The story goes somethin' like this:
I have a cyber buddy, Amanda, who I met when she was a customer of mine at Savannah Scrapbooking eons ago. She moved away, but never quit reading my blog, so when I began my efforts to remove my ass from the couch, pack it into a pair of running shorts and hit the road, she contacted me via Facebook and said she was a beginner runner too, yada yada yada. And here we are probably a year or two later and we're each other's cheerleaders.
Amanda's done a couple smaller races, but about a year ago, she set her sights on a half marathon, and as time got closer, she asked me to come up to Charleston and run her first 13.1 with her. Now, you've gotta know that she is 100% pure cheetah, and I knew there was NO way I was gonna be able to keep up with her, but I agreed to come up because I was excited about running in a different city. Plus I totally know what a great feeling it is to have an experienced buddy to line up with, like Mendy the Hottie Neighbor did for me.
So, Friday I packed up the Garmin, Ipod, and running shoes and headed North to the Palmetto State...
Cheetah Girl and I hit the race expo and picked up our bibs, shirts, and spent a little moolah on some cute headbands. Then we grabbed a decadent pre-race din din (and wine) at Wild Wings.
The next thing I knew, it was 6:15am, time to wakey wakey. Ugh. I frickin' HATE waking up on race mornings. Especially when it's cold and dark and my nerves keep me up half the night. Luckily, nerves + wine = pre-race poop. Oh yes, it's gonna be a GOOD day.
I dressed in my capri leggings, short sleeved tech tee, and fleece sweatshirt. Laced up, stuffed some GU and my phone in my bra and we headed toward downtown Charleston.
It was about 40 degrees, with a pretty good breeze blowing and blue skies. We took our place in the porta potty line and had plenty of time to shiver, freak out and laugh with other racers about a.) My ashy legs. b.) The freakin' cold ass weather. and c.) Porta potties in general.
Then it was time to head to the start. I actually remembered to power up my Garmin, and we both got our ear buds situated. And then, just like that, we were off. It's always such a surreal experience for me, like I'm not really about to do this, and then holy crap, here I go. I shuffled my way to the actual starting point with about 7000 other people, thinking, "Thank you God for letting me be right here, right now. Thank you for giving me the ability to do this, to want this." It's an awesome feeling.
As is, running the first seven miles, each with an 10-11 minute pace just like I'd planned. The Cheetah had long since left me, which I'd encouraged, because she's a 9 minute miler, duh... no need to hang back with this old lady. The scenery was stunning as we ran along the marshes and rivers bordering downtown Charleston...
Feeling warmed up, I dropped my sweatshirt and gloves somewhere around mile 3, and then grabbed another pic of the ridiculous view...
Now honestly, I can not think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. This race course was beautiful, in fact, I'd say it put Savannah to shame. We hit the historic district and wound our way around an oak lined park and majestic homes. Then we hit King Street and ran past some killer shops, theaters, hotels, etc...
Bystanders cheered us on as they sipped their Starbucks and enjoyed their warm winter scarves and coats. Several people told me they liked my colorful headband. I felt great!
Then we headed out to what I assume is some sort of industrial district, with lots of train tracks. I snapped this one at mile 7...
Shortly after this, my favorite song came on... 'Hall of Fame' by The Script. It made me feel strong. My legs felt powerful, my feet felt light. My mind soared and I found myself crying as I ran. "Fuck Alzheimers, fuck teen worries, fuck guilt and finances..." It was cathartic and worshipful (I know the F-bomb and God may not work for you, but it does for me.) And before I knew it, I was rolling up on the ten mile mark where the full marathoners branched off and the halfers went straight. Oh my gosh, let me tell you, after being one of the unlucky few that had to continue on to the full marathon course back in November, I was MORE than ecstatic to say, "See ya!" to the fullers today.
I tried my best to keep up the pace as I ventured through the last three miles, but I was starting to slow down. I incorporated my walk .25, run .75 routine, which saw me through to the 13 mile mark. It was at this point, things got a little hinky... my Garmin told me I was at 13, but the race marker wasn't visable. What the heck? I kept running, saw the marker, but at that point I was at 13.1 in 2:33 according to Garmin. However, the finish was another .20 from that point. Weird. I finished in 2:35, which is fine and all, but I seriously wanted to be in the 2:30-2:33 zone, which according to Garmin, I was. SO, even though my official time was a little longer than I'd hoped, I think I achieved my personal best in the true 13.1 distance. It's not that I think I'm EVER going to be an actual competitor, but I still want to feel like I beat my own personal best.
Post-race, I found the Cheetah, who smoked it in 2:04, putting her in the top third of her age group (which happens to be significantly younger than MINE, haha!) We laughed and cried and congratulated each other and decided to forego the complimentary beer and shrimp n grits because it was SO FREAKIN' cold. However, it was about that time that I realized I'd left my car key in Amanda's car... back at the start. Oops. Hee hee.
But the SUPER DEE DUPERDY race staff, took pity upon our woeful faces and penniless pockets, and let us ride the shuttle back to the start for free. Yes, God definitely takes care of the stupid. (And blonde.)
Today rocked for sure. I felt great throughout the race and the scenery was incredible. I would DEFINITELY do the Charleston Half Marathon again!
Now... do I try to conquer Tybee in two weeks? Ask me later. I've got a date with a bottle of Ibuprofen and a six pack of Keystone.