This race anchored a weekend of male bonding… This was JR’s first half marathon, Damian’s first official race and it was an opportunity to get out of town for a short while. Mike, Damian and I traveled to Charlotte, NC to run in the BB&T Corporate Cup Half Marathon and 5k.
I hadn’t trained the way I would’ve liked for this race, but I went into it looking to find out where my fitness level was… and I was pleasantly surprised. I had run in my first marathon a little over a month ago and according to my DailyMile.com stats, I ran less than 20 miles from February 2nd, the day of the full marathon, to March 8th, the day of this half marathon. So, I was pretty interested in finding out what I could do with so little training. I guess you can say this was an experimental race.
After leaving work and arriving home around 1:30pm on Friday, Damian showed up and we waited for Mike. We had plans to leave around 2:30. Mike arrived, Damian and I said goodbye to our wives and hopped in the car. We were ready to roll!! We were ready to get this weekend started!!
We got caught in traffic early, which seems to always be the case when leaving out of the DC, MD and VA area (the DMV) on a Friday afternoon. But, we had safe travels and arrived in Charlotte around 10 pm. We stopped at TGI Friday’s for something to eat, waited for our food and got to our room at the Embassy Suites Charlotte.
Embassy Suites Hotel
Our room was pretty cool and was large enough for us four men. I didn’t have any complaints about the accommodations. Noah drove down and met us in Charlotte after he got off work. He didn’t run with us this time, but he said he would on the next one. I’m definitely holding him to it.
Thinking back on the weekend, it was kinda funny… We’re much older now, some of us are bald and have gray hairs in our beards (well to be frank, I’m the youngest of us all and I’ve only got one gray hair in my beard… but who’s keeping count?! LOL) This trip actually took me back to the days of being on various sports teams in school. A band of brothers getting ready for a big game… there’s nothing like it!!
Anyway, we got a good night’s rest so we could be ready for the big race.
The race started at 8 am in the heart of downtown Charlotte. JR met us at the hotel so that we could travel down to the start line together. Our hotel wasn’t too far from Two Wells Fargo, which is where all the runners met and where you could pick up your race packet before 7:45. JR had already picked up our bibs and shirts, since he lives there. So, that was one less thing we needed to worry about.
Christy, Mike’s sister, was participating in the 5k as well… Mike’s parents and JR’s family came to support us, which was also really cool. It was truly a family affair!!
Well, it was getting close to race time… We all stretched and got ready. I had made a couple of mistakes which would come back to haunt me later during the race.
An announcement was made for all runners to make their way to the starting line. We walked out of the Atrium and towards the start line. Temps started out pretty chilly at 37 degrees, but I knew that I would warm up after a mile or two. Actually, it was supposed to warm up to 66 degrees, which was perfect… so the temporary chill wasn’t overwhelming.
I didn’t hear a gun, but I believe the race started on time. I began to see the runners in front of me walking forward and then gradually running forward. The race had begun and there was no turning back now.
BB&T Race Course
I felt pretty good. My goals for this race were to finish, to have a better finishing time than my previous two half marathons and to see where my fitness level was. It wasn’t pretty, but I was able to accomplish each of my goals.
Miles one through three went pretty smooth… I noticed from the beginning that this was going to be a hilly course. I think that I was fine with that. I just decided that I would run the inclines really easy and work harder on the flats and declines. I kept thinking of a motto I’d heard before, “Run the hard parts easy and the easy parts hard.” So that’s exactly what I did.
We had our own personal tour guide as we ran through Charlotte. We passed the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which was so cool. I wish we had time to visit, but that will be something to do for next year.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
JR was telling us about the new Minor League Baseball stadium that was just built as we ran past it. It was beautiful!! There was a line of people waiting to get in for tickets or a tour already. It wasn’t officially open yet, I don’t think, but it was breathtaking!!
The New Charlotte Knights Stadium
We split from the 5k route and this is where our race began. It’s always interesting how sparse the crowd gets when there are multiple distances in a race. The shorter distance always seems to have more people running towards that finish line, than the longer distance. That’s what happened in Miami and that’s what happened here in Charlotte.
I was still moving pretty well and I was feeling good!! The sun was shining, the temperature was just right and the scenery was fantastic. Charlotte is a beautiful city!! They say the best way to tour a city is by running through it and I found that to be very true here. I had never been in the heart of Charlotte or the inner city and I was able to see more than I’ve ever seen before in this race.
Things were going great and here comes the first real challenge. We had been experiencing rolling hills throughout the course, but then I was introduced to East 3rd Street. It felt like the never ending incline!! It wasn’t steep, but it climbed for what seemed to be 1.5 – 2 miles!!! Are you kidding me?!?!
