Sunday, 8 February 2015

Race Report - Charleston Half Marathon 2015

Guest blogging and race reports! I used to do loads of these and I'd forgotten how brilliant they are until Elizabeth 'Pumpkin Square Wifey' Fitzpatrick hit the mean streets of Charleston to race her first half marathon. Given that I know for a fact that E has had an awesome running outfit waiting for an outing since at least 2007, this is both immensely welcome and long overdue. So over to our American Correspondent...

I would never in a million years have considered myself to be a runner; in high school, we used to have to run a half mile prior to the start of gym class and it was possibly the worst thing on the planet (let's be honest, I was 16 and had to wear a horrible gym costume). But when I think back on that now, I realize how ridiculous I was considering that a 5 mile run seems like a breeze and I just ran my first half marathon (12.6 miles longer than back in high school).

So why, if i despise(d) running, would I tackle 13.1 miles? It was a challenge. Back in June, a close friend moved to Kentucky and we both were lacking serious motivation. We decided that in order to get our booties back in shape we would sign up for a half and use it as an excuse to go somewhere fun. Gung-ho Sally's that we are, our credit cards were charged, motivation was high and the Charleston Half Marathon was our challenge.

What can I say, along the way life, minor injuries, school, lack of motivation, so there were a lot of starts and stops in the training process. Unfortunately my friend ended up having to pull out due to an intensive school semester. My mom kindly stepped in and decided to join the challenge, she would walk and I would run and it was a great excuse for a mother/daughter trip.

Off we went on January 16 to fantastic Charleston. We landed at the airport late in the afternoon, dropped our bags at our hotel and power walked off to the high school where packet pick-up/and the start of the race was. Numbers, timing chips, and token race shirts collected we headed off for an early dinner. Hundreds of calories consumed, what can we say, we like good food and when in Charleston you must partake.

The big day dawned a little chillier than expected but sunny and it was definitely a lot warmer than back at home in Baltimore, so who were we to complain? The masses started to congregate at the start line, music was playing, enthusiasm was high and we actually met two girls who were also from Maryland whilst killing time. There were about 4,900 participants from 49 states and 7 countries, not too shabby.

Looking not at all nervous
I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous as it got closer to 8am. I had two goals: finish in under 2 hours and 30 minutes and not to walk, and of course doubt settled in. Could I make it? Had I done enough training? But soon enough the gun went off and we were away, with a big smile on my face, what I had been planning on and working towards for almost 6 months was finally about to happen.

The race is a bit of a blur, I mean 13.1 miles tend to start to run together. But what I do know for certain, the first few miles when we were running through Charleston proper was amazing. The scenery was incredible, the route took you through these incredible neighborhoods past these gorgeous houses, by the water, and then it was back up through the city along King Street.

And the crowd, there were fans along the entire route which was amazing and they were all so enthusiastic, it definitely helped around mile 11 when it started to get a little tough. Also, the money raised by the running festival went to benefit the arts programs in the local Charleston schools. So at periodic intervals along the route, there were bands/dance troupes etc. from all the schools performing, it was such a wonderful element and nice to see what we were funding.

Nice work ladies!
So what can I say from this experience... would I do it again, definitely, in fact I told my mom the Charleston half should maybe become an annual event. Will I do a full marathon, doubtful. I will definitely be more consistent in training for my next one, have a plan and stick to it.

Would I consider myself a runner after this experience, no, but maybe I will get there. For now, it's been a few weeks off, no running, but I think it's time to get back out there. I am loathe to put this in writing (Dave knows, cause I used to give him a lot of grief and call him crazy with all his running) but I may miss hitting the pavement just a little bit.

But did you achieve your sub-2:30 goal?

I most certainly did.

Thanks E! Super proud of you. It is definitely time to get back out there...

2015 to date: miles 117.9, parkruns 2