Cooper River recap

Courtesy of Brad Nettles of the Post and Courier
Courtesy of Brad Nettles (Post and Courier)

After my down week to try and get my calf under control Pete threw a good deal of quality at me this week. After doing a 3 min-2 min-1 min x4 fartlek on Saturday in Princeton, NJ, I came back on Monday for a moderate long run.

The plan for the long run was to run 17 to 18 miles with the last 10 miles around 5:35-5:55 pace. Esther showed me a great 6 mile paved loop that I used. I felt great and I ended up running faster than prescribed. Here were my splits:

8:09, 7:30, 6:55, 6:51, 6:13, *5:58, 5:38, 5:30, 5:16, 5:47, 5:14, 5:20, 5:05, 5:09, 5:12, 7:26 plus a bit more for 17 miles.

After 2 easy days I came back on Thursday and did a moderate fartlek within a 13 mile run. Pete asked me to do 2 min-1 min-30 sec x6 with no set rest. I caught a few of my full miles and I was hitting between 5:20-5:40 with about half of those miles being easy running; so another good day.

On Thursday evening, I was supposed to make the trip to my hometown of Charleston, SC for the Cooper River Bridge Run but my flight out of Newark was canceled. Unfortunately, my rescheduled flight for Friday wouldn’t be landing in Charleston but Columbia which is about 2 hours away. Luckily, my mom was happy to come pick me up and after getting stuck in a good deal of traffic we made it to Charleston around 6 p.m. After picking up my race bib I tried to get to sleep after a long day of travel.

On Saturday morning I was up at 5 a.m. to get ready for the race. I made my way to the starting area and warmed up with former ZAP athlete Allison (aka Allimal) Morgan and fellow Reebok sponsored athlete Bobby Mack. It is always nice to see familiar faces on the road racing scene.

When the gun went off the large contingent of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners decided to really ease into the race so Bobby and I ended up being about 20-25 meters ahead of them at the 1 mile mark. We went through somewhere between 4:46-4:48 and then began our approach to the bridge. As we neared the bridge I could feel a stiff headwind and knew that I didn’t want to climb alone so I dropped off Bobby a bit and regrouped with big pack at the base of the Ravenel Bridge. Over the next mile or so I stuck with the pack and reached the first span of the bridge where it flattens out before descending.

Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC.
Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC. (Courtesy of Sparky Witte)

But right when we passed that first span the pack hit the gas (HARD!) and I was unable to keep up. At the time I knew that I needed to stay with the pack at all costs so that I didn’t have to fight the wind all the way down, but I was simply unable to keep pace. From here to the finish it was a tough run. The pack hit 5k in 15:30 and I came through in 15:40 trying to catch back up. I ran the rest of the race alone as I watched the pack float away down the road. The winners finished in the 29:20’s, meaning they ran their last 5k under 14 minutes. I, however, struggled into the finish in 30:59  for 11th place.

The odd thing about Cooper River is that you always think that after cresting the bridge it will be a flying fast run to the finish but with the headwind it still feels tough because you’re so exposed to the wind. Also, of the 6.2 mile course, you are on the bridge from about 1.75 miles to 4.25 miles which really takes its toll.

To be honest, I knew coming into the race that I was very strong but that sub 5 minute pace might feel tough. I have run countless miles in the 5:05 to 5:15 range the past few months but have done very little faster than that. Sometimes the body is still able to do it despite non-specific training but that didn’t happen this time. All in all, considering the conditions and my uncertain last few weeks I am content with the race.

Next week I have 2 big workouts and if my calf holds up I think I will be a go for Boston on April 20th. Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (3/22-3/28):

Sunday: AM: 9 miles   PM: 7 miles

Monday: AM: 17 miles (miles 6-16=54:10)

Tuesday: AM: 7 miles   PM: 6 miles

Wednesday: AM: 10.5 miles  PM: 5.5 miles

Thursday: AM: 13 miles (2 min-1 min-30 sec x6 within run)

Friday: AM: 7 miles

Saturday: AM: 14 miles (Cooper River Bridge Run, 11th overall)

Total: 96 miles, 10 runs


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