“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Henry Stanley Haskins

I did it! I finally got a BQ again. COVID and 2 kids slowed me down more than I expected and have been trying for a BQ. I thought it would come back easily especially when you fall into the comparison trap following others on IG. I had a 14 minute postpartum PR just from 2022! This was state 23 for the marathon (25th marathon).

The weekend was meant to be a visit to see my best friend, Kara, of 23 years! The Charleston Marathon had fallen through in January 2022, then they dropped including the marathon distance so I needed to find another South Carolina race and this was the closest one to her place. I, of course, talked her into the running it (the half marathon) and her brother (the marathon).

Shakeout run the day before the race

We did great at carb loading. I don’t think I’ve eaten so many bagels in a day and lots of animal crackers and pretzels as snacks. That Friday night we went over to her brother, Mark’s, and made pasta and had an early bedtime.

That 4:52am alarm went off on race day Saturday was so hard to get out of bed. It was interesting squeezing in all the gels into the race belt and shorts (shout out to a friend figuring out these shorts to carry my fuel which came in time before I traveled). I wore the Tracksmith Lane Five Shorts which has so many pockets, Rabbit Ambassador crop top, Koala Clip for my phone (I mean people needed to track me!), Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 carbon shoes, and Balega socks. I was dressed and ready to go for us to leave at 5:30am.

We had to drive an hour to get there and take the shuttle on to the island. I ate a peanut butter bagel before we left, then a pop tart as we got closer to the Island. It was a bit drizzly as we drove down to Kiawah Island. We took a quick bathroom break before hopping on the shuttle bus with not knowing the porta potty situation at the start.

It was crowded at the corral and no real queue system! I couldn’t do a warm up or even stretch like I wanted to, oops. Hit the bathroom one more time while they added a 10 minute delay the race began. I had a Maurten gel before the race started (ended up being 20 minutes before the start due to the delay) It was hard to place myself in the corral where I wanted. I had hoped to be near the 3:35 pacer to try and keep around 8:10 min/mi to start.

Kiawah Island was beautiful and very green. There were some very large homes and new homes being built which was fun to look at during the race. I had a race strategy plan from my coach and felt I was fully capable of hitting those paces, or at least wouldn’t let myself think that I couldn’t do it. I knew a fellow run coach from Running Explained was on the course. She @running_usa happened to passed me before Mile 2. I would have loved to run with her to chat but knew we each had our own races to run and I shouldn’t speed up to stay with her. Otherwise I ran by myself the whole race. I saw my friend, Mark, running the opposite direction on the shared road at Mile 11.5 (note he did not train at all for this marathon and got 4:51 without walking! As a coach I do not recommend but he completes anything he signs up for whether he is trained or not). The goal of the first half was to hold 8:10min/mi pace for the first 10k then pick it up a little to 8:05min/mi through the half. I was doing the math in my head for where I needed to be after each mile and I was nailing it! I think doing the math was a help distraction. My display on my watch screen showed time elapsed, current pace, average pace, and distance. The current pace was all over the place with so many people and trees that I never felt it was correct to gauge my speed. The average pace ended up being really useful for me. This was a very curvy course so I seemed to be off from the mile marker right from the get go, but some how evened back out right at mile 26. I started to get a little worried that I was going faster than I should during the first half and was trying to allow myself to slow down and trust the process. I hit the half marathon at a little over 1:46, right on! During the second half, it was time to pick up the pace to 7:50/mi. At first there was a little doubt how I was to do that as I was starting to get out of my comfortable pace! I made it into a game and started the chase to get the next runners. No one passed me the second half! I could see the 3:35 pace group a bit ahead of me and that one was hard to pass because we were stuck on a narrow path on our way back around the island. There were a couple patches of gravelly sandy paths we had to run in which was annoying. Otherwise it was easy to keep the pace going. It felt so good knowing my goal was in reach as I calculated where I was at and how much time I had left. At one point I was thinking, technically I could slow down but I really wanted to see what I had in me. I had a nice sprint to the finish trying to pull others with me, which means I may have had more gas in the tank. My second half was completed in 1:40! Negative split! I finished 3:26:05 and earned that BQ. 

