Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cooper 2011

The Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC kicks off the Spring for many area runners. This year it fell on the first weekend of April. When I've gone in the past I've stayed on the Isle of Palms (IOP) just outside of Charleston. This year I stayed with Adam, his brother Todd and wife Ellyne in Shem Creek. Shem Creek is in Mt. Pleasant between Charleston and IOP and is close to the start of the race.

We all took Friday off and headed out mid-day to drive the 3 hours to Charleston. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, changed in the room and went in search of food and drinks. It was probably the chilliest weekend I've ever experienced in Charleston. It was cooler than it had been in October! The official temperature was around 50-60*, but the wind was dropping the temperature by at least 10 degrees. I hadn't packed correctly but I was still determined to spend time outside. After dinner and a trip to Firehouse Subs to get Todd his traditional pre-race dinner, Adam and I went up to the Shark Fin Bar which was next to our hotel.

The bar was on the second floor of Vickeries restaurant and outdoors, open on 2 sides. Luckily they had propane heaters and we found one to huddle under once the sun went down. The actual bar was shaped like a shark fin that's laying on it's side. It was a small place and the bar took up a lot of room. There were about a dozen people there. The views of the sunset and water were gorgeous! After a couple of beers we headed back to the room.

I hate the actual CRBR race! It's crowded, people don't seed well and you end up walking more than you want to. Then you get into a slam packed Charleston where you have to wait in line for everything you want to do. So I go for the after parties (at the Windjammer and Red's) and not for the race. Adam is still recovering from a severe calf muscle strain and wasn't running the race either. But he and Ellyne woke up, before Todd (the only person among us running the race)to get ready and drive over the bridge into Charleston prior to the bridge closing to traffic for the race.

I slept in until about 7:30am when Todd came back to the room for one last pit stop. I wished him well and then got up and dressed in my running clothes, at my Kashi bar, watched TV and watched the race leaders cross the Shem Creek bridge from the room's balcony. Around 8:30, I ventured out to the end of the hotel's drive way. This year the race directors finally added wave starts. Each wave was released every 3 minutes. I was watching runners in probably the 8:30-9:00 min/mile pace group. I saw my friends Steve, Kate and Kai run past but no one else that I know.

Some people wear costumes for this race. I gave Adam my camera to take pictures of Todd's finish, so I don't have pictures of the costumes I saw, but you can use your imagination. I saw two guys dressed like 'Reno 911' police officers. I saw 4 guys dressed like 'Bay Watch' lifeguards. Two of them had fake boobs. I saw two of the 'Seven Dwarfs.' I saw one bride and groom. I saw one 'blue man' and a lot of people in funny hats, pink boas and other outfits that I can't describe.

Todd is fast enough to start pretty close to the line and managed a 37:13, which wasn't a personal best, but I think it was pretty great.

Meanwhile, I finally cut across some walkers and started my run in the neighborhood across Coleman Blvd from the hotel. I had mapped my run online before leaving for the trip and had an 8-mile route planned. I had never run in the area before and wasn't sure what to expect. The neighborhood across from the hotel was full of well-kept, mostly brick homes. The neighborhood was probably built in the 60s-70s and the homes were landscaped with beautiful azaleas that were in full bloom. There were also magnolia and oak trees around. I was only in this neighborhood for about 2 miles. The last 6 were run in the neighborhood on the other side of Shem Creek from our hotel. It was a gorgeous quaint version of Charleston. Old (or old-looking) plantation homes on the water and other beautiful homes surrounding them. The streets were lined with shade trees and the whole area was flat.

When I finished, back at the hotel, they were cleaning up the continental breakfast items. I managed to grab a chocolate, glazed donut and half of a sesame bagel before going back to the room to shower. I had a missed call from Adam and when I called him back, he told me they were heading back to the room. He had said that they would be in Charleston most of the afternoon, but by 10:30am, they'd had lunch and were ready to come back.

After they got back I was hungry for lunch. Ellyne was ready for a nap. Adam, Todd and I walked across Shem Creek bridge to Red's. Red's is by far the most popular bar in Shem Creek and it was packed. So we went next door and I got a shrimp po-boy and a beer from RB's. RB's is really delicious and is on the water at Shem Creek. We sat upstairs outside and shivered every time the wind blew! After lunch, we headed over to Half Moon Outfitters. It's similar to an REI, but much smaller. Adam was impressed with the huge Rainbo flip-flop on the wall.

After our shopping adventure, we grabbed Ellyne and headed over to the Windjammer on IOP. It wasn't as packed as I've seen it in the past. It was 2 or 3 by the time we got there, so maybe the crowd had left. We ran into a lot of people that we know from Charlotte, Karin, Mike, Vincent, Jim, Wendy and Joey. We had a great time catching up and hearing how people did. The sun was shining and it got nice and warm on the back deck. Todd and Ellyne caught a ride in Charleston with friends while Adam and I stayed on the island. We then walked over to ACME Cantina for dinner and the NCAA Tournament games.

Sunday morning Adam and I ran a 3 mile loop around Patriot's Point. After a little shopping and lunch, we headed home. I snapped the picture below of the bridge on our way out of town. I think I have everyone, or Adam, talked into the Savannah Bridge Run in December. I haven't done that race in a couple of years and would love to go back.

Current Stats:

Total Days Run: 95

Longest run: 8 miles

Longest week: 32.6 miles

Shortest run: 1 mile

Shortest week: 20.6 miles

Number of races run: 4

Total Miles Run: 360.15

Next Race: Elizabeth 8K

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