Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Five Things to Know About the Cooper River Bridge Run Before You Sign Up

  The Cooper River Bridge Run takes places in Charleston around April each year.  It’s one of the most enjoyable road races out there and has consistently drawn in over 25k runners for the past decade.  In fact, the Cooper River Bridge Run is one of the top ten 10k races in the United States according to several sources to include Runner’s World,, and BibRave. I’ve participated in the race the last four years and there's a bunch of reasons I come back each year. 

  Before you decide for the Cooper River Bridge Run, here are five things you should keep in mind.

1.     Sign up as soon as possible.  The registration window opens about a month after the last event, and operates on a timed tier throughout the year.  While the most expensive registration is still cheaper than a lot of races I’ve been to, I’m fairly certain people want to save money.  Below, you can see the pricing for the 2020 Cooper River Bridge Run and the time frame for each registration fee. (screenshot the registration prices)

2.     Hotels book up quickly several months before the race.  The very first year, I waited until about two weeks to book a hotel.  That didn’t go well, because my family of five ended up at a budge motel about 10 miles from the transportation site.  Since then, I’ve booked a hotel near the North Charleston Convention Center each year months in advance and haven’t regretted it once.  In fact, several hotels, restaurants, and a large shopping plaza are all within walking distance of the Convention Center, which also doubles as transportation hub for the day of the race (more on that later).  With roughly 30k people taking part in the Cooper River Bridge Run, it definitely pays to book a hotel in advance.

3.     The 2-day Expo is one of the largest you will attend.  As I just mentioned, the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo takes place at the North Charleston Convention Center.  It happens on the Thursday and Friday before the race.  Most “locals” go to the Thursday event, while the out-of-towners, and people from out of state and even out of country, attend the Friday event.  Last year, my wife and I managed to go early on Friday to the Expo and we were surprised at some of the free samples and extras vendors gave away.  We ended up with a couple of moisture wicking shirts, a few leggings, and little to no lines for the various alcoholic vendors, such as Deep Eddy Vodka, Hooch mixture, and wines sampled by Harris and Teeter.  Showing up Friday after 1 PM, though, will have you see large crowds, long lines to try things, and certain vendors run out of their best wares.

4.     Plan accordingly for race day transportation.  The Cooper River Bridge Run is a one way race, meaning that the start line (in Mt. Pleasant) and finish lines (downtown Charleston) are in completely different areas.  The race organizers have arranged for transportation, and in at least one of the places, free parking for participants.  At least four designated bus shuttle areas are available for free. For a small additional cost while registering, one can choose to take a boat shuttle to cross the river from Charleston to Mt. Pleasant.  Every year, I have chosen to take the bus shuttle from the Charleston Area Convention Center.  The Convention Center is probably the most popular shuttle area since it has a very large parking lot, is close to the Charleston International Airport, and about a dozen hotels are within walking distance of the shuttle pick-up and drop-off point.  Check out the CRBR shuttle information here:

      There is no parking available at the starting point, but in the past couple of years, some of my friends have done ride-sharing, i.e. Uber, Lyft to get to the starting line from where they stayed the night before. 

5.     You have a voice in next year’s shirt design. I don’t know how long the race organizers have been doing it, but the past few years, they solicit people to vote on submitted artwork and the winner’s artwork becomes the poster and t-shirt design.  For 2019, the artist received 1,000 dollars as well as 100 posters and 24 shirts (presumably to give away to friends, family, fans, and as giveaways).  For participants, it makes you feel even more a part of something big.  You can read up more on the CRBR blog page here:

These are five things you should know before you sign up.  Unlike a local race, it does take a little planning in advance to do the Cooper River Bridge Run, but it is well worth it.  I live 90 minutes away from Charleston, and with a little bit of foresight in advance, I make sure I’m ready for race day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Splash and Dash Adventure Race Recap

Splash and Dash Adventure Race - Bridging parts together

 The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission recently held the Splash and Dash Adventure Race on 18 May. Originally scheduled for September, Hurricane Florence upended any activities planned that week. Thus the ICRC postponed the event with the aspirations that it would happen in the Spring. 

  I became aware of the Splash and Dash Adventure Race in April. I eyeballed the South Carolina Governor’s Cup race which would take place the same day, but I could not pass up doing a three part event with my wife.  The ICRC advertised the Splash and Dash as a two mile trail run, a four mile bicycle trek, and a one mile kayak paddle in Saluda Shoals Park.

These trees were spared by any bad weather

 It definitely sounded different than running a 5k or a half marathon, but still offered cardio exercise through the entire duration. It also meant I work together with my wife.  Teams could be two or three people, with “early” pricing being 25 dollars per person before the fifth of May, and regular registration costing 35 dollars per person afterwards until the day of the event.

  Our only preparation involved bringing our own bicycles, preferably mountain type, and helmets for the race. The ICRC would provide the watercraft, paddles, and life preservers.  I ran several races in Saluda Shoals Park before, so hearing this would be a trail race, I got excited because it meant I could wear my On Cloudventure shoes again.  Both of our bicycles are hybrids, so lowering the tire pressure a little, should set us for the race.

