Happy Tuesday! So before I get into this race recap, I have to share some good news – I’M RUNNING THE 2019 CHICAGO MARATHON! If you have been a reader of my blog for a while, you know that I ran this race in 2017 and had an awful experience. I trained for 20 weeks so it was a bummer to have the race go so wrong. I need redemption so I’m glad to be back at the race next year 🙂 Okay, moving on…
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I ran the Kiawah Island Half Marathon on Saturday. Truth be told, this race wasn’t even on my radar until my friend Abby posted about it last year. She lives in Charleston, SC (about 30-40 mins from the race) and had participated in the race a few times. She had nothing but great things to say about the race. Also the race was running a special – $40 for either the half marathon or marathon. Considering the low price of the race registration, and the fact that I didn’t have to get a hotel, I signed up immediately! Here’s a recap of my weekend and the race.
I arrived in Charleston shortly after noon and grabbed some lunch at the airport while I waited for Abby to get off work. After dropping off my stuff at her place we took a drive downtown. This was my first visit to Charleston and it didn’t disappoint! The homes were simply stunning and there were tons of art museums as well.
After touring downtown we went to Mellow Mushroom and the pizza and salad that I ordered were delicious! I wish the restaurant had a location here in CT. After carb loading we went back to Abby’s place to get some sleep. We had an early bedtime since we had to wake up at 4:15 the next morning – yikes!
After a good night’s sleep, we were headed to Kiawah Island for the race. Thankfully traffic was light since we left early and we got there in about 30 minutes. We parked the car and then boarded a shuttle to take us to the start of the race. We arrived about 30 minutes later (we think the bus got a little lost) and then walked about 1/4 of a mile to the Conference Center to pick up our bibs and race shirts. This process didn’t take too long. Luckily the building had restrooms so it was nice to use a “real” bathroom before the race start. We still had about an hour to kill before the race so we took some selfies and stretched.
Shortly after 8:00am we were off! Both the half marathoners and marathoners start the race together. The entire race is on Kiawah Island, which is a private community not accessible by the general public. The race starts and ends on East Beach Village on the island. We ran along Sea Forest Drive and eventually made our way to Governors Drive. One thing I noticed were the beautiful oak trees along the course. The race runs through neighborhoods so a lot of the residents were cheering us on. A majority of the race is on paved roads but there are a few areas where you run on a packed trail and a sandy trail. There were a few spots where the course narrowed so you had to run single file, but for the most part the course was very open and never felt crowded.
The first half of the race was pretty much running through neighborhoods but we did get some new scenery after that. Sorry that I don’t realy have any course photos to share, but I never take photos when I’m running since my phone is tucked away deep into my SpiBelt, lol. Around mile 10 we got to run by the beach which provided stunning views. Since I was run/walking at this point I was able to really take in everything. Towards the end of the race we ran through what I believe was a small park along Surfwatch Drive. I was deep in the pain cave at this point so it’s all kind of a blur unfortunately. About a quarter of a mile before the finish line I could hear the music blasting from the finish area. This gave me a little extra incentive to run toward the finish line! After crossing the finish line, I appreciated the heat sheets that were available since I got cold rather quickly after I stopped running.
Physically this wasn’t my best race, but that’s okay. I was doing pretty well until about mile 7 and then my IT band was like “Hey, remember me? I’m baaacckkk”. Needless to say, it was a run/walk/shuffle/stretch sequence from that point on for the next 6 miles. Overall this was a great race for me despite my IT band issues. I know that running the RnR San Antonio 5K and Half Marathon the week before surely added to the amount of leg pain, but I wouldn’t change anything since I got to run two fun races within a week. I would highly recommend this race based on the organization and beautiful course scenery.
After the race, Abby and I rested for a bit before doing some shopping at the local outlets and grabbing dinner at Swig & Swine and the food was amazing. I had collard greens and a pulled pork sandwich. Abby ordered smoked wings and those were so good as well! After dinner, we hit up Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe for cake and drinks. Again, the food was so good and I basically ate my way through Charleston that night, LOL.
As with any race, there are always pros and cons and I’ve listed mine below.
Bib Pickup – They allowed us to pick up our bibs and shirts the morning of the race. I appreciated this since I was coming from out of town.
Charity – The race organizations asked runners to bring canned goods to the race. Those canned goods were donated to two local charities. I think it’s awesome when races give back to their local communities, especially during this time of year.
Course – The course was so pretty! I’m so used to running city races so it was nice to have more of a peaceful run with tree lined streets. The course is also very flat so it’s perfect if you are racing for a PR.
Course Support – There were plenty of water/Gatorade stations and porta potties on the course. I also noticed that each of the water stations had different flavors of Gatorade. I don’t drink Gatorade but I thought that was pretty cool. Some of the stations were also handing out orange slices.
Post-Race Food – The post-race buffet was free for runners. The food options included white bean soup, taboulie, assorted pasta dishes, corn bread muffins, orange slices and bananas, hot chocolate, tea, and lemonade. The lemonade was so good and refreshing and the corn bread muffins definitely hit the spot. I actually took an extra one for the car ride back to Charleston, lol. They were also offering beer but the line was too long so we passed.
Post-Race Stretch – Fitness instructors and personal trainers were available to help runners stretch after the race. I could see this being very beneficial, especially for those runners than ran the marathon! Again, the line was too long so we just did some stretching on our own before heading back to the car.
Race Size – I guess this would be considered a mid-sized race with 4,000 – 5,000 runners. I usually run much larger races so it was nice that it was bigger than a local race but also not large like big city races.
Shuttles – After parking the car we had to take a shuttle to the race start. There were tons and tons of buses provided so that runners didn’t have to wait outside in the cold for a shuttle. On the way back, we had to wait in a short line but it was still very well organized.
Swag – If you know me, you know I love me some race bling! I was pleasantly surprised with the race medal because it’s super unique and doesn’t look like any of my other race medals. We also received a long sleeve shirt with thumbholes. I am always thrilled to get anything long sleeve since I have SO many short sleeve race shirts.
Bag Drop Off – The bag drop off situation was a little bizarre. Basically we had to bring our bags to an enclosed tent to drop them off. There were no volunteers working the baggage drop off…basically it was on the “honor system”. Now as a native New Yorker, I don’t trust people easily so this didn’t sit well with me. Luckily my bag was there after I completed the race but I felt very uneasy about leaving it there. Also, the inside of the tent was pitch black dark so everyone was using the flashlight on their phones to write their name and bib numbers on their bags. The whole thing just didn’t seem that well organized.
Change Race Fee – Originally Abby registered for the marathon. She wanted to drop down to the half marathon but there was a $35 dollar fee. I’ve never seen an organization charge to downgrade a distance, just upgrade (like from half to full) so I thought that was a little strange.
Post-Race Food – Yup, this falls in both categories. While there were plenty of food options, only one of the pastas had meat (chicken). I didn’t eat that pasta but I did hear a few people complaining about the lack of meat in it, and also just the lack of meat period. This didn’t really bother me, but I could see how some runners would want some protein after the race, especially the marathon.