On Saturday, I ran the Historic Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Run Half Marathon in Georgetown, SC. I finished in 1:41:43 and set a new half marathon PR. I also placed third female overall (it was a small race with 145ish half marathoners).
Best of all, I got to run close to where I grew up and spend time with family and friends.
About Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Run
This was the 5th annual Historic Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Run and my second time running it. I ran in 2012, and it was my second-ever half marathon. The race raises money for Friendship Place, which is a local charity that feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, and offers job training in high poverty areas of Georgetown County.
In five short years, the Bridge 2 Bridge Run has been through a lot. In 2013, a fire on Front Street destroyed many businesses along the course and the start/finish line. This fire occurred the week before the race and devastated the small town- but the race went on.
This year, the race was rescheduled due to flooding in Georgetown County. The course was not impacted by the flooding, but the sheriff’s department needed all resources to deal with the flooding rather than closing roads for a race on October 10. The flooding in Georgetown County was much worse than in Charleston.
Most runners understood, and while some couldn’t participate on the new date, it worked better for others. The organizers offered transfers or a 50% discount on next year’s race for those who could not participate.
Each year, the Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Run brings a high-quality, fun, wellness-oriented event to an area that does not have many runs or races. From growing up in a rural area, I know that opportunities for running, working out, and healthy eating are not as plentiful as they are in a city or suburban area with gyms, tracks, and large grocery stores. That’s one reason I opted for this race over several Charleston-area runs on the same day.
I hope the Bridge 2 Bridge Run continues for many years, inspiring more runners and walkers to get out there- and more races to pop up.
The Bridge 2 Bridge course is all road and includes 3 bridges, and you run over each bridge twice. The bridges over the Black River and Waccamaw River kind of blend together, but you can’t miss the Sampit River Bridge. It’s the steepest, and you run over it at Mile 8 and Mile 11.
Long story short, this race is certainly not flat or fast. But, I’m a running outlier and set PRs on courses that involve bridges (Cooper River Bridge Run 10K) or August days when it’s 70 degrees and 100% humidity (Race for the ARK 5K).
Of all the half marathons I’ve run, this race had the most adequate aid stations (Miles 1.5, 3, 5, 6.5, 8, 9, 11, and 12). The aid stations had water and Gatorade and one had Gu. The race had 5 aid stations, but you ran by some of them twice. The volunteers were great with cheering and properly handing out cups.
My Race Experience
I drove up on Friday afternoon and stayed with my parents that night. Staying with family before a race is the next best thing to sleeping in your own bed. You might even get to sleep in your childhood bed. I drove about 30 minutes to the race on Saturday morning and parked in a small lot less than a block from the start.
In light of the deaths at the recent Savannah Rock and Roll half, the race directors made a speech before the race warning everyone to listen to their bodies and slow down and stop if they needed to. Fortunately, the temperatures were perfect, and at the end of the race, the organizers announced that no one had to stop.
A lot of Charleston runners drove up, and I saw Lisa (Charleston area runner and Director for Race the Landing) at the start. We usually finish pretty close in 5Ks, so I hoped to run close to her for awhile.
The half started on time and with the cooler temperatures, I felt great. With a small field, I started super close to the line and the first female was just in front of me. She’s a rockstar and was ahead of me for the whole race. We ran through some neighborhoods and by some corn fields. At Mile 1, my watch beeped and displayed 7:29. My friend Andy always says that no races are won in the first mile, but plenty are lost. I immediately reeled the pace in and focused on being patient and listening to my music.
The bridges were ahead, and I didn’t want to “bank time” by running too fast in the beginning. When you bank time in a half marathon, you pay it back with interest.
After the second mile, we hit the first bridge. Lisa passed me and told me to draft behind some guys. Both of us drafted and swapped the second place female spot for about a mile and a half until a turn on the bridge when I passed Lisa as well as all but one guy. I didn’t see them again until the finish. From the turnaround, I knew I was the second female and others I knew on the course kept telling me that when I met them running the other way.
In the middle miles, I tried to be patient, get into “dumb race horse mode” and not overthink. Mile 6 was a little crowded, as the faster half marathoners ran into the 5K walkers, but everyone was courteous and most cheered for us. That was a big help. Around mile 7, I passed the last man I was drafting behind.
At Mile 8, I saw a shadow with long hair. I knew it wasn’t Lisa, because this shadow was much larger and Lisa doesn’t run with her hair down. I ran over the Sampit Bridge, which doesn’t seem quite as steep from this direction, and out of town. This is when the course got a bit boring, winding through an almost-empty subdivision with numbered lots. I hope that someday, homes are built there and spectators can come out and see the race.
In the subdivision, I focused on the other runner. The headwinds were strong, and I drafted for a bit and patiently tried to keep up. At the Mile 10 split, I mentally added my last 5K time on and knew I was under 1:45 but I had to make it back over the Sampit River and to Front Street.
Running up the steep Sampit Bridge is no joke. At Mile 11, the runner ahead of me pulled away and beasted up that bridge, so I had no way to draft. The headwind was intense, and it was my slowest mile. I actually hit a 10 min/mile pace and thought about walking but knew the race was downhill from there- a stretch of flat road and one turn and I would be finished. I knew I was third female, but I didn’t know if anyone else was behind me. I focused on finishing, staying positive, and running my own race.
After turning on Front Street, I saw the clock tower. The finish seemed further away than I remembered! I saw the 13 mile mark, picked it up to “kick” as best as I could after 13 miles, and seeing the finish clock, I knew I would PR.
I finished in 1:41:43, collected my medal, and saw my mom. My parents drove separate cars, and my mom had to park a few blocks away. They made it two minutes before I finished, and I’m glad I could share the race with them. We walked around Front Street, got refreshments, cheered for the other finishers, and hung out for the awards ceremony.
A lot of the Charleston crowd set new PRs, won awards, or just outright surprised themselves with their finish times on such a tough course. I’m proud of us for representing!
My Garmin logged the run as 13.34 miles with an average pace of 7:37.
Splits: 7:24, 7:57, 7:29, 7:32, 7:40, 7:36, 7:30, 7:42, 7:30, 7:24, 7:42, 8:17, 7:41, 7:19 (last .34).
I set a new “Garmin PR” of 1:40:08 for 13.1 miles. My previous half marathon PR was 1:41:50 at the Save the Light Half Marathon on Folly Island, which is a flat, fast, course.
I only compete against myself, so my real joy was in setting a new PR and running a good tactical race. I wasn’t expecting to place third overall, but I was happy. The race is small (about 150 runners), placing is only about who shows up, and a 1:41 half marathon usually wouldn’t earn an age group award. Still, small races can be challenging without as much crowd support and fewer runners to “rabbit hunt” and pass in the later miles.
I’m inching closer to a sub-1:40 and will shoot for that in January’s Charleston Half Marathon. I have 8 weeks to train and much cooler temperatures- but this week’s all about post-race recovery and celebrating the PR!
Race Name: Historic Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Run (Half Marathon)
Location: Georgetown, SC
Date and Time: November 14, 2015, 7:30 AM
Entry fee: 5K: $25-30, 12K: $45-65, Half: $55-75
Swag: Gender-specific tech shirt, bandana with race route and place for finisher’s time, finisher’s medal, koozie. Age group and overall awards were also medals.
Post-race Food: Bagels, oranges, bananas, water, gatorade, one beer per runner.
Weather: 41 degrees, 81% humidity, 5 mph wind at start.