“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
On Saturday, I ran the Isle of Palms Connector Run 10K, the hottest and most difficult race I’ve completed in a long time.
The Isle of Palms Connector Run 5K and 10K have been around for 25 years, long enough for a race to have all the kinks worked out and get everything right- and they do. It’s one of the larger and more competitive races in the Charleston area, so it’s a good run if you want to challenge yourself to your fastest time or complete your first 5K or 10K. The courses are tough- the 10K is harder than the Cooper River Bridge Run course- but offer beautiful views.
The Isle of Palms Connector Run benefits many charities that help prevent child abuse and provide rehabilitation for children and families who have been through that. The beauty of charity races is that no matter what your time or performance is, those who benefit only care that you paid, showed up, and supported their cause.
On race morning, I stepped out of my home and into the sauna. It felt more like August than October, a stark reminder of why South Carolina doesn’t have 10Ks in August. When I signed up a few weeks ago, I opted for the 10K knowing that PR was soft and hoping for good weather to give me a chance at breaking it. Charleston has a shortage of 10Ks and a shortage of nice weather.
At 6:35 AM, it was already 78 degrees, with an hour and a half to go until the race’s start time. I drove a little over 30 minutes to the Isle of Palms, warmed up, hit the potties, and headed to the start line. I found Allison, Melissa, Brent, and saw a few of the other usual Saturday morning suspects.
When we were standing at the start- 78 degrees, 100% humidity, and a dew point of 75- the sun came out.
We took off at 8:06 AM and headed up the Isle of Palms Connector. The first climb is super early in the race, when the crowds are still close enough that you can’t see the incline in front of you and the adrenaline is pumping to the point your legs don’t feel it yet. I also didn’t feel the fairly steep downhill, and gradual downhill in the first two miles. Melissa was leading the 5K for the ladies, so I motioned one finger- the nice finger- to her to let her know she was #1.
I was jealous of the 5Kers turning around and heading back when I had miles to go. The Connector itself was slick from rain overnight the sweat and tears of all the runners.
At Mile 3, I came up on a lady playing music from her phone- so loudly that I could hear it over my earbuds (I wear earbuds a lot in races, mainly to drown out chatter from other runners who are able to hold conversations while I’m dry heaving in race pain). The song playing was Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”. Not wanting to get depressed in the race, I tried to pass her as quickly as possible so I didn’t have to listen to the music.
We got to the turn around point, and the crowds were sparse. Knowing the worst of the inclines was yet to come, I ran into the headwind without anyone to block it and tried to look at the water to keep from staring at the Connector’s uphill. I set a new mental goal of not letting anyone pass me- only one lady passed me in the last 3 miles of the race.
My pace continued to slow down as I ran up the gradual incline. I saw Adam Gorlitsky from I GOT LEGS, who was hand cycling the 10K. Adam always inspires me when I see him on the Cooper River Bridge or at any race. I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself walk, even though others around me were stopping to walk. I just wanted to be done with the race and knew walking wouldn’t help with that, so I powered up the connector.
Once I got over the incline, I tried to use the decline to speed up a little and hope for a faster finish. At this point, I felt dizzy and dehydrated and found myself running toward the 5K chute rather than the 10K one (oops).
I crossed the finish line in 47:54. 9th female overall, 1st place 30-34.
I found Allison, and we headed out for a cooldown. She finished 2nd female in the 10K in her first race since moving to Charleston, which is really impressive!
Later on, we headed to the after party to have refreshments and enjoy the live music. The Isle of Palms Connector Run has a great after party with unlimited beer and bands.
The race’s swag was also top notch this year, with an updated t-shirt, and the awards were pretty impressive too. I received a Yeti-style tumbler with the race’s logo, as well as a fun medal. You can detach the “medal” and use it as a keychain to remind you of your accomplishment year-round, and the ribbon is a lanyard you can use for a school or work ID. Both the medal and the tumbler are some of the more functional age group awards I’ve gotten.
I won’t lie that I was disappointed in my race performance. I went into this race with time goals that I didn’t accomplish. I won’t pretend that this was a tempo run (I hate seeing those posts after a race goes badly- besides, I’ve had better tempo runs). I ran as hard as I could on Saturday, and while I don’t think this race represents my fitness, this is the time I have to show for that.
The sub-tropical weather was a HUGE factor, and everyone agreed their times were several minutes off their usual 10K times in cooler temperatures. Several runners and walkers ended up in the medical tent or throwing up off the side of the connector, and I’ll take a slower time over either of those outcomes.
While I may not be proud of my time, I am proud ’of completing the race and not giving up. When I woke up to August temperatures, I could have just stayed home. When I arrived at the race, I could have opted to switch to the 5K to be finished quicker, and I could have opted to walk or or stop- but I kept going and gave 100%. I did not let the weather, distance, inclines, or negative thoughts defeat me.
I’ll be back next year to make peace with the heat, humidity, and hills!
Race Name: Isle of Palms Connector Run 5K/10K
Location: Isle of Palms, SC
Date and Time: October 7, 2017, at 8 AM
Terrain: Road. Connector with big inclines. Everyone runs over the inclines twice (out and back).
Entry fee: $25-40
Swag: Soft cotton t-shirt (men’s sizing), sweat towel, reusable bag
Post-race Food: Bananas, bagels, oranges, apples. Unlimited free beer.
Weather: 78 degress, 100% humidity, 75 dew point.