Charleston Half Marathon (1:43:32)

The Charleston Marathon is one of the best races in our city, yet many residents know little about it. Charleston has been known for the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K for years, but people are slowly finding out about the Charleston Marathon races, attracting both locals and out-of-towners.

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2015 was my third year participating in the Charleston Marathon, which consists of a marathon, half marathon, Shrimp and Grits 5K, and bike ride. In 2013, I ran the half marathon, then hung out with my friend Nadine who did the 5K as her first race. In 2014, I paced the 2:30 half marathon finishers, most of whom exceeded their goal.

After spending 2014 focusing on 5Ks and 10Ks, I set a half marathon PR in a long training run, so I shifted my focus on training for Charleston. In October, November, and December, I did 2 speed workouts every week and focused on increasing my long run and overall weekly mileage while staying healthy and uninjured.

In the end, my training paid off with a big PR.

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This was my first official half marathon road race since the 2013 Charleston Half Marathon, and it’s hard to know how to plan for a distance you haven’t raced in 2 years. I set some goals, but my main one was to finish uninjured, smiling, and maybe set a PR in an actual race.

The Charleston Marathon gets better each year, and this year, we got some neat swag in the form of a long sleeved tech shirt designed by local artist Tate Nation and a fun drawstring bag. Another new addition was Facebook and text message tracking. My mom was thrilled to receive texts when I passed the 10K mark and finish line.

Thanks to the Charleston Marathon, my mom learned how to text.

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Race morning brought beautiful weather. After last year’s polar vortex and headwind, I was happy to see temperatures in the mid-40s… short sleeves! I stayed warm before the race in the gym at Burke High School, near the starting line, where I met up with Jenny from Run Jenny Run (I’ve followed her training for this race). I love that the school is open for runners to stretch, mingle, and stay warm before walking to the starting line.

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We started out running down Lockwood Ave, Broad Street, and the Battery, which is where I do speedwork, tempo runs, and the occasional long run. As always, the view was gorgeous and I loved running on familiar roads.

We ran down King Street, where we had lots of spectators, cheerleaders, bands, singing groups, and fun signs. My favorite was a little girl holding up a sign with a big red circle on it reading “Press for more horsepower”. All of the runners around me touched that sign (photo courtesy of Charleston Marathon’s Facebook page).

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Unfortunately, little kids with cute signs don’t help much when you start out too fast. Ironically, I never start too fast in my long runs (I’m really cautious about this), but I went out almost 30 seconds under goal pace in the first two miles. It’s always by accident; I get caught up in the excitement.

When you bank time in a half marathon, you withdraw it with interest later in the race. Hey, it was my first half marathon in two years, and I know what not to do in the next race. Running is a learning experience for everyone.

The other minor hiccup I had was fueling. I didn’t eat anything on my 12-13 mile long runs- just my pop tart and coffee before. On my 16 miler, I used sport beans, so I brought those to the race. When fueling on a training run, I stopped, ate the sport beans, and carried on running. I didn’t want to stop in the race, and I couldn’t get the beans out of my pocket due to my gloves. I only ate one bean during the race.

The miles in North Charleston weren’t the most scenic, but they did have a fair amount of crowd support. The crowd support in North Charleston has increased each year. We also had a couple of bands and a nice view of the Cooper River from Riverfront Park.

Once you’re out of Riverfront Park, there’s one mile to go until the finish. I didn’t have much left, so I told myself it was only about 8 minutes and I could do anything for 8 minutes. Park Circle had tons of spectators and cheerleaders, including Peggy, who was ringing her cowbell. Peggy supports so many local runners through the TrySports Run Club and has helped many of us through our first or fastest half or full marathons. It was great to see Peggy- and the finish.

I’m glad half marathons don’t require a finish kick like 5Ks do, because I didn’t have one and I always get out-kicked! The 1:45 pacer passed me at the end, and I felt slightly disappointed.

I got my medal, then found my official time was 1:44:58. By 2 seconds, I was a 1:44 half marathoner!

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I hung out with my friends after and enjoyed a mimosa, grits, and boiled peanuts. I met up with some friend from the Fitness World Run Club, my Florence/Pee Dee run club from before I moved to Charleston (they traveled here for the race). Since the weather was so beautiful, everyone hung out and had a great time. Several of my friends won awards in the 5K and half, so I saw their award ceremonies. We all danced to live music and celebrated.

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After the race, I noticed my Garmin read 13.46. I didn’t look at it during the race, and maybe I should have- and slowed down the first two miles. At first, I thought I set my Garmin at the school as I was walking to the start. The race was long, but the actual course is not long. After all, it’s certified.

