Saturday, April 23, 2016

Charleston Bridge Run Race Report

Everyone around here has heard of the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC.  Most people I've talked to have done it.  I guess that's not surprising when 30,000 to 42,000 people run it every year.  So a bunch of my wife's running friends were going down this year.  Some go every year.  We decided we would try it this year since it kinda worked with both of our schedules.

We talked our friend Kary, and my sister into it as well.  I took a half day off work and the four of us drove down.  We went straight to the convention center for packet pickup.  It was basically on our way.  There was a long car line to get into the parking lot.  Pretty much to be expected with the size of the field.  We eventually parked and walked quite a ways to get inside.

The expo was pretty big.  Not Boston, but not Thunder Road either.  We got our packets and the packets of several other people that would not make packet pickup that night (8pm cutoff). We got a pretty good amount of swag.  T-shirt, towel, headband, and a bag.

We checked out the expo and got some pics.  The girls tried some blackberry moonshine and really liked it.  There were four booths promoting alcohol of one sort or another.  I guess this is what everyone means when they say this race is more of a social affair than anything else.
The House
We ended up getting a house on the Isle of Palms.  We had a couple more people than originally intended, so we ended up with 12 in the house. Max capacity.  The house was fine.  It was nice being a block and a half from the beach.  My wife eventually got everyone situated in their rooms.

Sling Bag


Head Bandana
We got about half of us together and we headed over to the Acme Low Country Kitchen right there on the IOP.  We sat in the bar area, as there was no wait there.  I had a local beer and the Bayou grits with the andouille sausage.  It was really good.  Not the type of grits most people expect for sure.

We headed back to the house and got everything ready for the race.  We were going to get an early start.  Not so much because of the race start time (8am) but just because of all the logistics.
Shuttle Pickup
Saturday we woke at 5am.  We wanted to head on over to the shuttle parking lot in Mount Pleasant by 6am.  I packed bag for the bag drop with some clothes for after the race.  We grabbed some food and headed out.  It was chilly and kinda misty/splinkly as we drove across the causeway.  We found the Whitesides Elementary school easy enough and found a place to park.  It wasn't too bad at that time (just after 6am).  We were definitely ahead of the curve.
Before we went our separate ways
We had to wait a little bit for a bus, but not too bad.  The ride all told, took about 40 minutes.  It wasn't that far, but with the traffic, the last 20 minutes we were just kinda creeping along.  I didn't mind because I figured that more time in the bus and less time in the rain was a good thing.
Laura in her Corral
They finally let us off way past the back corral.  We started walking.  We walked a long ways, and it took a long time.  Some of the girls stopped at a port-o-let. They hadn't closed the road back there.  All these thousands of people were trying to walk on the sidewalk.  They should have closed one lane on the one side of the road back to the bus drop and it would have been much better.
Gas Station Rain Oasis
Eventually we got to the point where the road was closed and it opened up a bunch.  We dropped my wife off in Corral G and then my sister and I headed toward the front.  We walked all the way up to the front bag drop. As we were walking back the wheelchair people were off.  By the time we got back to the corrals, it was past 7:30am and time to do my warmup.  I ran around the neighborhood there some for a mile warmup and then did some pickups in the parking lot.

Bag Drop

Soon they announced over the PA system for the "Seeded and Elite" people to head to the starting line.  That was me.  It did feel kinda cool being "seeded".  Although that just meant that you ran a time under 40 minutes.  Don't take this the wrong way, but a 40 min 10K is only 6:27 per mile.  I mean, I submitted my time from the Half Marathon I ran last year at Charlotte Racefest where I took a wrong turn. And that was still enough to get me into the seeded.  Like I said, this is more of a social race than anything else.

The Seeded Corral
So I got into the corral which there was plenty of room in the back.  Everyone was checking everyone else out.  We stood around a little nervously until they walked us forward to the start line.  Then we all crammed forward with the Elite people.  I was about 3 rows back when they started the gun.  It took me 3 seconds to cross the start line.

As expected it started out pretty fast.  It was not raining, but the streets were completely wet.  I kinda felt like I couldn't get it going really well.  Not sure if it was the rain slicked streets or the humidity.  Anyways,  I came through that first flat mile in 5:43 and felt ok.

So the second mile was not completely flat.  We started up the base of the bridge and it had 72 feet of elevation gain.  As you can see from the elevation profile, the eastern end of the bridge is steeper that you go up.  The western downhill side is a little more slow descent.  I did alright there as I came through in 6:09.  I never really had any issues with people traffic.  I did like them having the DJ on the top of the bridge.

