Charleston Marathon Half (1:39:59)

This was my 4th year running the Charleston Marathon (Half), one of my favorite local races. Although this is a local event, it’s quickly becoming a weekend destination race. The Charleston Marathon is held on MLK Jr. weekend each year, and since many people have Monday off, they stay in town for a few days.

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You cannot peak or expect to PR at every race, so each month, I pick one race to try hard. For January, Charleston Marathon was that race.

I had some free time last Monday night, so I sat down and wrote out a race plan. You don’t have to be super fast to write a race plan and list your goals- it’s a good step for all runners. And yes, having fun and taking a good race picture are perfectly acceptable goals!

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No training plan or race day ever goes perfectly and stress-free. This was no exception. The day before the race, I drove my new-to-me car to the packet pick up and expo. The rain was terrible, and it was my first time driving this car in rain. Also, roads near the school where packet pick up was flooded. This was scary, but my car is part submarine and survived.

I got all my stress out on Friday, so Saturday’s race had to go well!

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I arrived at the race about an hour early on Saturday, and parking was easy. The flooding from the day before had receeded except for a few mud puddles (we have tidal flooding and drainage issues here since we’re on the coast). I hung out with Emily and some more friends in the warm gym before the race.

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Pre-race, I met fellow blogger Paul at Running Wild who was pacing the 4:00 marathon. We didn’t get a picture, but it was fun meeting him since I’ve read his blog for about a year now. He runs a lot of NC marathons, as well as a few destination races. We talked a bit, then I dropped my bag at bag check and walked toward the start. It was so warm, I ditched my gloves in my car on the way to the start.

I found the 3:15 full pacer and talked to him for a bit. He said he was going to start at around a 7:50 pace for the first two miles, then ease into a 7:21. Charleston doesn’t have corrals, so I decided to start with the 3:15 full marathoners and a few half marathoners around us who said they were gunning for under 1:40. One guy said he was shooting for “96” and I had to do the math that he meant 1:36 half.

After a few words from our new mayor and the national anthem, we started right on time. I dodged a few puddles of standing water at the start and ran around people, but I ran very close to the 3:15 marathon pacer. I hit the first mile in 7:41 and felt very comfortable. Too comfortable.

“No races are won in the first mile, but plenty are lost there.” – Andy “Tall Terror” Tedesco

Mile 2 felt pretty good too. I whizzed through the Fleet Feet Mt. Pleasant aid station and around downtown. I was pumped- this is my usual Sunday long run route. It was just like my Sunday long run with OnShore Racing, except I was joined by people from 47 different states and a few other countries.

I was slightly (or so I thought) ahead of the 3:15 full pacer, but I figured I was getting closer to my 7:30 goal pace. Then my watch vibrated, and I saw it… 7:08. I muttered several choice words usually reserved for the finish line of 5Ks.

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Time to regroup with the plan. I couldn’t go back and run Mile 2 slower, but I had 11 miles to go. I immediately backed down and knew that I’d pay for this later on. I let a few people pass me and settled in to run my own race and not get too excited. We turned onto King Street at Mile 3. I knew spectators and cheers were coming, so I focused on staying calm, patient, and running comfortably. I saw Tom and Lesli cheering, and I yelled back “1:39 or bust!”. Tom yelled “You got it” and I just focused. Focus, focus, focus.

The 3:15 full pacer ran by, and I focused on keeping him in my site. I told myself it was okay because a 3:15 full pace is faster than a 1:39 half. I focused on keeping his blue hat and pace sign in my sight as long as I could.

At the 10K split, I just wanted to go back to Mile 2.

When you “bank time” by starting too fast, you pay it back later… with interest.

After the 10K split, much of the crowd support was gone. I couldn’t see the 3:15 pacer anymore, but this was okay. The headwind picked up. The Charleston Marathon Half is point to point, so if there’s a headwind, it’s a constant headwind. Headwinds aren’t fun for any runner, but it especially sucks when you’re a small female shy of 100 pounds.

I tucked behind a guy running for Booz Allen Hamilton’s corporate team to “draft”. Apparently some companies pay for their employees to run marathons and wear company shirts. The guy who won the marathon runs and works for GE (General Electric), and when he broke the tape, the finish line tape covered his GE logo in the picture. Bet his company’s pissed.

