As mentioned here, P and I drove to Charleston, SC on Thursday night. After lunch on Friday, we headed to Kiawah Island- a 30-45 minute drive from Charleston. We went straight to check for our house and packet pickup was in the same place. Done and Done. The “expo” was uneventful but our house was not.
We rented a house with Corey, her hubs Brad, and several of their friends, Heather, Char and Jesse. We stayed in and cooked dinner and had a pretty early bed time considering race time wasn’t until 8am.
I woke up around 6:15 to do the usual bagel and peanut butter and Kona Kola NUUN. Something was WAY off with my stomach race morning. I went to the bathroom 5-6 times. Yes, in a whopping hour. Kinda ridiculous. Not sure if it was nerves or something else, but I was lucky it finally calmed down when we left. Our house wasn’t close enough for race days shuttles, but the Island offers pick up service. SCORE. We called and had a driver pick us up around 7:20. Just enough time for bag drops, bathrooms, and a quick warm up.
The race is somewhat small, no corrals, no fancy start. Corey and Char ran the marathon a few years ago and said to get up front, as usual, people don’t follow race etiquette rules. It was the perfect tip.
I started the race with Char, we had a similar goal. First 3 miles 8:-8:10 pace. They felt easy, like I was holding back. I did my best to hold it at this pace (garmin stats below) and waited for mile 3 to be able to push it a little bit more (goal was 7:52 pace). Char said she was going to hold back for a bit.
The course itself was the same for the first 7 miles or so. We ran down a beautiful road that alternated between marsh land (even though it didn’t smell great) and homes very similar to the one we were staying in. I was very surprised by the amount of crowd support that was on the course too-lots of cheer leading all along the way. One thing that Char had also pointed out was watching the curves along the course-it didn’t actually turn often, just winding roads-so I did my best to stay on the tangents. The turn around was right past 7 miles-the course literally stopped in the middle of the road and there was a very narrow turn onto the bike/running path.
This is where the course got harder for me. Mentally and physically.
Up until this point, I was mentally strong. I was thinking of Coach Jess and her marathon and my big goals. I was thinking how far I’d come since the ankle sprain. I was believing this goal she had given was achievable.
But for some reason the 2 miles on the bike path bothered me. I couldn’t get in a groove-I had to stay more focused on the path and where I was stepping (because of my ankle) and it was constantly winding and a bit uneven. It was also hard to pass people.
I was very excited to turn back into one of the neighborhoods (right before mile 10). The goal at 11 was to kick it up another notch if I had it in me and race it out to the finish. Right before this, Char passed me. I thought I was slowing down, but she was speeding up. Her husband, Jesse (who was running with her) later told me I didn’t look happy at all (at this point).
I mentally was so focused. I kept looking at my garmin thinking I was going really fast, but apparently I wasn’t. I knew my goal would be tough.
I know I was definitely grunting at the end. There was a tiny hill right before the finish and I was running up it with a male runner. He actually said he loved my determination. I fought as hard as I could for that finish line. I was so excited to see P when I turned the corner and gave it what I could.
31/605 females 30-39
This was almost a 2 minute PR for me (previous in Savannah with 1:45:27)! Yes, I was 47 seconds off my goal, but still very, very happy with it. And, I love the website that Kiawah uses to show the results. I passed 22 runners the last 3 miles of the race-I was giving it all I had out there. Only thing is the race results here don’t match the original sheet that was on FB, so who knows. Either way, the field was stacked.
I didn’t puke, and this was huge! I immediately found Char (a few seconds ahead of me) and Corey and P. We went to wait for Heather to finish. While waiting I got to meet Allison, another blogger and Oiselle runner and I also ran into Tina (Atl blogger and Fitfluential).
The post race food/party was quite fabulous. Beer, coffee, hot chocolate, 2 different types of pasta, soup, brownies, corn muffins, bananas, oranges, and tabouli. YUM. We hung out for a bit and then headed back towards our house. I enjoyed the walk to stretch out my legs and we were reversing the race course so we were able to cheer for the marathoners.
We spent the afternoon eating (great pizza place near right off the Resort complex), shopping, napping and then eating again. We finished up the night with cocktails at the Sanctuary Hotel and then Sunday morning had brunch on the 18th hole of the Ocean’s golf course.
- Scenery/Kiawah in general
- Volunteers/Spectators/race staff (very nice to exchange all of our shirts-they were all too big)
- Post race
- Race organization
- the company
Not so Much:
- Cost of the race (sign up early! it’s much cheaper!)
The shirt is okay-P really liked it (even though he didn’t actually get one). The material is somewhat cheap, but the design isn’t so bad compared to some of the previous years. I really like the medal. Something about unique medals is fun. It’s glass with a Kiawah Island logo on it.
I really, really loved this race. The ONLY thing I can complain about is the part of the course where you run on the bike bath. It’s just narrow and uneven but other than that- I loved the course (which is why it was put in both my fav and not so much list). If you sign up early, the race is cheap. It’s only $50 through the end of this month, so if you are thinking about doing it next year, sign up now and save yourself some $$. Also-come prepared with your race needs-the expo is really small. Just one vendor has everything.
I also recommend renting a house or villa on the island-again, you have to book early to get one-they sell out. But, it makes a huge difference in the race ease and experience.
If you are racing the states, this is definitely THE South Carolina race to do. You can easily make a long weekend out of it and spend time in Charleston. Not to mention, perfect weather for this time of year, a super flat and fast course (see the 3 PRs above), and plenty of stuff to do to keep you busy post race.
I had SO much fun with Corey, her hubs and her friends. I love when running turns into a mini vacation. I also love that I ended the year on a super high racing note. An almost 2 minute PR, my 25th 1/2 marathon, my 17th state, and my 12th race of 12 in 2012. All bring such a big smile to my face.