My sprint to the finish ha
  • Mile 1 – 8:07
  • Mile 2 – 8:08
  • Mile 3 – 8:09
  • Mile 4 – 8:05
  • Mile 5 – 8:03
  • Mile 6 – 8:13
  • Mile 7 – 7:49
  • Mile 8 – 8:01
  • Mile 9 – 8:03
  • Mile 10 – 8:04
  • Mile 11 – 8:01
  • Mile 12 – 8:01
  • Mile 13 – 8:00
  • Mile 14 – 7:49
  • Mile 15 – 7:45
  • Mile 16 – 7:43
  • Mile 17 – 7:41
  • Mile 18 – 7:37
  • Mile 19 – 7:54 (This was my hardest mile and I was ready for my caffeine Maurten gel)
  • Mile 20 – 7:39
  • Mile 21 – 7:47
  • Mile 22 – 7:29
  • Mile 23 – 7:37
  • Mile 24 – 7:28
  • Mile 25 – 7:44
  • Mile 26 – 7:31
  • Mile 26.2 – 6:49 (you bet I sprinted to the finish)

Everything came together this race. Temp was mid-50s and even a bit of a sprinkle of rain to start. I do thrive running in the rain even though I hate wet socks. It stayed overcast the whole time. There were puddles to watch out for and a ton of curves to go around as we looped around the island trying to fit in 26.2 miles. I tried so hard to run the tangents but a lot of situations there ended up being a car in my way or runners sharing the road in the opposite direction for me to cut the angle. I noticed most runners just following the curves and I was able to pass a fair amount of runners just by taking the tangents. The aid stations could improve. They were so short or only on one side of the road. I missed the first one at Mile 2 and was annoyed. Then Mile 5.5 there was no water, they kept saying water in the back but it was all Gatorade, no thanks and spilled it on me. I carried a straw to drink from the cups was a game changer though!! I didn’t spill water on myself, got more water out of the cups, and it didn’t change my stride or breathing attempting to pour the cups into my mouth. Glad I also carried my handheld with Maurten 160 in it for any aid stations that did not work out. I probably should have drank more of it as I never finished the bottle even though I sipped on it most miles. My fueling was on point!! Took a Maurten gel before the start, UCAN at 4, Scratch chews at 7, Maurten gel at 11, 15. Then Maurten caffeinated gel at 19 miles. After that I could not take anything else in I was so full and prayed I would be okay missing one more gel (I had carried 2 more). No GI issues. My legs felt good the whole time besides some hamstring tightness near the end but I didn’t let it bother me. I foot kind of started acting up at Mile 15, probably because I never broke in my racing shoes but pushed through and didn’t notice it in the later miles.

My athlete from back home knocked out another half marathon this year!

This race had awesome food at the end of the race. My athlete Rob waited for me so it was nice to chat with him after his half! I was able to hang out with Elena, she is such an awesome person and got a PR in the half! I finally found my friend Kara as well who also PR’ed in the half and broke 2 hours! I had made Kara’s training plan so it was great to see the training paid off and allowed her to reach her goal. Her brother did not even touch the training plan I gave him but he somehow finished the marathon without stopping!

