Earlier in November, I traveled to Charlotte, NC to run the Charlotte Marathon. It was my first time visiting the city and I absolutely loved it.
I arrived on Thursday evening and the city was lit up in purple lights welcoming runners and celebrating the races that were scheduled for that weekend.
I met up with a good college friend, Sarah, who lives in Charlotte, and another college friend, Katie, flew down Friday morning. Sarah and Katie were both registered to run the Charlotte Half Marathon. I was so excited to spend time with them because we all live in different states and only see each other a few times each year.
Sarah and I headed out for sushi to get in some carbs (and because sushi is delicious).
Ate every bite.
My breakfast Friday morning. Typical breakfast for a runner.
After Katie arrived Friday morning, we headed to the expo. There were tons of tables set up with people advertising for other races, racks of running clothes and gear, and tables to check in and get your bib. And of course, we had to take pictures 🙂
I saw this Christmas tree ornament and had to buy it for our Christmas tree.
We walked around Charlotte for most of Friday morning, went out for lunch, and then headed back to the house to put our feet up and watch Netflix for the afternoon. We had pasta with lean turkey for dinner, and went to bed at 9:30!
Race day outfit.
Saturday’s wakeup call was at 4:45am. We left the house by 6:30 for the races which began at 7:30. Forecast was sunny with a high around 57 degrees – perfect for a marathon. There were heating lamps set up on the field so runners wouldn’t freeze before starting.
Runners gathering on the field.
Ready for their half marathon!
We are ready to run!
The half and full marathons both started at 7:30am, and we ran the first 13.1 miles together. I started off running very conservatively, making sure that I didn’t start out too quickly like I have done before. I tried to keep my pace around 9:00 min/mile. Even though I have done many long runs and know what that pace feels like, it’s a bit different in the actual race because you are excited and tapered. Plus, I put tape over my Garmin so I wouldn’t check my pace nonstop and psych myself out, so I really had to go off of how I felt.
The first 11 miles flew by! I remember passing mile 11 thinking, “Wow! We’re almost halfway done” – but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be thinking that for all 26.2 miles 🙂
I passed the 13.1 mile mark at 1 hr 54 minutes, and knew if I kept my pace up I would have a significant PR. (My last marathon PR was 4:08:07 at the Richmond Marathon in November 2015).
Giving the cameraman at mile 14 two thumbs up (or at least trying to).
I absolutely loved this course. It was beautiful and there were so many spectators cheering. Charlotte is such a charming city, and I look forward to visiting there again. However, this course is very hilly. Not short, steep hills, but long, gradual hills. There were so many instances where I turned a corner and saw the runners in front of me going up.
Something I really practiced for race day was running while drinking water/Gatorade. This has always been tricky for me because I feel like I always end up choking, but practicing during long training runs worked!
My legs started feeling really heavy around mile 18. Once I hit the 20 mile mark, I knew I was almost there, but I would really have to push it because my legs were very sore. At mile 23 I ripped the tape off my Garmin because I was feeling so tired, and my pace had slowed to about 10 min/mile. I was bummed that I wasn’t moving faster. My #1 goal was to break 4 hours, and around mile 23 I knew I would be cutting it close – like 30 seconds!
I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:01:27 – so close to my goal, but so proud of my 7 minute PR and placing 12th overall in my age group (Females ages 20-29).
5 marathons completed!
Very proud of this medal.
Sarah and Katie did really well in their races, so we went to a bar afterwards to celebrate and proudly wore our medals.
It was a fun weekend full of laughter, good food, and running!