But back to the race. The course is known for being flat and scenic and it did not disappoint. They started the race a few blocks from the waterfront and spent the first few miles along the waterfront before turning NW onto King St. During this part of the run it was easy to imagine how smooth the race was going to be without the hills we train on in Birmingham.
From a runner’s point of view King St. is flat with good scenery of historic retail and commercial buildings. And while the road is rough and uneven it is very very flat! On this day the wind was at our back along the waterfront. But the wind was coming from the NW at about 5-8 mph, the direction of King St. It would be a factor later.
Knowing my goals for later in the season I became somewhat discouraged when I had to work so hard to increase my pace incrementally throughout the race. It was great to have a sun filled day but the wind was steady and was against us for miles 3-11. At first it was hard to determine its impact, but by mile 10 it was definitely measurable.
As I went through an area of large buildings close to the road the wind stopped so quickly that I actually fell forward a little from leaning into it. I looked at my watch and my pace improved :10-:15 per mile with LESS effort. For a few hundred yards I felt the smooth comfortable pace I had been striving for during the last 8 miles. Then the wind came back.
At this time the course starts winding along some gravel sections, a few hundred yards at most, and into a very scenic park near the water. I found the gravel irritating at first because of the fatigue from the wind. Usually I like running on packed gravel because it feels good on the knees.
After the race I could feel the extra effort in my hamstrings. Two images came to mind: 1.) The image of someone running up a slight steady hill for 8 miles. 2.) The old run drill where someone holds their hand to your chest while you lean forward and run against it. Those two images sum up what I, and all of us, experienced.
Overall I would rate the course good but not great. While flat, Charleston the run is a must! Overall I would rate the experience of running in Charleston great. Flat course, great restaurants, picturesque historic city and great post-race food and block party.