Number 7

Yes, that’s right, I’m recapping the 2014 Cooper River Bridge Run (CRBR), my 7th Bridge Run in a row. Jason has done the same 7, one sister-in-law has done 7 but skipped a year somewhere in there, and my other sis-in-law has done 8 straight! We decided that we’d all make it to 10 before considering a new race venue, but I’m not even sure we’ll do that – Charleston and Folly Beach are just too wonderful not to visit each year!

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This year’s group of Feltis-Kane-Cortese-Matthews runners!

I had been looking forward to this year’s Bridge Run for a couple of reasons –

  1. With mentoring the Half Marathon program at Fleet Feet, I’ve done more running in the early part of the year (pre-CRBR) than ever before.
  2. Obviously (considering my last post), I was getting a little cocky about my speed.

Well, I have to say this was one of the toughest CRBRs in recent memory. After such a long cold winter, the Bridge Run turned out to be the first warm/hot run of the year. It was the first year in a while that we haven’t had to purchase warm “throw away” clothes. It was in the 60s before the race even started!

Now, I know 60s doesn’t sound like much, but when just about all of your runs have taken place in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, jumping into the 60s at the start and being in the 70s by the finish is quite a leap.

So, you might be wondering why it’s so hard to run in the warmth of spring… During the cooler, winter months our body is allowed to maintain a lower blood volume. It just doesn’t need as much blood for cooling and is able to send most of the blood to our muscles. As the temperature changes, more blood is needed at the surface/skin to help cool us and less is directed to our muscles. Our bodies our smart and as we continue to run in the heat, they create more blood so that there is enough to share. This is why the first few 70 degree runs in April seem more difficult than the 80-90 degree runs in August. (Thanks Coach Stacie for that great explanation!)

There are a couple things you can do to make your first warm race easier (which I did as much as possible) –

  1. Run during the warmest part of the day to teach your body that it needs to adjust and make more blood sooner
  2. Hydrate! Drinking more water will help your body create more blood

Alright, back to the race. This year was also my Dad’s first CRBR and I had a feeling we’d be close to each other for most of the race (I trailed him by about 20 yards for most of the Beerun!). We started together and were immediately dodging people and continued to do so for the next 6.2 miles. Apparently the corrals were done differently this year and everyone who expected to finish in 45-60minutes was grouped into the same 4 corrals (we were in the last of these). However, someone finishing in 45 is averaging just over a 7 minute pace, while someone expecting to take an hour will average just under 10… that’s a bit too wide of a range, if you ask me. Being in the last of these 4 corrals meant we were facing an uphill battle (and that’s before we even got to the bridge).

I crested the bridge with Dad still in my sights and I knew the plan was to get down the other side as quickly as possible – I eventually lost sight of him. When I came off the Bridge, I knew I was doing well but not quite as well as I’d wanted. My PR had been 54:27 and I really wanted to see if I could push for something closer to the 52 range. I was so hot and my legs felt like jello when I hit the flat after the downhill of the bridge that I had to walk and dump some ice cold water over my head.

I picked up what felt like a very slow jog and gradually increased my pace for the final 2.2 miles. This is a wonderful part of the race through the beautiful city of Charleston. There are always spectators and we know exactly where out cheering section will be every year. Once past them it’s several more blocks down King Street (it’s always longer than you expect) and then a left and another left and the finish is in sight.

When I crossed the finish my phone said it had been running for about 55 minutes, but that I’d also done about 6.5 miles (dodging all those people). So while my pace looked good there, the race is still calculated based on the 6.2 mile distance and I came up short of my goal and 20 seconds shy of my PR with a 54:47.

It didn’t take me long to find Jason and Dad at the end of the finishers shoot and we headed off in search of brats from the Johnsonville “World’s Largest Grill.” Jason agreed that this was one of the toughest CRBRs and also blamed is 51:01 on the heat and the people. Dad finished about a minute ahead of me (why didn’t I just keep up!). We did have one PR in the group – my sis-in-law Jen who became a mom about 10 months ago finished in 57:23 – Congrats Jen!

Instead of hanging around the finish festival, we headed straight for Burns Alley, and great dive bar in an alley near the College of Charleston. En route we were reminded (via security) that this was the first CRBR since the Boston Marathon bombings and how just a few horrible people can have such a huge impact on the way the rest of us live our lives and redefine the meaning of the word “safe.” I came very close to stopping one of the security officers to tell him that while I very much appreciated what he was doing, I hated that he had to do it.

With the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and the 7 year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre coming up next Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, I’m sure I’ll have more to say over the next week or so, but for now I’ll leave you with…

We are strong and brave
and innocent and unafraid

We are better than we think
And not quite what we want to be

neVer forgeT, live for 32

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