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…
My 10K PR is from April’s Cooper River Bridge Run, so I had big goals.
||44:40 or below (PR)
||Not even close
||44:51 or below (Beat IOP Connector 10K time)
||Finish with a time I’m proud of
||Not blow away on the James Island Connector
With those winds and a nickname like Tiny Terror, blowing away into the Ashley River is a legitimate concern.
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.