/races.

Charleston Half Marathon

Okay back to the recap….. we went outside and walked through the parking lot to bag drop off.  I giggled at the bag drop off truck – a tiny U-Haul.  We wrote our bib numbers on a sticker and affixed it to our bags.  Some people used their spike bag, but I put mine in a plastic bag so the sticker would not slide off.

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We made our way to the starting line and I said goodbye to Gerri and Emily.

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Excited for the start! Even more excited to wear a tank top.

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The race is a point to point course that begins in downtown Charleston and ends in North Charleston (at another high school).  The first third of the race goes through beautiful historic Charleston, then along some highway (boring) and finishing up thorough North Charleston Park.

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Miles 1-4: 11:43, 14:31, 11:59, 12:23

The first four to five miles were my favorite portions of the course. 

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This is shortly after mile 1.

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We ran along the waterway (even passing our hotel), and had views of palm trees and huge homes.

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Last year I noticed my picture taking decreased throughout the year, so I made an effort to take several action shots.  Did you notice my mile 2 split….14:31? I thought it was very strange.. I wasn’t tired at all, but I thought… geez did I take too many picture pauses?  Keep note of this for the end.

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Since I thought I just slowed down to a 14 minute pace, I put away my camera and picked it up a bit. Here is a picture of South Battery.

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Running around the mark towards mile 3.

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Enter historic Charleston!! The homes were amazing! At times it felt like we were running on a movie set.  Fun fact: The Patriot was filmed in Charleston.

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Running along South Battery.

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Miles 5-8: 11:51, 11:52, 12:18, 12:16

I didn’t have many usable pictures for miles 5-8 which was a straightaway on King Street.  Running along the lower portions of King Street was enjoyable – loads of shops and restaurants, but it was mostly a flat straightaway along the highway/train tracks (I read about it on Abby’s blog so I was mentally prepared). Around miles 7-8, my right foot started to feel a little funny.  It wasn’t hurting, but a bit stiff.  At that point I decided to mix up the running with a little walking to let the foot rest a bit.

Miles 9-13: 12:16, 12:38, ?, 12:45, 13:38 

At mile 10 we split from the marathoners and shortly after mile 11 (after a baby hill) we entered North Charleston Park and ran along a small trail (a little soft dirt mixture/mainly paved).  It was nice to get off the highway and see these huge sweeping trees that are so iconic of Charleston pictures and paintings.

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Nice and shaded. I’m not sure what happened with my last mile – oh well!

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As I neared the finish line I could hear the music and crowds.  I finished with a time of 2:44:38 or 12:43/mile 2:42:22 (adjusted time), meeting my “B” goal.  I was surprised and happy with my time, which was nearly identical to my time at the Harbor Lights Half Marathon in November. Even though my training was not where I would have liked it to be, it was nice that I did not lose too much fitness.  I look forward to the next training cycle and hope to get back to my PR of 2:33 or below 🙂

After I picked up my bag (which took a bit because someone’s sticker landed on my bag so it was organized in another section), I met up with Gerri, Emily and Nathasha (congrats) and headed to the finisher’s village.

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Shrimp and Grits, yes please!!

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With my fellow finishers.  I loved the artwork that was displayed.

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And voila!

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Final Thoughts

  • Beautiful beautiful city!
  • I loved the first and last sections of the course, I could do without the highway.  I understand with the marathon, 5K, and permitting it may be difficult to alter the course.
  • Speaking of the course – SUPER flat!
  • Very happy there was race day packet pickup, which was great for the out of towners.  Nathasha mentioned it was crowded when she picked up her bib on Friday.
  • There were so many volunteers out there and I think they were trained at our hotel. 
  • I like when race weekends have a variety of distances – marathon, half and 5K (called the Shrimp and Grits 5K).  I think 5Krs also received a medal.
  • Along with the shrimp and grits there was also beer, mimosas and coffee.
  • Runners could drop off their clothing at tables along the course and could look for them finishing the race at bag drop off.
  • The race website indicated runners could use the high school showers following the race – which is nice.
  • There were shuttles that took us back to the starting area (but it took awhile).
  • I like that the race proceeds go towards the arts.

So remember earlier in the post when I thought I went from an 11:43 split to a 14:31 split at miles 1 and 2? Well it turns out that the lead vehicle made a wrong turn between miles 1 and 2 that added .3 miles.  Race organizers quickly posted the below on race morning:

“As most of you who ran yesterday realized, the lead vehicle led the marathon and half marathon down the wrong street between mile one and two, causing the races to be slightly long. We sincerely apologize for this and we are working on a plan to adjust all times for the total distance you ran to the true marathon and half marathon distances. This will require an added distance which we will take ASAP and advise once completed. Our apologies again for this happening and we sincerely hope you were able to enjoy an otherwise beautiful and festive day. As you know, the after marathon bike rides are taking place as we type so once those are complete an official email will go out to all participants.”

It is nice that they recognized the mistake and apologized right away – it did not bother me too much.  I did feel bad for those who were aiming for a BQ and may have missed it.  I would be curious what my time adjustment would be and how it would impact those who would qualify for Boston.  Despite this (it happens), I still had a wonderful time and would run this race again.  I would even come back to Charleston even if I was not running.  I hear the Cooper River Bridge Run is fun. As per usual, here is my post race/shower meal at the Rutledge Cab Company.

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Next time: Around town

Have you ever visited Charleston?

Have you ever run a race in which there was a time adjustment?

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