Last week, I welcomed summer by participating in the May Day Half Marathon, a fun RAYOR (Run At Your Own Risk) event around Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, and Folly Beach.
I ran this last year (you can read about it here), and once again, Virginia, Rocky, and the OnShore Racing volunteer crew made the 13.1 (or 26.2) mile run one to remember. This year’s run was bigger and better than ever, with the $30 registration fee coming back to runners in the form of an awesome post-race party with food and beer, tech shirt, hand crafted oyster shell finisher’s medal, and shuttle back to the downtown parking garages.
We also had a packet pick up/happy hour/design your own bib party the Tuesday before the run.
The May Day Marathon (and half marathon) is not an official, sanctioned race- It’s a guerilla event to celebrate summer and enjoy some of the best views around Charleston. The roads are not closed, you will have to stop for traffic, lights, and cars, and you must run on the sidewalk or bike lane. This is why it’s advertised as Run At Your Own Risk. However, the route had great signage, including mile markers, and adequate aid stations with water, gatorade, gu, chomps, etc.
If you want to qualify for Boston or join Marathon Maniacs, you’ll need to run that on a closed-course, sanctioned race. If you want to have a good time, make new friends, party and drink, and get a long run in, then May Day might be the event for you. If you’re training for another event, it’s a great excuse for an aided long run and party. To truly understand May Day, feel free to check out my recap from last year or Mikey’s recap of this year’s event.
My May Day morning started out meeting Ashley, Krysta, and Jennifer at Folly River Park and carpooling to downtown Charleston, where we parked in a garage, went to the potty, and met everyone at the starting line around 15 minutes before the 9 AM race (The full marathoners started at the Isle of Palms at 7 AM). I was glad we made it on time because traffic was a beast going downtown, and I already get anxious before races and possibly missing the start.
The half marathoners took a pre-run picture, then the May Day veterans who ran last year took a picture, then we were OFF! We had 35 half marathoners and 17 full marathoners.
The half course ran from the Pineapple Fountain in Battery Park through Downtown, South of Broad, over the Ashley River Bridge, into West Ashley, then down Folly Road to James Island and eventually Folly River Park (just before Folly Beach). Everything was well marked with signs, aid stations, and a couple of on-course photographers. Lots of people also opted to run the whole thing with friends anyway.
I felt pretty good for about the first 5 miles. I won’t go into my splits, but it got ugly on Folly Road due to construction, the sun/heat, and stomach issues. I had most of a Hammer gel (espresso) at Mile 5. I’ve had chocolate Hammer gels before, but I don’t usually use fuel on runs because I don’t run 13.1 often. Typically, I eat my pop tart and coffee breakfast before, then go on my 10-12 milers. I don’t know why I grabbed espresso flavor, but it wasn’t as good as the chocolate ones, and I’m grateful I usually don’t run distances to need gels. I also had water and gatorade at some of the aid stations.
At the aid station about 1.5 miles from the finish, I was really feeling the heat. It hasn’t gotten too hot in SC yet, but our winter was long and our summer was… sudden. I’m getting acclimated to the heat, but even if you’re used to it, it’s still hard at 10:30 on a sunny day when you’re already 11.5 miles into a 13.1 mile run.
I also saw my friend and training partner, David, on that bridge. He ran the full marathon and finished right after I finished my half, but we ran for a little while together. It was great running for a bit with him at the finish because he’s a great training partner and keeps me going during the Sunday morning long tempo runs. This was his first 26.2 and he finished under 4 hours, too!
I picked up a little on the last mile and finished in 1:53:25. According to my watch, I spent over 2 minutes at aid stations, and with the construction, being mindful of traffic, and stomach issues, I was more than happy with my finish time, and everyone truly earned their handmade oyster shell medals.
After the race and some time in the Folly River Park bathroom, it was time to party. I was thankful for indoor plumbing in the bathroom. Tummy troubles during a run suck, but on the other hand… I am now closer to my pre-cruise weight.
At the post-race party, a band called the Spazzmatics played 80s music and we enjoyed pizza and salad from Paisano’s Pizza Grill, along with fruit, water, and beer.
All the food was really good, although I had to wait awhile before I could stomach the pizza. I was really grateful for the post-race food since the marathon I did in September ran out (and didn’t have anything without meat when food was available), and it’s important to get some food in your body after a hard event like that.
I ate salad and 2 slices of veggie pizza, then spent some more time hanging out and chatting. You definitely have to take the entire day off work to fully enjoy and appreciate the May Day Marathon and after party, and I was glad I did.
We also had a fun little blow-up swimming pool, which rocked because many of us (including myself) were running the Race the Landing 5K that night. Sitting in the cold water in the pool helped my legs feel better.
Toward the end of the post-race party, all of us signed the May Pole, then grabbed the streamers and walked around it. It was crazy having to duck and occasionally running into other people, but the May Pole looked pretty cool when we finished.
Conveniently, the beer keg also ran out shortly after, so a bunch of us loaded the Paddy Wagon (a bus that belongs to Seanachai, an Irish pub on John’s Island) to go back to the starting lines.
The May Day event was super fun, and I will definitely run it again next year. I’m not really into training for half or full marathons right now, but I can’t turn down an excuse for a long run and party!