Some changes from this training cycle compared to my February marathon:

  • Extra carbs for carb loading before the race. Yes I was very sick of carbs.
  • I was more honest during the taper to not do more as much as I love all the miles
  • I sat around more the day before the race (course working in a small apartment doesn’t give you much space to room and my friend had already picked up my bib so no expo stress)
  • I ran more days a week. Before I was running 4 days with crossing training and rest days. Now I run 6 days a week!
    • On that note I did have to find the balance of workouts during the week. I was realized 2 workouts plus long run was just so draining for me with being a mom, keeping the house, working full time, and run coaching. We switched my schedule to 1 workout and then having a quality long run with 4 days of easy run with or without strides.
  • I fueled more to help me handle the mileage in training. I was able to get multiple weeks of over 50 miles/week without injury
  • Focused on prehab to stay on top of my weaknesses but doing heavier strength training, all the calf raises, and stability and mobility work for my feet.
  • I practiced fuel time and different types of fueling during my long runs
  • Drank more electrolytes before and during the race to hopefully handle the humidity better
  • Tried carbon plated shoes for a marathon! I wore stability shoes during my last marathon in fear of injury but I’ve used carbon plated shoes in shorter distances this year and they are so amazing! Working my way through the cheaper brands before I reach Nike level ones :p
    • I did have Vaporfly Next % 2 show up at my door after I left for SC, thank you Santa 😉
  • Hired a coach @sayrahrunshappy @elevateyourrunning. I felt she understood me (especially after getting to know her at the Mesa Marathon in February!) and worked with my lifestyle. Find a coach who will work with you and can understand the best way to reach your goals!
  • Started listening to running podcasts to increase my running knowledge (especially Running Explained and Elevate Your Running). I usually just listed to audiobooks.
    • I also stopped listening to anything for my workouts and long runs so I can get in the right mental zone so I would be able to push through during the race.
  • Worked on mental strength and thought only positive thoughts. No more “will try” but “will do”!
    • Thank you Coach Sara for that tip and also conveniently having a Mental Strength Zoom meeting the days before my race.
We all finished. Thank you Elyse for carrying all of our stuff and your support! I was on the phone with my coach in this picture lol

We finally pulled ourselves together to drive back home and finished watching the soccer match in the car. After a shower, we headed to Kara’s brothers for enjoying the largest pizza (barely fit through the door and had to go in the trunk) and have a bonfire and movie night outside.

Watched Bullet Train

I am so happy with how this race turned out. This finally reflected times my training showed and felt where I should be at. I’m grateful for everyone who sent me cheers and songs through RaceJoy during the race, very motivating. I had so many friends and athletes wishing me good luck which meant a lot. I tried not to let that get to me with the pressure to perform but at the same time it was an extra push for me to keep going. I had been telling people I want 3:30 at this race and I had to prove them right!

Another state filled in! State 23!

Training wasn’t easy. For most of my runs, I was up before 5am in order to be back in time for drop off or getting to work. I’m grateful for the days I get to run with friends from the neighborhood willing to be up early as well or the days I actually get to run in the sunshine! There were long runs that I felt to good and confident after but there was also long runs (like my 20 miler 5 weeks before) that I cried after because it did not feel good and didn’t a big mental strength boost (thank you Coach Sara) and letting go of the numbers on my watch (thank you hubby, Mark). I’m so glad my dog, Rose, is always there and willing to go on all my runs. She only missed a couple of my long runs! Running is fun and freeing, my joy, my social outlet, my time alone. My kids know it is part of what I do and plan to be in this for the long haul chasing more goals!

Now I get to recover. I definitely plan to take at least the whole week off. Even though my legs feel fine (surprisingly but I think the more fuel during and time to walk after the race helped aid in recovery), my body is tired and ready for a little break. I cannot wait to chase some goals next year and see even more continued improvement. I know I can’t expect 14 minute improvement every time but good to know how changes have made training even better. I am confident I will see PRs to beat pre-kid times in my future. I have at least 3 races on the calendar for 2023 already and looking to add more!

Anyone I can visit for my remaining states? Or any recommendations?

What are your goals in 2023?

2 thoughts on “Kiawah Island Marathon Race Recap

  1. Carolyn M says:

    Love this race recap Jessie and so so sooo happy with how it all went for you! Thanks for all the great tips on what you changed up and how it helped you, cannot wait to incorporate some of those myself 🙂

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