Sunday, January 17, 2016

Charleston Marathon 2016

This weekend was full of fun and running (and driving) for us as we traveled to the sunny (ok mostly rainy) south. We made our way to Charleston, South Carolina for the (you guessed it!) Charleston Marathon!

On Friday morning we made the 5.5 hour drive and got to the expo. It rained pretty much the entire way down there, but the forecast for Saturday was looking good. It had stopped raining in Charleston when we arrived at around 4:30. There was a ton of flooding in the roads and parking lots, but it had at least stopped raining. We walked around the expo at a local high school for a little bit, got all our stuff, and went out to dinner at La Fontana, a little Italian restaurant that was 5 minutes from our hotel and had spaghetti (me) and pizza (him).

This was pretty much our view on the entire drive there.... rainy!
We made it!
We settled in at like 8:30 pm (and that was magnificent!) after preparing our gear for the morning. Fortunately our hotel was only 10 minutes from the starting line, so we weren't super pressed for time. We both woke up Saturday morning at a fairly normal time, got ready, and left our hotel at 6:45 to be there around 7:00, with plenty of time for potty stops and gear check. After all that was done, we settled into our corrals right before the start at 8:00. We took off and enjoyed the race, especially because it was sunny and 52 degrees at the start! The marathon started off going through the historic district of Charleston, and there were some gorgeous old homes and buildings. We also ran along the coast and the Ashley River and watched the sun come up. It was a beautiful morning! After running through the fun stuff in Charleston, we ran through many neighborhoods and around some schools. This race benefited the arts in the Charleston area schools, so there were stops featuring students of the arts. My favorites were the marching bands... They really got me pumped up! Now, we both had some great success during this race, and we both learned some lessons specific to our own experiences, so we are going to break down our recap into his and hers sections. Stay with me, k?

My pre-race Flat Stanley...
mister was too tired to be bothered with making his.
Saturday's race was going to challenging, I knew that. It's 26.2 miles of running on the road, of course it's going to be challenging. I was trained up, fueled up, and overall prepared for the run. I was still nervous obviously, which is normal, but I was nervous because I had put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to meet a couple of goals: #1 I wanted to finish (that's always going to be my goal for long races), #2 I wanted to PR, and #3 I wanted to keep my average pace under 12:59 min/mile (5:40:24 overall time). Now, I was hoping if nothing else, I would make the first 2. I was most nervous about the third. I had kept my training runs within that range, and I was getting more and more comfortable with that pace for my long runs. It may seem slow to other runners, but my long run paces previously had been 13+ minutes per mile with lots and lots of walking/breaks, so 12 would be a great improvement. Anyway, I made a mistake on race day. You hear about people going out too fast, and you're like "Well, duh, they hit the wall they weren't prepared for (fill in the blank) pace." And then you think that'll never happen to you because you're smarter than that. Until it does. I started about 4 minutes after most marathoners (I had to potty one last time...) and so I had missed the pacers. My goal time indicated that I could stick with the 5:30:00 pacer for the most part, so I was looking for that pacer as I was taking off through the half marathoners. I spotted her, and ran beside her for about a half a mile. I was feeling good so I picked it up (what I thought was) a little bit. Before I knew it, I encountered the 5:00:00 pacers (11:26 min/mile pace). I was like "WHOA NELLY REEL IT IN" so I stuck behind/beside them for a little ways, until one of them started talking to me. Once we started talking, I was feeling good and enjoying the company. So I stayed with them. And I stuck with them until about mile 14. And then after that mile marker, I started to slow down a little bit, and a little bit more, and a little bit more. And I realized that it had happened- I had gone out too fast. Maintaining an 11:00 min/mile pace was not what I had trained for. It is doable for me for a half, but anything longer is uncharted territory. So the second half of the marathon meant a lot of walking and stretching, and I slowed down significantly, but I managed to keep within my range. At about mile 21, the 5:30 pacer caught up with me. She was starting around a loop as I was finishing it, putting her about 1.5 miles behind me. I knew I couldn't lose her in those last 5.1 miles. She was my ticket to meeting my goal. Around this point my lovely hubby had come back for me and he helped to keep me motivated. With a lot of run/walking and motivational words, I made it. The 5:30 pacer passed me in the last couple of miles and I was devastated. I didn't give up, though, because I remembered I had 4 minutes of time difference because I started later. I kept going, kept trucking, and made it to the finish line in a time of 5:34:01. I had successfully achieved all 3 of my goals. Would it have been nice to finish under 5:30? Absolutely. But hey, there's always next time... :)

