Last week, my friend Virginia and her friend Rocky, organized a marathon and half marathon race here in Charleston in honor of Spring and May Day. The half marathon involved running from Downtown Charleston to Folly Beach and the full marathon was from the Isle of Palms to Folly Beach.
Since we bought a home and I won’t get a real vacation this year, plus I can’t really turn down an excuse to do a long run on a weekday, I decided to participate. Last weekend, I met up with Virginia at Moe’s Crosstown Tavern for the pre-race bib decorating party. Magic markers and design-your-own-race-bib? Oh yes!
It was a fun chance to get together with the other runners, design our bibs, and just have a good time on a Saturday afternoon (and Moe’s has the best bar food in Charleston, hands down). Virginia is preggers and can’t race anymore, but her baby has already won a few age group awards and one overall award. Baby even has a couple PRs- talk about a running rockstar in training.
On May 1, Rachael and met at Folly at 8 AM to carpool downtown and start our run. The course was obviously amazing- who doesn’t look running downtown and near the coast? However, this wasn’t an actual timed, sanctioned, permitted race, so cars, bikes, and other pedestrians were on the roads. Charleston roads aren’t known for being empty on Wednesday mornings, so we spent time waiting at crosswalks, running on sidewalks, and running on bridges with little pedestrian path and high winds. Eek.
We did, however, have great motivational signs and amazing volunteers like my friend John (who took the pictures in this post and is the gold standard for race volunteers). The race had actual aid stations that were better than most “real” races- they had Gu, water, gatorade, pictures, and friendly people. A few guys also volunteered to bike around the course for safety reasons, too.
Most of us ran the half but a few ultra runners did the full because they’re training for 50 and 100 milers. I can’t imagine that, I’m lucky to run 100 miles in a month…
Rachael and I tied for 3rd female in the half, even though you timed yourself and there was no race clock or certification. We finished in 2:00:36, which wasn’t too bad considering traffic, headwind, conversational pace, and stopping at each aid station for pictures, snacks, and thank you’s to the volunteers. It was a glorified fun run and party, so no one really “raced” it, everyone just had a good time.
The finish line was in sidewalk chalk, and you even got a finisher’s picture. The medals are hand made and so much nicer than generic medals- someone made these thinking about the runners and that’s sweet.
When we finished, we were treated to one of the best post-race parties ever. Food, beer, flowers, and a band? Definitely our kind of party. They even had a May Pole, kiddie pool (it was WAY too cold to get in any water), and people brought their dogs. The food was delicious- Spanish rice, bean salad, brats, veggie burgers, cake, fruit, good stuff. My half marathon hunger hit so I enjoyed the lunch- gotta love post-race food that is actual food, so no need to go out to lunch.
We hung out at the post-race party for a little over an hour and enjoyed it, then I took Rachael downtown to get her car and headed home for a shower and to warm up.
For a stay-cation day (most of us who participated took this as a vacation day from work), it was definitely worth it. The May Day Marathon was actually more fun (and better orchestrated) than lots of sanctioned races I’ve done – the bar is set for pop-up races now and it’ll be hard to beat this one.
I’m already planning to take a vacation day on May 1, 2014 to run it next year.