James Island Connector Run 10K (45:36)

It’s no secret the James Island Connector Run is my favorite Fall race in Charleston.

I’ve run the James Island Connector Run in 2013, 2014, and 2015, so of course I was in for this year. The race is in its 18th year, and offers something for everyone- a 5K, 10K, or bike ride. It raises money for the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation, which provides scholarships for special needs and disabled students to attend local colleges and universities. Talk about a worthy cause for deserving students.


The James Island Connector Run is well organized and chip-timed. It’s a great bang for your race registration buck, and it’s the only time you can (legally) run the Connector, which offers beautiful views- and a big challenge. This is arguably the most difficult road race in Charleston. The 5K route includes 3 inclines, so if you run the 10K, you run over 6 inclines. My friend Andy affectionately calls this 10K the “6 hump camel”.

Best of all, the James Island Connector Run made every runner feel like a winner- whether they received a cash prize as a top finisher, an age group award, or a finisher’s medal. I do love medals…

Race Goals

My 10K PR is from April’s Cooper River Bridge Run, so I had big goals.

Goal Description Completed?
A 44:40 or below (PR) Not even close
B 44:51 or below (Beat IOP Connector 10K time) No
C Finish with a time I’m proud of No
D Not blow away on the James Island Connector Yes

With those winds and a nickname like Tiny Terror, blowing away into the Ashley River is a legitimate concern.

Race Day

After a record-hot summer, we had beautiful temperatures for the race. It finally felt like Fall in Charleston. Race morning was nothing unusual, as I got there, ran about a mile to warm up, did a few drills, talked to friends, then lined up for the start. It was nice to be hurricane-free and running with friends in cooler temperatures.


We started about six minutes late to give the cyclists a head start, and the start was a bit crowded. My goal is to always start conservatively, since no 10K race is ever won in the first mile, but plenty are lost there. The 5K and 10K started together so the “out” portion of my race had a lot of company. I hit mile 1 in 7:27, a little slower than I wanted, but better than going out too fast.

I settled into a groove in Mile 2 and ran a 6:55. That mile was mostly downhill and I was in my groove. I was among a pack of runners, but I wasn’t sure what race they were in (turns out, they were 5Kers). Mile 3 was a 7:00 flat, and it was tough seeing the 5K runners go through that finish chute when I had 1/2 the race to go, but I could handle it. The turnaround was through a dirt median and that was a bit gross.


After turning, I ran close to my friend Dan from Charleston Beer Runners. It was good to see a  familiar face because not too many people turned for the 10K. Mile 4 (7:13) was nice, because a lot of 5Kers were running and cheering for me. You can’t beat hearing people yell “Go Tiny Terror!” on the race course, and this gave me a nice boost. I love running with my friends and the positive energy of the Charleston running community.

The pain train de-railed at Mile 5 (8:07)– mostly uphill and windy. The “pack” from Mile 2 stopped in the 5K, Dan passed me, and I wasn’t around any tall men to tuck behind and draft. I started to mentally lose it, too. I don’t remember the last time I ran an 8:xx split in a race- I think it was the uphill, headwind battle of Mile 12 at the Georgetown Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon last year.

My mind played tricks on me, and I tried to hold it together to the finish.


Of course, at Mile 6 (7:25) when we were running down the connector and back onto the peninsula, a tall man passed me. Where were you earlier when I needed to tuck behind you in Mile 5?!?!

I finished in 45:36, 55 seconds off my PR at April’s Cooper River Bridge Run.

I saw some friends at the finish and they tried to console me. I was pretty upset and hate that they had to deal with my whining. I went out for a cool down run to be sad for a little while. When I got to the car, I considered leaving and skipping the after party altogether, but I walked back to congratulate some friends and collect my age group award.


A natural extrovert, being with my friends made me feel a bit better. I talked to Shawanna, who won the 5K, and the Charleston Beer Runners group along with some more friends. I tried not to let my finish time ruin the day. I let myself be upset for a little while and moved on- in the end, it’s one of many races. I finished uninjured and have so much to be thankful for.

Even when we fall flat on our faces, we’re still moving forward.

