Saturday, January 26, 2013

Charleston Half Marathon Recap

Wow, what a weekend!   Late last Friday afternoon, we packed up and jumped in Jenny’s car to head toward Charleston for the Charleston Half-Marathon.  We chugged some bottles of water on the way down.  Thanks to my tiny baby bladder, we had to stop on the way into town for a potty break (consider this foreshadowing).  We headed straight for Burke High School to pick up our packets.  It was pretty chaotic because you had to figure out your bib# and then pick up your bib and double check to be sure your timing chip was working.  The whole place smelled like Fazoli’s and my stomach started grumbling for a breadstick!  We picked up our race shirts…  these awesome long-sleeve tech shirts!

We bought some Jelly Belly Sports Beans from one of the vendors, and then headed back to check in at our hotel in Mt. Pleasant.  I worked on laying out my race gear and pinning my bib onto my jacket and getting everything just perfect for the next morning.  We checked out the menu for our dinner restaurant and looked at the race website for information on the best place for our fan-club to watch us.  Then, we headed to meet Jenny’s parents for dinner at Al Di La in West Ashley.  It was awesome that the race fell the same week as Charleston Restaurant Week, so we were able to enjoy 3-course dinners for just $20 each.  I will absolutely return to this restaurant next time I’m in the Charleston area.  Between the 5 of us, we sampled lots of different items on the menu, and every bit of it was wonderful.  I ordered the Bruschetta, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad for Antipasti, the Strangozzi Spoletina for Primi, and then finished with Strawberry Gelati for Dolci.  And, because it was Italian, we decided it would be OK to have just one glass of wine with our dinner, too. Despite how good the Fazoli’s smelled at the expo, I was thrilled we chose to eat out instead!!

We came back to the hotel and crashed (I slept like a ROCK until about 5:20, and then since my clock was already set for 6:00am, I ended up getting out of bed around 5:30).  After a wake-up shower and getting mostly dressed, we headed downstairs for the hotel breakfast.  We’ve been training a lot in the afternoon/evenings for this race, so I hadn’t established any sort of breakfast routine.  I was hoping to find a bagel for my pre-race fuel, but since there was none, I ate some grits, bacon, eggs and toast.  I was praying this wouldn’t make me sluggish or sick during the race! 

After breakfast, we didn’t have much time left before we needed to head out to the starting line, so we gathered the rest of our gear, and jumped in the car to head back to Burke High School.  We arrived in plenty of time at the start to hear the high school drumline play and the National Anthem before the race.  We chatted with Jenny’s friend Betsy and wound up crossing the start line about 2 minutes after the gun due to the crowd.  Here we are before the start!  (Note to self... get someone else to take your pre-race picture... self portraits are so bad).

The first mile went by fast, and we had both discarded our outer layer of throwaway sweatshirts.  Shortly thereafter, I also tossed my gloves.  I snapped my one and only picture as we started to make our way out to the battery.   

The crowd of runners was pretty thick for those first few miles, and Jenny and I got separated a few times, and she got a ways ahead of me when we hit King Street.   Ryan was watching for us around mile 4.5 and ran with me for about a block (Never underestimate the power of seeing someone you know along the course!)  I caught a glimpse of Jenny up ahead and ran my fastest mile to catch up with her.  We stuck together for the next few miles until my baby bladder wouldn’t let me wait any longer.  I dipped into a gas station during mile 7 for a potty break, and was on my own from there on out.  Luckily, we had made our way out of the city at this point, so the roads were flatter and my ankles weren’t bothering me as much.  We were mostly on backroads with not much to look at, so I turned up my iPod and zoned out to the music for the next few miles.  Around mile 8-9, my timing chip came detached from my race bib, and I had to pick it up and carry it the rest of the way.  (For future reference, if they don’t use the timing chips that attach to your shoe, go ahead and put it somewhere it won’t be dropped – I would’ve been SO mad if it had fallen off and I didn’t notice it).  The marathon split off from us somewhere between mile 9 and 10, and either I never saw the 10 mile marker, or there was none.  I worried for another long mile about missing the mile marker and wondering how I was doing on time.

Just after the mile 11 marker, we entered Riverfront Park in North Charleston.  It was really pretty and I enjoyed running through the park, except the 0.25miles worth of gravel at the very end.  Exiting the park, we passed the 12 mile mark and I couldn’t have been happier to see that sign!  We started to see some finishers come back to run with their friends, which was inspiring because we knew the end was near!  As we got into “town”, a lady shouted out “just 3 turns from here”.  So I picked up speed.  My phone GPS had already declared that I had met my goal of 13.1 miles, so I knew I was close and I really gave it all I had left.  However, there were at least 4 or 5 turns… wah-wah-wah.  By the time I finally saw the finish line, I was SO focused on the clock that I didn’t even see Ryan, Jenny and Jenny’s family cheering me on (they tell me they were all screaming and could’ve reached out to touch me).  Jenny snapped this pic:

My goal for the race was to run faster than Georgetown, and I beat my previous official time by 5 minutes and 22 seconds…. Finishing at 2:20:55.  I’ve been whining a lot that if I hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom, I could’ve broken the 2:20 time barrier, but I didn’t dream that was even possible for me this weekend, so I guess I have a new goal for my next half!   I’ve come a long way since my first half-marathon in Savannah – improving my overall time by 15 minutes 34 seconds.  I’d say improving by 55 seconds for the next one is a goal I can definitely accomplish!

 We skipped the Beer, Shrimp & Grits after the finish (seriously, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted LESS at that moment) and headed back to our hotel for a shower.  We met up with Jenny’s family again at a restaurant/bar called Midtown, which as it happens, is co-owned by one of Ryan’s friends from high school.  I ordered a beer and loaded cheese fries.  Best decision ever!  I would absolutely love to see the city of Charleston allow the race to be reversed and run INTO town instead of OUT of town.  I think it would make for a fantastic finish and bring LOTS of runners to the Charleston area, however this is a race I would love to run again.  The flat course made it easy to meet my time goals and the big crowd of runners was really motivating.  Oh, and not to mention, check out this pretty bling:


  1. Congratulations, Leslie! It's amazing how much you improved your time.

    Why don't you just pee while running? I heard that people do that.

    1. Ha, I don't think I'll ever be THAT serious about running. I can't imagine how uncomfortable and stinky the people who actually do that must be. BUT, then again, I guess they are winning races!