After living in Charleston/West Ashley for almost three years, I finally ran one of the most local road races in my community, the Avondale 5K.
Even though West Ashley lacks a local running store or group, the community is home to a few races, including the Race the Landing 5K series at Charles Towne Landing and this February’s You Can’t Run From Love 8K in West Ashley Park. I can happily add the Avondale 5K to the (short) list of fun running events in West Ashley/Charleston.
The Avondale 5K begins at one of our favorite Avondale/West Ashley restaurants, Triangle Char-N-Bar, and the course winds through the Avondale neighborhood. Avondale is home to many older houses, bars and restaurants such as Triangle, VooDoo, Pearlz, Mellow Mushroom, and The Roost, and interesting street art. The race proceeds benefit the Charles Webb Center, which is located about a mile from Avondale and serves special needs children. The Avondale 5K also raises awareness for the center because I hadn’t heard of it until I registered for the race.
I was excited for the race all week and secretly hoped to PR. I just PRed a 10K, and I’m doing lots of speedwork and tempo runs. Unfortunately, Charleston weather gets crazy, and while the calendar says October, it felt more like June with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. Since I’ve lived in the South all my life and train in all conditions, I try not to use heat as an excuse, so I headed to the race with the goal of running a fast race and maybe an unexpected PR.
Avondale doesn’t have a lot of parking in the neighborhood, but I snagged a spot at the Harris Teeter shopping center and highly recommend this, because it was just a short walk and most of those stores in that center (except HT) don’t open until 10 AM.
I ran a 2 mile warmup with Pat and Mark on the course. I like warming up on the course so I can see some of the turns, and I love warming up with friends because we can warm up together even if our race times aren’t really close.
At 8:30, we were off. This is a larger race, so the emcee and Carolyn Murray (local news anchor), tried to get everyone pumped up and excited. Long story short, I got a little *too* pumped up and ran the first mile well under a 7:00 min/mile pace. It’s a 5K so you want the first mile to be pretty speedy, but I slowed down a lot and my last mile was close to my tempo run pace.
The course had lots of turns. It was like a bowl of spaghetti (mmm… pasta… carbs… carb loading…). The turns were well marked, with plenty of water stations and volunteers, and I tried to stay as close to the inside as possible. Seconds count in a 5K. I looked at the course map before the race, but it’s confusing because you run down Magnolia Avenue twice.
By the third mile, I just wanted to finish. Mentally, I was great- I was concentrating and repeating to myself that this was my home course, in West Ashley- my community, and that I wanted to run well close to home. Physically… my legs wouldn’t go. I felt the effects of getting caught up in the excitement and going out too fast, along with Wednesday’s 4-miler and Thursday’s track workout. I should have just run easy on one of those days.
My watch and the mile markers were slightly off, so I saw my Mile 3 pace on my watch before the sign. I had no kick left at the end, but I heard Mark cheering yelling there was a girl behind me.
I ran a 22:24 (not horrible but not a PR). In the end, I was outkicked by one second. In the awards ceremony, the announcer said it was half of a second.
Half a second. I felt like I let that girl beat me.
After a solitary one mile cooldown, I headed back to the Triangle Char-N-Bar parking lot for the awards ceremony and after party. The Avondale 5K has one of the best after parties, with unlimited breakfast burritos from Triangle, mimosas, and beer (everyone said it was good beer, but I don’t drink beer to know). The race didn’t limit you with tickets, so you could have several mimosas and beers if you wanted them. Of course, water and typical race refreshments like fruit were available too. I ate my burrito, drank my mimosa, and hung out with the OnShore Sunday Run Club since most of us did this race.
I was 5th female overall and second in my age group (outkicked by the 1st place 25-29 female). I got a neat pint glass and let Stella (Virginia’s baby) play with it since everyone else’s was filled with beer.
Looking back, I was a little tough on myself post-race. According to my watch, I ran 3.15 miles in 22:21, an average 7:06 pace. The course isn’t long (it’s certified, but curvy), but the average pace puts me close to my 22:05 PR.
I joked with some friends that my running resembles the South Carolina Gamecocks football team. I start out great, then blow it in the second half. But, at least I know what to work on for next time. In 5 years of running and racing, I’m still figuring this thing out, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always be.
On a positive note, I’m pretty sure that first mile was my fastest ever…
I enjoyed the Avondale 5K and would definitely recommend the race. It was a very easy drive from my home, and I enjoyed running a 5K road race without having to drive over two bridges to Mt. Pleasant (it seems like all the local races are in Mount Pleasant).
The only issue I had was with the race shirt. When registering, I requested an extra small, and I was thrilled they offered that size and that I might get a shirt that fits for once. Somehow the extra small shirts weren’t ordered? The organizer insisted they’d have that size next year, so at least they listened to the runners’ feedback (I’m sure several other small ladies were disappointed). I still got a shirt; no complaints about the quality- it’s a pretty nice tech shirt and I’ll sleep in it.
I’ll probably run the Avondale 5K next year, but lots of races occur on the second weekend of October, so I wish it had a little less competition with other 5Ks. Over 500 people came out to participate, so the race had a strong showing, but I wish local runners didn’t have to choose between five races in one weekend.