Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Race Report - Kiawah Island Marathon

Saturday, December 8th was the Kiawah Island Marathon on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, just south of Charleston right along the Ocean.  This ended up being my 44th marathon overall and my 7th and final marathon for 2012.

Being December in South Carolina, you really never know what kind of weather you will get.  I like a cold day for a marathon but unfortunately, it turned out to be a warmer day.  You would never think that by all the running tights, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, etc that people were wearing though.  Runners from the south make me laugh at times with how cold they think it is.  But then again, they probably laugh at me at when it is warm for me and they feel it is perfect.

Kiawah Island Resort was the host of this marathon and from what I could tell, there are 2 parts to this gates community.  The first part where packet pickup and the start and finish were in an area in which you could rent out rooms and condos.  The second part of the resort is a community where lots of very nice homes scattered tree lined streets with nice bike paths with golf courses. And from what I could tell, VERY nice golf courses.  So much so that the Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course hosted the 2012 PGA Championships.  Unfortunately, we never were able to see this course though we ran close to it for about 4 miles.

At packet pickup, you were not given the usual bag with stuff in it, but rather just your long sleeve race shirt and your race number with chip on the back.  There was a "Store" area where you could purchase stuff too so if you forgot anything, you were good to go.

Since there is limited parking at the resort, as you arrive on race morning, you park in a huge grass field where you then load onto a bus to take you the final mile to the start/finish area.  Once there, there was a large room where runners could hang out in the warmth indoors until race time.

The streets in this resort are a bit smaller than your usual roads so the start area was very crowded.  There were over 1000 full marathon finishers and over 2000 half marathon finishers.  Once the gun went off at 8:00AM to start the race, it took me about 2 minutes to reach the starting line where there was a chip mat (big bonus over the last marathon I ran).  Funny thing was that the chip mat was about 50 or so feet ahead of the big starting line banner!?!?  I started near the 4:00 runners but was not happy with having to pass countless walkers who started ahead of me.  One group of 5 walkers were all abreast making it very difficult for anyone to pass them.  I do not understand why people to this but maybe some pace signs along the starting area would have helped.

This race has a very flat course.  Maybe 6 feet of elevation change over the entire course.  The area you run in is mostly the gated homes roads which were very beautiful and landscaped nicely.  No industrial areas.  No endless country farm fields.  No downtown big buildings.  Not that any of that is necessarily bad, but there were no real ugly or bad areas you ran through on the course.  The course did have some drawbacks.  There were 4 fairly long out and backs for the full marathoners (1 for the half marathoners).  This wasn't as bad as it would seem but does get discouraging seeing all the runners ahead of you running the other direction.

The half marathoners ran about the first 11 miles with the full marathon runner which made it quite crowded.  that wasn't too bad when we could run on the roads, but on the first out and back that was about 2 miles each way, after the turn around, runners needed to run on the bike path which was not near wide enough to pass or get passed effectively.  Other than those issues, the course was very nice and many of the people who lived in the community came out to cheer on the runners.

The volunteers along the course were great.  Plenty of water for everyone when there was water stops.  For the first half of the race, there were plenty of aid stations but were lacking during the last 6 miles.  I think some race organizers think that the same distance between aid stations is OK throughout the course but in my opinion, they need to be more frequent in the last 6 miles.  Going 2 1/2 miles after mile 20 for the next aid station is too far.

The post race spread was really nice too.  The usual bananas,oranges, breads where there but they also had a great soup to have.  Coffee and hot chocolate were available too.  But no chocolate mile :(.  

Kiawah Island Marathon shirt and medal.

This years medals were very interesting and unique.  It was an acrylic or glass like material that is somewhat see through.  It is hard to read but different.  I think that if this were my first marathon, I would be disappointed in the medal but I don't have any other medal like it so I kind of like it, it is growing on me.  I have nothing like it. 

Close up of the Kiawah Island Marathon Medal.

