Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kiawah Island Half Marathon Recap Part 1: Second Half Marathon Jitters and the "Beachy" Thing I Did

So...did you know that it's CHRISTMAS EVE!!!???

I'm so behind. I didn't get my tree up until December 7, I just sent my cards Friday, and gifts....let's just say "in progress"!! It has been "Last Chance Weekend" for us, and we're busy little elves buying and wrapping gifts!! Hence why my Fitness Friday post is moved to Tuesday.

Hey, I've been, you know, busy. Busy doing what? Traveling to Kiawah Island, SC for my second half marathon (among other things)!

What Led to The Race

Over the last few months, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a half marathon this year. I felt pretty bummed about not getting my 30 minute 5K goal this summer/fall, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to switch to half marathon training. However, I ran a 15K this October, and it convinced me to switch into half marathon training mode and sign up for the Kiawah Island Half Marathon that was held this past Saturday.

Brandon had signed up a while back, and he was happy that I was joining him. Kiawah Island is just outside of Charleston, SC, and about six and a half hours from Knoxville. We decided to make a long weekend out of the trip, leaving Friday morning and staying through Monday. Several of our RunKNOX friends were also going, and I was excited to meet up with them.

The Week Before the Race

All week before the race, I tried to eat healthy foods and drink lots of water. I started drinking 8-10 cups of water per day (admittedly I hadn't been drinking that much before). As a result, my lips were not chapped for the first time in months, and I felt energetic and great during my light training runs. Go figure! The Thursday before the race, we held a going away party for our coaches, and that was the only time that week that I really enjoyed some yummy holiday treats before the race.

Finally, on Friday, it was time to head to Kiawah. B and I took off work Friday, packed (seriously, I'm so last minute), and got in the car around noon. We took turns driving and sleeping, and we got into Charleston around 6:30-7:00 PM. We wanted to make it to Kiawah Island by 8:30 for our packet pickup. I'd been to Charleston several times before, as well as some of its surrounding beaches, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms. Kiawah was new to us. It wasn't far from Charleston, but there's a 2 lane highway to get there and it was stop-and-go for awhile. Finally we got into Kiawah just before 8:00 PM for packet pick-up.

It was dark, but I could already tell two things about Kiawah - it was beautiful, lush, and well-manicured, and it was pretty exclusive. It's a gated, private community. That night, however, the gates were open to everyone for packet pick-up.

Only the finest of races will do for Brandon and me.

The race is held on the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. You can stay at the resort, but the rates are outside of what we wanted to pay. Fortunately, there are other ways to stay on the island. We went through a "for-rent-by-owner" site and found a cute 1 bedroom villa (I call it a condo) on the island and right on the beach for a very reasonable rate. Having access to a fridge, coffee pot, toaster, and filtered water was a huge plus pre- and post-race!!

We got on the island, made our way to the resort in time for packet pick-up, and briefly walked around the expo. I had realized I packed everything EXCEPT enough of my trusty running jelly beans, so I was glad a vendor was selling them!

I also found this little goody - just in time for running gingerbread men/women!

We then stopped by a little village of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Its grocery store has all of the standard grocery store items you'd expect, as well as a great selection of fresh and local foods. Yes, it's a little pricier than grocery stores in Knoxville, but we were fortunate to have groceries in the condo and not rely on restaurants.

Before our first half marathon, we had grilled chicken and rice at home the night before, and it proved to be successful. During the race we felt energized and didn't get sick at all. My preference would have been to replicate this success model. However, it's a little more difficult away from home, so B and I had a whole dialog about what to do while in the grocery store. Here's the abridged version:

Me: "Let's find a restaurant that has chicken and rice. It worked before, and I don't want to change anything."
B: "It's already 8:30! We should get in bed by 10. We don't know what restaurants are here and it could take awhile. Let's buy something here we can have at the condo."
Me: "What? I'm not about to cook dinner tonight! It's late, we drove all day, and we need to get in bed soon."
B: "I didn't say you had to cook. Let's buy stuff to make sandwiches."
Me: Sigh.....

Side note - I'm a sandwich snob. I have in recent years developed an aversion to processed sliced meat and cheese.

