Happy New Year, everyone. I’ve done enough of these races to become part of the local running community. Information just sort of floats to me now about where and when the races are. It’s pretty cool. As with the other races, there are many different kinds of people involved, and people have individual goals for their times and performance.
Showing Up Early
This race wasn’t in the middle of downtown Charleston like the others. It was over at Joe Riley Stadium. I wasn’t sure if there would be a coffee shop nearby, so I only showed up an hour early. This is what it looked like when I arrived. Parking was no problem, and they were just setting up the registration desk. Mercifully, someone eventually set up a self-serve coffee counter.
When the people arrived, the picked up their packets or registered at the table, and then everyone sort of milled about. There wasn’t much excitement, but I still had my pre-race restlessness to keep me from getting bored. I walked around and spoke to a few people.
Problems with the Course
The other 5K races in which I had participated were downtown, and they all passed by the Battery. I found that I missed the city streets and the salty air. Also, there were a few problems with the way things were set up. First of all, the course wound around a bit, so that you could see the faster people passing you by in the opposite direction at certain points during the race. I didn’t really care for that. I train on a treadmill, so when I’m outside I want to feel like I’m going somewhere. Seeing other people as they loop back makes me feel like I’m running laps. Another problem was the minimal preparation of the course itself. There were people standing on the corners, but I didn’t see any saw-horses or police road blocks. I made a flippant joke to the person next to me that I was afraid of getting run over by the local traffic. It was funny until a car actually pulled into the road with us. The person went very slow, and she probably was just trying to get to her house, but it was still a problem in my eyes. Runners in the left lane, and a car in the right lane. It shouldn’t have happened, even if it was only a block or two.
Running the Race
During the race, there were two incidents of note. The first was the crazy-fast guy with the racing baby-stroller. You know, the kind with bicycle wheels? For the smaller races I don’t mind the presence of baby-strollers, although they are an extremely dangerous road hazard during something as crowded as the Cooper River Bridge Run. Anyway, he pushed it with one hand and he beat almost everybody. I wonder if the kid slept through it all…?
The second incident of note involved me, of course. Near the end I was rapidly gaining on a little girl who was running in the center_item of the road, just like me. I was instantly impressed with her. Her endurance seemed to be waning, but she was still pushing forward as fast as she could. She seemed to be about nine or ten years old, and she had the familiar skinny frame of an active child. For her small frame, this race was really more like an eight-kilometer course rather than a five-kilometer course. Now that the end was literally in sight, her strength was failing to the point where Old-Man-Brian was catching up, but still she pressed on. All of this is very noble, of course, but I still had a race to run. I decided to swing left and leave the kid plodding along behind me.
I was just about to pass her when the little girl stopped in her tracks, planted her feet and put her hands upon her knees like an outfielder from a little-league baseball team. I had no interest in bringing all two-hundred pounds of my carcass down onto some kid’s head like an unwanted sack of potatoes, so I jumped to the left as best I could. As I flew by, our little heroine proceeded to paint the entire road with the nutritious, balanced breakfast which her parents had provided some hours before. In a desperate panic, I danced away for the sake of my shoes. (Fear not, by the way, my shoes are fine.)
I suppose I could have stayed and asked if she was okay, but I just ran on smiling. I had to make time, after all. And besides, I knew that she was okay. In fact, she was better than okay. She ran hard until she threw up. That takes determination, which will serve her well as she gets older. Once she sat down and had some orange juice she would feel better. As I said, I was impressed. Not impressed enough to stick around and check on her, but impressed all the same. Besides, I’m a single man and I don’t know that kid. The last thing I need is for my good deed to be repaid with a paranoid accusation from some narrow-minded idiot. A guy can get into a lot of trouble just because someone says he’s creepy, and evidence is not required in South Carolina.
In the end, I finished with a time of 27 minutes and 10 seconds. That won’t get me onto any cereal boxes, but it’s not bad for someone who’s retraining after a wreck. I was happy with it.
Monica, the Marathon Lady
Below is a photo of Monica. She’s 50 years old and she runs marathons with her husband. (Tell me that isn’t cool.) I usually try to find someone to pace with who happens to be running at my speed, and Monica was just what the doctor ordered. I always enjoy speaking with older people who’ve stayed healthy. If I do what they do, then I can be like them when I reach that age. Monica was a lot of fun to run with, and her husband was just as nice. (He’s not in the photo, because he was waiting in the food line.)
In the end, I had fun. One more race, one more t-shirt. I’m becoming closer and closer to the running community in Charleston, and I love every minute of it. They’re a very healthy bunch. If I’m lucky, some of their good habits will rub off onto me.