Mike, Paul and I decided a couple months ago to run this race and check off South Carolina from our list.  We had decided to fly to Charlotte, NC to save over $100 per person on the flight and then rent a car to drive down.  We arrived in Charleston, SC on Friday after stopping and picking up our numbers and shirts.  Race day wee arrived near the start area about 1 hour early and proceeded to sit in the ball room resting.

My goal for the race was to run another sub 4 hour marathon and planned to run that pace.  I was worried because the weather was going to be warmer that I like.  I prefer a marathon that starts with temps in the upper 30's and ends in the mid to upper 40's.  This race was beginning in the low 50's and was forecasted to be in the low 70's by noon when I planned on finishing. 

Mike and Paul near the start of the marathon.

I am ready to go on another 26.2 mile journey.

I started the race in my Fargo Marathon long sleeve shirt and planned on ditching it when I warmed up.  After 4 miles, I was sweating pretty good and that was a good time to go to just the singlet on top.  I was running quite sluggishly too, the legs felt a bit slow and the first 3 miles in fact were closer to 9:30 pace with all the slow walkers and runners to pass.  After that, I was able to pick the pace up and gradually increased my pace dropping my average mile pace.  By mile 8, my average pace was down to 9:11 and I was close to the 4 hour pace.  

After the half marathoners turned off the course, there were much less runners and finally room the breathe out there.  My legs still felt sluggish but I passed the half marathon point with a time of 2:00:38, almost right on pace.  I decided to pick it up a little and dropped the average mile pace to about 9:05 but tried to stay in control as it was getting quite warm and I needed to save all I could for the final 6 miles.  

Here I am at about mile 24.  I look much better than I feel at this moment.

I nice thing about all the out and backs was that I was able to see my friends along the way and know how far ahead they were.  At mile 14, Mike was just under 1 mile ahead and from mile 7 until past 20, I could see Paul ahead of me from time to time about 2 minutes ahead.  My goal was to catch in toward the end, incentive to keep going.  Through mile 22, I was still on pace but it was very close.  Mile 23 was very tough but ended up still being faster than 9:30.  I caught Paul at mile 23 and we ran the rest together.  The temperature now was in the upper 60's to low 70's and I was sweating pretty good.  Mile 24 was even more of a struggle but still right around 9:30.  I was behind pace now and my legs were falling apart in the heat.  I still don't think I have the endurance in the legs that I need.  Miles 25 and 26 were terrible as I took a few extra walk breaks where I shouldn't have.  I ended up finishing in 4:07:06.  I made sure I stayed on my feet and drank a lot of water right after I finished to avoid the trouble I had in West Virginia and this time, no problems.

Down the final stretch, I mustered enough energy to have a fast final 1/4 mile. 

Over the course, there were timing mats at miles 5, 10, half, and 20.  They then had a link to show how you did over the course of the race at different sections of the race.  For instance, I ran 6.5 mph for the 10 miles.  From 10 to the half, I ran 6.5 mph.  From the half to mile 20, I picked up the pace slightly to 6.6 mph.  Then over the last 6.2 miles, my pace dropped to 5.9 mph.  But even with the slower pace, it shows that I passed 72 runner during that distance and was only passed by 7.  I guess I wasn't the only one who struggled at the end. 

 The finish chute for the marathon and half marathon.

I did enjoy the Kiawah Island Marathon and if I happen to be in the area again, I would love to run this one a second time. They were not a perfect marathon, but definitely above average.  This was the 35th anniversary of the marathon so they did have plenty of practice.

Mike, Paul and I glad to be done and ready to head out for a nap.
I now have 17 states completed and 44 fulls under my belt.  Up next will be the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in the Milwaukee area.  The race is already sold out (except for the Friday night 5K) but I have done it the last 4 years and it is one of my favorite marathons.  I am really looking forward to it again this year.

Keep on Running!!!

1 comment:

misszippy said...

Wow--you ran a ton of marathons this year! I have heard pretty good things about this race (well, at least the half) and am intrigued by it. I agree, though, that the last few miles should have more stops than earlier on. Congrats on your performance!