I woke up last Saturday with brats in my belly from a night of revelry in Charlotte the night before, and having only about had about 4 hours of sleep. I chugged a protein shake, put KT tape on my ankles and right knee, donned my compression socks, and headed out into a bitterly cold morning. It wasn’t the most ideal of race day mornings, but I’d already committed to it…
“I’m going to run 13 miles today,” I uttered to myself with indignation and self-loathing. I asked Lesley, only half-kidding, if it was too late to turn back, as we piled into the Jeep to head toward the 2013 Spinx Run Fest.
The Spinx Run Fest, which is organized by the Greenville Track Club, is one of the biggest racing events in the entire state. On October 26, Run Fest boasted a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon, with thousands of participants.
It was COLD on Saturday morning. Colder than it had been all year.
“I’m going to run 13 miles today.”
My breath hung in the crisp October air as I said it again and again, with disbelief.
While I had some self-doubt, my strategy was sound. Given my recent iliotibial band problems and persistent rib pain from my accident, I’d decided that pace was going to be everything. I’d decided to start out at a slow but steady pace in the 10-minute range, and stay there for the entirety of the race.
The race started at beautiful Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive minor league baseball team.
The race began with a bad omen, as my iPod would not turn on literally seconds before the starting signal. I love having my playlist for my runs, but as I passed Lesley I handed her the iPod, and decided I’d just have to roll with it.
The Half Marathon began at about 8 a.m. and the course initially took us through the Main Street area of downtown Greenville, and carving into the city’s beautiful historic district. The Half Marathon course is advertised as “challenging” by the Greenville Track Club, and it was. Initially, the elevation changes were gradual ones. Once the course entered the Cleveland Park stage, however, the climbs became steep and more frequent.
Perhaps my only real complaint about the course is one very small section of it. In the Cleveland Park stage, volunteers did not man one of the forks in the trail (there was overlap between the Marathon and Half Marathon courses), and one of the forks went directly up a hill and back down it, while the other (the one I and many others took), meandered further around the hill before climbing it and finally descending it. My Nike + GPS watch confirms that the small detour we took due to the poor communication by organizers in fact added roughly a quarter-mile to the course – my half marathon was actually 13.39 miles.
Overall, however, I have no complaints about the course. It was beautiful, picturesque, and challenging. I also thoroughly enjoyed the participation in it. Despite the thousands of runners running the race, the varied experience and skill of the runners meant that while you always had a good group around you to encourage and pace you, you never had any congestion along the course.
My IT band was screaming at me by mile 10, but my pain tolerance is relatively high, and I just made sure my pace remained in the 10-minute range. The course finished at Flour Field, where runners scooted along the warning track and around the field toward home plate.
I finished the race with no problems. I was a little stiff, and a little sore, but I felt incredibly grateful to have been able to accomplish what I had, and even more grateful to have my supportive wife embrace me at the end of it all.
I highly recommend this race. The course is challenging but beautiful, and the volunteers were great about cheering you on and encouraging you at every turn.
After the race, I put a 13.1 sticker on our Jeep, and smiled.
“I just ran 13 miles.”