My experience with the Cooper River Bridge Run (CRBR) was, at best, a comedy of errors. I think just about everything you could do wrong, I did. There’s much to say here, so I’m dividing my experience up into several posts.
So, here goes, how not to have a great race.
1. Wait until the last minute to book a hotel room. We ended up in North Charleston, away from absolutely everything. It’s true that we didn’t need a fancy room, but we would have been happier with a room not so inconveniently located from the action. Especially when the action requires that you be in line at 6 am. That 5 am wake-up call is going to suck, all day.
2. Book early and book often. I signed up so early that I totally forgot my settings. Normally I’m one to check out a website first and frequently, but for some reason I didn’t this time. I totally forgot that I had asked them to hold my packet. So when my friend got hers, I thought something happened to mine, and the lack of response from the race organizers (one email told me, basically, “you’ll have to find it” and it took 5 days for them to call me to straighten it out.) As a result, I panicked as they were closing registration and I reregistered. I ended up with two registrations.
3. Register right after a stressful time, late at night. The beginning of my demise started as soon as I signed up. I signed up at the end of the holiday break, right after having my sister and her family here for three days, right after dealing with the family holidays. And I did it late. I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing at all. So not only did I not pay attention to what I requested, I put my address in for the Alzheimer’s Association (who I raised money for) and their address for my personal address. What a mess.
4. Tell them you’ll pick up the packet. Not only did this cause the confusion that made me register twice, but it turns out there’s some really important information in there that is helpful before you head down to Charleston. Like where to park (good to know before you try to park), or how to plan for your trip, or what expectations are on race day morning. AND, when you pick up your packet, they’ve supplied you with this cool little USB hard drive bracelet that has all that information for you. Great idea, as long as you’ve brought your laptop. I didn’t think I’d need it so I couldn’t use the hard drive until I got home.
5. Ignore the web site. Totally out of character for me on this one, but ignore it I did. Wish I’d spent more time out there so I would have realized that parking was at the aquarium (a left turn) instead of Galliard Auditorium (a right turn.) I would have also understood what was expected on race day.
6. Make it a short trip to Charleston. Some of this couldn’t be helped. I took Bella with me and she had school, including some school that would be hard to make up. So we didn’t leave until noon, which meant we got there at the height of packet pick up. Now I can deal with a crowd (even though it totally stresses my daughter out), but the traffic was ridiculous. It took us an hour to figure out where to park. And, since I spent most of the day working, driving, picking up the packet, I was utterly exhausted before the race began. By mile 4, my insides started to cramp a bit which made the last two miles extremely difficult. I barely finished in an hour, one of my worst times in a while.
7. Work a little before you take off in the afternoon. I should have come home and relaxed, preparing for a long drive in the afternoon, before an insanely early morning and a long drive back. But no, I chose to go in to work, hustle for 3 hours and have an emergency situation pop up an hour before I was leaving, causing me to feel guilty leaving the situation in others’ hands.
7. Spend your energies on raising money instead of training and preparing. Again, totally out of character for me not to be more prepared for this race, but I ended up putting a lot of time and energy into raising $1,000 for Alzheimer’s. I needed to focus on making the trip down there instead. I’m glad I raised money and that I was successful in meeting my goals, but I won’t do it again. Not only did it take far too much of my energy as I had to bribe people with hand-knitted gifts, I was left feeling somewhat bitter. I was pleased and surprised to see who did gave and am grateful to all of them. But I was saddened and disappointed by who tightened their purse strings on me, even from those who I have supported in the past. In the end, I suppose I learned much about people and money and generosity and friendship. I learned that there is a big difference between colleagues and friends. And like my friend Ann Marie, who works in fundraising, told me “you can’t take this personally.” Well, unfortunately, even though she is 100% right, I did. So, as selfish as it may be, next time I run, I run for me.
8. Run alone. Thank God this is not a mistake I made. I got to run with the charming Jessica Matheson and I thoroughly enjoyed her company. Her equally charming husband Stanley hung out with my daughter, in which she fell in love with their iPad. (This meant she pretty much ignored Stanley, sorry Stanley!) We had to get on a bus at 6 am, be driven to Mount Pleasant, and then stand around for two hours before we even started to run. Now imagine doing that alone. How terribly depressing!
9. Don’t pace yourself. I ran way too fast up the hill, being a cocky upstater and thinking “I can handle this!” It went up 100 feet in two-tenths of a mile. The last two-three miles were tough, to say the least.
10. Dash back home. OK, we did stick around for a little longer. (More on that in the next post.) But I still felt pushed to get out of there. I would have LOVED to sit and read my book with my daughter in Marion Square, but we needed to get back home. If you’re going to head all the way to Charleston, make sure to stay for more than 24 hours!
So now that I’ve vented my frustrations on this post, I promise the next post will be happier.