Charleston Marathon Recap

How cool is it to be able to run a marathon in your own town and still visit areas you have never seen?

Although this was the first year for the full marathon (The Charleston Marathon), the Riverfront Race Festival was started last year and included a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and a Youth Marathon!

My son participated in this year's Youth Marathon and had a blast!  He logged over thirty miles over the last two months (including a 5K in Indianapolis and the Charleston Reindeer 5K).

Friday he ran the last 1.2 miles with a large group of kids (7 years old and older).  They started at the race expo and ran an out and back (they had a police escort and everything).  There was a clock set up and marathon medals were given out to all the kids.

My son was actually a little nervous before the race, but when he saw the local sports team mascots at the start he calmed down and had fun.  He ended up running the 1.2 miles in 8:20!  Not bad for a seven year old (not bad for a lot of 37 year olds)...

The Race Festival raised money for the art programs in schools and the Charleston County School District was a big part of the entertainment and volunteer crew.  Peyton may have been the only kid from his school to participate in the run, but kids from his school decorated a really cool barricade for the race and his physical education teacher (Coach K) made him feel really special for representing Mount Pleasant Academy.

The expo was set up at the end point of the race in a large tent.  It was heated and had plenty of vendors for such a new race.  The whole packet pickup process was really smooth and I love my new long sleeve technical marathon shirt.

The half and full marathons were point to point races (Charleston to North Charleston).  They both started together in Downtown Charleston on East Bay Street.  The city even had free parking at the SC Aquarium garage (although I had to pay $10 because I left my car there overnight - oh well...).

The temperature was in the mid thirties and actually felt good.  I was wearing a throwaway fleece over my long sleeve shirt and ended up dumping it before the race started.  The fleece was an XL that used to be really tight on me a few years ago, but now its like wearing a blanket (not bad pre race motivation).

There were about 1,000 marathon runners and 1,500 half marathon runners in the race so the start was easy to get to and not too crowded.  TrySports was supplying the pace setters and they had balloons and bright colored shirts to set them apart.  I looked for the four hour pace group and moved behind them.  I figured if I started behind the pace setter and finished before him I would break four hours (this was not my major goal, but it would be nice).

The race started right on time and we ran down East Bay Street past Rainbow Row (which was on the finishers medal) and down to the Battery.  We turned up King Street and went up the shopping district (I love running on this part of King Street).  A new store was opening (Forever 21) and there were hundreds of girls camping out in front waiting for the grand opening.  They were blowing kisses and cheering us on (okay, so I did not know anything about the store opening until after the race and thought the College of Charleston girls were out cheering us on...).

We went up to Upper King and then to the Neck area of Charleston.  The area changed from historic "Old Charleston" to art district, to urban area, to North Charleston's industrial area.

Before the race, I wondered how it would be to run in this area.  I was really surprised at how much I got into running this part of the race.  These were areas and neighborhoods that you just don't get to run in everyday, but they are so cool!  It really made me feel like I was exploring a new town.

The route twisted a few times and then the half marathoners left us at mile eleven.  I was feeling pretty good at this point and was running at about 8:50 pace (a little faster than I excepted).  I had left the pace group behind, but could hear them cheering every once in a while.

Oh - I almost forgot! I had another Cowboy sighting!  Yep, the guy I saw at my first marathon in Myrtle Beach (2009) and again at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis (2010) was there!  Can you believe that?  I would think he is getting close to two hundred marathons by now...

Okay, back to the race.  As we ran further into North Charleston we made a turn into Park Circle.  I love this area.  The mayor of North Charleston (Keith Summey) has done a great job of revitalizing the area and there are some awesome restaurants up there (EVO's Pizzeria is absolutely incredible).

The next few miles wound us through Park Circle, new and old neighborhoods, beautiful trees, and the new Academic Magnet School campus (ranked in the top ten nationally - really).  Again, these are areas that I just have never had the chance to explore on foot.  On one edge of the park was an African dancing group that was so good I wanted to stop and listen for a while.

At mile eighteen we were moving back towards the old Navy base and the finish line.  I was still running at an 8:50 pace and feeling good, but my feet were starting to hurt a little.

Truth time... I wore some boots a few weeks ago that really did a number on my feet.  They had been hurting for days before the race and I was actually considering not running the race (ugh, who would let a little thing like hurt feet keep them from running 26.2 miles?)...

Anyway, we ran down a short hill to the Waterfront Park and it was beautiful.  This used to be the Navy base and now its an incredible park!  We ran on small paved paths to the waterfront and along the Cooper River.

At mile twenty I saw the barricade that my son's school had made.  It really picked me up just when I was starting to lose a little steam.

The route went down the old base and headed toward the industrial part of the base.  I am not sure if I did not like this part of the race because how I was feeling or because it was a four mile out and back near the end.  It was brutal to be so close to the finish line and then run down a road two miles knowing you had to come back on the same road...

At mile twenty two or twenty three I started to feel the first signs of cramps in my legs.  I slowed down and hoped it would help.  At mile twenty four I cramped in my left calf and my right quad at the same time.  It hit me so fast that I went straight down to the ground!

I'm pretty used to cramps by now, but falling on my face and eating asphalt was a little new for me...

I tried to get up, but my left leg would not relax (the cramp made my foot stick straight out - I'm sure it looks pretty funny when its not happening to you).

An older guy came up behind me and helped me up and made sure I was okay.  He told me I was strong and could make it to the end.  He even ran with me for a little while (here he was trying to finish his own race and he was taking time to make sure I was okay - I love these people).

I knew I was not going to make it under four hours at that point so I slowed down to a comfortable pace so I could finish the race.  My leg finally relaxed and I was able to pick up my pace as I neared the finish.

I came around the final corner and saw the most beautiful sight of the entire race, my wife!

I could see Jen standing near the finish line with my racing bag and her camera.  I could tell she was crying - she gets a little nervous when I'm running late...

The finish area was really wide open and there were no other runners finishing near me so she ran out and kissed me and I held her hand.

I knew she was only going to hold my hand for a second and then let me run through the finish line, but after running five marathons I did not want to let go.  I just held on to her hand and pulled her through the finish line with me!

So there you have it, my whole family finished the first annual Charleston Marathon and we loved it!


  1. Great recap and congrats. Special congrats to your son. Great work Peyton. By the way, check out Iman's blog he is following yours now. You have soe things in common as he has lost about 60lbs and will be pacing my final loop at Umstead this coming April. Peace

  2. Awesome recap! Not awesome that you fell near the end but you dusted yourself off and finished the job anyway. And what a great finish! Can't ask for a better one than that.

  3. hey hey, congrats for being nominated as one of the “Best Running Blogs 2011″ hope to read many more of your fantastic running stories. sending you greetings from Malaysia…


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