Post Race Reflections

“There’s no such thing as a good run that is fluke. But you can have fluke bad runs.” – Jack Daniels, running author and coach

When you race, you always hope your result validates your hard work. It’s tough to finish with a time that doesn’t reflect your training or abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, 45:36 is a strong 10K time- but it wasn’t the time I trained and prepared for. I realize most runners would love to run a 10K in this time, and for many years, I was one of those runners. My first 10K in 2010 was a 1:04, and last year, I would have loved to run this time for a 10K. However, I’m disappointed since I *know* I am capable of better.

I have no excuses- I had a bad day. However, a friend remarked that I looked incredibly pale when I got back from my cool down, and pictures confirmed this. I didn’t feel bad on race day and have felt okay in the days after. The body is a weird thing- maybe I was fighting off some sort of bug?

As for now, I’m taking running day by day and keeping the dream alive.


Race Name: James Island Connector Run 5K and 10K

Location: Charleston, SC

Date and Time: October 22, 2016, 8:30 AM

Terrain: Paved, closed streets, and connector/bridge. The 5K route is point-to-point over the connector from Cannon Park to James Island. The 10K is out and back from Cannon Park.

Entry fee: $35 for either distance or for the bike ride. $5 off discount code. $40 on race day.

Swag: Cotton t-shirt (Men’s), reusable tote bag from sponsor, Finisher’s medal for all runners and walkers.

Post-race Food: Fruit (bananas, oranges), hot dogs, bagels, water, free beer trailer.

Weather: 52 degrees, 76% humidity, windy.

As an ambassador of the James Island Connector Run, I received a complimentary race entry- however, all opinions are my own. I received a discount code to share and promoted the race to local running groups and on social media.

This entry was posted in 10Ks, Charleston Beer Runners, James Island, James Island Connector Run, Race Recaps, Race Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to James Island Connector Run 10K (45:36)

  1. Pam says:

    Amy I am so sorry this race didn’t turn out as you had hoped. It is so surprising to see you have a bad race considering your work ethic, but it does happen to everyone. Sometimes it is just not your day, and it happened to me just a few weeks ago when I ran my marathon. However, you still ran a great race and should be proud.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Pam. Yeah, I know I have a crazy work ethic (it’s not just running- I am the same way in the professional world). I really hope this was just a fluke race- I don’t think a lack of work ethic came into play (lol). Saturday wasn’t my day, but hopefully the next race will be better.

  2. Hollie says:

    I think we all have those races. I know it’s not a time you’re extremely proud of but you’ll come back from it. I relate that to my Shamrock time…I had one of the worst races but after putting it behind me I’ve been able to run much better races. You ran a great race Amy.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Hollie. I think we all have those days and sometimes, you just can’t even explain it. Races are a mysterious thing like that. I let myself be upset about this for about an hour or so, but I’ve moved on now and am just plugging away for the next one.

  3. Nancy says:

    I know you’re not into trail running, but I saw this article and thought of you: http://trailrunnermag.com/training/trail-tips/2327-keep-healthy-perspective-running . I also hope you know there’s a difference between being at your ideal racing weight and being fat. Anyone looking at those pictures of you can see that you have a very low BMI. You’re also clearly not out of shape. You had a bad day. Try to be kinder to yourself. This race is just another brick to add to your running foundation. It’ll all pay off at some point.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Nancy. I did see that article in my email, but haven’t read it yet.

      As far as weight and body image go, I think it’s something most ladies struggle with. The term racing weight is used a lot and it can be tough in this sport when you see ladies at the start who have abs (and different body types than I do). Being 5’0″, I often feel like even a pound or two shows, too :(.

  4. ksquared says:

    I love your resilience and your mentality around this race. And I love that Jack Daniels quote. I think it is absolutely true. It sucks to have a bad day, but you just have to keep moving forward and focus on the bigger picture which is your improvement beyond the results of any one race.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Haha, someone on AR posted that quote and reminded me. It is a good quote. You can’t beat Jack Daniels… err, Jack Daniels’ *advice*.. after a bad race ;).

      Hopefully this means the bad races are out of the way for awhile and future races will go well.

  5. You had really great splits Amy and it seems like if it weren’t for the crazy wind at mile five you would have been very close to your pr. A lot of the races here are run along the river so it is flat but then race day comes and we’re running into wind. I think if you had better wind conditions you would have reached your goals. Weather is just something we cannot control!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You are exactly right- and this is one reason why it’s good to go home and process a race.

