Hey everyone! I hope you guys had a great Halloween and a great weekend if you were off. Our was pretty good- we got tons of trick-or-treaters and ran out of candy early (partially my fault for giving the multiple pieces) and watched SNL.
I was off work Friday and headed downtown to eat lunch with Nadine; we had a great time eating lunch at a new-to-us deli and dessert at Kaminsky’s, an old-to-us but still delicious dessert bar before picking up my race number for the James Island Connector Run.
Dessert *is* the perfect way to “carb load” before a race and celebrate your birthday late (my company gives us a day off for our birthday and you can take it at any time during the month of your birthday or shortly after, so that’s why I was off work- pretty awesome policy if you ask me!). After the deliciousness, I settled in at home to rest up for the race.
Held each November, the James Island Connector Run is your only chance to (legally) run, walk, or bike over the Charleston/James Island Connector, crossing the Ashley River. The race is a pretty big event here (over 1200 participants this year), but of course, it’s overshadowed by the well-known Cooper River Bridge Run in the Spring.
This year, the Cooper River Bridge Run introduced a corral system that allows you to start in the first corral if you can rock a 10K finishing time of 45:00 or less, and since this race is one of the few 10Ks in the area, the field was pretty stacked with people wanting to run below 45 minutes. If you run this 10K in under 45 minutes, you’re probably Kenyan and *deserve* to be at the very front of the Cooper River Bridge Run.
To celebrate the James Island Connector Run’s 15th anniversary, the race offered finisher’s medals to the first 1,000 participants. Fewer than 1,000 people participated last year, so I don’t know if the organizers expected so many when ordering medals, but some people would not leave with a medal and no one wanted to be one of those people.
A few people were upset they did not get medals, even though the race clearly stated there were only 1,000, and most 5K and 10K medals give nothing just for finishing. Knowing that you’re not guaranteed a medal means that you’ll give 100% on the course- which is how it should be, especially in a relatively inexpensive 5K or 10K.
Everyone was advised to arrive early and we did… really early! We ended up standing around a lot, almost an hour, but fortunately didn’t have to wait super long for potties to take some pre-race pictures. Snagging a parking spot on the third level of the MUSC garage was pretty nice too.
The race started right on time at 8:30, with the bikes starting first, then the runners. We took off down Bennett Street, and my one regret is that I didn’t get closer to the front, because I thought we’d have a timing mat at the start. There was no mat, so I could’ve shaved probably a minute off my time if I hadn’t started so far back (I was busy chatting at the start too). The start was a little congested, unavoidable with a race this size in Downtown Charleston where the streets are pretty narrow, but everyone spread out quickly when we could see the connector in the horizon.
You feel all three inclines (hills?) of the connector, and if you run the 10K, it’s six inclines/declines. The 10K runners ran an out-and-back, and the 5K runners stopped at the halfway mark and were shuttled back to the finish line party at Cannon Park. The course was well marked (mile markers at each mark, and it’s difficult to get lost running over a bridge and back) and had several water stops and porta-potties at the halfway point for 5K runners finishing or 10K runners needing to potty. The setup was obviously well thought out.
The last hill/incline got everyone in the 10K! By Mile 5, you’re pretty wiped out and all you want to do is speed to the finish, but that’s hard to do when the hardest incline of the course is right there (of course, you didn’t feel so bad going down in when you were at mile 1…). After getting over the hill, I sped up a little then made the right turn close to Mile 6, which is when I turned onto the street to finish the 10K in 49:52. I wasn’t going “PR or ER” (my 10K PR is 47:50 anyway), but I was determined to finish in under 50 minutes.
I got my coveted medal, then went back to cheer on runners and cool down. I cheered for people by their shirts or by name if I knew them, and cooled down with Krystal and Gary, then we ran in with Noah, Jennifer, Liz, and Carolyn from the TrySports Run Club.
By this time, the 5Kers were back from their finish on the shuttles. Clay also earned the finisher’s medal.
The after party was also pretty great and worth sticking around for. The race took over Cannon Park with a band, free beer, hot dogs, and refreshments. Best of all, the vendors set up had candy out for us, so I definitely enjoyed a few pieces. A race 2 days after Halloween should definitely have candy for those of us adults who miss out on the holiday (I know I can buy candy, but nothing beats trick-or-treat candy variety).
The James Island Connector Run 10K was the hardest road course I’ve run. Six very difficult hills on a 6.2 mile course, along with the terrain of the connector, is pretty rough. None of us who set time goals met our time goals, unfortunately- and while I’m perfectly satisfied with my time on such a hard course, I am a bit sad for some who missed the sub-45 cut off by just a few seconds.
Running the James Island Connector Run 10K is the pain and soreness equivalent of a half marathon on your body. Your legs will feel it the next day. Charleston locals fear running the Cooper River Bridge, but with only one sharp incline (and a nice long decline) in that 10K, this makes the bridge look easy. However- I* highly* recommend this race.
As a seasoned runner, this race was well thought out with the participants in mind. It’s well-organized, has a great after party, and all the volunteers were wonderful. It’s smaller than the Cooper River Bridge Run but still a pretty large race, and it’s a challenge that you can- and should- be proud of.
Along with thirteen other local runners, I served as an official race ambassador for the James Island Connector Run. I received a free race entry as well as a discount code to share with my friends and readers. I was not paid and all opinions are my own.