Last Thursday, I ran my first spontaneous race in a while, the first race of the Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K series.
The Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K series is one of three Thursday night 5K series here in Charleston. Thursday night 5Ks are a big deal here. Other areas have Sunday morning races, but church + brunch rule in Charleston, so we have Thursday night races.
Between this series, Race the Landing, and Bulldog Breakaway, you can run a 5K on most any Thursday night in the summer. All of the Daniel Island Happy Hour 5Ks are on the same course, but with one race per month, runners get 3-4 week breaks from running that course.
I volunteered for the Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K series in 2014 and 2015. I was injured during the summer of 2014, and I ran the Race the Landing series and some other races in 2015, so I opted to volunteer. This year, Timing Inc. and Fleet Feet Sports took over the series and planned the races with about three weeks notice.
With my packed running schedule, I planned to volunteer again this year, but when Lucey Mortgage Corporation offered me a complimentary entry, I decided to run the 5K. In two years of volunteering for the series, I’d never actually run the race course. When I volunteered, runners asked questions about the course, and I answered them the best I could. Other volunteers had run the 5K course before, so I basically repeated what they said (ha!), but nothing beats first hand experience.
I’m busy with a running streak and increasing mileage, so I’m always on the lookout for new places to run and races to run as workouts. I was happy to be a part of Team Lucey and had no real time goals.
Race Day Night
Since this was a new-to-me trail course, I went into this race with zero expectations of “racing”. On Wednesday night, I ran my weekly track workout in Summerville, clocking one of my fastest 400m repeats (I opted for fewer and shorter repeats so my legs wouldn’t be too dead for the race). I worked until time for the race to begin, which is one positive thing about Thursday evening races- I stay busy with work and don’t get nervous.
The race started at 6:30, so I left my house immediately after work to drive to Daniel Island. I picked up my number and shirt and ran a two mile warmup around the island. Despite the warm temperatures, we had a slight breeze, and I found a great loop to run for warmups and cooldowns.
I got to the start and saw Melissa, Michelle, Hannah, Rachael, Dan, Cindy, Ed, Lorcan, and quite a few other runners I knew. The first race of any summer series is always the smallest, and a lot of graduations and events were going on because of the end of the school year, but the race had a good turnout.
Just a few feet into the race, I knew this would be a difficult, tactical course. Both the start and finish are in the grass, and most of the trail is single track and fairly narrow, making passing runners even harder. Along with trail, we had numerous wooden boardwalk-style bridges that I had to make sure I didn’t trip on. I hit the first mile in 7:05.
In the second mile, I regretted wearing my New Balance Fresh Foam Zante shoes, because they didn’t have much traction for the dirt portions of the trail. Fortunately the ground was dry, or else I would’ve been slipping and sliding (and probably falling). We ran into the other runners and I was glad to hear friends cheering because that’s one of the perks of the out-and-back first mile. I hit the mile 2 split in 7:15, so I didn’t slow down much.
With one mile to go, I could tell my body wasn’t a fan of the heat, and the course was curvy. I passed some runners in Mile 2 and the only runner I could see ahead of me was a 9-year-old girl. This race usually draws some faster ladies, and I saw a few at the start, so I thought I was #4 or #5 female. Not really knowing the course, I followed the little girl so I could hang on for a pint glass… or so I thought.
I hit mile 3 in 7:33. That’s even slower than my half marathon pace, but a lot of other runners had the same issue. At one part of the course, you see the finish, but you have 1/2 mile to go before you’re done- and that’s just mentally brutal.
I didn’t have a kick on the grassy stretch, but I finished in 22:11, just behind the little girl. My friend John told me I was the third female overall. I was surprised to place and went for a cooldown with Melissa and Larry before hanging out at the awards ceremony at Daniel Island Grille. Each race features a post-race party at a different venue, and your first beer is free.
The awards ceremony was where the weirdness happened. The race directors called out the awards, and I went up to accept the second place prize, a large basket of goodies from Fleet Feet Sports Mount Pleasant. The first female to finish the race works for Fleet Feet and was unable to accept the prize, so that bumped everyone up.
The overall female award went to the 9-year-old little girl. I’m glad I didn’t have the energy to pass her, because when you’re nine years old, winning first place in a 5K is one of the biggest moments of your life. It worked out for the best, and she beat a lot of older, experienced runners and almost broke 22 minutes on a very difficult course.
I’m proud of her and know she will love that bigger Fleet Feet gift card and basket of goodies; after all, 9-year-old allowances aren’t exactly as much as technical writing salaries.
I celebrated my finish at DIG and hung out with friends before heading home. Later that evening, Clay and I opened up the basket. One of the most fun items inside was a trucker hat from Fleet Feet. It worked out and fit perfectly, considering the Francis Marion University bucket hat I wear is older than the girl who won the race. Was 2003 really that long ago?
Overall, I had fun and am grateful to Lucey Mortgage Corporation for the opportunity to run the 5K. I accomplished my goal of a hard workout and am proud of that, plus I got to experience the race as a runner rather than a volunteer.
Race Name: Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K #1
Location: Daniel Island/Charleston SC
Date and Time: May 27, 2016, 6:30 PM.
Course: Trail with wooden bridges/boardwalks. Some grass, shaded. Lots of turns.
Swag: T-shirts, finisher’s medal that doubles as a bottle opener
Post-race Food: Bananas, oranges, and water at the finish. One free beer at the post-race party. Appetizers/food available for purchase at the post-race party.
Weather: 81 degrees, 54% humidity, 9 mph S wind
I received a complimentary race entry from Lucey Mortgage Corporation. Please consider Lucey Mortgage Corporation for your mortgage needs, as they proudly sponsor the Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K series and many other running events in the Charleston, SC, area. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.