      I was upset at the race, but when I went back to look at splits and write this recap, I put my splits into a race calculator that adds up your time. That one mile was the only thing wrong with the splits- I did not start out too fast and fade in the middle miles. If mile 5 had been about the same pace as the other miles (even the slower 1st mile and 6th mile), I would’ve finished in under 45 minutes. But alas, it is out of my hands now, and hindsight is always 20/20.

  6. KrisLawrence says:

    Ugh. Honestly some days it’s just not there. No explanations or reasons why. I’m sorry you had to go through that but it is pretty great that you had a bad day and still pulled off an award! Sounds like the terrain and conditions were pretty rough too.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Kris- I always appreciate your insight and experience (and good luck at NYC). I do think it was just a bad day, honestly. I certainly hope my future races will be better.

      The terrain is almost all connector (maybe .4 mile total of road before you hit the connector and when you run off it), so it is pretty unforgiving on the joints. I can’t imagine running this in say, racing flats. Ouch.

  7. Everyone is spot on with their comments here. I have no doubt that you’ll do even better than you would have this next time just out of pure revenge! I love how they cheered “Go Tiny Terror!” That’s awesome.

  8. That sounds like a beautiful course and fun race. It reminds me of a local race that we have called the Double Bridge Run (it’s a 15K). It can be crazy windy here too. I guess anytime you are running over the water, wind is likely to be a factor. It seems like that one mile is really the reason you didn’t meet your goal. 55 seconds in a 10K is less than 10 seconds per mile off, but in this case you almost lost that in the one mile. Given the wind, it makes sense that you would be off pace too. It is so crazy to me how much wind affects pace and especially since you didn’t have anyone to tuck behind and draft off of. If the winds were 15 mph, an 8:00 mile would be closer to a 7:00 mile if there were no wind. Anyhow, I’ve now written a novel here, but the point is, try not to be too upset about your time. You didn’t have a bad race, you just had one mile that didn’t go great (based on your goals) and there is an explanation for that mile anyway. Go Tiny Terror!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Sam- I appreciate your insight as well because you are a very experienced runner and coach and would know. The wind wasn’t 15mph or anything near that, but I think it is true that it threw me off big time in that mile. I have been running parking garages to simulate hills, but garages have no wind since it’s indoors/walls.

  9. laurenweiner says:

    Sometimes we have those days. I know you didn’t meet your goals, but its still a great time! I find that races like this often can serve as a motivator to do better next time. I still think you rocked it 🙂 Also, very glad you didn’t get blown away!

  10. Elizabeth C. says:

    I’m sorry this race didn’t go as well as you had planned. Yup, we definitely all have crap races and bad days. And as I’ve learned from my sports psychologist, performance is “dynamic.” Even with the same level of fitness in the same conditions on the same course, your performance would have variation, it just really depends on if it’s your day or not. Something you said struck me: “you always hope your result validates your hard work. ” I battled this for years and years. I would get so upset because I wanted some kind of “proof” that I had trained hard and that I was fit. It always seemed like such an injustice when I didn’t get it. But I slowly transitioned from that mindset into one where I focused on the training validating the training. The race is actually just one day. You have soooo many other workouts that demonstrate how fast/fit you have become this season. Take a look at the training log and blogs and collectively, that is validation. To be able to train like you do is a skill– a newbie runner couldn’t just decide to train your mileage and your workouts. So, yeah, it sucks when you have a race not go well and it’s definitely a let down. But ultimately, you know you are really in a great spot with your fitness and that you’ve been working your butt off. There are plenty more races to come!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      If anyone knows how it is to experience this, it is certainly you, as you pushed through for years and years to earn your BQ. I’ll say it was awesome following you the whole time you did and your progress after, and it is awesome watching your comeback from mono and seeing you improve each day, as you are. Thank you so much for the advice and really, all the chatting we do on social media. You rock, Elizabeth… really!

  11. sarahdudek80 says:

    Sorry to read about your disappointing race. It is hard to put it in perspective sometimes and not offend others. But bad races do happen to all of us. Even when we train really well and even when we feel great. Isn’t it incredible how sometimes the runs you look forward to the most are the ones that end up the most difficult? And on the flip side, sometimes the runs we dread end up being the best. Races can definitely be this way. Way to overcome that mental battle in mile 5!

  12. I’m sorry your race didn’t go as you wanted it to, Amy. We all have bad days, and I think you took things in stride. I’m glad you were able to be with friends, enjoy your sport, and support a great cause for students!

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