Tag Archives: Hall’s Chophouse

Cooper River Bridge Run Debrief

We headed out of town mid-morning on Friday.  We anticipated a decent amount of traffic due to the high volume of people that head to Charleston for the event.  We opted not to pay the extra money to have our packets mailed to us.  That said, we were required to report to the Charleston Convention Center by 8 PM on Friday to pick up our bib and packet at the Bridge Run Expo.


I typically hate going to these types of Expos.  There is an overwhelming amount of running “stuff” thrown in your face just hours before your competition.  While I get the purpose, the day before the race is not the best time to start contemplating changing your original plan.  With that in mind, my husband and I picked up our packets and cruised around the various booths.  The first thing we noticed was the deals on gear and fuel.  Therefore, if you decide to do this race next year, keep this in mind.  You can definitely restock on Gu packs and try out various technology.


We didn’t spend a lot of time at the Expo.  Instead, we headed to our hotel in Downtown Charleston.  Since we were on a trip by ourselves, we opted to stay right near the race finish line at the Francis Marion Hotel.  Great location, not so great room.  For the price we paid, there was not much room to move and there was a lot of noise.


The forecast for Saturday morning called for thunderstorms and wind. At least it was going to be warm right? After going back and forth with my husband about our race wear plan, we came up with the following:  If we were going to get rained on, we wanted to have the least amount of clothes on as possible (especially since it would be warm).  Hence, no shirts.  That said, what would we wear on the bus over to the start and during the transition time from drop off to start line?


Yup – that’s what we came up with.  We couldn’t find ponchos, so we bought some 55 gallon trash bags at the local Walgreens.  We cut a hole large enough for our head to fit through the top of the bag.  We would put the bags on in the event of a down pour.  We also brought with us old t-shirts that we could wear underneath, take off 5 minutes prior to the start, and leave on the fence of the corral.  If you are not aware, a local charity does come around and collect the leftover shirts after the race starts.  


We left our hotel to walk to the bus to take us to the start line at 5:45 AM.  It’s a school bus.  I don’t know why I thought it would be a chartered bus.  The ride took about a half hour.  We were dropped off at the Harris Teeter (former Piggly Wiggly) in Mount Pleasant.  From there, we walked at least 20 minutes to our start corral.  It was 6:45 when we got there.  Race starts at 8 AM.  Since the roads are closed, we hunkered down under the wide spanning roof of a gas station right outside of the competitive corral.


We stretched and we put on our bags.  We waited.  The buildup for the race is pretty incredible.  Controlling your nerves is essential to saving energy for the actual race itself.  For those wondering, the competitive heats (i.e. times under 50 minutes) start at 8 AM.  The remaining groups are held back until 8:05 AM.  There is a gap.  Since we are running the Spartan Race in Charlotte this coming weekend, my husband and I both treated the race as our last very hard tempo run before the Spartan.  We were not running this together.  We wished each other luck as the gun went off and didn’t see each other until I crossed the finish line.


The things that stood out to me the most in the race?  I am happy that I had my Garmin with me.  It was windy as hell.  It was 6.2 miles.  Where are the obstacles?  Now the details.

  • Mile 1 – 7:27 mile. Flat, somewhat downhill. Everyone started too fast.  That’s why I’m glad I had my Garmin.  I knew I wanted to run 7:30’s.  I studied my watch to ensure I didn’t push too soon.
  • Mile 2 – 7:20 mile.  Flat, somewhat downhill.  Still not on the bridge.  I knew I was going to slow down as soon as I hit the uphill.  Since I was feeling good, I decided to press a little the second mile to compensate the amount I would slow down mile 3.  People were still running too fast.
  • Mile 3 – 7:52 mile.  Yup – it was harder than I thought to run up the bridge.  It was like   tunnel vision.  The end felt like it could never get closer.  As much as I tried to tell myself I would never walk in a running race, I did.  Twice on the uphill (right near the top), I stopped, took 10 walking steps, and then kept running.  I was red lining.  If I had any chance of pushing on the downhill, I had to drop my heart rate.  As I watched my pace drop to 10 minute miles on my walk, I had the sinking feeling that this was going to be a BAD day.
  • Mile 4 – 7:20 mile.  Get your shit together Jen.  Part of racing is convincing yourself the negative things going through your mind are not true.  As I started my downhill, running into a serious headwind, I looked for people to draft off of and thought about the positives.  NO MORE UPHILL.
  • Mile 5 – 7:25 mile.  I’m over half way.  I’m in Downtown.  I grabbed a cup of water from the water station and poured it on my head.
  • Mile 6 – 7:25 mile.  Tunnel vision.  Again.  Running through the crowds on Kings, makes you feel like you will never get to the final chute.
  • Mile 6.2 – UM excuse me.  I thought this was a 6 mile race.  Why didn’t I think about the fact that it was a 10K?  When I ran through the 6 mile marker and the race wasn’t over, I thought I might throw up.  That feeling continued to last as I ran through the finish.


I ran into my husband almost immediately.  A lot of people have asked me how he did.  He doesn’t put anything on social media.  This guy ran 6:30/mile and almost broke 40 minutes.  I am so proud of him, as was he of me when I crossed the finish line.  They say couples that sweat together, stay together.  I think that might be the case.  We bonded over details of the race and our similar experiences while working through the course.




