19. Laura Griffin Memorial Run, 2008

This is a special race for those of us who work at the College of Charleston. In the past year I’ve become more involved with life on campus, and I’ve gotten to know many staffers in many departments, from the School of Business to the Physical Plant. I wasn’t around when we lost Laura, but I can imagine how I would feel if I lost one of my friends on campus. There are plenty of people who were around in 1996, and they still miss her. As I said in last year’s article, it’s nice to know that the money for these races is used for good causes. For more information, take a look at the race’s official website.

Before the Race.

I heard a nasty rumor that the race day would be plagued by rainfall. Unfortunately, this turned out to be fact. Not only was it cold, but it was also quite wet. Of course, the cold wasn’t really a problem. The temperature was just right for this sort of event. After the first quarter-mile, your body warms up a bit. All you need are a pair of gloves and a warm hat, which you may even take off before the end of the race. The tough bit is hanging out beforehand in the early morning chill.

There wasn’t any rain on the way from the car to the race location, but everything was wet and grey. I wondered if the bottom would drop out or if we would just have a light drizzle during the race. Either way, I expected to get wet. To be honest, I kind of liked it. This event wasn’t pushed back to 9 or 10 o’clock. It was at 8 o’clock, just like last year.

Plus, the weather would assure that only the serious runners would be at the event. Oh, I don’t mean the fastest or the strongest runners. I’m referring to the people who really love this sport. Whether fast or slow, big or small, they want to be there and the weather won’t keep them at home. When they look outside, they came out anyway instead of pulling the covers over their heads.

Wet Day, Tough Runners

At the Starting Line

It was as I suspected. There was a small crowd. On one level, it was nice. On another level, not so much. This year wouldn’t raise as much money as it could have. Still, the lighter crowd allowed me to get some photos of the folks at the starting line. On any other day, the front row would be a full line of fit, fast, elite runners. In this case, the front row included mostly regular folks like me.

The Piggley Wiggley Pig was there, too. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen that guy. Still, I have to be fair. As much as I want to make fun of people in giant animal suits, Piggley Wiggley has done a hell of a lot to keep the running community’s events up and… uh, running. They sponsor almost everything.

There's that Pig again.

And We’re Off!

Once again, please pardon the quality of the images. I still haven’t replaced my crummy digital camera, and the lighting conditions were less than perfect. I did what I could.

In the second image below, you can see how a good pair of running shoes reacts to a wet street. Invariably, they kick up every available drop of water and deposit them all right on your ass. It happened to me too, but I was wearing dark shorts.

Shoes kick the water to your ass.

The Water Table

The rain had been on-and-off all morning, and by the time we got down to the Battery it was a light drizzle. On a day like that, I have to commend the volunteers. It takes a lot of people for these events to function, and I don’t just mean the folks who work the registration tables and assemble packets.

On race day there police officers blocking the intersecting streets, and there are people in orange vests who stand at forks and turns, making sure that runners know which way the course runs. That sounds a bit silly, but there have been times when I was alone in a long gap between the fast people and the slow. It helps to have folks guiding you at the turns, especially during 5K and 10K simultaneous events which share certain parts of the course.

And in addition to all of that, there are the water tables. Ordinarily it’s just another helpful job for a volunteer, but in this case I felt a special sort of sympathy for them. They were down on the Battery beside the ocean, and they couldn’t put their hands in their pockets because they had to hand out the water. After a few minutes, it can get a little uncomfortable. Those of us who were running were okay, though, in spite of the chill. In fact, not long after I passed the water table I pulled off my hat to cool down.

I didn’t take any water since I wasn’t getting hot enough to sweat very much, but I did appreciate their efforts. I’ve even thought of volunteering myself from time to time but that would mean skipping a race, and I just don’t want to do that. Maybe I could volunteer for some of the pre-race duties, though… it’s a thought.

Finishing the Race

I expected to finish in just over 24 minutes. Between the holidays and the second job at Starbuck’s, I haven’t been running as much as I usually do. That being said, imagine my surprise when I saw that the clock hadn’t even reached 23 minutes yet! As I approached the finish line, I poured on the speed. My previous best time was 23:07, so I got a little excited about the idea of besting it.

As I ran faster and faster, I heard a few of the spectators talking about it. It was the general sort of encouraging banter one hears at the finish line. All of us like to see somebody really working hard at the end. I approached the clock with a loud growl, which became an even louder roar in the final moments. I crossed the finish line at 23:06, besting my personal best time by one second. Still… I guess a record is a record.