Half marathon number five accomplished! It seems sort of unreal that I already have five half marathons under my belt, considering I ran my first one just over a year ago. I truly do love this distance!
I made sure to hit the sack around 9:30 pm the night before to get ample sleep before the race. I had the forethought to bring my new Technogel pillow with me for a good night’s rest.
#SleeptoPerform, right? Which I think I did, seeing as the 4:30 am wake-up call didn’t feel too bad at all.
After the early 4:30 am wake-up call, a quest for an open coffee place when the hotel spit out tea-colored nastiness, and a 45 minute drive over to Kiawah Island from downtown Charleston, Peter and I finally made it to the race venue. Kiawah Island has put on this race for 35 years and they know how to please runners. The race had an effortless bib pick-up (even on race morning), ample space to kill time indoors, pre-run activities, coffee available (if only I had known), indoor bathrooms as well as numerous portables, and great organization overall. Even coming in from off the island was a stress-free morning.
Before I knew it, we were ready to line up for the start!
Originally, after my strong feeling race at the Runner’s World Half, I had hoped to go for a personal record this race since my 1:50:08 PR actually belongs to my very first half marathon. Funny, huh? However, I knew going into this race not to have high hopes. I did feel better after being sick all week, but still not 100%. Plus, I didn’t know how my testy ankle would hold up.
The first mile or so felt very crowded, even for one of the smaller races I have run. It took the entire mile to finally get a bit of open space and settle into a good pace. Even still, the energy of being surrounded by other runners tends to give me an emotional boost and this time felt no different.
From there, the next 3-4 miles went by uneventfully. I just had my headphones off and enjoyed running through the beautiful tree lined streets of Kiawah Island.
The scenery continued to get only more beautiful through mile nine, as we ran by ponds and the Atlantic ocean. Gorgeous, right?
I only had a few rough spots through this entire time and easily held about an 8:25 minute per mile pace. My body did feel fairly tired by around mile six, so I took one of my Gu energy gels a bit earlier than I usually do. It helped a lot. Then, at mile seven, they have a turnaround point on the course that goes from a pretty wide path to a pretty narrow path that gets really crowded. It doesn’t help when you get stuck in a marathon pacing group of about 20 people taking up the entire path, either. Besides those two points, I maintained a much better pace than I expected. Until just before mile 10.
My body crashed and burned around then. I have never really hit a wall during a half marathon. The only other time I have felt similar was the Atlanta Half Marathon earlier this year, when I was also sick the week before the race. Both races, my body just went caput with no real energy left.
I felt exhausted and started feeling very weak and nauseous, just as I had felt when trying to run earlier in the week. I tried taking another energy gel, but it only made the nausea worse. Also, at mile ten, the arch of my right foot started feeling tight and my running didn’t feel fluid and effortless anymore. By mile twelve it transferred to my ankle feeling tight. I never had true pain, but I certainly wasn’t running optimally. My pace slowed those final three miles to around 9:30-10:00 minute miles.
Despite things suddenly not going well at all, I still made the most of it.
I had done better than expected up to that point and I still wanted to enjoy the race. The final few miles went through some of the residential area of Kiawah with many gorgeous homes, including a HGTV Dream Home (they had a sign on the race course pointing to it, which I found kind of humorous).
I may have struggled towards the end, but I crossed that finish line happy (despite what my face says) with an official time of 1:56:31 and an average 9:00 minute per mile pace.
Right after the race, I did manage to find my fellow Atlanta running blogger and friend, Elizabeth!
We chatted for a few before Peter and I headed back to the shuttles for parking. Peter and I didn’t stay around too long afterwards because I felt pretty beat and we wanted to have ample time for our plans in Charleston. It was a quick race morning, but a very pleasant one and probably one of my favorite races yet. I want to go back next year! Who’s with me?!