charleston marathon recap!

the weather on saturday morning was just about perfect — clear, sunny, and 37 degrees, though it could have stood to be less windy. our rental house turned out to be just a half mile from the start line, so after mr. c and our friends john + caroline, who joined us for the weekend, left to drive up to north charleston for the 5k, i finished stretching and dressing in my most colorful running gear and walked to the start. i actually didn’t feel too nervous — i just told myself i was about to go on a really long run, and that it would be fun. shortly, i was off!

miles 1-4: the beginning of the course was down near the water, in the historic area of charleston. the scenery was so pretty, all the runners were still close together, and there were a lot of spectators out on king street with signs and coffee. i ate a shot block every couple miles and felt great.

mile 5: stopped to use a port-a-potty in a construction area, since the last race-designated one had a line. the hard hat guys were very nice and told all of the running ladies who had invaded their restrooms that we were welcome, just not to cross into the construction zone.

miles 6-8: piece of cake. the course started to take on the look of a no-man’s land as we left charleston proper and were heading north. i ditched my npr podcasts for girl talk around mile 8. i was still around lots of people, which was nice, and was eating + hydrating well.

miles 9-13: these miles went by very fast. the course took us out on a peninsula in the cooper river, so it was windy, but the scenery was pretty. my legs felt very strong, i was keeping up my stride well, and i was happy. i couldn’t believe i was already halfway done!

miles 14-15: my stomach started to feel a little strange around this time. i took a short walk break, about two minutes, to eat a shot block, drink some water, fix my ponytail, and try to let my stomach work itself out. onwards!

[around] mile 16: i saw my people! mr. c, john, and caroline had finished the 5k and ventured a few miles south to see me! even after having done a number of long races now, it still surprises me how excited i get when i see faces i know + love along the course. i always feel this intense wave of gratitude and comfort. they ran with me for a couple minutes so i could tell them how i was doing and they filled me in on the 5k. then we parted ways, with plans to see them again around mile 22.

miles 17-18: to be honest, i don’t remember much from this segment. i think i was still a little euphoric from seeing my people and had my head in the zone, focusing [without focusing, if that makes sense] on moving. also, the three of them moved fast because i was surprised to see them again around mile 18! i did note around this time that i hadn’t eaten in a few miles, since my stomach had been feeling uncooperative. i didn’t want to, but i ate two shot blocks and washed them down with water.

miles 19-20: happy! i felt like i was working at this point, and the pain in my stomach had been steadily intensifying, but my legs felt great and my mind was in the right place. i hadn’t looked at my watch this whole time [i don’t like to have too much information because it messes with my head]. finally i checked it at miles 19 [3:05] and 20 [3:16] and was ecstatic! it didn’t feel like i’d been running for that long, and if i could keep this up, i would finish significantly faster than i’d hoped. my number one goal was truly just to finish. but of course i had numbers in my head and was hoping to finish around 4:30. anything faster would have been icing on the cake.

mile 21: tired, but chugging along and feeling like the end was within reach. but at some point during this mile, the bottom swiftly dropped out. the pain in my stomach became so sharp and intense that i could no longer ignore it and it had me in tears. i lost control of my mind soon after: "why did you think you could do this?" and "how am i going to finish if i feel like this?" i was feeling so many things: anger because i was experiencing this pain while the rest of my body felt strong and capable. desperation at trying to figure out how i would complete 5 more miles. and wanting to see mr. c so badly i could barely stand it. i also knew i needed to eat something, but this seemed inconceivable at the time.

mile 22: my people! i flew over to the side to see them, smiling, but as soon as i got there, i buried my head in mr. c’s shirt and cried, explaining what was happening. do you want to stop? "of course not, i’m so close" do you want me to run with you? "yes!". so off we went in tandem.

miles 23-25
: these miles were filled with encouraging words from mr. c. it felt like they dragged on forever, with us mostly running at a slow jaunt with a few stops when the pain became overwhelming. i was so grateful to have him there — telling me that i was doing great and reminding me that i was so close to accomplishing this goal.

mile 26: i certainly perked up during the last mile. the whole thing no longer felt insurmountable and i realized that not only was i actually going to finish, i wasn’t far off my goal time at all. crossing the finish line was a wild mix of euphoria, pride, daze, and gratitude.

i am so glad that i decided to take on this challenge. even though the last hour of the race brought me to some very low places, overall i had a blast — i loved completing this race and the feeling that i was pushing myself so far out of what is comfortable or seemed possible.

people have already been asking me if i’d do it again. the answer, i think, is yes. i’d like to do it again and do it better! [and next time around, i’ll eat even more and more often, as i think that may have been the root of my stomach issue and its exacerbation throughout the race. you live, you learn]