RR: Cooper River Bridge 10k

Woohoo! Jen’s comeback run!
First of all I’d like to thank everyone who listened to my complaining about crappy runs. March hasn’t been an easy month for me and I’m glad I was able to end on a good note.
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The Cooper River Bridge 10k is a massive race across the Arther J. Ravenel Bridge, which connects Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, SC. I didn’t have big expectations for this race other than to have fun with the girls.The race boasted over 38,000 registrations and Charleston has narrow streets. My goals for this race were a little different than most:
A. Finish without punching someone (I dont like crowds or strangers touching me)
B. Finish with enough in the tank to either complete the 20 miler on my schedule that week or day drink with the girls.
C. Finish without tripping and getting trampled to death (C Goal is always to finish without dying!)
Shannon, Julie (my fellow Pikermi Princesses), and I had planned it as a girls’ get away and invited Shannon’s sister and 2 of Julie’s friends to join in on the fun and complete their first race ever. Unfortunately the group ended up getting split up with Shannon and her sister staying at a Bed and Breakfast in Charleston and the rest of us in a hotel in Mt Pleasant. We still planned on meeting up as much as possible.
Even though I took a vacation day, I woke up early on Friday morning to go to Body Pump. Probably not the brightest idea before a race but I missed class Thursday night due to work and I wanted to prove to myself this was just a fun run by not following a typical pre-race routine. For some reason weight lifting made the race seem less serious in my weirdo logic.
The two Julies and I braved the traffic together, which included more jams than we would have liked but we made it to Mt Pleasant in one piece! We went to a park at the base of the bridge while we waited for their friend Connie to meet up with us from Columbia. I got to to see the brige up close and see what all the fuss was about. Luckily, thanks to the Ocean Isle and Crystal Coast Pikermis I am no stranger to tall bridges.
Friday night we met up with Shannon and her sister for a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Charleston. The food was quite good and I had 2 beers at dinner to reinforce my fun run mentality. I had other friends in town for the race (actually for the race related parties) but I resisted the temptation for a wild night. Actually, it wasn’t too hard – I was tired!!
Wake up was at 6 and I woke up feeling quite refreshed. My informal running club had Pikermi Princess shirts made and Cooper was where we were making their debut. I’m really happy with how they turned out so if you ever need personalized shirts made, please check outRunning Banana.
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Front has the four stick figures with our names on our bibs. The red line says Pikermi Princesses. The Back of the shirt was a huge hit!

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Julie W, Connie, Me, and Julie
The start line features about a mile of chain link fences and an ocean of people. Corrals were organized by color according to planned finish times. Unfortunately the corrals didnt not seem big enough…either that or people were too far forward (I’m thinking it’s the latter) because I couldn’t get into mine. People were overflowing onto the hill outside the fence because there was no room. The start was pretty lame. No confetti cannon (which is how I’d start a race that big!). I dont even think I heard an airhorn. All I know is I saw a river of human bodies start to move and I didn’t know how to get in because to opening to the corral was clogged and barely moving. Luckily, some big guys decided to pull open two sections of fence. I was reminded of those action movies where the big guys hold open the passage to save other people..even though they couldnt possibly fit themselves. I said thanks a million times as I squeezed though…and I was off!!
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Shannon took these pics of the start. Left is what it looked like in front of her and right is behind her. You can see people outside the fence…they aren’t spectators.
Even though I was able to sneak into the back of the 49-60 minute corral, I was stuck weaving around walkers. You’d think with a race that big there’d be a waved start and people monitoring the corrals. Some people had seriously underestimated their finish times…and others were clearly wearing walker bibs and had started with the really fast runners. I wouldnt have minded so much if the walkers didn’t insist on walking side by side! I was trying not to get frustrated because I had people waving around me too. On top of that I forgot to start the timer on my Garmin until about .5 mile in.  I hit the first mile marker around 9:30 and I happened to see my friend Franklin running by me. He lives in Charlotte and I stayed with him when I ran the Dowd Y and Thunder Road. He ran with me for about .25 miles before taking off. I knew he was in town but wasnt sure if I would have been able to meet up. Crazy I was able to literally run into him with that many runners.
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Entering the bridge
We entered the bridge at mile 1.5. The incline looked a little freaky but it really wasn’t too bad. A little under a mile later the incline started to wear on me. Mile 2-3 was my slowest mile by far with an 11:02 average. I was really scared about burning myself out and getting trampled on the decline so I mentally fishhooked myself to someone who looked strong and climbed my way up with him. People were commenting on the back of my shirt the whole time. Comments ranged from “I like your shirt” to “Don’t worry, you’re doing great!” My favorite was the person who pointed out there was at least 20,000 people behind me. Finally around mile 3 the sweel decline started. The bridge had a steeper incline the way we went up and a less sloped, long decline. It didnt hurt to run downhill at all and I definitely picked up speed, averaging a 9:25 for miles 3-4.
The bridge was wide and actually not too crowded. It was one of the best parts of the run. As we headed for the exit, a man on a megaphone welcomed us to mile 4 and advised us to get to know our neighbor because it was very congested a head. He wasn’t kidding! It amuses me to look at my Garmin pace because I can tell I was weaving around people, coming to abrupt stops, and trying everything I could to make up for my slow bridge climb. Surprisingly, I averaged a 9:40 and a 9:32 for the last 2 miles so I’d like to think I would have done better running in a straight line!! Finished with a 1:01:43, a 6 second PR!! Very unexpected but puts a smile on my face 
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The announcer at the finish was asking us to keep jogging two additional blocks to keep the finish line clear. There were so many people (about 10,000 people finished a head of me plus spectators) that it was hard for me to find water. I never found any but I managed to grab an apple and a bagel. After the race I originally thought I’d keep running as many miles as possible to get as close to my scheduled 20 as possible. However, the streets were so congested I knew I’d have to run away from downtown and knowing me I’d get lost in a less than desirable area. I decided to stand around mile 5.8 and cheer. I had missed the mile 5 marker and I think a lot of other people did because so many people asked me how much farther that part of my cheer was telling them how close the were. I managed to see Julie and Shannon’s sister and stuck around for about 45 minutes before meeting up with the girls. Shannon, her sister, and Connie were all not feeling well and went back to sleep so it was up to me and the two Julies to show Charleston a good time! We had a lot of fun with the post race activities! Proud of all my girls. Even with a few illnesses and Julie getting the green light from her PT barely 24 hours before the race, everyone did great!
I still managed to get in 14.1 Sunday after the long drive home. I was really hoping to get in a full 20 but I didn’t think 20 was a good idea after a race and a 4 hour car ride. Plus…look at how much fun we had!!
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We like pictures with mascots
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Post race reward! One of many 
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This slide was scarier than it looks!
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