  Saturday morning, while pretty much every runner headed downtown to take part in a fantastic race Amanda and I joined just over a dozen others in our little adventure.  We parked on the east side of the park and picked up our packets.  We then proceeded to move our bicycles to the transition station about 100 feet or so away.  Amanda is the triathlete of the family, so she tried to prepare her bicycle on the bike bar as she normally would, but someone built the bar too high, so she positioned her bicycle underneath facing outward for easy transition. I followed suit, but noticed most others did not.

Taking Off
  We head back to the start line and listen to the overall scheme of events, the safety brief for the course, and how the ICRC had to adjust the course due to recent rising water levels from Lake Murray, thus modifying the run route, adding half a mile to the bike trek, and preventing us from paddling a mile on the river. Instead, we would paddle a canoe through a set of obstacles in Saluda Shoals’ pond. When the announcer tells everyone that she will count down from “ten” and that’s when we would start, people start going when she gets to “seven” (anxiousness, I suppose), so she released all of us then started the official clock.

The 1 mile turn-around
  The crowd starts running, but Amanda can only walk and we trail behind. However, never count out a walker, especially one who can clocked in a 12 to 13 minute mile pace during our 5k and 10k races.  We start down the road, but the course transitions into a trail route for almost the entire trek. Once we hit grass and dirt, I felt relieved that I wore my Cloudventure for this. The two mile course ended up being a mile out and back because the river swelled up and consumed a part of the return route from the original plan.  So as Amanda and I hit two-thirds of the first mile, we see a dad-son team run past us.  About two minutes later, we see the rest of the pack coming at us.  We do make it to the one-mile mark and turn around, and scoot back. Along the way, we cross the paved road a few times, and see a team on bicycles as we finish up the first leg of the race.

Had to walk up this hill. It was too steep
  We make our way back and get to the bicycle transition station. Our bikes sit alone, but once we reach the area, Amanda and I quickly pop on our helmets and pedal off. The bicycle portion consisted of part road biking and part trail riding. Before the race, I set our bikes’ tire pressure to 65 psi because I wasn’t sure of the terrain we would traverse, and I think 60-65 psi overall was a good choice. 

  We take off and follow the white arrows to a path. We weave in and around on the trail before we hit a couple of hills. I didn’t think Saluda Shoals could pack in such elevation spikes and dips along the trail, but I was wrong. In fact, a few times I hopped off my Cannondale and walked up steep inclines, with one time for a decline.  Part way through the trek, Amanda and I got lost. That sounds crazy, especially since at that point we rode on a paved trail, but somehow we missed signs for crossing the road. Instead, Amanda and I veer right and pedal up to the main entrance.  After wildly looking around, we circle the Environmental Center’s parking lot. Thanks to a friendly patron, we head back and retrace our steps. Once we neared the Broad River Road, we see an event volunteer and cones along the road. We ask him where to go, and Amanda and I made it back on course.

Wrong turn! Wrong turn!

Paddling is harder than it looks
  Once we finished the second leg, we reach the pond. They had a two person canoe ready for us and informed us we had to maneuver three obstacles. I’m not the best seafarer, but I can at least navigate a one-person kayak. A two person canoe is a different story. I take the front and try to steer the canoe, but it was more comical than anything else.  According to Strava, we paddled the course in 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Not bad for a very amateur uncoordinated person.

  We finish up by cycling back to the finish line, which was about 300 meters away. While we were the last to cross, and our time was 1:17 and some seconds, the ICRC awarded Amanda and me for our efforts. We each received a glass with the “Splash and Dash Adventure Race” logo on it and we each received a certificate to redeem for either for a one hour canoe rental or a two hour tube rental. Combine that with the t-shirt we got, and the Adventure race definitely seemed like a good deal.

The spoils of the race

Monday, May 13, 2019


  When I was in the Army, especially the last ten years or so, I could almost always run off of 4-6 hours of sleep a night.  I regularly did physical training, usually on my own or in a small group.  I could take a 10-15 minute power nap in a chair during lunch if I had a particular rough day.  But retired life has shown me that I cannot do that anymore. 

  I have been trying to keep up my old set of waking hours with my current job, but I run into an issue with sleep: it gets interrupted part way through, so that sets everything else I have planned for the day off schedule. 

  Now I work at a university and I see that as a chance to make an impact in the next generation’s lives.  Granted, my job is not teaching, but usually I am surrounded by college students and I get to ask them what they studying, what they plan to do after college, and how they will either improve themselves or make the world better.  However, working there means that I had to take the afternoon to evening shift, not the normal 9-5 day shift. That means I get home around 12:30 AM and cannot fall asleep until between 1 and 2 in the morning, and the only time I get to see my youngest is in the morning when she gets ready for school.  So I get up at 6 AM to help her.  Sometimes, I take her out to the bus while other times my wife will. But once my daughter leaves, I head back to bed… with the full intention of getting up an hour or two later to go run. 

  That doesn’t happen.

  Lately, or rather the past two months have shown me that my body craves sleep more than anything. I have slept through alarm clocks, notifications from my Alexa Echo Dot, my phone blaring music and messages, but unfortunately, not from robo-telemarketers.  This “need” for sleep has reduced my speed and is bringing me back to cardio levels from when I threw out my shoulder and couldn’t catch my breath after the second mile. 

  On the positive note, though, my work does involve me moving about and with summer approaching, my daughter will be on summer vacation in a month.  Once that happens, I should be able to get back into working on improving my speed and endurance more.  In the meantime, I need to focus on maintaining what I have and definitely watching what I eat.