Tag Archives: Morris Island Lighthouse

Sunday Morning Long Run

Yesterday morning, I had my weekly longish run slated on the calendar (not physically of course, but rather in my mental calendar). I was shooting for somewhere between 8-10 miles (yes, I’ve been slacking on my long runs since I’m not currently training for anything), and had initially thought it a good idea to head out to the West Ashley Greenway to knock out those miles. However, on Sunday morning a combination of laziness (since I’d have to drive out to the greenway) and rekindled love for the Morris Island Lighthouse (since I had just written a much delayed race recap) led me to the zany idea that running from my doorstep to the beach front near the lighthouse would be a better option for completing my longish run.

Ideally, I would love to live somewhere where you can lace up your running kicks, bound out the door, and have your choice of different running routes you could complete right from your doorstep. I’ve lived in places ranging from pretty solid out the door running spots to downright awful. Where I lived for my last two years in Durham, NC definitely offered the best in terms of a running neighborhood. Unfortunately, my place in James Island does not offer the same diversity of options when it comes to running routes in da ‘hood. Sigh.

As chronicled in this blog in the past, I’ve come to enjoy beach running and typically head out to the beach for a run whenever afforded the opportunity. Thus, wouldn’t it be near ideal if I could combine my love of beach running with my desire for out the door runs? Yes, I certainly believe it would be. The problem with that dream, however, is that in order to get to Folly Beach from my house you’re going to spend some time running along Folly Road. Yes, you can minimize your time on Folly Road by running along some side roads for a bit, but ultimately all roads lead back to Folly Road.

You may be wondering, what’s so bad about Folly Road? Well, in a general sense it can be a traffic nightmare during the summer since it’s the only road leading in and out of Folly Beach (but that’s not what we’re talking about here). From a runner’s perspective, the main issue is that there’s only a sliver of shoulder for much of the road (though there are some well-worn dirt paths on the side of the road at times). Combine this lacking shoulder with motorists who tend to fly along Folly (and who may or may not be intoxicated during the summer months), and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster.

This sign is NOT found on Folly Road.
This sign is NOT found on Folly Road.

On this morning, however, I was feeling brazen (and lazy–I really didn’t want to drive anywhere). I had run from my home to Folly before, but had never run from my house over to the end of Folly near the lighthouse. How far of a trek would this be? I consulted with my legs who informed me that they had a maximum of 10.01 miles in them today…maaaaaybe 10.02, but any more than that and they would abandon me outright. I knew they weren’t bluffing as they had quit on me before and clearly were not above doing so again.

I drew out the run on Google Maps, and rejoiced when I saw that the route would be approximately 9.7 miles! My legs gave their nod/shake/jump kick of approval, and Alicia agreed to provide shuttle service at my run’s terminus. So off I went!

I am glad to report that the run was uneventful overall, and enjoyable on top of that. My knees were both a bit sore initially, but felt better after about 15 minutes of running. No cars hit me on Folly Road…score! Believe it or not, I even got a bit of a sunburn on both my forearms as the first half of the run was pretty sunny (it became significantly overcast for the second half) and Folly Road offers little in way of protection from the elements. I passed “Phaz” (or at least that’s what I think it’s called), which I believe is being marketed as a bar or night club but is really two run down buildings with a “courtyard” (read: open space with cinder blocks on the ground) between the two buildings. This spot opened up a few months ago, and it has intrigued me ever since. Further arousing curiosity is the fact that they intermittently advertise Happy Hour and oyster nights (though they seem to be continually changing which night is oyster night…how are you going to build a solid patron base that way?) on their billboard up front. I have found very little information regarding this joint aside from a sparsely maintained Facebook page which may or may not belong to this establishment. Do any Charlestonians out there know anything about this spot? Also I apologize to the owner of Phaz if he/she is among the dozen of blog followers I have and is reading this. I am sure your establishment may indeed be world-class and it is most likely my ignorance (given that I have never stepped foot through your enterprise’s door) bleeding through here.