For miles 7-10, I tried to zone out into “dumb racehorse mode” which is how I run best. I saw Carolyn and Natalie at The Foot Store aid station, and Carolyn yelled and told me I was looking strong. I didn’t feel strong, but it was a nice boost seeing her.

This is your city. This is your race. You are #CharlestonStrong.

At mile 10, I saw my friend Bronwen who I run with on Wednesday nights at track. It was a happy site because we met at last year’s Charleston Half Marathon when we ran together for a bit and a mutual friend introduced us. I was glad to run by someone I knew and because I know Bronwen runs a sub-1:40 half marathon and has BQed.

According to my plan, Mile 10 was time for my rabbit hunt- passing people who went out too fast. Needless to say, I didn’t have much energy for the hunt, but I did pass a few, including Booz Allen singlet.

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One rabbit I didn’t intend to catch was Andrew, the 1:30 pacer who had a rough day and was walking. We talked later, and apparently he had a stomach bug. Andrew runs a new business, Sunrise Running Company, but managed TrySports Mt Pleasant until the store closed (I was a member of TrySports’ Ambassador Team so I know Andrew well).

Almost as soon as I passed Andrew, he started running again. Runners have an unspoken  language and connection, and I knew Andrew would help me snag that 1:39. We talked at the the expo the day before, and he knew I was shooting for 1:39. Andrew is an ultra runner and does not  give up, and even if he could not lead his 1:30 half marathoners to the finish, he would be on the course to help whoever he could. I knew Andrew was there to pace me to that 1:39, so I tucked behind him and drafted.

With about half a mile to go, Andrew told me I had it, and I pressed on to the finish.

“Not everyone can win, but everyone can run their best race.” – Peyton Moore (2003-2013)

I turned onto Montague Avenue, knowing the finish was about 1/4 mile ahead. Lots of my friends, including the MooreOnRunners were out there cheering. I heard them cheer for The Tiny Terror and saw them snap pictures, and I felt the love.

I ran through the finish, trying not to look at the clock, but it was hard. I saw the clock strike 1:40 but tried to focus more on running strong rather than thinking about the clock or result. I heard the announcer yell “Amy Lauren Scott, from Charleston SC” and the cheers that followed. This was my city. This was my race.

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I grabbed my medal and hugged my track friends Lisa and Melissa, who both ran the 5K. They comforted me as I told them I saw the clock hit 1:40 and missed my A Goal by a few seconds.

I found Emily and we grabbed our gear at the bag check. She had a rough day, as did many of the top runners. The wind slowed a lot of people down. We headed to the mimosa tent, and I checked the results. 1:39:59

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One second. You gotta lean at the finish.

I stuck around and took pictures with some friends, including some friends who travelled down from Florence for the race. I used to live in Florence and my company is headquartered there, so I still visit, see, and run with them occasionally. I also hung out with the track crew, OnShore people, and my fellow Yelp Elite Vy.

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The Charleston Marathon after party is the best. We all enjoyed the music and festivities. I had two bowls of shrimp and grits and set another personal record for mimosa consumption (4). When you set a PR, people give you extra drink tickets! Vy gave me a ride back to the car later, where I went home to relax and get over my “rangover”- post-race running hangover.

The Charleston Marathon (Full, Half, 5K, Bike Ride) gets bigger and better each year. If you’re a local and haven’t run it, I encourage you to put it on your calendar for next year. The 5K is the best deal in town because you get all the perks as well as a finisher’s medal.

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This year’s improvements were abundant, including a very nice backpack at packet pick up, a blue tech shirt instead of white, and multiple beer/mimosa/shrimp and grits tents at the finish- making lines shorter. As far as I know, the only hiccup this year was that “finisher” was misspelled on some of the medal ribbons, and the organizers are switching those out for runners who let them know.

The Charleston Marathon’s a great race, and I plan to come back for Year 5 in 2017.

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Splits/Pacing: My Garmin logged 13.22 miles with an average pace of 7:34.

Splits: 7:41, 7:08, 7:25, 7:35, 7:31, 7:36, 7:40, 7:36, 7:42, 7:39, 7:35, 7:39, 7:42, 7:12 (last .22)


Race Name: Charleston Marathon (Half Marathon)

Location: Charleston/North Charleston, SC

Date and Time: January 16, 2016, 8 AM

Swag: Gender-specific tech shirt, backpack, offers/samples, finisher’s medals for all races

Post-race food: Shrimp & Grits, beer, mimosas, apples, bananas, muffins, chocolate milk, beet juice, boiled peanuts, roasted peanuts

Weather: 52 degrees, 94% humidity, 6 mph wind at start.