B (already knowing where I was going with this): "We can get Boar's Head turkey. It will be good."
Me: "Hmmmm.....that's more acceptable, but it's still not my tried and true pre-race meal. It's not my chicken and rice. It makes me nervous."
B: "It's a pretty safe meal. You'll be fine."
Me: "If you say so..."

And with that, we bought Boar's Head turkey, cheese, and some whole wheat white bread (or as I call it "compromise" bread for B and me), some olives from the olive bar (YUM!!!!), rice, and bananas for the next day. The cashier said, "You runners sure love your bananas". (Why yes we do - see here).

We went to our condo, had our sandwiches (which weren't bad) with a side of rice, and went to bed around 10. I was nervous about the race and found it hard to sleep. I was nervous for several reasons.

How A Second Half Marathon Feels Different than the First

In some ways, I felt more nervous for this half than my first (You can read about my first half marathon here). In some ways, I was less nervous. Why?


  • I already knew I could do the distance in a race setting. By and large, this was a comforting fact.
  • Since my first half marathon was a success in my book (i.e. I finished and felt well during and after the race), I already had a success model to rely on. I already knew what worked for me in terms of hydration and fuel for that distance, pacing myself, etc.
  • I had some idea what to expect at different points of the race. Based on my prior race, I knew at what miles I would start feeling tired, when I should consume my magic jelly beans (see point above). I also knew that there would be that point (for me) around mile 11 when I would feel like I had zero energy left and I was dragging my legs for each step. I also knew from the last race that I could just tough it out and keep dragging and it would be over before I knew it.


  • There's a precedent. My goal for my first half was simply to finish. Yes, I had a goal time in mind (and I achieved it), but I wasn't holding myself to my goal too seriously. I just needed to finish. This time, I had already set a PR for myself. This time, I couldn't just finish. I had continued training, I theoretically was in better shape. Mentally, I had to beat my time and PR! This was by far the most stressful aspect of the race.
  • I needed to modify my strategy. In my first half marathon, I wasn't sticking to a pace goal. My strategy was to run as easy of a pace as necessary to finish. This time, I wanted to PR so I talked to Darren about a plan. He recommended starting off at my pace from my first half marathon (12:30), and progressively increasing my pace by 5-10 seconds each mile.
  • There's a different race course to consider. In this case, the course was almost completely flat, as compared to the very hilly Knoxville course. I consider a flat course advantageous, but because I wasn't anticipating hills to slow me down, I would have to be careful in pacing myself.

The Morning of the Race

When we woke up early the next morning, we could see how beautiful the island was. My nerves were racing, but I got it together, got dressed, and had my tried-and-true pre-long run snack: two slices of toast and a banana. I know it's recommended to also get some protein, but that is just too heavy for me before running, so I stick with carbs. I gathered up my jelly beans, watch, iPhone, headphones, Nuun, and water, and we were off.

There was a shuttle that ran from our end of the island to the race start. We wanted to take the 7:20 shuttle but it was full, and had to wait the 7:30 shuttle instead. So annoying. I hate feeling later than I want to be! It started my morning feeling flustered, which I don't like! Luckily, we got to the race and found our RunKNOX friends in the crowd. 

And Then I Did This Totally "Beachy" Thing

See what I did there?

I can't believe I'm sharing this. This is so mortifying. However, everyone I've told laughs hysterically when I share it, so I think you'll enjoy it as well. 

To appreciate this story, you need to know two facts about me.

1) I tend to be a little flaky and unobservant of my surroundings. I completely miss obvious things and say things out of context. It's a running joke among B, family, and friends. This is amplified when I'm really focused on a task at hand.

2) I'm obnoxiously polite. I'm constantly worried about hurting someone's feelings or offending someone. I want to be as nice and drama free as possible. Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than confrontation. I constantly replay conversations in my head worrying that I've said or done something wrong. 

With that said...

With only 10 minutes until race time, I realized I may have over-hydrated before the race and wanted to find a restroom. Unfortunately, the only option was portapotties. There was a huge line of them so I started to dart in one. 

Then this girl totally gave me a rude look and cut in front of me. What??

Then this random guy said "Now ladies...". And I thought, "Thank you. This girl should totally be called out."

So I find another one and when I come out I realize....

