If you read my Charleston Half Marathon recap, you know I’m a big fan of setting goals for races and writing them down.
Since I work from home, Saturday morning road races are basically social time for me. I typically pick one race per month to focus on, and the others to run as workouts. I’ve run plenty of races with high expectations in my head and left disappointed, and I’ve run a few races with zero expectations and left pleasantly surprised.
The Charlie Post Classic 5K was one of those surprising races.
Last week’s training was nothing spectacular. I struggled to hit 5K pace during my Wednesday track workout. When I couldn’t run 5K pace for 400, 600, or 800 meters, I did not expect to run 3.1 miles at that pace on race day. I let go of all expectations and was ready to “race-out” (race as a workout/tempo run) or even pace a friend to a goal time.
I believe in race day magic- but that magic comes to those who train hard and don’t count on it.
I got a late start on my way to the race, which is about 35 minutes from my home. I wasn’t super motivated and needed a few cups of coffee to get going, and I had to start my warmup as soon as I got to the race- glad I picked up my race packet the day before. Melissa and I ran 2 easy miles to warm up, then headed to the starting line.
The start took everyone by surprise. The announcers gave no warnings- no “2 minutes to start time” or a “3-2-1” countdown. Everyone was chatting and the horn suddenly went off. None of us were in the front and found ourselves scrambling to run around kids and others who shouldn’t have been at the front. In their defense, maybe they didn’t know the race was about to start either.
Usually, runners hate a crowd at the start, but it turned out to be a good thing. When people are crowded ahead of you, you can’t go out too fast- preventing the #1 mistake runners make in 5Ks. I got around the crowd fairly easily but without wasting too much energy. I even passed a man running in cotton sweatpants.
The Charlie Post Classic 5K course was the same as the Floppin Flounder 5K course from June, so I knew the course already. It’s basically a giant Figure 8 around Sullivan’s Island.
The 15K race means you run the 5K then 6.2 more miles, so you get a tour of the whole island because Sullivan’s Island is pretty small. Both races provide breathtaking views of homes I will afford on a professional writer’s salary, but if you are looking for a home on the island, my friend Noah is a running realtor and has a few listings on the course.
I hit the Mile 1 mark in 6:49, which was about what I would like to run for the first mile of a 5K, but I figured I would die soon since the first mile was faster than my 800m split from Wednesday night.
I didn’t slow down.
In the second mile, I was around some other runners who normally finish a little ahead of me in races, but were all running the 15K. The 15Kers basically ran the 5K course, then peeled off for more mileage around the island, so it was hard to know who was running which race. I paced off of them, and we passed the start/finish, where a few friends (Dan and Bill) were cheering. That was a big boost.
My mile 2 split was 6:50, and I was really shocked that I was holding on at that pace. I was passing a lot of 15Kers and some 5Kers who went out that fast at that point. I didn’t intend to “rabbit hunt” because usually I start a bit too fast and I’m the rabbit, but I was getting a nice mental boost from it.
I kept telling myself to hold on and that the race was only 3.1 miles. 5Ks hurt, but it was nice not having to feel mentally “on” for a long race like a half marathon.
In Mile 3, I continued my rabbit hunt and picked off a few guys. There were no women close to me, and I knew I wouldn’t place overall (this race has cash prizes), but I was hoping for an age group award and to finish under 22 minutes. I missed seeing the Mile 3 sign, but my Garmin said my split was 6:53.
I crossed the finish in 21:27.
I leaned against a car for a minute or two, drank some water, then watched some other friends finish. After a quick potty run, Melissa and I went for a two mile cooldown on the race course, where we cheered for the other runners and walkers, especially the kids from the Meeting Street Academy running program.
The post-race party was pretty nice with good refreshments like breakfast burritos and muffins. It was held in an enclosed building, which was really great (especially if the weather were colder, as it usually is during this race).
After the race, food, and awards, I went out to leave and cheered for the final 15K finishers. The timing people were deflating the finish line arch while runners were still approaching, and seeing their faces was very disheatening. One lady said it was her first 15K and longest run ever, and it was sad she didn’t get to celebrate that by running under the arch like everyone else.
It’s important to recognize every runner who completes the race, and since I had nowhere else to be, I didn’t mind at all.
The Charlie Post Classic was a breakthrough race for me. This was the the first 5K where all three mile splits were under 7 min/mile! My Garmin read 3.13 miles and this course is USATF Certified.
My current 5K PR is 21:22 from the Charleston Reindeer Run, but I was tapered and ready to roll for that one. Melissa thinks this may have technically been a PR since it took us some time to cross the start, but I’m not too concerned- I was just glad to have a good race. I’m not sure when I’ll “race” a 5K next, but I’m gunning for sub-21 before the weather heats up.
I was 6th overall female and 2nd place in the 30-34 age group. I received a sweet coffee mug award and Melissa placed third overall and won some cash. The Wednesday night track crew represented since most everyone ran this.
I guess the moral is that sometimes you can have a bad workout or two the week of the race, but don’t let it get you down. Maybe it was my body’s unintentional way of holding back, but I’m glad my legs got the speedy “pop” back just in time!
Race Name: Charlie Post Classic 5K/15K
Location: Sullivan’s Island, SC
Date and Time: January 30, 2016, 8:30 AM
Price: $20-35, $40 on race day. Same price for either distance.
Swag: Tech shirt (unisex fit)
Post-race food: Breakfast burritos, bagels, oranges, bananas, muffins, coffee, hot chocolate
Weather: 36 degrees, 93% humidity. This is from my Garmin data and proof that Garmin’s lie- temperatures were in the upper 40s during the race.
Special thanks to Jon Barrows and Dan Clapper, fellow runners and great friends who took the race pictures featured in this post. I’m grateful for those who come to races to take pictures and cheer!