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This entry was posted in Charleston Marathon, Fitness World Run Club, Half Marathon, Moore On Running, OnShore Racing, Race Recaps, Race Reviews, RUN4P and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Charleston Marathon Half (1:39:59)

  1. Amy, I always enjoy reading your recaps and for some reason this one grabbed me. Maybe it was Peyton’s quote or just being able to cheer you in at the finish, thinking you got right at a 1:40 but then being there and hearing you ( and about 10 others) squeal out loud when you checked the official results. Now THAT part was friggin awesome! Again, I loved this recap, loved this race ( the 5k and all the swag of the full/half is a perk!),loved reading your experience, loved witnessing your PR moment and holy crap and I can’t believe you had 4 mimosas!!! I would have toast after 1, lol!!!!!!
    GREAT JOB!!!!!!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Melissa. I was glad to have you there and glad you had a great 5K. You should be super proud of your time and placing too, you rocked it out and all our track nights are paying off for everyone!

      Shrimp and Grits 5K really is the best deal in town getting a race, medal, shirt, and party. In fact, I think Charleston Marathon races in general are a great value compared to others I’ve been looking at recently for travelling.

      Mimosa consumption is a lot like half marathons- I believed in myself! I had a leftover ticket and gave it to a friend on the way out.

  2. laurenweiner says:

    Congrats on the PR! Sounds like you had a great time, and I’m certain that your friends encouraging you played a big part in that!

    I cannot believe you had 4 mimosas…seriously, I’d be so loopy. I find that I can usually drink after a shorter race, but I don’t even usually want my post race beer after a half.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Having that crowd at the finish was amazing. Just seeing so many faces I knew was a big boost. Travelling is fun, but you cannot beat a “home course” race.

      Well, I didn’t chug the mimosas one after another or anything, and they weren’t huge cups. I was a little tipsy, but it was okay since I was not driving and had good reason to celebrate ;).

  3. KrisLawrence says:

    That…is…awesome!!! Congrats on a PR! Nothing like getting right under the wire. Way to stay tough and grab it! Looks like the after party was super fun!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      After party is the best! You guys have some great races up there (J&A), but if you ever want to run Charleston, let me know and I’ll snag you a discount. You’d most likely win or place very highly.

  4. Alan Brown says:

    Congratulations Amy on your PR! Great performance.

  5. Great job on the PR! I’m so jealous that you were running in shorts and a tank top in January… I guess it’s your reward for dealing with the heat and humidity all summer. 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It was still rather hot and humid at this race. Humidity here never goes down. The temperature was perfect for the half, but at the after party, a lot of us got some sun, because it warmed up and we were close to the water. I feel like the temps were a bit too warm for the marathoners.

  6. wanderwolf says:

    Oh man. I know what you mean about going out too fast and paying for it with interest… but this is just awesome! You ran very consistantly after that, and finished strong. I love the recap and that you met your “A” goal and got the PR. 🙂

  7. runner1313 says:

    Awesome! And thanks for the shou out. You killed it!

  8. supereli23 says:

    What a fabulous PR! Always gotta push it at the end because that 1 second may not sound significant, but got you the “a” goal. Sounds like you ran a smart race and didn’t let your fast start effect your finish, it’s so hard to stay mentally tough for 13 miles!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you. I honestly feel more proud that I recovered from the fast start than for the PR. This sport is all mental, and a lot of people (including myself in many other races) would have let that split get to them and bug them later. I accepted it, adjusted, moved on, and tried to hold as long as I could.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely LOVED this recap and congrats on the PR! I can’t believe it has been a year since I visited Charleston. I enjoyed reading your race strategy and it made me realize that I should spend more time on that this year.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I thought of you that morning in the gym when I was taking pictures!