I was also afforded the opportunity to run over a few waterways, which I always enjoy and I weaved in and out of the Folly Beach neighborhood streets, admiring the beach houses that I certainly would not mind inhabiting. There’s always something magical about being in a beach town, and I’ve found that it feels even more special when you’re there during the off-season as one of the “locals”. I am definitely lucky to live so close to the ocean.

At just about 9.7 miles, I reached Morris Island lighthouse and the end of my run. My legs congratulated me, but reminded me that they were ready to bail on me in another third of a mile (thanks, guys). After snapping a couple pics of Morris, my chariot arrived and whisked me off to the rest of the day’s adventures!

Still saved.
Still saved.
Morris from behind a tree.
Morris from behind a tree.

Save The Light Half Marathon

Just about three weeks ago (on February 1st to be exact; yes, I know I’m slacking big time on the blog posts), I ran the Save the Light Half Marathon along the streets of Folly Beach, SC despite the fact that I had run my first full marathon a mere two weeks prior.  I was a bit wary (as well as apologetic towards my legs) about running another 13.1 miles after barely surviving the full a couple weeks before. However, I’ve never been accused of making the smartest decisions and I really wanted to contribute towards the cause, and thus I signed up and ultimately lined up on race morning.

As for the cause, the proceeds from the race were going towards Save The Light, Inc., a grass-roots, non-profit organization committed to initially “saving” and now preserving the Morris Island Lighthouse. Now I love lighthouses. Why? Perhaps it’s because of my Jersey roots and the fact that I spent so many summer hours out on Sandy Hook while growing up, and thus got to take in the majesty of the lighthouse there on a regular basis. Who knows? Regardless, the fact remains that when a lighthouse needs saving, you know I’ll be there!

Getting back to the race itself, another plus for me were the facts that the race was on the small side (280ish finishers for the half marathon and another 200 or so for the 5K) and very local to me as Folly Beach is essentially right down the road from where I live on James Island. Quick transit time, a familiarity with the course, and not having to worry about parking nightmares can go a long way on race morning!

Start time for the race was 8:30am, and thus I arrived on Folly around 8:15, found a parking spot, and started to walk the three or so blocks over to the starting line. Stepping out of the warmth and dryness of my car, I quickly realized that the weather gods were not in the best of moods this morning.

"The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."
“The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.”

Luckily, the race was not on the beach itself but rather through the streets of the Folly Beach neighborhood. As everyone lined up, the sky was “spitting” rather than producing any significant rain, but there was that damp chill in the air that made the 40F temps feel significantly cooler.

Shot of the Folly Beach Pier on race morning.
Shot of the Folly Beach Pier on race morning.

As everyone stood around talking about how chilly it seemed and their hopes that it wouldn’t “really” rain, the starting gun fired without any warning or preamble and off we went!

Given that the entirety of Folly Beach is roughly 7 miles and this race took place wholly on the East side of the island, you can imagine that this wasn’t a point to point race or a pure out and back course. Instead, the biggest continuous stretch of miles came along one road (Ashley Ave) with the rest of the mileage coming from different loops of varying distances within the neighborhood roads. The course was actually pretty ingenious as it managed to cover a USATF certified 13.1 miles within a smallish chunk of real estate. Sadly, the course didn’t allow one to see the lighthouse while on the run itself as this would be impossible without running off-road and onto the beach, but the course took us as close to the lighthouse as we could get while still staying on black top. I like to think that ol’ Morris knew we were running for him and could feel our presence there.

I felt pretty solid during the first 2-3 miles as I stayed within myself and didn’t push too hard. My legs felt a bit stiff at first, but quickly loosened up. Unfortunately, however, as my legs loosened up the skies opened up! Soon there was a torrential downpour upon us, and we were all a bunch of fools running through heavy rain. I don’t typically mind running in the rain (unless it’s a very cold rain on a cold day), and I actually usually enjoy it. This day was no different. As I became progressively more soaked, I had one of those “Why do you do this to yourself?” thoughts that amused me, but otherwise I didn’t let the rain dampen my spirits too much (top-tier humor there!).

