The Charleston Marathon Race Review
Race review by Meaghan M.
I should preface this race review by saying that Charleston, SC is my favorite city in the world (so I’m a little biased). I spent 4 years at the College of Charleston and another couple working in the city. A marathon seemed like the perfect excuse to go back. Although this race came just two months after my last marathon, I didn’t want to wait an entire year for the next one. So, without too much more thought, I signed up and booked my flight.
Packet pickup and the starting line were held at a high school downtown. They had parking at the start and finish with buses caravanning runners back and forth. I was fortunate enough to have my parents as a personal escort. We arrived pretty early, which was good since the line for the women’s bathroom was absurd. I probably spent a good 30-40 minutes just waiting. I can’t complain too much though, we were indoors. It was a particularly cold, windy morning for Charleston so I stayed in the high school as long as possible. A few minutes before gun time, I skipped over to the start line where people were grouped based on finishing times. It was crowded, but not uncomfortably so. I got as close as I could to the 3:15 pace group and huddled next to some big dudes to help block the wind. This was the first race I was running alone, and my first experience with pacers.
The race started right on time and the initial crowd helped block headwinds. That didn’t last long. I honed in on the guy holding a 3:15 sign and made my way directly next to him. I decided this is where I would stay for the remaining 25 miles or so. I almost did.
The first few miles take you through the most beautiful part of Charleston, known as the Battery. You run along the water next to huge, beautiful historic homes and palm trees. It’s heavenly. After you loop around the peninsula, the course takes you straight up King Street, where you’ll pass through the main strip of downtown restaurants, shops, and bars. Aside from some cobble stones, the roads are perfectly flat. Unlike the Outer Banks marathon, this race is actually a flat course, in entirety. There are a few notable spots, a pier and some nice views, but that’s about it.
The pacers were awesome. I talked with them nearly the entire race. I’m not sure how that affects performance, but I was running with someone who won the Atlanta Rock n’ Roll marathon and plans to attend the Olympic Trials in 2016. How could I not?
Locating mile markers on this course was about as easy as finding Waldo. The signs were never the same size, shape, or in a similar location. I don’t even think they were all marked. In fact, I’m fairly certain mile marker 16 was a dude yelling “16” when you ran by.
My family made an appearance at miles 5, 18, and 22. At 22 my dad handed me some Gatorade blocks which I was in desperate need of. Mile 25 is when things started to go downhill for me. Eric, my pacer, was throwing all kinds of motivation at me and I wasn’t having it. I slowly started to slip behind the group (now down to a core group of 4 guys). My legs started to feel like lead and it was a struggle to keep the pace. I kept wondering if this was the “wall” you hear runners talk about.
Around mile 26 I could tell my vision was off and the crowd sounded like a hum. I saw Eric and Nathan (pacers) running back towards me. Then I stopped. I stopped running completely and stared at the ground. I knew I was nearly at the finish line, but I wasn’t sure I was going to cross it. With literal, physical force, the two guys got me across. I could not be more thankful for them that day.
As soon as I crossed the line, I collapsed. Then nausea took over. I spent a couple hours in the medical tent sipping hot water and flat coca-cola. The doctors and volunteers were amazing; everyone I encountered was extremely caring. Amongst the vomit, muscle spasms, and general discomfort, my dad said something that I will never forget, “If you can do this” he said, “you can do anything.” I couldn’t be more thankful for my supportive family.
I can’t speak to much of the post-race activities, but in general, this is an awesome course. I didn’t take up the free shrimp and grits, but I did eventually make it to the beer tent and awards ceremony. The whole race was well staffed and very well organized. On the other hand, the premium is all kinds of ugly. I didn’t think it was possible to make a technical tee un-cool. I stand corrected. That being said, I will without a doubt run this race again. It’s awesome.
As always, I have to thank coach Caleb, for helping me reach this 3:19 PR. Through his training and the love and support of my amazing family and friends, I’ve taken nearly 40 minutes off my marathon time in under a year.
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Which Skechers did u wear??
Those are the GOrun 3