For someone who ran 30+ races last year, 2017 has certainly been a down year for me. After a summer of mostly training, I signed up to run two races this month, but both were postponed due to Hurricane Irma. I joked to a friend that I was done signing up for races ahead of time because something seems to go wrong when I do.
With a half marathon and 5K in October, I had to “rip off the racing band aid” at some point. Last week, my friend Brent posted on Facebook that he was running as a pacer in the Carolina Children’s Charity 5K. Brent’s daughter MJ receives music therapy from CCC, so it was for a good cause.
I ran the Carolina Children’s Charity 5K in 2015, when it was held in Hanahan. Although the course and venue changed, that race was fun and well organized. This year’s run was a “partial trail run”. I’ve never run this course, so I didn’t know what to expect. Since Brent was running with Racers for Pacers and MJ in the special stroller, I figured the course couldn’t be too bad. I’ve run trails that were basically packed dirt roads as well as more technical trails.
Spoiler: There was nothing “partial” about this trail.
On race day, it was 100% humidity outside and super muggy. Rough conditions, but my only goal was to support the charity and finish smiling and injury-free. Besides, everyone runs the same course. I saw Larry and Andy at the start, and Larry and I chatted about how we knew it wouldn’t be a fast course or a fast run with the muggy conditions. It felt more like July than September!
We started at 9 AM, and the start was crowded. The entire course was single-track, and even the paved parts were about as wide as a sidewalk, with two-way traffic on much of the course. I tried not to start out too fast, and everyone blew past me. I quickly decided I’d run to place and get Charleston Running Club Grand Prix points, not for time.
We hit the trail about .75 miles into the course, and the “partial trail” had lots of roots, leaves, branches, and MUD. Mt. Pleasant seems to get rain even when other parts of Charleston don’t, and the course was rained on the night before. The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante shoes are NOT a good choice for trails, and I didn’t want to risk falling… so I stopped and walked around the mud puddles. I’ve been running and racing for seven years, but “walksies” beat getting injured. I have no shame- I’m clumsy and don’t run on trails much.
Off the trail, I passed a lot of people who flew by me early on in the race. I had to navigate around the two-way traffic, including a few walkers with leashed dogs, before another paved loop with a sharp turn. The sharp turn had a lot of sand on the pavement.
I would’ve expected to fall on the trail, but no- I lost my balance on the paved area in the sand (and thankfully caught myself before falling). Since the last mile was an out and back, I knew I was in 3rd place for the ladies and the closest lady behind me was about a minute back. I heard Andy yelling that I had .25 to go, so I passed one of the kids I was running near and soon turned to the finish.
The finish was through the wet grass, so no one was going to “kick”, and I crossed in 24:04. It wasn’t fast, but it was fast enough for third female overall.
After the race, I cooled down with Brenda, the second place female. She and I met at this summer’s GRSC vs. Wilmington Border Battle, and she was in town for work. The running community is so connected and it’s great to see familiar faces from other places. It’s fun sharing the podium with friends, too.
For placing, I received two gift baskets filled with items from sponsors. I got a lot of coupons, including some for free food at Raising Cain’s Chicken Fingers, Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The adorable puppy toy wanted a home with a sweet little girl, so I gave him away to MJ.
After checking out the sponsors and collecting some coupons and snacks, I hung out with Larry and Andy. It’s always great to see them at local races because they are both grand masters legends and inspire me so much as a runner. Andy came up from Hilton Head Island because like me, he was missing racing since so many were cancelled due to storms there.
In the end, I finished happy, injury-free, and saw friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. I got a training run in, even if my time was one of my slowest. Best of all, I supported a charity that is close to my heart and helps a personal friend. The children who benefit from Carolina Children’s Charities don’t care how fast or slowly we run the course- they only care that show up and pay our entry fees to keep their programs alive. For those reasons, I will consider this race a success.
I’m glad to be healthy and can’t wait for cooler temperatures this Fall and upcoming road races.
Race Name: Carolina Children’s Charity 5K
Location: Palmetto Islands County Park, Mt. Pleasant SC
Date and Time: September 22, 2017, 9 AM
Terrain: Single-track paved path, wooden bridge, trail, more paved path. USATF Certified.
Entry fee: 5K: $30 (advanced registration), $35 (week of), Charleston Running Club discount available
Swag: Reusable bag, cotton shirt, various coupons. Tons of post-race freebies from vendors.
Post-race Food: Chicken and waffles from Kickin’ Chicken, hot dogs, bagels, bananas, oranges, apples, cookies, crackers
Weather: 72 degrees, 100% humidity. Calm, sunny, and hot.