Cooper River Bridge Run Race Recap + Weekend in Charleston

  Apr 4, 2016  |  #Race Recap

Good morning, friends!!! I want to share so much about my weekend in Charleston – the run, the weather, the food, the drink, the experience. And I also want to talk about bouncing back from a sub-par racing experience and reflect on some things I didn’t do right heading into the race, so maybe it can be helpful to some of you in the future! For a race where I did things right, I’ll refer you to the Ogden Marathon where I qualified for Boston. 

Cooper River Bridge Run Race Recap

Race preparation typically begins early in the week before the race, but the final days leading up to it are especially crucial. For me, I was up early on Friday (to simulate waking for race time) and did a very light shakeout in the morning, and then made sure to stretch and foam roll after. I love this runner’s yoga video. Since I didn’t have any clients to see, I packed up the car with ample road trip snacks and headed down to Charleston. 


road trip snacks


I picked up a grilled chicken wrap for dinner (carbs + protein) with less vegetables than I would normally get, just to ensure there wouldn’t be any digestive issues come race morning. Once back to the Air BnB, I laid out my clothes and we were in bed by 10:00. 

Cooper River bridge run outfit

We got up around 5:30 to allow ourselves sufficient time – being rushed in the morning stresses me out bigtime. I immediately caffeinated myself (I do fine with caffeine before a run) and we left around 6 to find parking near the starting line. The Bridge Run is a HUGE race – there are over 40,000 runners, so just getting transportation scheduled and getting to the starting line can be an ordeal. Luckily, since we were early, we found parking pretty easily and had ample time to warm up and stretch. I had some rice cakes with peanut butter and banana for my pre-race fuel. 

pre race fuel

I was sure it was going to rain on race day. The forecast was 100% chance of rain showers and thunder storms through noon. I realized I didn’t pack the most rain-friendly running attire, so I kinda just accepted that the running conditions would be far from ideal, my clothes would be soaked, and I would be freezing!

However, race day morning came and the weather was mild, the rain drops were minimal, and the sun ended up coming out right before the race. #Win. 

pre race photo


We lined up in corrals based on seeded times. Based on my time from 2011, I qualified for the 45 minutes and under group – though I’m nowhere near as fast as I used to be! Here’s a photo from above of all the people!

cooper river bridge run

My first mile was around 7:10 – a little quicker than I had planned for. I had so much adrenaline in my blood running with so many people and anticipating the end in downtown Charleston. But yikes, the next 1 1/2 miles were a gradual incline over the bridge. Safe to say, this totally wiped me out for the rest of the race.

The bridge takes alot out of you but once you get over it, it’s basically down hill from there. But, getting over it is the real challenge! This is a really cool picture of the bridge from my friend Aja’s instagram!

bridge run photo

I think I was out of it both physically and mentally after the bridge. My legs felt heavier and more tired by the minute. I tried to push through it. My second mile was 7:40, and then I fell back to 8:10 and 8:15 for miles 3 and 4. I usually save my speed spurt for the last 1/2 mile of races and end on a high note but I had nothing left. I finished in 48:18, which was slower than my goal but I’m proud that I pushed through the mental barrier I was competing with. 

Not all races are great ones, that’s for sure. And obviously, it was still a pretty memorable experience. We were still pretty psyched to spend the rest of the weekend in Charleston.  


I was able to find Ed pretty quickly among all the people and we headed to get water,  some fruit and a bagel, and see the band play!

cooper river bridge run

cooper river bridge run

What did I learn looking back on this race?

  • I don’t think I hydrated enough. I should have drank more water throughout the week (Like I said earlier, pre-race starts the week before!)
  • Don’t do a speed workout 4 days before the race (DUH) – I think that was a big cause of my heavy legs.
  • I also didn’t sleep great the few nights before the race- sleep has a major impact on performance so that’s my own fault. 
  • More stretching and foam rolling
  • I’m taking a solid few days straight off from running this week to allow my body to recover. 

