Here Comes the Charleston Distance Run. Why the Heck do We Run It?
By: Brad Deel
As I type this, the Charleston Distance Run is a mere three days away. There is only one thing that is a given about this race - it will be miserable. Why? Let me count the ways.
It will be hot. The ideal temperature for racing is around 45 degrees. For every degree above 55 degrees, you can lose about a second from your pace. The weather forecast indicates that air temperature should be around 70 at the start. And that is at the start. It will get hotter as the race progresses. Not only that but what little shade is available will be lost when you cross the Southside Bridge and turn onto Virginia Street. From there, it is seven roasting miles in the sun. No shade. As the temperature rises.
It will be hilly. Capital Punishment Hill lasts just shy of a mile and climbs over 300 feet. There is a sign at the bottom that says, "Capital Punishment Hill Begins" and a sign at the top that says, "Capital Punishment Hill Ends." You think you are finished climbing but oh no. There are still another 200 feet of climbing left. Then, just to beat your quads to death, there is nearly a mile of downhill on Louden Heights road. That's just before the seven flat roasting miles in the sun.
It may be humid. A couple of years ago, you could see the air you were breathing. It was awful. I have no other adequate words.
Despite all of that, I will line up for my seventh Charleston Distance Run on Saturday, August 30, 2014. Why? Well silly, because it's hot, hilly, and possibly humid.
This race presents an untold number of challenges and I simply cannot resist a challenge. It is not a flat course where you can try to run dead even splits the whole race. The hills will affect your pace dramatically. You will likely experience a fade in the last few miles and will face a battle to control the fade. How should you attack the course? Should you be aggressive in the hills and then hang on for dear life? If you do that and the sun comes out, will you overheat to the point that you end up walking? Should you hold back a bit? If you do that, can you psychologically deal with the dozens of people who will pass you as you trudge up Capital Punishment Hill? Can you discipline yourself to run your plan? Can you live with the fact that if the sun doesn't come out, you will have given up so much time that there will be no way to make it up in the last seven miles? Is that a risk you are willing to take? Regardless of your strategy, how will you adjust if things don't go as planned? How will you adjust if the weather forecast is wrong? What will you do?
Endless challenges. All of which are likely to leave you at the end wondering if you could have done just a bit better and swearing that next year is the year you'll finally figure out the Charleston Distance Run.
When you do, please let me know the secret. I'll buy the beer. After the race of course.
See ya out there.