Hello everyone and Happy Tuesday!
This weekend, my friend Nadine and I travelled up to Florence/Hartsville for the 4th Annual Race for Taylor. The race honors the life and celebrate the birthday of Taylor Elmore, whose life was cut short at 17 when he was killed in an accident on I-26 on his way to visit the College of Charleston.
I’ve done this race since its first year in 2010, when there was only a 5K and I happened to be extremely sick with severe anemia- Not “I can’t donate blood anemia”, but “I’m on the edge of a transfusion” anemia, mind you- and didn’t know it.
I never met Taylor, yet feel connected to him through his family, running, and now living in Charleston. I believe God brought Taylor’s family, this race, and Florence Track Club, where I coached with his mom, into my life for a reason after I showed up that first year (You can read about it in this post from last year’s race). Before moving, I promised Belinda, Taylor’s mom, that I would come back to run it every year I could.
Plus, it’s fun to say you did a race every year, and there’s always hope that after 10 years, they have some sort of award category for the person who’s attended the most times.
I can dream, right?
Nadine and I got to Florence that afternoon and picked up our race packets, then hit Starfire for a delicious pre-race dinner of salads and homemade biscuits. The biscuits and bread at Starfire are the best ever, and Southern food is pretty infamous here in Charleston, but these definitely compare. Between the two of us, we ate 5 biscuits, and we were also joined by a couple of my friends who dropped in (Nick, Kelli, Buddy, and Buddy’s kids).
After dinner, I gave Nadine the grand tour of Florence, then we headed over to my in-laws’ house to spend the night. It was fun seeing them as a part of our little road trip, and we’re thankful they let us stay with them overnight. We all had a great time watching Undercover Boss (obviously neither of us do much TV viewing), snacking, and laying around in our pajamas.
Plus, Clay’s parents loaded my car down with awesome things to bring back for the house. The trunk and backseat were super full and I know if Nadine hadn’t been with me the passenger seat would have been packed as well- fortunately Clay was home when I got home to help unload! Gotta love family!
The next morning, we got up, I ate my usual pre-race breakfast of coffee and oatmeal and Nadine ate her LaraBar, and we hit the road to Florence for the race.
As far as running events go, Race for Taylor is the best one that Florence has to offer. The organizers, Carolina Running Company, are all runners themselves, so you can tell it is a race for runners, by runners.
The course is well marked through West Florence neighborhoods and run completely on the roads with two water stops and lots of effective volunteers. There’s also music, activities for children, and great awards and door prizes. Each year, the pirate themed race has gotten bigger, which says a lot about Taylor’s legacy and the race itself because people do it year after year or people hear about it and come out.
We took off at 8 AM, an excellent start time for a May race, with a slight cool breeze (thank goodness!). You really couldn’t ask for better race weather. The 5K and 10K started together, I went out conservatively and noticed that when the 10K broke off, I was in a pretty good position. I got ahead of fellow run clubber, Kayce, and stayed with her for the first two miles, but the “lil rollers” (hills) in mile 3 got me! There are no hills in West Ashley, except speed humps in my neighborhood, and running the bridge doesn’t exactly have the same effect.
I trained super hard for 8 weeks for this race, doing speedwork each week, and those were tough workouts. I’m proud to say, I *never* felt like I was going to crash and burn. I felt uncomfortable in the sense that racing is uncomfortable, but I never once thought “I so wish this was over with”. In other words, this race wasn’t 6.2 miles on the pain train and I liked that.
According to the results, I finished in 47:50, although I swear I saw 47:10 on the clock. Makes me wonder if I can average the two for my time, but either way, I broke my previous PR and placed 3rd female overall. The female (and overall) winner was former Olympian Zola Budd Pieterse– I guess a recreational runner just can’t compete with a 1984 Olympic Champion, but at least I saw her on one of the turn arounds…
Nadine finished her 5K in 36:03, a 3 minute PR from her first 5K at the Charleston Marathon Shrimp and Grits in January.
After the race, we enjoyed some post-race treats. Race for Taylor always has great refreshments- Chic-Fil-A, Rita’s Italian Ice, tons of fruit, bagels, and granola bars… plus my personal favorite.
Once the treats were consumed, lots of pictures were taken…
Followed by awards and lots of hugs…
Then post-race TCBY Treats frozen yogurt, and a 2-hour drive back to Charleston…
It’s always fun to “go home” to run races (I consider Florence my “running hometown”, even though I’m not originally from there, it’s where I started this whole shebang). Plus, with the shirts, refreshments, and constant photo opportunities, I feel like a celebrity being a part of the Fitness World Run Club.
Of course, this race is special to me for so many reasons. PRing in the 10K- which is *not* an easy distance to race, requiring speed and endurance, and a tough course- here is all that much more special. When training, I logged my Daily Mile training runs as “PRingForTaylor”, knowing that if race day magic truly exists, it exists here- surrounded by family, friends, and the amazing, supportive, growing running community that is Race for Taylor.
Happy 21st Birthday, Taylor!
I received a free race entry courtesy of Fitness World Run Club, who sponsored the race (Thanks FWRC and all the other sponsors!). However, I planned to run this race regardless, and all opinions are my own. Special thanks to Tyler at James Boyd Photography for the pictures.