Well, for the 2nd year in a row, I tackled the Charleston 15 mile distance run in Charleston, WV. Some said the conditions were better than last year. Personally, I believe the conditions were worse than last year. Race morning, the temperature was 72 degrees with 92% humidity. I was sweating before the start and was coated in sweat by the time we reached the first mile.
This year, Megan and Mike decided to join me for this little road trip. We headed up Friday evening and stayed there in Charleston. Then, we had just a short drive over to Laidley field where the race finishes. We then ran over to the start which was about ½ mile away.
They start the distance run a little differently than other runs. There are no instructions. There is no count down. There is just the firing of the cannon at 7:30 on the dot. I am standing at the starting line and say to Mike "I'm waiting on the cannon to fire". As if my words were the ignition, we hear the cannon fire and everyone starts running.
The 5k run, 5k walk and 10k walk have the right lane of the road while the 15 milers have the left side of the road. Mike and I are running side by side and running along with Esther Erb from Boone, NC.
Last year, I felt like I imploded toward the end of the race so this year, I was planning to be more conservative. Mike and I hit the first mile in 6:12. We hit the 2nd mile in 6:18 and start over the bridge. I notice that Mike slides behind us but I assume he is just settling in.
We hit the 3rd and 4th miles. I am running a little ahead of Esther. I cross the 5 mile point in 32:44. Not bad considering the last two and half miles were up hill.
We start to crest over the most difficult section of the course and hit a few of the downhills. I notice almost immediately that my legs feel dead. There is no pep in them.
I make my way down the last hill, back across the bridge, and hit the flats of downtown Charleston. This is where if a runner feels really good, he can chase a lot of people down.
I found that I was catching people but according my watch I was not running faster but slower. They were just slowing down more than I was. My 10 mile time was 64:34.
The last 5 miles were tough. I was churning along with some 6:20s and 6:30s through 13, but after the 13 miles, the wheels came completely off my car. I ran 6:59 and 7:05. I was never happier to hit the Laidley field track. I was dumping water over head and across my legs. Nothing was working. I round the last corner of the track and cross the finish line. There is no sprint to the finish in me. I just go from a slow trot to walking.
My time was 1:38:49 which was first in my age group and placed me 12 overall. At first, I am disappointed. I wanted to run faster and felt like I was capable of running faster. It was just that my body had other ideas.
After the race, I talked to a few other guys that I ran this race with last year and found that their times were 2 to 3 minutes slower as well. Later checking the results, many of the runners were off by a couple of minutes from '11. I have my suspicions that the humidity was the biggest reason. I know that I struggled when the humidity is really high. My body just does not cool as effectively as when the humidity is much lower.
15 miles is a tough distance because it just starts to push in to the world of marathon suffering. I guess this is why I keep going back because this race test me like no other race.
Sharing one thought at a time,
The Cool Down Runner