Picture it: arms bent and pumping, butt swinging, heels digging into the ground, all with a fanny pack appropriately in place. That was me at the Columbia Marathon last weekend. This is what I have resorted to in order to finish a marathon pain free. It wasn't pretty but I got it done!! Originally South Carolina wasn't on my schedule until 2019, but I'm easily influenced by others and it was drivable and gas was so cheap and I had someone to ride with and, well, you get the picture. So even with a bum leg, I committed to SC. The Columbia Marathon is a double loop course so I figured I had an easy out at the half if necessary.
|Here's hoping that I drove all this way to finish this damn state.|
After the most god awful long drive (500 miles is my limit and this was just a touch over 600) we arrived at our hostess's house. My friend KM that I met a few years back at the Mississippi Blues Marathon graciously invited us to stay at her house and even cooked us a delicious pasta dinner. The Columbia Marathon was slated to be her first ever marathon! I was hoping to be able to run part/all of the race with her but I knew my leg probably wasn't going to cooperate. Race morning was easy peasy and we scored a parking spot literally right next to the start/finish areas.
|Ready to run (or walk).|
|Let's take a selfie.|
We started the race and I immediately stuck to my planned 2:1 run/walk interval. My leg (side of knee and up into my quad) started to hurt pretty quickly. The course is mostly through residential neighborhoods. Some hills to contend with but nothing too bad.
|Look at those marathoners behind me!|
|I saw a shoeless man on the course and knew it had to be Eddie!|
By mile 4/5, I was pretty sure that I was only going to do the half. I even had doubts about how I would even make it to the half. Leg was on fire. I slowed it way down (if that was even possible) for the next few miles, but leg still hated me.
|Pretty lake around mile 6/19|
Finally somewhere around mile 8/9 I switch to 1:2 run/walk intervals. Leg seemed to like this a lot better and was able to make up a lot of time while doing this. These were actually some of my fastest miles. After a mile or so of this I made the rational decision to just try for the marathon. I didn't take a day off work and drive 600+ miles to leave without finishing this damn state. I was determined.
|Not today South Carolina!|
I passed the half around 2:45 so I had 3:15 minutes to finish this thing (6:00 cutoff). I kept up with the 1:2 intervals and caught up to almost everyone that had passed me. I was feeling pretty good until about mile 15. My general lack of fitness was catching up to me. Miles 15 and 16 were a lot more walking (maybe skip running one of the intervals). Then my back started to hurt and shoot pain down my leg around mile 17. I took mile 17 super slow and was 100% certain that I would be dropping out at the next aid station. I stopped to stretch a bit and decided to walk to mile 20 if I could (with absolutely no running). After mile 17, I was able to gradually increase my speed and decided to just start speed walking. Yup. Straight up speed walking. I had absolutely no pain from that point on. Well expect for the wicked chafing I was getting on my ankles! Apparently you chafe in different spots when you walk as opposed to run. I was actually cruisin' and passing people that were running. I had several miles in the 13's with most in the 14's. It actually became fun to see how fast I could walk. If you get those arms swingin', you can move pretty quickly!
|This handsome fella greeted us on both loops.|
Mile 20 came and I decided to just keep walking. Leg/back were feeling great and I was in no danger of going over the 6:00 cutoff.
We got back to downtown around mile 23 and had the Gervais St. hill to contend with but it was no match for this race walker. I took great joy in passing people as they were "running" up it! The last 3/4 of a mile is a straight shot to the finish line and I was determined to make my last mile my fastest walking mile! Goal achieved with mile 26 at 13:25! I walked through the finish in 5:50! Not too shabby! Finished with state #26!
|Determination at its finest.|
|So stoked that I never have to come back to SC again! No offense to anyone that lives in SC. I live in Mississippi so I'm allowed to say that.|
My leg felt fantastic after the race and I could actually walk! And the next day too. I think I'm onto something with this race walking business............
This was a nicely organized race. Course was well-marked and aid stations were plentiful. The course isn't super scenic (mostly downtown and through residential neighborhoods). The race is also very small so expect to be alone and to also share the road with cars on the second loop.
As for travel deets, here ya go:
- Race registration was $75. I registered in February so this was a late rate. I suspect it's cheaper if you register earlier.
- I drove with a friend and we split gas. My part was about $40.
- I stayed with a friend the night before the race, so we didn't have any hotel costs.
- Food was cheap too since our hostess fed us dinner the night before the race. I spent a total of about $30 on food (lunch on the way to Columbia, dinner on the way back, and a snack/bottle of water or two).
- So a total of about $145 to get South Carolina checked off my list!