Race Report: 2017 Cooper River Bridge Run

Charleston is a pretty cool place. I couldn’t imagine living here, but I can see myself coming back all the time. Good food, plenty to see and even more to do. If you like desserts…this is fat kid heaven. It’s not like Atlanta where you need a hobby because there’s nothing better to do.

We had pretty nice digs, they were way above the usual standards I set for myself. I actually slept worse than I do at shittier hotels I’ve booked in the past…guess some just aren’t meant for nice things.

The race itself is pretty organized. The shuttle bus system is far better than any Ironman I’ve ever done. The amount of swag and food is better too…for reference an Ironman costs about $750 and this cost $50. I think the only reason this race is profitable for organizers due to the shear volume of participants because they give you a ton shit for that $50. They also didn’t charge us for the 30 minute packet pick-up parking at the convention center like Myrtle Beach marathon did last month…douchebags. 

The packet pick-up has free booze. The beer is Michelob Ultra. There’s also sangria, wine & cocktails, but they give it to you in the tiny Winn Dixie cups. That wasn’t going to work for me so I picked up a much larger cup from the old ladies with the fruit salad and poured five Winn Dixie cinnamon sours in it. Make it nice, do it twice.

There’s tons of porta-potties, however there’s tons of people and there’s a wait. No, I’m sad to say despite the thousands of people in attendance they do not have the porta-potty run like the Preakness. Anyway, to avoid long lines I went on a warm up run behind a strip mall. I found this nice short palm tree but I realized there was a woman in the driver seat of the SUV when I checked to my right. Sorry lady. I had to settle for writing my name on the back of the dumpster. I ended up joining everyone in line and hitting the head again. Later in my “second” warm up run I found a nice spot beside an SUV out behind a school. That’s three times in 30 minutes…I’ve started to become like our geriatric dog.

Now to the race. This was my first time running this particular race. Obviously with a huge ass bridge to run over I wanted to find out what kind of elevation gain I’d be facing, but GPS mapping doesn’t pick up bridges…ever. So for starters I was told it was about 4% grade, which equals 4′ gain over 100′ travelled. Multiply your gain times 52.8 (because it’s a mile long climb) and it’s roughly 211′ of gain. The shuttle bus ride over help give me a little bit better perspective, but not much since it was 40 mph.

So how was I supposed to run up a mile long climb? I figured I’d end up with a strategy with the running equivalent to “jump and aim for the bushes?” when the Rock & Samuel L. Jackson jumped off the building in The Other Guys. My best idea was to ease off the gas pedal, lengthen my stride to take fewer steps and end up at about 7:00/mile pace going up. Then on the way down just haul ass at at least 5:20/mile since it was longer. It sounded good to me, I thought if it averaged out to a 6:15 in the end it’d be a good day. 

The start of the race was pretty solid. I felt comfortable at 6:15ish for the first 1.7 miles, then it was time to aim for the bushes. It started to feel a lot like the climb from the bottom of Moores Mill starting at the bridge going over the creek and ending at Howell Mill. I eased off the gas pedal and started to lengthen my stride. Good so far, but the climb just kept going and going. By the top of the climb I began to understand the feelings my old man experienced when he described his heart attack(s). At least I’m at the top now.

The way down was not as fast as I thought it’d be. I was hovering around a 6:00/mile but at least my heart rate was starting to return it’s pre-coronary status. I thought the finish line wasn’t too far away when I finished the end of the descent, but you’ve got about two miles left! At that point I tried to get back down to the 6:15 area again and finish up. I PR’d with a 39:22, but I expected to at least to some degree because it had been a year since my last 10k.

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