That evening, I learned the lead police car passed Ashley Avenue downtown and turned on Rutledge Avenue, making the race 2 blocks longer. This was bad news for anyone hoping to qualify for Boston, as a few minutes makes a difference when you must be 3-4 minutes under the qualifying time.

Unfortunately, a few runners were rude to the race directors, pacers, officials, and crew about the race length issue. I understand being upset, but taking it out on others makes you look bad. If a runner complains about driving 2372 miles to Charleston, supporting the local economy, and lets a long race completely ruin the trip, that’s not the race’s problem. It’s the runner’s problem- an attitude problem. 

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Those who ran the full and barely missed qualifying had a reason to be unhappy (I would have been too). For the rest of us, myself included, why not use the 13.1 time from your Garmin or Map My Run and count that? Life’s too short, and in the end, it’s only running.

I wasn’t upset by the long race since I met my goals regardless. On Sunday, the race officials responded saying they would measure the extra distance and adjust times based on the difference. I thought that was very classy and professional. The extra distance was measured on Wednesday, and the adjusted times were online Thursday.

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I enjoyed the Charleston Marathon and will participate next year. I’m proud of meeting my goals and setting a new PR on my hometown course. It’s one of my favorite local races and I love that it brings so many runners to experience the streets and scenery from my usual running routes.

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Chip time: 1:44:58

Garmin 13.1 Time: 1:42:23

Adjusted Time: 1:43:32

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41 Responses to Charleston Half Marathon (1:43:32)

  1. KrisLawrence says:

    Nice work especially considering you went out VERY fast and you ran two extra blocks! It baffles me how frequently races are certified, then race day, people are led astray. Rudeness is never an answer but I understand why people would be so upset. It would irritate me too to train for a hard distance like a half then have 1-2 minutes added on.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I had a friend who qualified for Boston because of the adjustment. I know he was biting his nails to see what would go down. I was looking at race pictures the other day and wondering if there’s any way to find out who drove the lead car!

  2. Tiny runner says:

    Congratulations on your PR! Your worked so hard for it and I’m really pleased that you were duly rewarded. I think your positive attitude about the race length is fantastic – I don’t think I would have been so forgiving ;-). Well done again – recover well!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks! I had a great run yesterday, but I definitely took a few days off this week. After training so many weeks straight, my body just needed a little break.

      I really try to be positive about everything, sometimes people take this sport way too seriously. 99% of us will always be professionals in something other than running anyway!

  3. Victoria says:

    Nice work on the PR! As you get more experience at the distance, I bet you’ll be posting a bunch of 1:3x times in no time.

  4. Congrats… Great job! Now join me in the 50 state quest!!!!

  5. Taylor says:

    Whoo hoo! Way to go! We were talking about the distance this morning in boot camp and agreed that the attitudes were def unnecessary, stuff happens but at least they corrected the times and being long is a heck of a lot better than being short!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly- and I agree! I would rather a long course than a short one. Boston won’t accept times on a short course, fwiw. Plus I always feel cheated if a race is short, like I can never officially “count it” as a PR.

  6. taylorr2010 says:

    Way to go! That’s great. We talked about it in class this morning since a few ladies ran. The attitudes were unnecessary and the way I see it, I would rather run a bit over then a bit less! At least they were able to correct the times!

  7. Adrienne says:

    Congrats on your great race!!

  8. Amy says:

    Great job! I get annoyed when people take it out on race directors who work so hard to put on a good race when the tiniest thing goes wrong. I hate that the invention of garmins and GPS has led to entitled runners. Oh well.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Everyone’s GPS is a little long on a certified course, as it’s done with tangents. The race was very accommodating and apologetic as well- they work very hard to make it a good event each year and sometimes things are out of a race director’s control.

  9. Mark M says:

    Great writing Amy! I knew you would set a pr! This was one of the most fun I had at a race yet. (till mile 23) I set my Goal at 3:05 and was mad for about 5 minutes after I finished not at anything or any one but my self I realized I was being too hard on my self and will just run another. I think the race being too long was just an easy reason for people to be upset. Hell I figured it out around mile 3 and verified it by mile 5 so I adjusted accordingly. Look forward to seeing your improvements at the next race.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Mark! And congrats on your BQ, you will just continue to improve anyway and it’s early for BQs so you will have other chances if you run more marathons.