After hanging out along Calhoun street and taking in the race vibes, we took the shuttles back to Mt Pleasant and grabbed breakfast at Collective Coffee. I had the omelet with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, queso fresco and I added chorizo. It was a delicious of the carbs and protein my body needed.

postrace breakfast omelet

After showering and napping, we headed back down to Charleston to walk around. We enjoyed the ample sunshine and started our self-led foodie tour!

cooper river bridgecharleston boardwalk_water

Of course, we walked along the water and through the historic neighborhoods. We started with patio beers at Craftsmen Taphouse (highly recommend for their awesome patio and wide selection of draft beers). Next up was cocktails at Husk (a MUST if you ever go to Charleston), and eventually dinner at Drawing Room. For dinner, I had the scallops over locally sourced farro and mushrooms and every single bite was DELICIOUS!


Drawing Room_scallops

I also highly recommend The Macintosh for the best cheesy veggie potato hash!

the macintosh_charleston

On Sunday before leaving, we checked out Vintage Coffee House, which was the cutest place ever. I had the acai bowl with peanut butter and Ed had the cinnamon bun french toast. Pure bliss.

Vintage coffee_Mt Pleasant

It sure feels good to be home and sleep in my own bed. 

Tonight is the NCAA Championship. Let’s go Tar Heels! (They would get to the finals the year after I graduate!)

How do you bounce back from a bad racing experience? Any tips?

Tell me the best thing you ate this weekend!

Grab your FREE list of the most nutritious post-run foods to refuel your body and muscles. No spam here, promise.

47 responses to “Cooper River Bridge Run Race Recap + Weekend in Charleston

  1. Props to you on finishing anyway! That’s awesome! 😀 All that food looks delicious! :] I might be headed to Charleston with my friend in about 1.5 months! 😀

  2. Ahhh, this is one of my bucket list races! My mom lives right outside of Charleston. One year I need to plan my visit to coincide with the run so I can actually do it. Having walked/run the bridge just for fun before, though, I totally agree that the incline takes a lot out of you!

  3. I loved seeing all the pictures this looks like you had a great time here! I’ve always wanted visit and hopefully I can make it a reality soon! I think you took away great lessons on what worked for you and what didn’t this time. I don’t always do that and I really should.
    I also had not thought of rice cakes for prefuel but it’s a great idea. I do try and eat PB and about a 1/2 a banana so this would work well. Thanks for linking up with us !

  4. Looks like an all around fun weekend with some good eats! Wow, that is a big race. I’m glad the weather ended up being better than expected for you. I have my first 50K this weekend and right now they are calling for snow, rain, and 20-30 mph winds. Ugh! I hope it takes a turn for the better as well.

  5. That looks like a huge race! And that bridge looks killer. I try not to think of any race as bad, although a couple of them have come really, really close. I like to think there is always something I can take away and use. But sometimes, there’s simply is no rhyme or reason why our performance is not what we want. I’m glad you have a good attitude about it. Personally, I think your time was awesome! Charleston is a beautiful and fun place to visit. It’s been a while for me and I’d like to go back. The best thing I ate over the weekend were fish tacos. I just love them. Thanks for linking with us Sarah.

  6. Charleston looks like such a cool city, I’d love to visit. I know for myself, getting a consistent good nights sleep in one of the most important things to ensure I have good workouts/runs. Lately I’ve been struggling in the sleep department, hoping to resolve it soon!

  7. Wow great job on your race despite not feeling 100%. Tapering before a race is the hardest thing EVER for me. I never think 1 workout would affect me DAYS later but sometimes they do. I’ve learned the hard way to relax the whole week before a run.

    1. I know – I figure my body is strong enough from enduring weeks of training that an easier-ish run would be fine. I think it depends on the whole picture of factors, but better to rest more than not enough!

  8. I always think that it could have been worse, I could have not raced at all, and the fact my body allowed me to run that far alone is a win!

  9. Sounds like a great weekend. I have learned that with bad races that it is necessary to view them as a learning experience and apply it to the next race.

  10. Even though you didnt have the race you wanted, it sounded like you still had a great time in charleston! The good thing about having a “bad” race is that you can learn what did or didn’t work for race day. Also, not so stellar races make you appreciate the good ones that much more!