There is a line of like 50 people that I didn't see, and I cut in front of ALL of them. All staring at me. The guy was calling ME out!! 

They thought I was a total "beach"!!

I didn't see them because the line was backed up about 10-20 feet or so and I guess they just blended in with the crowd and I didn't notice. So I'm standing there mortified and frozen, attempting to speak but I don't think anything came out or anyone could even hear me...

Oh my gosh...Um...I didn't see...So sorry.

My sad attempts weren't helping the evil stares, and it was 5 minutes to start time, so there was nothing left to do but get to the race.

So to all Kiawah Island 2013 Racers, I hereby apologize for my actions, and vow to pay more attention next time!!

Brandon thinks this is the most hilarious thing ever, as he knows these facts about me better than anyone.

And We Were Off!!!

There was no time to worry about my faux pas, as the race was about to start. I met up with my RunKNOX friend, Lauren, and the starting gun went off! Remember Lauren? She runs at a similar pace as me, so she also followed the plan of starting at 12:30 for the first few miles, then progressively increasing pace.

Only problem with that plan...

I felt like a rockstar!! There's something magical about tapering and then running a race. I had so much energy it was like I wasn't even running. I was floating on a magical running rainbow!

Okay, 11:00 pace may not feel like blast-off to you, but I felt like Apollo shooting to the moon!

Fortunately, Lauren is much more disciplined than me and reminded me to hold back.

But how do you hold back a speeding bullet?

She knew (and I knew) all too well that going out too fast in the beginning means burning out later on in the race, so I listened and held back as she reminded me of our pace plan. Thanks, Lauren!

Look at us in our matching pink shirts! A couple of RunKNOX Foxes! :)

Even with her constant reminders, we got a little ahead of ourselves on pace. Instead of 12:30 pace, my watch showed 11:50ish pace for the first few miles. We ran by palm trees, lush tropical plants, golf courses and marshes. The sky was clear and sunny (we expected it to rain), and it was absolutely beautiful. It was fun running with Lauren and saying hello to people. Before I knew it, we'd already run 6 miles!

But that was only the beginning...there were many twists and turns ahead (literally and figuratively).

I'll be back Friday with Part 2 of this race recap! I'm ready to wrap up the last minute tasks and relax and enjoy time with family and friends. I'm a little excited I'm making  this decadent treat for my family - I hope it turns out well! 

In the meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas and holiday season to you!! I hope your days are filled with happiness, loved ones, and laughter. :) Thank you for sharing in my journey here on the blog. I've enjoyed getting to know you this year, and look forward to exciting times in the year to come!


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I was not compensated by any of the above organizations for this post, nor are they affiliated with this blog. I am simply sharing my honest opinions and experiences. The views expressed in this article are solely my own. Also, I'm not a health or fitness professional of any kind. See my  Terms and Conditions page. 

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  1. Yay! Can't wait until part 2!!! Sounds like you're off to a wonderful start. That race looks beautiful!

  2. I am always afraid of doing that porta potty thing at a race! I never realize there's a line because for some reason the lines are always so far away! So I totally understand how you did that. This race sounds really pretty and I can't wait to hear about the second part!

  3. AHAHAHAHA! I love the porta pottie story. I'm the same way with confrontation and drama. I get anxiety just thinking about it! Which sucks in my line of work. I can't wait to read part 2!

  4. So glad to hear from you again!!

    This is on my bucket race list, so I can't wait to read part 2! Will you share the little condo you rented? Maybe it would be a good choice for when I eventually do this race ;)

    Your porta potty story is great. I would've had the same reaction because, like you, I am overly polite and hate stepping on toes. Buts its funny too - I hope you can laugh at it now! I think we've all been there and done something like that at one point or another. And when you said "beachy", I was expecting you to say you ran into the water to do you business! LOL Though I wasn't sure how that would've worked out given your running clothes and all. :)

  5. I'd love to see more pictures from this race! Definitely on my list of races to do!!!
    Love your story, it's great to see what other runners are feeling (especially when they share stories like my own!)

  6. Can't wait to hear part 2! That is a hilarious story about the port-a-potties! Those lines can be pretty outrageous. I can just imagine the looks on those other people's faces! It definitely helps to run with a friend to keep you in check and make the time go faster!

    Miss Adventures in Running