So Mile 3 had 115 feet of gain.  It was a killer.  I huffed up the hill, and my pace at times dropped off to 7:30.  I tried to work, but it was pretty brutal.  You crest the hill at about 2.6 miles.  Then it was time to make up time.  I didn't.  I split a 6:32 for that mile and was hoping to start kicking it in at that point.

Mile 4 had 92 feet of loss.  That helped.  I was a long straight mile however.  Don't get me wrong.  It was all downhill, so that was cool.  But coming through the 4 mile mark we still hadn't made the turn onto Meeting street.  I was pleased with my 5:47 split for that mile.  My thinking at that point was to try and hold that pace for the next 2 miles.

So it wasn't raining, but it had earlier, and the threat was still there.  You do the math, but that all adds up to humidity.  Serious humidity.  As I tried to crank the legs, it wasn't pretty.  I kept looking at my pace on my garmin, trying to push, but we just didn't go any faster.

I hit mile 5 as we were still on Meeting Street in a 6:07.  I thought there goes 20-25 seconds.  So I tried to push that last mile as the course made a jog over to King Street.  However, it seemed like I was pretty much locked into that pace.  There were a ton of people on King, but even that didn't spur me on.

I came through mile 6 in a 6:09.  At that point, I just kinda cruised it in.  When I saw the finish line and the clock, I wanted to break 38 minutes.  So my pace for the last quarter mile was 5:47.  I came through officially in 37:51 for an official 6:05 average pace.  It was really a minute slower than I had hoped, but what do you want? Hills, humidity, wet roads, @triexcuse.

Officially I was 9th in my AG and 103rd overall.  I walked around a little bit, not sure where the food was since there really wasn't a crowd to follow.  I did get some muffins and bananas and went over to King Street to watch some of the people come through.

I wondered through Marion Square to check everything out.  I found my way over to the other side of it and got a brat.  Right then my sister found me.  We walked over to get our checked bags.  Her hip wasn't feeling too good, so we walked slowly.

We walked back into the square and then went over and braved the (now) large crowd for some more food and water.  By the time we got back to the rendevous point with all the Fast Feet people, my wife was there.  We talked for a bit and then got some more water and watermelon.  We then decided to walk down to Sermets.  It was a few blocks, but that was where the big meetup with Fast Feet was.
We had a beer and an appetizer.  We really weren't that hungry.
 It was good to sit down and see everyone after the race.  We hung out for a good hour before we decided to head back over to the shuttle.  We walked a few blocks for the pickup back to Mt. Pleasant.  At that time, we were happy that we didn't come in on the Convention Center shuttle because that line was looooooong.

We got back to the shuttle lot without issue.  As we walked to the car I saw that people had parked up on the grass and along the road everywhere.  So we timed the morning pretty well.  We got back to the house and everyone took turns showering.  I ran up to the ABC store and the Harris Teeter for some much need beverages.

We spent a lazy afternoon walking on the beach and hydrating.  We eventually got around to driving back downtown Charleston for dinner.  We had reservations at the Craftsman.  We walked around the market and some of the shops.  We had heard some sirens but didn't think much of it.  We got the Craftsman early to get some drinks.  Evidently most of the block was out of power.  They were serving drinks and taking cash only.  We decided to walk around and see where else we could eat dinner.

We went back over to the market and put our name in at the Charleston Crab House.  They told us 30 minutes so my sister and I grabbed a beer at the O-bar.  They didn't have power, but we had cash.  The wait at the crab house was only 20 minutes.  I had the blue crab sandwich, which was very good. It's like the whole crab dropped into a deep fryer.  Sounds a little odd, but good nonetheless.
Jellyfish on IOP
We got back to the house and had some more beverages.  We were all pretty tired so we nodded off to sleep relatively early.  Sunday morning, the girls went for a walk on the beach.  I walked down there with them and then did a 3 mile run.  I like running on the packed sand of the beach.  I try to run against the wind first, so its at my back on the way home.
IOP Pier
We packed everything up.  Cleaned up some for the house.  Then we ventured south to Folly Beach and the Lost Dog Cafe for brunch.  One of our friend's son was the manager there.  We got the special treatment, which was really cool.  It was a very popular breakfast destination, so I'm glad we got that special treatment.  I had a breakfast burrito which was fabulous.
Lost Dog Cafe
Eventually, it was time to go.  We hopped in the car for a long drive home.  The traffic was terrible being the last day of spring break for a lot of people.  It took us an extra hour to get back to the 'Mill.  All in all a fun weekend.  It was a cool race, that I'm glad that we did.  I'm not sure we'll do it again, but we enjoyed the experience.  There are a lot of other races out there to see.