Now that I’ve lived in Charleston for just over a year, I’ve thought about which runs and races I want to repeat. We usually have multiple races per weekend here, including some new ones that have popped up in the past couple of years. Plus, they have to compete with long (free) group runs on Saturday morning, and with the occasional travel race in Florence/Darlington/Hartsville.
I ran the Isle of Palms Beach Run 5K last year with my friend Belinda. We ran it in honor of her son, Taylor, who passed away in a car accident on his way to Charleston for a college orientation visit. I’ve since run other races in Taylor’s honor (2013 Race for Taylor 10K and the Sandy Hook Virtual Run).
Since the Isle of Palms Beach Run was fun last year, I mustered up the confidence to do the 10K (6.2 miles) this year. It was a big step out of my comfort zone because a beach 10K in late June has a lot of strikes against it. On the beach there’s no shade, and even though the sand is hard and packed, it feels different from running on pavement. It’s usually sweltering hot, but we had slightly overcast and cooler weather this year. And strategically… 10Ks are hard.
If you’re not into running road races and just care about my life, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. Keep in mind, I am not a certified coach, and even though I spent 3 seasons chasing after cross country and track kids, I never caught up to them.
Here’s the “4 S’s of 10K Strategy”… speed, smarts, stamina, and strength.
You need speed because the race is typically an hour or less and you don’t want to lose time. However, if your first mile is too slow, you have 5 more miles to make up the speed- but if your first mile is way too fast, you have 5 more miles to bonk before you’re done.
That’s where smarts come in- you have to pace yourself in a 10K. If your first mile is too fast in a 5K, you can run out of gas, but you only have two more miles to go in the race- so you can possibly tough it out. Most 10Ks are a part of a 5K/10K race and start with the 5Kers, making pacing tough if you don’t know who’s doing which race.
In a 10K, you have to have the stamina or endurance to run more than 30-40 minutes. When I first started running, the 30-40 minute barrier was big- that was my wall for awhile. Maybe it’s how your body uses fuel, – but for me the jump from a 5K to a 10K was harder than the jump from a 10K to a half marathon.
As for strength– while strength training is huge (and I’ll always encourage it for runners), I think the 10K requires a lot of mental strength. Most 10Ks I’ve run have been out and back courses where you’re alone for a big part of the race. Unlike many half marathons and marathons, 10Ks don’t usually have entertainment. People split off, and sometimes you have to run past the finish for a double-loop course.
Knowing all of the above, I signed on the dotted line and showed up to toe the start line drawn in the sand on Saturday morning.
Now… I spent most of Friday laying around the house and even took a 2 hour nap. I’m not sure why I felt so wiped out, but Clay came home from work with a treat for me- a ROO MUG. After going to the gas station and having the worker show me how to operate the soda machine, I came home and drank a Vanilla Coke the size of my head.
For me, soda’s a treat or a pick-me-up for when I feel really, really, bad- not an everyday occurrence. Everything in moderation, right? I consider 57382048 ounces of soda moderation…
I guess the soda helped. Clay and I had friends over to play Cards Against Humanity on Friday night and had a good time. I stayed up until 10:30 before crashing so I could make my 5:30 AM wake up call for the race.
After driving 30 minutes and contributing a few dollars to the Isle of Palms economy for parking, I warmed up for about a mile by running from the Windjammer to the old Red and White, talking to Krystal and Robert from the TrySports Mt. Pleasant run group, and running back down. I met up with my friend and fellow TrySports Ambassador Gary and also saw fellow running blogger and friend Alex, who blogs at Tour de Blue Shoes.
Here’s a picture Alex took at the start, showing how packed this race was! Since the race was earlier this year, they had record registration. I think the holiday weekend helps because people vacation at Isle of Palms and decide to jump into a race when they’re in town.
No one plans to run an “A” race in June and on the beach, so my goal were to have a strong run, enjoy it, and quickly recover for a goofy nighttime group run I was doing Saturday night. As far as time, I wanted to finish in 50 minutes or so because that’s about the pace of my faster training runs lately. I met all those goals (well, finished with a time starting with a 50).
We were off at 8 AM with both races starting together. I picked out a few people to stay near- fortunately the 10K bibs were yellow so I knew who was in my race. I ran one with older gentleman for a long time, he was pacing for a 48 but I lost him just before the 10K/halfway/turnaround- Not sure he got that 48.
The out was fun and fast- but the back was *brutal*! One girl who passed me ran a negative split into the headwind and passed a couple other girls and guys on the “back”- no clue how she pulled that off, but it was pretty amazing. A pack of about 3 guys passed me on the “back”, but I ended up passing one of them again and outkicking a guy at the end. My finish kick is still pretty weak (Thanks Alex for the pic, capturing my finish time and my best side, hehe).
Since this was an out-and-back race, we had plenty of opportunities for water, with 4 total water stops (5K and 10K turn points, with one water stop between each of those). They were definitely prepared for the heat and the number of runners, although I think they ran out of large t-shirts- they were happy when I traded in my adult large for a youth large.
If you’re into t-shirts, this one has pretty good ones for a cotton shirt, but I definitely didn’t feel like that strong finisher on the back of the shirt even with my 50:46 finish.
After the race, the organizers had three kids fun runs, which I watched because it was super cute and truly made this a family event. All the kids looked so cute, and got ribbons for participating but some of them were super speedy too!
The awards for the race were trophies for the top male and female finishers, followed by medals for age groupers, only 2 deep. I always have bad luck in this race, placing third in my age group (same thing happened last year), so I’m biased- but I really wish they’d go three deep if the races keep growing.
While the awards were going on, I ate a cheesy bagel- it was a radioactive orange color… some random runner dared me to try it before he did, so I did. Then I jumped in the short free massage line and took advantage of the sweet lady who massaged my IT band and tight hip.
Even without a medal, I can enjoy free massage heaven, right?
Overall, I like this run a lot and would recommend it. If you’re the type who likes to place, it’s a little harder, but the run itself is fun and very laid back- which is why I like it. Plus all the kids runs are super fun to watch and you can’t beat post-race massages. I had a nice time and really enjoyed it.
As a TrySports Mt. Pleasant athlete ambassador, I received a complimentary race entry, as TrySports sponsors the race; however, all opinions expressed are my own and I am especially grateful for TrySports’ support to our local races, running community, and to my own training.