|The DoppelLaufers as known by their Cool Running handles on Active.com: John425, Mtaurus575, dwm082, squeakygirl, Beer and Cupcakes f/k/a JimDo64, Surfing_Vol, and rbird|
Charleston was awesome!
We invaded Charleston this weekend for the Riverfront Race Festival and the inaugural running of the Charleston Marathon. Seven of us made the trip, Jim and I ran the full marathon and everyone else ran the half.
Friday night we met at a local pub called the Griffon which became our official HQ for the rest of the weekend. We shared a few beers and started to solidify our friendship.
From there, we drove to North Charleston for the expo and packet pickup. My expectations were low for the expo, so I was surprised to see the large event tent and quite a few vendors hawking shoes, running clothes and gear. The packet pickup went smoothly, but there was a little back and forth required in order to pick up our bibs, bus passes for the return trip downtown after the race, and shirts. They were also serving a pasta dinner but we opted to look for some finer cuisine.
The race start was at 8:00 a.m. about a half mile walk from our hotels so we agreed to meet at 7:15. I woke at 5:45 and enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee in a little café called Toast next to my hotel. I met another runner from Orlando at the next table and a local teacher at another table who was going to be entertaining us with her 2nd grade music students on the race course. The race benefitted local arts programs and she expressed gratitude for our traveling to Charleston for the race. Everyone I met in Charleston had that same attitude.
After breakfast I wandered around outside for a bit to get a feel for the temperature and obsessed over last minute clothing choices. It was 25 degrees outside which matched my coldest run in training, but I knew that it would climb to about 50 degrees by the end of the race. I settled on long pants, a long sleeve t-shirt, a light jacket, and gloves. I prepared myself to receive some ribbing from my cold blooded Doppel counterparts.
I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade to drink before the start and set out to meet my new friends. We were pretty cold waiting for the start, except Don, who hails from Buffalo, who was dressed in shorts and short sleeves and whose only concession to the cold was a pair of neon yellow gloves that perfectly matched the color of his Saucony Kinvaras. I found another group of runners from Florida huddled together on the sidewalk under trash bags trying to stay warm and was embarrassed for my State.
Jim and I managed to stay close enough in the crowd to talk and he confessed that his hands were freezing. I tried to stifle a smug chuckle as I flexed my toasty warm, gloved hands. 10 minutes later I stripped off my gloves and stuffed them into the waistband of my pants. I never noticed they were there during the race. Fast forward a few hours to my post race shower and I discovered that the cost of two miles of warm hands and 24.2 miles of unnecessarily carrying gloves in my waistband was a severely chaffed ass. Ouch.
There were a lot of people lining the streets to cheer us on in the downtown area. From there we proceeded north through some poorer areas of Charleston and a long stretch through a commercial area. This wasn’t exactly a highlight of the race but we were through it fast enough and moved on to a winding route through some beautiful neighborhoods in North Charleston.
At mile 11 the half and full marathon routes separated and I looked longingly in the direction of the shorter route. I was feeling good and maintaining a steady pace, but was already fatigued.
I decided to carry Powerbar gels instead of relying on what the race organizers provided at water stops. I ate my second gel at about mile 14 and felt a definite lift about 15 minutes later. At this point in the race the miles seemed to pass fairly quickly.
Jim and I managed to stay side by side for about 18.5 miles. At about mile 18 I started to lose a few steps on him and would periodically struggle to catch up. I could tell he was still going strong and encouraged him to go ahead if he was feeling good. I lingered a bit at the next water station and he took off. He must have had a great end to the race because he a gained about 15 minutes on me in those final 8 miles. We averaged about a 9:30 pace for the first 18 miles and it looks like he held that through the end of the race.
There was plenty of entertainment along the course. The highlight was a rock band consisting of some really talented kids at about mile 23. At about mile 20 we entered a riverside park with an African percussion group performing on the bandstand. By that time there was quite a bit of distance separating runners and I swear they increased the tempo of their drumming and dancing as I approached just to encourage me to run faster.
The turn around came just after mile 23 and consisted of a traffic cone in the middle of the road. This was the only tight turn of the whole race and it could not have been more poorly placed. Slowing down to make that turn sucked the will to continue right out of me and I found it extremely difficult to continue running. This was the same place I hit the wall in the Space Coast Marathon. I started and stopped a few times over the next mile but I handled it much better than I did last November. During the Space Coast Marathon Mile 24 took me 14:21 this time I struggled through it in 12:47 and finished the rest of the race feeling much stronger than I did last time.
I dug deep and very gradually accelerated through the next two miles. I finally rounded a corner, saw the 26 mile marker and the finish line in the distance, and was surprised to find I had enough left in the tank for a finishing kick. I averaged 9:48 in that final stretch, almost exactly the same pace I ran mile 1.
Immediately after the race I felt lightheaded and suffered from tunnel vision. I sat down for a few minutes, drank a protein shake and water, and ate a banana and an orange slice and the sensation finally passed. We then shuffled over to find beer and the infamous shrimp ‘n grits.
I crossed the finish line in 4:25:58, a new PR and 1:41 faster than I ran the Space Coast Marathon. That wasn’t a huge improvement, but I finished the race feeling much better than last time.