Well, I took it easy on East 3rd Street and made it up to the top. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel too bad after getting up there. It will be a hill that I’ll always remember questioning whether it will ever end.
I was coming up on mile 6 and I still felt pretty good. At this point, I had been running at about 12 min/mile. According to my chip time, I reached the 10k mark at 1:15:28… I was cruising nicely and hadn’t felt any pain.
As I got closer to miles 8 and 9, I began to feel a burning sensation. My mind went back to the beginning of the race, when I realized that I hadn’t put on any body glide or lubrication. I had every intention of doing so, but totally forgot and this was where my first mistake came back to haunt me. If you’ve run long distance runs without a lubricant of some sort, you know exactly what I’m talking about!! It wasn’t bad around mile 8, but it began to get worse the closer we got to 10.
I had been in a good mental state up until this point and my race was going well. I even thought for a moment that I’d be able to have a quicker PR, I was feeling so good. But upon the first twinge of my tights chafing me in places that weren’t pleasant, things took a turn.
I was able to make it to mile 10, with no problems. But around mile 10.5 is where the wheels fell off. A cramp would threaten my calf here and there and I felt that if I tried to dig a little deeper, it was gonna take me out! So, I just stayed within myself and stayed steady.
We ran through some beautiful neighborhoods!! I mean we saw estates, not just homes!! But I couldn’t enjoy them because of the feeling of a thousand razor blades cutting me and leg cramps threatening me like bullies on a playground.
I kept looking back to see who was behind me… I really didn’t want to come in last!! I would walk, then shuffle a bit. I was no longer monitoring my mile times, I was monitoring my quarter mile times. LOL
I was only trying to move through a quarter mile as quickly as possible with the dilemma I was working with.
We got to mile 12 and we only had one more mile to go. This was it. We were back in downtown Charlotte and we had gone further than the distance we still had to go. It was now just a matter of making it across the finish line.
A few people passed me, but I didn’t care. (Well maybe I did, which is why I tried to shuffle the rest of the way) We saw other runners walking the opposite direction with their medals and they cheered us on… Such nice folks.
As we came down to 12.8 there was a volunteer standing at the corner. I remembered her clapping and showing so much energy, telling us that the finish was right around the corner. JR said, “I need some of your energy!!” She responded with a chuckle and said, “I haven’t been running…”, which she implied was the reason for her having so much energy. The exchange was enough to put another smile on my face.
As we turned the corner, Mike was there waiting for us!! I didn’t see him with a medal and I was a little concerned. I asked him where his medal was and he said that he hadn’t crossed yet. I said “WHAT?!?!” He waited so that we could all cross the finish line together!! I tell ya, that brother is a cool dude.
See, Mike’s a faster runner than JR and myself. Earlier on in the race, we had told him to go on, since he looked really strong. I figured he would finish around 2 1/2 hours… But, he waited for us until we came around the last corner and we all crossed together!! That’s a cool brother.
Now, another mistake I made before the race came back to haunt me as I literally crossed the finish line…
All of a sudden, both of my legs seized up with cramps. I had one under my calf on my left leg and a ‘charlie horse’ type of cramp in my right leg, that was so bad, it (the cramp) pulled my right foot up and stiffened. In essence, I had to walk on the side of my shoe. It wouldn’t go away!!
I can laugh at it now, especially after seeing the video. In fact, my I showed my wife and we died laughing at me. I was to the point of tears, it was soooo funny. In the video, I see my brother Noah smiling as I came across… He told me that he thought I was trying to do a dance as I crossed the finish line. LOLOLOL!!! That was definitely NOT the case.
As my right leg crossed the blue and red mat of the finish line, this devilish cramp got me. I would’ve tipped over if my brothers weren’t there to help me.
The mistake was this… I don’t eat bananas. I’ve had bananas many years ago and I believe that I’m allergic to them. They caused my mouth to itch, my tongue and throat to swell.
Well, someone gave me a banana and I didn’t care. I ate it and didn’t have any problems. I don’t know what it was about this banana, but after eating it and drinking a red Powerade, the cramp subsided.
I will now be eating bananas more often. I don’t know whether this miracle banana was organic or not, but it was exactly what I needed.
After looking back on the long distance races that I’ve done, cramps have always been a part of them. Bananas have been a missing ingredient in my life for years, which may speak to a lack of potassium being a major part of the problem.
Overall, this race was awesome and I respect the course. I still PR’d my half marathon time by 4 minutes, which is a win. But knowing what I know now, Ocean City next month, should be even better.
Thanks for reading my experience at the BB&T Corporate Cup Half Marathon. If you liked this post and want to get updates, feel free to subscribe via email. If you think someone else can benefit from my experience, please forward this and any other posts to them.