The last weekend in March, Juston and I headed to Charleston, SC to participate in our first Cooper River Bridge Run. It was the 38th annual run and it was by far my favorite race I've ever done. I was a nervous mess that whole week leading up to the race though.
We got to Charleston late Thursday so we had the whole day Friday to walk around, eat at some of our favorite places and hit some of our favorite local spots. I'll do a separate post for all things non-race related.
I really started stressing myself out around Monday the week of the race. I knew I was physically prepared to run the distance, but the incline really had me nervous that I would end up having to walk. I was going to be so disappointed in myself if that ended up being the case and I just got myself all worked up over nothing.
We had to stay in North Charleston since everything in downtown was booked or extremely expensive since it was a special event weekend. 40.000 people participated in this race! Since we were about 15 minutes from where all the shuttles were running the racers to the start line the morning of, we had to get up around 4:15 Saturday morning to ensure that we got parked and had time to walk to Calhoun street to get in line for a shuttle bus by 6 am. I am so not a morning person, so I don't think it would have been hard to talk me out of running that morning! Juston was pretty well in the same boat since he only did like 7 training runs total. We both joked about going back to the hotel, but I think neither of us could tell if the other was serious and was afraid to ask haha.
The shuttle bus lines were very long but moved incredibly fast. I really couldn't believe how well run this event was. I can't say enough good things about it. The bus ride over to Mt. Pleasant where the race started took around thirty minutes. The line for the porta-potty was almost equally as long, but I can't run without peeing first (sorry, TMI). I have this ridiculous fear of porta-potties. I'm terrified that if I get it one, it's going to get knocked over with me inside and I could never get clean again. That's really random, but true.
The sun was just starting to come up as we made our way to our Corral to wait for the race to start. It was SO COLD that morning. It was tough to dress to stay warm enough while waiting to run, but cool enough while actually running. Taylor Hicks sang the National Anthem and they had parachute jumpers with American flags descending as he sang. It was a really cool thing to see.
The first corral took off at 8 am sharp and they released the following corrals about every 5-10 minutes after that. We ended up taking off at 8:30 am. The course went through a main drag of Mt. Pleasant, over Shem Creek and finally up the onramp onto the Ravenel Bridge!
This was when the bridge first came into view from the course. I really loved that they had live bands set up about every half mile through the entire course. Things like that just really make it easier to keep going. There were lots of spectators and fun signs along the course as well. I was sort of worried about feeling claustrophobic with so many people, but the way they do the staggered start times, it really wasn't an issue at all. Looking at pictures, it looks really crowded, but it didn't feel that way most of the time, especially since you had an entire six lane bridge to spread the runners across.
I snapped the picture above right as we got to the peak of the incline. I was so happy that I hadn't stopped that I could have cried if I thought much about it. All that stressing and it really wasn't bad at all. Something about the raceday environment they created just made it easy to keep running.
We reached the halfway point while on the bridge and it was all downhill from there :) After crossing the bridge, the course took us up part of Meeting Street before turning onto King Street, then wrapping around to finish on Meeting Street. There was a point in the race that looked like the finish line, but it was just a fooler right before the six mile mark. Not cool. King street was really neat because there were people on the tops of the buildings cheering you on, there were tons of people lining the streets cheering and a lot of the participants were finished by that point as well, so a bunch of them came back to encourage people as well. There was just a really uplifting and positive atmosphere.
Once we crossed the finish line (Praise!) we had to keep running on to Calhoun Square where Bi Lo had TONS of yummy food for runners. Some of the best muffins I've ever had. There was fresh fruit, water, muffins and lots of cool activities for participants and their families.
I was so proud of myself for running the whole 10K and every single mile, we ran faster than almost all of my training runs. At one point training, I felt like I was getting slower every single day. I'd strained my hamstring lifting weights and in compensating for that, my knee started hurting, but race day, everything felt great. I'm so glad we decided not to go back to sleep that morning ;)
We got some post race treats at Cupcakes Down South on King Street.
Even after swearing to Juston I would never ask him to do another 10K as we were driving into run that morning, I looked at him after the race was over and told him I'd love to do he CRBR again next year. I might be nuts...does that make me an official Runner?