      People will always find something to complain about, but I also feel like we runners can be too hard on ourselves. I’m trying to work on that personally, I think once you run for a few years you take it a little less seriously, even if you take your training more seriously, just because you know there are so many races and not every one will be a PR, the stars won’t always align and the magic won’t always happen, you start to really cherish when it does 🙂

  10. Congrats on the PR Amy!!! It’s so hard not to speed up in beginning especially with lots of kiddos and signs cheering! That’s nice the race made adjusted times as well, I wonder if the adjusted times could be used for those in the full trying to BQ. But you are so right, no need to make a gigantic stink about it especially those in the half- things happen! (I could understand the upset BQ’rs though, maybe Boston will accept the times)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, that’s the tricky part. I read that Boston has accepted adjusted times before (I suppose it’s always up to them with what they want to do). The good thing is it is early, so anyone who was close or wants to try to get the time down, or wants to run another marathon and re-qualify “just in case” has several months to do it (and we have a few marathons in the South for them to do it in).

  11. harveylisam says:

    Wow, that’s amazing! Great job!! You’ve got me inspired to run another half this year. 🙂 (Though I can’t even think about that until March because I have no idea where’ll I’ll be living yet!)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It would be so neat if you could- especially if you found a race in one of the countries you visit and ran it. Not so much for time, just to experience a race in another country.

  12. Congrats on the PR! I’m glad the race directors decided to adjust the times. I think it was the right thing to do. I see big things in the future for you!

  13. Steph says:

    I bet that’s embarrassing for the race director…what a bummer for that to happen! Still, congrats on the PR in the face of all that! It sounds like you had a strong race.

  14. allieksmith says:

    Wowza, you are so speedy! What an amazing race you had–even with going out fast the first two miles and being able to eat only 1 bean! You trained so hard and so well for this race, and it really paid off!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you! I got some new gloves that are finger tip-less so I can eat my beans for the next race :).

      I swear I’m trying to learn to pace better. I always go out too fast in races, it’s hard to break old (bad) habits :(.

  15. Jodi Stuber says:

    Wow you are so speedy!! That’s so awesome. It is my dream to get back to Charleston in the next 2 years to run a half or full marathon. Hubs and I stayed there for a week for our honeymoon and of course I didn’t run back then. Which is your favorite long distance race down there??
    I do love that medal 🙂

  16. Congrats, Amy! That same thing happened in a half-marathon I ran in 2012 — the course was about a quarter-mile too long because of an incorrect marking. They admitted their mistake and apologized, but didn’t adjust times. I didn’t know anyone who missed a BQ, but I did have a friend who should have broken 4 hours in the marathon for the first time, and his official time was 4:00.12 or something like that. Sure, he was disappointed, but he didn’t go as far as harassing the race directors on social media like some of the runners did. It’s just a race time! Being mean is not necessary.

    It’s funny to think that 15 years ago, before anyone had a GPS watch or phone app, nobody would’ve known the difference, right?

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Nope- before technology you would adjust assume, I guess. And you’d run for place and not for time. I remember asking my coach what his half PR was when I started training for this one and he was telling me about the race, and said that he ended up taking a wrong turn and a volunteer got him back on the course, so his time was probably a bit more than 13.1 (supposedly the guy who would’ve won wasn’t seen after!).

      That stinks about your friend not breaking 4 hours, but being that close is really awesome, still a great time and your friend was set to do it, too!

  17. Hollie says:

    I agree about your attitude. It makes sense for people to be upset but the race officials responded really well. It’s always hard not to speed up with people cheering but you did an awesome job. Congrats on a solid time and PR.

  18. Theresa says:

    I go out too fast ALL THE TIME – for the same reason, because I get caught up in the race excitement! I still do not know how to make myself slow down. lol. CONGRATS on the PR!

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever ran a race where my garmin matched the distance LOL. I just don’t think anything of it (chalk it up to my weaving around people, not running the tangents, etc). Stinks about the race hiccup but those people could have handled it better! Hopefully they were content with their adjusted times. Congrats on the PR!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I saw someone on Facebook who commented that they PRed even on the long course but was still unhappy with the adjusted time because they said the got a bigger difference in the course than what the race certifiers got! So they were mad even though they PRed… in the HALF. Not even a marathoner who would be Boston bound or something, but someone doing the half. *sigh*.

      There are a lot of turns in the race, so it can be hard to run the tangents. I’ve always been a little over on my Garmin, and chalked it up to that. But really, who wants to run a race course that’s just a straight line, you know?

  20. Great run, so happy you set a big PR.
    I am really hoping Boston accepts the adjusted times.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      The Charleston Marathon staff can’t control what Boston accepts (it’s their marathon, after all), but it was right to adjust them, because from what I read, they have accepted adjusted times in the past. Hopefully the outcome is good, CM did what they could.

  21. Run To Munch says:

    congratulations!! I knew you would kick major dust!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Nice job and wonder recap Amy! For some reason my bloglovin reader just fed this into my queue!

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