His training plan
Let's think back to November. I decided to FINALLY follow a training plan. Now, the training plan wasn't the most detailed, but it laid out the mileage that I needed to get done. In my leadership class at Averett University, each individual was required to come up with a goal and a plan to achieve it. Mainly, it was for the individual to get his mind wrapped around this goal to let him know that this goal is his own. This allowed me to not only hold myself accountable, but since I also shared this goal with my classmates, it made me accountable to them as well. Now, what was my goal, you ask? To break 3:00:00 in the marathon. I knew that more than likely, I wasn't going to be able to do it, simply because the plan I found didn't have that great of a foundation. It was only running. Just running. That's it. It didn't specify tempo runs, intervals, no cross training, nothing. But I just wanted to follow the plan as is. That way in the future, I would know what my body needed. So the day before Charleston, I felt ill-prepared and extremely nervous. I went in with 3 different plans: #1 have fun and do the best I can, #2 finish in under 3:05:00 for another Boston Qualifier, and #3 break 3 hours. I knew that if I couldn't accomplish #3, I more than likely wouldn't make #2 either. So that left me with #1, which meant keeping my head up, a smile on, and my sense of humor going. Needless to say, every single mile, I pushed to keep my miles between a 6:30 and 7:00 min/mile pace. I'm sure there were a few miles that took a little over 7:00, and I just had to keep digging deep to find my motivation. There were two things that were trying to hold me back throughout the run: a blister after mile 16 and hip pain somewhere around the same time. I just kept telling myself "This pain is temporary, and if you want to meet your goal, you're just going to have to ignore it." And that was a lot easier said than done. However, every person I meet seems to believe in me, even when I don't believe in myself, and that's enough to keep me going no matter what. So, I kept pushing through the blister and the pain in my hip, and I realized as I passed the mile markers, "Hey, I might actually have a chance." When I hit mile 20, I kept doing the math every single mile (and doing math while running is not easy....) to make sure my goal was still plausible. I knew how much time I had left, and what my pace should be, and I had even gotten lost at mile 22 and added about a quarter of mile so that threw off my distance and pace a little bit, but I couldn't give up because I had to cheer on another runner who got lost with me. So I kept running, kept calculating, kept pushing through the last 10K, and I really just couldn't believe that when I crossed the finish line, I was able to see sub 3 on the clock: 2:59:13 to be exact. So there it is. I met all 3 of my goals. And learned that next training cycle, I need a more detailed training plan, which is in the works as we speak. So stay tuned to future posts to see my personalized training plan that will take me through the Blue Ridge Marathon and the Boston Marathon!

Now, as always, here are the leftover miscellaneous pictures from our run-cation!

Cool statue thing we ran by at like...
mile 3 or so
Flying bicycle merry-go-round! And other cool artwork in a park
Mile 24 cruisin' along


After the race, hubbs won Husband of the Year.
He immediately took off my socks and shoes for me and slipped on my sandals!
 #truelove #runnerlove

Mr. Marathon with running legend Valmir Nunes:
100K world champion!!!!
Let's get some SHRIMP AND GRITZ.
My medal with my shrimp and grits! Yum!
We met the president of the Charleston Running Club at the expo,
where he gave Mr. Marathon some last minute coaching and advice.
He told us to find him at tell him how we did after the run, and we did!

Driving along the course later in the afternoon to take pictures

Driving along the course later in the afternoon to take pictures
Trying out the selfie stick

More fun with the selfie stick
A pretty pineapple fountain in historic Charleston
Selfie with the pineapple fountain
Selfie with the palm trees!

More sightseeing 
Our accidentally teeny tiny pizza that we ordered...
.... that teeny tiny pizza didn't make it far.
More sightseeing-- just a cool building

Selfie with a fountain!

A cool ship at the port
The Cooper River Bridge:
the 2nd longest suspension bridge in the US
Going over the Cooper River Bridge

A tad blurry, but the sunset Saturday night was beautiful!
Our adventure in Charleston was great fun! We both set a PR, ate some yummy food, and saw some cool sights. If you're looking for a flat course, this is a good choice. Parts of it are gravel and some parts are over railroad tracks, but overall it was a good course to run. And if you always complain about having one hand free after the run.... you're in luck-- you get 2 free beers/mimosas (one for each hand!) along with a FREE helping of shrimp and grits! ;) Another great thing about the race was that we did not have to worry about traffic along the course because of the great volunteers and police officers directing traffic. Great course, great people, great fun! 


  1. Hey, I found your blog post on the Charleston Marathon page! I ran the half yesterday and am also a blogger (

    Congratulations to both of you and I loved reading your recap. Since I'm a local, I smiled every time you mentioned people (like Ray, the CRC president, because I know him, and I know Noah and Cathy who are the 5:00 pacers). It looks like you had a wonderful time at the race and in Charleston. I too know how easy it is to go out too fast or speed up, as I did that yesterday at mile 2, and it bit me in the butt too. This was my 4th time running this for most of the reasons you stated- flat course, drinks, shrimp and grits, nice shirt and medal, and the course is very well directed.

    Have a good recovery and good luck with your other races and goals!

    1. Thanks! You're really lucky to be surrounded by such a great running community. We hope to make our way back to Charleston at some point for some more sightseeing and (probably) more running!

  2. I am on the race committee and want to thank you for attending and the great write up. See y'all next year....Chuck Magera.

    1. Thank YOU for putting on such an amazing event! Having put on one small-town 5K, I can appreciate the effort that's required to make a race a great event. Great job to you and all the other race committee members!

  3. Congratulations on meeting all of your goals!!!!!!! Woohoo! :D

    1. Thanks! It definitely wasn't easy, but all the hard work was totally worth it. :)

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