Only in South Carolina can you run a 5K wearing a tank top or sports bra and run another 5K six days later, wearing hats, gloves, turtlenecks, and hand warmers.
Fall skipped South Carolina this year.
Friday evening (Halloween!) I handed out candy in my cute little sailor girl costume. I walked around my neighborhood, talked to neighbors, and admired decorations… wearing shorts.
On Saturday morning, I woke up at dark-thirty for the James Island Connector Run, with temperatures in the 30s and winds. Thankfully, I didn’t wake up to snow like some people in Columbia and the midlands. I’m a wuss when the temperature goes below 40 and could never live anywhere north of Charleston.
Even if it is dark at 7 AM, cold, and windy, it’s still a great day to run, so I dug out the gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and multiple layers that I put away in March and headed out the door. I had on quite a few layers and felt like the little brother from A Christmas Story who was so bundled up he couldn’t move. I could move and also photo bomb Stella.
The James Island Connector Run is a local race benefiting the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation (GKF), a charity that awards scholarships to students with disabilities. I love the cause of the race and how you can see where your money goes because the students who receive the scholarships attend packet pick up and the race.
The James Island Connector Run is also one of the toughest races in town, if not the toughest. Charleston is famous for the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, but I think the James Island Connector Run is tougher because more of the race is on the connector (more concrete, less road) and the connector has 3 inclines, which you go over twice in the 10K. This race is also the only time running on the James Island Connector is both safe and legal.
My friend Andy jokes that the James Island Connector is the “Three Hump Camel” (3 inclines), so instead of riding the road racing “pain train”, I mentally prepared to ride the Three Hump Camel and hopefully beat 23:38.
I kept all my layers on until 8:25, then made my way to the start. I was three rows back but beside two ladies who said this was their first 5K. I’m not sure what’s worse- lining up that close to the start in your first 5K, or running one of the toughest races in the area in the toughest conditions for your first race. Since the police and officials had trouble closing the connector to traffic and getting volunteers and water stations set up, the start was delayed until 8:40 so I had to freeze 10 more minutes before running.
Once we were off, I tried to find a big guy to run behind to block the wind, but it was hard. I ended up in a pack with Ashley, Vini, Ed, and a couple of others, but the wind was blowing us around on the connector. You couldn’t draft in that wind! It was my first time running in a pack, and I think it slowed me on the downhills when I really wanted to accelerate and just couldn’t.
All of us were working hard and the wind was keeping us from picking up speed. My shirt blew up in my face, I was scared my bib would fly off, and Tag Your Pix caught it all on camera (U-G-L-Y).
Fortunately, I only had to run hard for 3.1 miles and pretty soon I saw the finish chute for the 5K. I ran through (23:36), collected my medal for being one of the first 100 5K finishers, drank some water, then cheered at the turnaround for all the 10Kers. The James Island Connector Run 5K is a point-to-point race, so the 5Kers could ride buses back to the start.
When cheering, I saw Rich and Ricky, who I know from Noah’s “Moore On Running” training group and the August road trip. I didn’t want to wait for the buses and they didn’t mind the company on the rest of their 10K, so I ran back with them. It was a fun run back since the wind was at my back. Many of the 10Kers ran faster on the second half, so you know the wind was crazy!
I put on my 4782083 layers, ate a pumpkin bagel at the finish party, and Liz came up and told me I placed second in my age group. I was 8th female overall in the 5K and 2nd in 25-29. I got a really cool glass award. I also saw my official time and found that I beat my Isle of Palms 5K time by 2 seconds.
The finish party ended abruptly because the wind picked up again and it started raining- everyone cleared out. I got my award from the table but did not stay to hear my name called (no one else stayed around either).
I highly recommend the James Island Connector Run. It is one of the best races in the area and is on my race calendar each year now. It’s a larger race and usually has over 1,000 finishers, but doesn’t feel crowded. The course is challenging, but you feel more accomplished at the end. The overall winners (top 5), masters, and grand masters get cash prizes and the age group awards aren’t too shabby.
This year, the organizers had medals for the first 100 finishers of both the 5K and 10K. I appreciated the medal- the organizers did not have to give anyone a medal. I was proud of it, but I felt slightly guilty walking around the post-race party when so many people did not have them (I wish they just gave them to all finishers). I don’t know of many short races that give finisher’s medals. I’ll probably hang it on the Christmas tree this year, especially since running in that chilly wind now has me in the mood to get ready for the holidays!
As an ambassador of the James Island Connector Run, I received a complimentary race entry- however, all opinions are my own. I received a discount code to share and promoted the race to local running groups and on social media.