  11. Yes, go Tar Heels! On a more serious note, it’s so frustrating when you have a less than ideal run, but the good news is that you’ve pinpointed some potential causes so you can address them next time. Every race is a potential learning experience.

  12. Oh my gosh I LOVE Charleston! Definitely one of my favorite cities–our friends are getting married there next June and I can’t wait! I’ve heard great things about Husk but haven’t been. Best thing I ate (we were in Cabo last week for vacation) was fresh ceviche in coconut milk, served in a coconut! So good. Congrats on a great race!!!!

  13. Congratulations on your race! I went to Charleston for the first time for my birthday last year and I LOVED it. We went to Husk and several other amazing restaurants, but you went to a few that I hadn’t heard of that look amazing! My only regret was that we didn’t get time to run over the bridge…what an amazing experience!

    Oh and sorry, it’s all about Villanova! I went there for grad school so I’m partial, lol!

  14. Congratulations on your race! I’ve never wanted to do one, but after reading this I’m definitely re-thinking it. My parents were in town this weekend so we went out to all the restaurants. Although, I have to say the best thing I ate was definitely the grass-fed beef short ribs with oven roasted vegetables, arugula salad and celery root puree I had on Saturday night. The meat was so tender I almost didn’t even need a knife and all the ingredients came from local farms 🙂 !

    1. I hope you do one race, just to see how you like it! You learn alot about yourself 🙂 I love short ribs – that dish sounds amazing – especially when meat is tender or braised.

  15. WOW. 40,000 people. That picture of the start is blowing my mind. I don’t have a good way of recovering from bad races yet. I don’t race too terribly often, so usually my races are goal races & it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion. I need to start “racing” more for fun.

    Usually I pout or sulk for a day or two & then just get over it.

    That cinnamon bun french toast looks delicious. The best thing I ate this weekend was some homemade french toast Sunday morning. The BF used super fresh cinnamon swirl bread & it was extra delicious.

    1. I think having the mindset of just racing for fun takes so much of the pressure off. Sometimes I’m so competitive, but I want to remind myself that I don’t have to PR at every race – just do it for fun! Your homemade french toast sounds spectacular. Send some this way?

  16. Congrats on your race!! I can’t believe how many people there are! It looks like you guys had a great weekend too. All the food looks delicious:) I really try and not get too down on myself when I have a bad race. In the past I would be so disappointed just thinking about a bad race, but I’ve realized that I should focus on being happy and thankful that I am healthy enough to run!

  17. Though you feel like it wasn’t your best race, still a massive congratulations for plowing through and finishing with a proud smile on your face – and now for so wisely being able to accept and learn from what you would do differently next time. That’s what these experiences are all about aren’t they?
    I’m not a runner, but I think this notion of planning ahead can go for any type of event or performance. It can really make a difference how you treat yourself even a whole week before – not just the night before – with nutrition, sleep, etc. Even for my acting I can’t just rely on last moment preparation.
    What a good looking couple you are. So glad you enjoyed your little vacation in Charleston! Sounds like a fabulous place (horse carriage!!)

    1. You’re so right on, friend. Planning ahead and getting enough rest/nutrients can carry over for anything. I definitely learned the difference between feeling tired and fatigued here – so I’m glad it was a learning experience. There are so many horse and carriages for tours – you should come sometime! 🙂

    1. Yes, definitely a learning experience. I didn’t think I was tired, but I learned that being “tired” is different from feeling “fatigued.” Charleston is an amazing place to race! 🙂

  18. I’m just blown away by how fast your first mile was!! I laughed when I saw Ed’s time on Instagram. That would be my 5k, haha!
    It am glad you got to enjoy Charleston. It is such a gem of a place. I love going there for day trips.
    You and Ed are so cute together- how cool that you both love running?

  19. Looks like such a fun trip! I tend to go out either too fast or too slow in short races, and then can’t make up for it at the end. I find that the more I race the same distance the better I get at it. I don’t race very often though, so it’s always tough for me to get back into it!

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