      Setting some race goals/strategies is always a good idea. I look back at previous races and just find what I need to work on, and my training. Some of those pace calculators can really help too- that way you know what paces to train at (I don’t like the time predictors)

  10. WOW! I loved reading this – I felt like I was running right next to you! I loved your description of mile 2, haha! I know that feeling alllll too well, especially because I AM the 90%, and I always pay that banked time back with lots of interest! LOL! I was cracking up reading that stuff. Love love love. I am so excited for you! You ran such a strong race and you didn’t back down. Your splits are awesome – pretty consistent, with the exception of that 7:08! Awesome that your last mile was so speedy – that means you ran a smart race. You ran a 99 🙂 And 11/311 is sick! I hope you are still riding that runners high!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I am glad you liked the review! I was still on the runner’s high when I wrote it (I wrote Sunday night but didn’t add pictures until Tuesday to post yesterday). I can tell a difference in my reviews when I write them ASAP and when I wait to process it.

      My mile 2 splits are always crazy. This time I sped up, but the previous half marathons I ran, mile 2 was always my slowest bc mile 1 was a little fast and I consciously slowed down. The consistent splits are fun, but this is also a very flat race. If a race involves hills, or is on a trail, you definitely have to race the course instead of the clock/splits!

  11. Dolly says:

    Congratulations on your bright, shiny, and brand new PR. It feels good to get under the 1:40:00 Threshold. Nice work Amy!

  12. I can definitely see why the Charleston Marathon/Half would be a destination race! I love your race plan and the notebook–so cute! I’m sorry about the stress on Friday with the flooding/your car. That would freak me out, too. Whew, what a race!! You were so speedy! Wonderful, wonderful job! Also, I have never been to a race that gave out shrimp and grits, but that sounds heavenly! As does 52 degree weather!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you Allie!

      Shrimp and grits is a huge thing here in Charleston. If you ever want to run a warm weather race in January, come down for this one!

      Downtown Charleston always floods, and I know that. I run by the school where packet pick up was held once a week and see puddles- but it’s hard driving in it in a new car, the day before a race, when you just want to de-stress!

  13. Congrats on your PR! Loved your recap, and the part where you were retelling crossing the finish line got me choked up…! I’m a sucker for great running stories. I’m glad it had a happy ending though! 🙂

  14. Pam says:

    It’s always great to read a race recap of a runner who has worked so hard to achieve their A goal. So excited for you Amy that you accomplished such a lofty goal at a race that is special to you. I have added this to my bucket list of races and probably would run the half instead of the full. It’s great you got all the stresses out of the way on Friday with the heavy rains and flooding. That must have been scary driving to packet pickup in that mess. Congrats and enjoy a few days of celebration, although I know you are already out there running some more. You truly are the tiny terror and I mean that in the most complimentary way. By the way, my daughter ran on a corporate team for a race once. I think they do those things to encourage people to be active. And lets face it, most runners won;t turn down a free race bib if they just have to wear the shirt!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Pam! You should come visit someday and run the half, a lot of Without Limits people ran it, I think since they have a chapter here more of them will come visit for a few of our local races.

      I am running this week, but all easy miles. My body is still feeling the half marathon and recovery hasn’t been as speedy as I’d hoped. I’m not sure what my next training goal will be.

      Companies should encourage their staff to be active. Corporate teams are a big thing here; the tech companies do their own 5K in April in North Charleston. Too bad my company’s over 100 miles away.

      I’d wear most anyone’s shirt or logo if I could race free…

  15. Whoo hoo!! So cool that you got a PR and sub 1:40. Way to go on recovering after the fast mile 2. I have been there many times. Last year after a string of hot weather bonks, I sprinted to a 1:39.58 and you would have thought that I won the Olympics. 🙂 Here’s to a great year ahead!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I feel like I won the Olympics. Not that I ran some sort of super fast time, but my body hasn’t let me forget it yet. Ouch… PRs hurt.

      For the most part, we only have hot weather here. It’s been crazy this year.

  16. thisrunnersrecipes says:

    Congrats on the PR! Breaking 1:40 is such a huge milestone for the half! I enjoyed reading about your race strategy – I need to be more thorough in doing that for my next race.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      This is a flat race, so it’s easier to strategize than say, a trail run or a hilly course. No elevation or terrain changes!

      I feel like most runners just go out and “run a race” and don’t put too much thought into strategy. I don’t plan much for most of the 5Ks I run, but for a goal race, I always have a strategy. We all put in the hard work in training, so there’s no use to leave it to chance without a plan on race day.

      I follow your training, and you’ve definitely got a sub-1:40 in you.

  17. Amazing race, lady! Congratulations!

  18. Great recap Amy! Congratulations on your finish that is awesome and I can imagine how special in your own hometown too! I hope to be able to visit here one day, it is on my bucketlist 🙂

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