Luckily, the weather gods took mercy on us and the rain abated after a few miles. I continued to feel strong, hovering around my goal of an 8:00 minute/mile pace. I started to waver a bit as we entered into a long stretch of Ashley Ave that is pretty wide open and near the shoreline, thus offering very little protection from the headwind that was constantly trying to sap all my energy. I promised myself that things would be significantly easier once I hit the turn around point at the end of Ashley Ave (aka near Morris’s home). The pessimistic side of my brain tried to argue that I had no basis for such a promise, but I tried to drown him out with some “Augustines”.

Coming up on the turn around, the elite runners passed all us chumps going the other way, looking strong, graceful, and as though they were born to run as I’m sure all us mere mortals looked slovenly, uncoordinated, and completely gassed. Nonetheless, I tried to put on a face that said “this isn’t my first rodeo and I feel great” as I passed the course photographer at the turn around. I even posed with a fist pump type of move because nothing exudes false confidence like that gesture. Sadly, I haven’t seen those photos yet (let’s pretend I was waiting for them to get posted before I wrote this recap), so I don’t know how it all came off…

After the turn around, the course did actually get a bit more manageable as the head wind became more of a tail wind and I felt rejuvenated by all the other runners around me, waving and nodding to others that were still making their way to the turn around point. Around mile 9, I downed a couple of Shot Bloks with Gatorade from my water bottle as I was beginning to feel I was dragging a bit.

As I came into the last few miles of the race, it started to get a bit more mentally challenging as we were going in and out of neighborhood loops that we had already covered in the past. I always feel like retreads on a course are a bit mentally draining and tough to stay motivated for. Plus it made it more difficult to gauge where exactly we were going and how close we were from the finish (even though my Garmin was obviously providing stats for me). Furthermore, after mile 10 I found myself running pretty much by myself as the field was thinning out over the many in and out loops. I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I find it tough to stay on pace when I’m out there all by myself (one major reason why I shouldn’t be an ultrarunner…that and the lack of endurance). I tell myself I’m just running for and against myself, but still my competitive side doesn’t want to see me get passed by someone when the field has thinned out to that point and that late in a race. Maybe I just need to think less…

In any case, I luckily started to close on a dude that was running ahead of me and looking strong. For the last 1.5 miles (as the rain started to come down again), I simply stayed within a few paces of him as he led us to the finish line. He was running strong and thus I never felt the need or desire to pass him, and instead just stayed with him through his kick to the finish line. After we crossed the line, he turned to me and said, “Thanks for the push”. I told him I was just happy to hang on.

Ultimately, I finished in 1:43:50 which is a half marathon PR for me! Thus, I was very happy with my performance overall.

About 15 seconds after crossing the line, it started to really rain again. My fiancée and sister were supposed to meet me after the race at the finish, but fortunately for them (in this case) they’re slackers and thus were “just leaving” my house when I called them after cooling down for a minute. I told them not to bother, and that I would rather meet them back in the dryness of our home.

Race bling!
Race bling!
Pretty sweet poster by a local artist that came with registration. It's crooked in the photo because it's crooked on my very yellow wall as well...boom!
Pretty sweet poster by a local artist that came with registration. It’s crooked in the photo because it’s crooked on my very yellow wall as well…boom!

The next morning, Alicia and I went out for a little Sunday run together. We had planned on running on the beach, but high tide pushed us back out to the streets of Folly Beach. Alicia had only wanted to run 5ish miles, but I tricked/persuaded/pushed her to run a bit further so that we could get to ol’ Morris given that she had never actually seen the lighthouse and the fact that I saved him the day before. After a little bit of “Negative Nancy” talk, she pushed through and persevered to complete her longest run to date. Victory!

Running all-star Alicia and Morris beaming with pride.
Running all-star Alicia and Morris beaming with pride.