Other than a spectacularly miserable 2 mile test run a week ago, I hadn't run in a month and wasn't sure how my knee would fare, so I decided I'd just walk the Charleston Half rather than skipping it altogether. As the race approached, I changed my plan to starting with my friends Emily and Robert, sticking with them as long as possible, and then walking if and when the knee pain was more than I could tolerate. I was wearing walking shoes rather than my running shoes and had done absolutely nothing in terms of pre-race nutrition/hydration/preparation, but it was really cold, so I was extra motivated to keep running, and as we set out I had some tightness in my leg but the knee felt ok. We settled in at a nice comfortable pace, and the first mile split clicked off at 11:11, which I thought might be a lucky sign.
|Emily (in black) and Robert (in green) on the prettiest part of the course|
The first few miles of the race were quite scenic, running along palmetto-lined water front streets and through historic Charleston. Miles 2-5 were similar, and I distracted myself by chatting with my friends (thanks, Emily and Robert for letting me tag along!), checking out the scenery, and taking some pics, as we continued to average low-11s.
As the race left Charleston, it was more industrial and not particularly pretty, but my knee was still ok with the pace and shortened stride. We took little walk breaks around miles 5 and 7, and it was a little harder to get going again after walking, but thankfully I didn't experience any of the stabbing knee pain that ended my test run a week ago.
At mile 8, my friends decided to make a pitstop, and the portajohn line was fairly long, so I decided to keep going, not knowing if I'd be able to start up again after stopping. Once I was on my own, I figured I'd try to pick up the pace a little, and see if my knee could handle a bit of a faster pace. This was motivated by several factors, including curiosity about my ability to resume Boston training at some point in the near future, a desire to warm up, and recognition of the fact that the faster I ran, the sooner I would finish. I was passing so many people that I felt like I was flying, but a glance at the garmin showed I was actually running high-8s. Not exactly my goal half marathon pace under normal circumstances, but close to my suggested long run training pace, and though my glutes and calves were really starting to feel tight (not surprising considering my shorter stride/slower pace and the fact that I have only run 2 miles since Christmas), the knee was fine. I maintained that pace for the remainder of the race, finishing feeling cold and tired but thankfully knee-pain free! Official time: 2:18:05
Unfortunately I wasn't able to find Monte (who was going to meet me at the finish) or Ellen and Caren (who had finished the race about 45 minutes earlier), but I walked back to about mile 13 to cheer Emily and Robert on to the finish. Thankfully they were smart enough to have their phones with them, so we were able to reunite our little group for some post-race shrimp and grits, beer, and photos.
Pros: Driving distance, flat course, ran with friends, no knee pain, and the food in Charleston is amazing (as evidenced here) so it's worth the trip just for that!
Cons: The majority of the race was less scenic than I anticipated, it was freezing, the race shirt design was pretty whack, and the delayed onset muscle soreness is reminding me that 13 miles is still a long way, especially on zero run training.