Sometimes, a race victory is toeing the start line when the odds are against you. In Saturday’s Isle of Palms Connector Run, that was certainly the case for me.
I hesitate to say I have “goal races”, but in the back of my mind, I was training and hoping to set a new PR in the Isle of Palms Connector Run 10K. With my recent Race for the Ark and Smokin’ Fast 5K performances, I was certain I could beat my 44:41 from the Cooper River Bridge Run.
My body had other ideas. I woke up with a sore throat and took Thursday off running, then ran easy on Friday as I normally do before a race. The sore throat progressed to a cold, complete with head congestion and low level fatigue that stuck around longer than a drunk uncle at a family reunion. Friday evening, I bought a Costco-sized package of cold medicine, taking the daytime pills, then took the adult dosage of cold medicine before bed.
If your nickname is Tiny Terror and you never take medicine, it’s not a good idea to take the adult dosage of NyQuil.
I woke up Saturday morning with a cold medicine hangover. Everything’s bigger and better at Costco, and that cold medicine doesn’t wear off in 12 hours like the package states. I was still a bit congested, but mostly drowsy. Nevertheless, I decided to give the race a shot and drove to IOP.
I picked up my number and found the start and finish. I laughed when I saw the beer tent because my body felt like I’d already visited it. The race was really well attended, which was good since it’s for charity and was cancelled last year due to flooding and weather.
At the start, I made peace with my body and decided to be proud for showing up, no matter what time I ran. I could have stayed home or switched to the 5K, but I felt like racing longer would be mentally beneficial for future long distance races. My goal was to take whatever the race and my body gave me and not wind up in the medical tent. After all, the children who benefit from the charities don’t care how fast or slow we run it- they are just grateful we are raising money and awareness for the cause.
The race started on time, and I quickly found myself behind a lot of other runners who stormed up the incline of the Isle of Palms Connector. Both the 5K and 10K courses are an out and back, so everyone runs the incline twice. I let the other runners ahead of me, knowing I had 6.2 miles to make up those seconds. Plus, it always feels good to pass people later on in the race. I hit the Mile 1 split in 7:05. Not too bad considering the uphill slope of the connector, and I felt pretty comfortable.
I settled in and ran with a pack of guys, including Chris from the Sunday run group. I soon saw the 5K leaders turning around and tried to look at the water so I didn’t focus on how much more of the race I had to go compared to them. I saw Michelle at the turn around and she looked strong as well, almost PRing. I stayed with my pack of guys and hit the Mile 2 split in 7:05 and Mile 3 at 7:09.
We turned around and I tried to stay focused and run with the guys. The race was halfway over, and some friends were running on the other side of the Connector and cheered for me. I hit Mile 4 at 7:09 pace. I could do this.
In Mile 5, the guys started to take off. I’m not sure if they held back in the first half, but they had a lot of energy and surged ahead. I tried to stay strong and steady, knowing I had the incline coming up. I hit Mile 5 in 7:18, losing a little steam.
The struggle bus hit me in Mile 6. It seems like the Connector’s incline is steeper coming back to the island, and it’s even harder when you’re fatigued from five miles of running. I looked at the water rather than the incline, thinking about how I tackled the steep uphill of the Sampit Bridge last year at the Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon.
The uphill was when the breathing got ugly. I’m a good hill runner… when I can breathe. The guys were well ahead of me, and I didn’t have anyone to catch. My legs were okay, but breathing was hard. At least I had a downhill and some flat road to come. I hit Mile 6 in 7:24, dashing any dreams of potentially PRing this race with a cold.
I was still going to finish strong. I didn’t drive all the way out to the Isle of Palms from West Ashley and race with a cold not to. Somehow, I mustered a finishing kick, with the last .2 clocking in at a 6:32 pace. I don’t even run 400s on the track at that pace, much less the last 400m of a race.
I crossed the finish in 44:52. I was 6th female overall and 3rd place 30-34 female.
Post Race Thoughts
While I don’t think my finish time reflects my fitness right now, I am perfectly content with how this race went. I spent over two years trying to run a 10K in under 45 minutes and finally did that in April’s Cooper River Bridge Run. Then, I did it again at this race, on a tougher course, warm day, and when congested and drowsy. I have a lot to be grateful for as a runner.
The Isle of Palms Connector Run organizers hosted a great race. It’s a solid option for competitive runners, age groupers, beginners, and those looking to support children’s charities. The start, finish, packet pick up and course were all well organized. You can’t beat the beautiful views from the connector, and this race is probably the safest time to run it since there’s no pedestrian lane.
This race also had beautiful, FREE, photos from Tag Your Pix. I got one of the best race photos ever and that was worth showing up for. After last year’s cancellation, I’m glad the running community could come together this year to support the charities and run the connector.
Race Name: Isle of Palms Connector Run 5K/10K
Location: Isle of Palms, SC
Date and Time: October 1, 2016, at 8 AM
Terrain: Road. Connector with big incline. Everyone runs over the incline twice (out and back).
Entry fee: $20-35
Swag: Blue tech shirt (men’s sizing)
Post-race Food: Bananas, bagels, oranges, apples. Unlimited free beer.
Weather: 64 degrees, 94% humidity. Cooler than usual, but the sun was bright!