Did you know that South Carolina is the largest producer of peaches in the US? It produces 15 percent more than the “Peach State,” Georgia. Also, did you know that the city of Charleston claims 90 percent of the Atlantic coastline and is the largest cargo port on the Southeastern Atlantic coast?
I just got back from the beach-lined city in the peach-filled state; I didn’t eat any peaches, nor visit any beaches (bummer on both counts), but I did run my first 13.1-miler of the year, the Charleston Half Marathon. Charleston, S.C. is officially #5 of 50 for #runningthestates.
The running community is large, and this past weekend in Charleston proved that even more so.
Shortly after arriving and checking into my hotel, I posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook of the view outside of my room. A high school buddy of mine, Jen, saw the photo and said she was in town with a couple of her friends, running the race, too. Awesome! They ended up staying in the hotel next door to mine.
Also awesome: I met two girls from the DC area on the shuttle (one named Emily and the other whose name I can’t remember… I’m terrible). It was just us three on the shuttle. We were headed back to the hotel, when Emily asked the driver if he could drop her and her friend off at the expo to pick up their race packets. And that’s how we got into talking about running and races and being from the same area. Emily was doing the Charleston (full) marathon, and her friend was running the half. It’s always fun when you meet other runners from your hometown.
Later that evening, I decided to have a beer at the hotel bar. Emily and her friend ended up there, too, after picking up their packets. I met a really nice couple from western North Carolina. They were having dinner next to me. The husband was running the full marathon. Turns out he’s an avid runner and has done quite a few marathons across the country, including the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, last October. We chatted about other races, and they ended up offering Emily, her friend and I a ride to the start line the next morning. We accepted, even though it’s less than mile walk from the hotel.
I also met another runner at the bar from Alabama. She was doing the 50 states challenge, too. Crazy! She said she was 13 states in. I asked if she had any recommendations for races in Alabama. Her choices were Birmingham and Gulf Shores, the latter of which I already considered since its near the water. I think I may go that route when it’s time to do Alabama.
It was a fun first night in Charleston. Meeting other runners and discovering that Jen was running the race, too, had me pumped. I left the bar around 9:30 p.m. to get a little rest before race day.
We met the North Carolina couple in the hotel lobby at 7 a.m. The start line was only a few minutes away, but it actually took us a little longer because of the road closures for the race. We got there around 7:30. Start time was at 8 a.m., so we still had a little time for last-minute bathroom visits and stretching.
The NC husband, David, ran into a couple of his buddies who were also running the race. It turned out that one of the buddies, Brian, grew up in Bethesda and went to B-CC High School, about 15 minutes away from where I live. He lives in North Carolina now, but his siblings are still in Montgomery County. Such a small world.
The race started on time, shortly after the singing of the National Anthem. There were just under 5,000 runners, which is a good amount—enough to keep the energy level high, but not so many that you feel like you’re running in a pack of sardines for the half the race.
The course was mostly flat, just one small incline toward the end. The route went through downtown and historic Charleston, where we got to see some of the city’s beautiful architecture. We also ran past the Battery, a fortified seawall and promenade at the southernmost tip of the Charleston peninsula, as well as along historic King Street, a popular area for shopping.
One thing I was concerned about during the race was accidentally veering off onto the marathon route—the marathoners and half marathoners started off on the same path, but then split up around mile 9, and then met back up again at various parts of the course for the latter portion of the race. I was fine though—I made it without any detours. Because really, how terrible would that have been? If you planned on running only 13.1 miles, but ended up running 15?
I felt strong during the race and was able to keep a steady pace throughout the entire course. Once I crossed the finish line and received my medal, I went straight to the finishers’ area for post-race shrimp and grits, which really hit the spot. And then I texted Jen. We met up and hung out a bit before heading back to the hotel.
Overall, the Charleston Half Marathon was a great race and perfect 2015 kickoff to #runningthestates.
I spent the rest of the day with Jen and her friends—we had brunch at a delicious spot called Rutledge Cab Co.; went on an hour-long carriage ride through Charleston, where we got to see some historic Civil War-era sites; browsed the straw market and a few other shops downtown; and had a great three-course dinner at Social Restaurant and Wine Bar. It was a fun day. I’ll write more about visiting Charleston in another blog post soon. In the meantime, check out Jen’s recap here. She’s got tons of great photos!
Next weekend, I’m headed to Louisiana to run the Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. I’m pretty excited. It’ll be my first time in Nola and first Rock n Roll race, which I hear can be quite a production!
Name: Charleston Half Marathon
Date: January 17, 2015
Race day weather: 50ish degrees F, cloudy, then sunny
Race start time: 8 a.m. ET
Course description: Flat course going through downtown and historic Charleston.
Race organization: The race was well organized for the most part.
Personal finish time: 2:26:37
Airfare: Jet Blue = $242.98, but I used points, so it was free
Hotel: Two nights at the Hilton Garden = $297 + tax = $347
Car rental: For three days = $95.34
Food and drinks = About $125
Activities and shopping = About $30