Cooper River Bridge Run

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/thebridgerun

Well hello there, reader! It’s a rainy Monday morning here in Charlotte, but I took the day off to organize my life and get a long list of things done — great way to start the week, rain or shine!

I had a fantastic weekend in Charleston. The race was such a great experience — I’m motivated to keep training and do it again next year. Now I have a time to try to beat!

Hmm…where to start. Well, let’s start with the fact that I didn’t have to drive to Charleston, which made me very happy. Given the length of time I spend trolling up and down Highway 85 in a given week, it was wonderful of my friend and her husband to let me relax in the back seat of their comfy Honda Crossover and not have to worry about merging in and out of the weekend traffic heading to the beach. Score!

Friday night we got settled, then went out for an early beer. Does this count as carb-loading pre-race?

My friend Laura and me

My friend Laura and me

Dinner was on the water at Fleet Landing. The tide was out, but it was so beautiful to sit by the water and enjoy dinner, watching birds and boats and wondering why I’ve still not moved to Charleston. I decided to go with scallops, sweet potato fries, and green beans (sweet potato fries….it’s a vegetable, right?).

View from our dinner table.

View from our dinner table.

I did shovel most of the butter on top of the scallops to the side. Oh, and even though the waiter (who wasn’t doing a sparkling job, but for some reason repeatedly reminded us that his name was Harrison) forgot about our appetizer, we enjoyed stuffed hushpuppies for “dessert” after the meal. To die for! Stuffed with crab, lobster, and deliciousness. If you ever make it to Fleet Landing, those hush puppies are a definite must-try.

 

Yummmm......

Yummmm……

I’m not quite ready to talk about the fact that I had ZERO oysters the entire trip (other than an oyster shooter, which doesn’t really count). What am I doing with my life?

Early morning shot of the bridge in the distance..... we were ready to run at this point -- a little more than an hour before the race actually started!

Early morning shot of the bridge in the distance….. we were ready to run at this point — a little more than an hour before the race actually started!

We continued our night of fun downtown, incorporating a long walk to the Battery, then went home and got some rest for the big day. I was really restless and didn’t sleep too much, waking almost every hour on the hour thinking it was 5:00 AM and time to go. Finally my alarm went off, and we were off to stand in line for 40 minutes for the shuttle, which bussed us over the bridge and into Mount Pleasant, where the race began.

My friend and I were in corral “E”, but actually ended up a few letters back with another friend, who we planned to run with. There were 40,000 people running the race……

Waiting to get to the start line.... (Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/thebridgerun)

Waiting to get to the start line…. (Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/thebridgerun)

Once we got to the start line, I was so ready to take off. Maybe it was the 3 hour buildup of energy, waiting to get to the start line, or maybe I was just ready. I had so much energy, and have never felt that good on a run. This is the longest and largest race I’ve ever run, so I’m sure excitement was fueling me, too.

I stuck with my friends for most of the run, until about mile 4 or a little after. One of my friends was recovering from a cold, and didn’t feel great. I wanted to stay with her and cross the line together, but decided to make the most of the runner’s high that I had and press forward at my own pace. I only finished 6 minutes ahead of them, in the end. Oh well.

The last mile and a half were the hardest for me. It helped to have so many people with signs and encouragement along the way, especially in the final stretch. At one point, I stopped to catch my breath and was passed by a man with a prosthetic leg. That gave me a lot of motivation to kick it into gear and at least keep pace with him while I was catching my breath. Once I turned the final corner and saw the finish line, I had a final surge of energy and ran it out to the end as hard as I could. It was an amazing feeling.

This guy (and others) made me laugh out loud, keep my chin up, and keep moving forward towards the finish line.

Fun and cheesy selfie...hard to take while running!

Fun and cheesy selfie…hard to take while running…hence my thumb in the pic.

Overall, this was a truly great experience. I already love Charleston, and have made many great memories there over the years. This one is near the top of the list. The race was so organized (thanks to hundreds of volunteers, local police, DEA, firemen, Army, helicopters, crowd control). There were local bands playing every 1/2 mile or so, hilarious costumes in the crowd, perfect running weather, and an overall great event. It was really amazing how it all came together for 40,000 runners.

Oh, you’re probably wondering what my time was. I finished the 6.2 miles in 1 hour and 17 minutes. Not too shabby for my first 10k, but I was hoping to get a little closer to an hour.  It was about a 12 minute mile pace. I’ll take it! For comparison, the female race winner finished in 32:13 minutes (male lead finished in 28:38). AMAZING!

If you’re a runner who lives in the Southeast, and you’ve never participated in this run before, I highly recommend you sign up next year. Beautiful town, fun environment, Southern charmers encouraging you from the sidelines, and great local food and beer to celebrate with afterward!

PS I signed up for a 5k in Greenville next month, and plan to keep my training up to beat my time next year!

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