The rest of the weekend was about food and drinks – Blood Mary’s at Burns Alley, Lunch at Pearlz, Ice Cream at Kilwins, cocktails at O-Ku, Steaks at Halls Chophouse and Sunday brunch at Charleston’s Cafe.  Hard work should be rewarded.  We had a great time seeing friends, yet spending time together.  We will most certainly do this again at some point.  Hopefully as a family one day!



Beachin’ It With Babies + Big News!

We have taken several trips since our first daughter was born.  The majority of them have been as husband and wife.  Each and every other time that we have taken our kid(s) with us, we have ended up at either my parent’s or my husband’s parent’s home.  As a change up, we decided to take our first family vacation this year.  We fully expected it to be something out of National Lampoons.  We typically have bad luck. In an effort to avoid any serious stress, we planned our trip while public school was still in session and we picked a place that we could drive to in less than four hours – Isle of Palms, SC.

11406845_10103531522607243_8858989996667353845_nIt was our intent to drive all the way there without stopping.  We packed the car and got on the road at 11:00 AM.  The last thing that we did before we got on the road was feed our infant.  She typically is on a 3-4 hour feeding schedule, so we thought that she would be good.  My oldest daughter also naps after lunch, so we thought that if we fed her first thing in the car, we could pop in a DVD and she would be out for the last chunk of the drive.  So much for planning.

IMG_5579We didn’t check traffic on the way out.  I wish that someone would have told us there was significant bridge construction going on that day right outside of Rock Hill.  After cruising through the small town, we found ourselves stuck in creeping traffic for almost an hour.  The kids started to get restless (already).  Something about a moving car puts them at ease.  We were not moving.  At almost 1.5 hours in to the drive, we had only driven less than fifty miles.  At this point, we knew that we would have to stop at some point.

IMG_5537To make matters worse, as we proceeded to accelerate through the road work, a large truck spit up a small rock that hit my front windshield perfect enough to leave a nice little crack in the brand new windshield.  Startling, but we moved on.  It couldn’t get worse could it?  You never know what to expect on an open highway.  As we cruised down the interstate, a gust of wind blew a large plastic tub into our path.  We veered off the road in an effort to avoid slamming into the piece of garbage blowing on the highway.  My heart rate must have entered Zone 4.  That was enough for me to decide I needed to take a break from driving and everyone needed to be fed and regrouped.


What better place to stop than McDonald’s?  While I fed our infant, our toddler split french fries and a milkshake with my husband.  It’s vacation right?  We were back on the road after forty-five minutes of getting everyone settled enough to get back in the car.  By 4:30PM, we were pulling into the development that we had picked to spend our family vacation at.  That’s right, a 3-3.5 hour drive turned into an over 5 hour drive.  That’s kids (and poor planning) for you.

IMG_5463Thankfully, our entire trip went better than it started.  Our condo rental was situated close to the beach and close to a pool.  We introduced my oldest daughter to the beach the second that we got there.  It’s where she preferred to stay the entire long weekend.  She made a mad dash into the water.  No shoes, no shirt, no problem.  We couldn’t convince her to keep her shoes on the rest of the weekend.

IMG_5513Unlike a typical husband wife trip, we spent the days on a schedule that accommodated our children.  We went to bed early, and we got up early.  We were at the beach, pool or playground by 9:00 AM every day.

IMG_5485We packed it up around 12:00 PM every day to take the kids in for some shade, lunch and naps.

IMG_5496IMG_5495It was a challenge for us to find time to do things on our own.  I packed work out clothes for each day that I was at the beach.  I never took them out of my bag.  With no help, we found it difficult to find time to get away to work out.  I tried to get in whatever I could.  That meant taking the kids for walks and running around with our toddler on the beach.

IMG_5572IMG_5568Our infant was a very good sport about being outside, but there were times when we needed to take her inside to spare her being overheated.  We avoided taking her out in the sun.  In fact, we bought a beach tent that we could pop up when we knew that she would be down at the beach.  It also provided great shelter for our toddler.

11415306_10103537091991153_8837179234723509840_nIMG_5554We started off just laying our infant down on a towel on the sand in the tent.  We later learned that bringing her bouncy seat down to the tent was an even better idea.  She could feel that ocean breeze while sitting upright.  It was also easier for her to nap this way.  My toddler just adores my husband, so I was often stuck watching the newborn.  Laying out proved to be a challenge.

IMG_5549We took the girls out to dinner and ice cream one night while we were there.  Casual, kid friendly – Morgan Creek Grill.  We had never been there, nor had we heard of it.  The name simply stood out based on our infant’s name.  Views were incredible.  Food was good.  Outdoor bar.  Corn hole.  Great cocktails.  We would take the kids back.

IMG_5526The remainder of our meals with the kids were mostly spent at the condo – Make your own deli sandwiches, bagels, pizzas, you get my gist.  We splurged and hired a sitter for one nice night out as husband and wife.  We opted to take the drive into Charleston to go to one of my old time favorites – Hall’s Chophouse.

IMG_5574They never disappoint.   I ordered my regular – 8 oz prime filet.  We also picked out our favorites sides – asparagus, mashed potatoes and broccolini.  We were full from dinner, but surprised when the owner sent complimentary champagne and a dessert to go to our table.  This is why we keep coming back.  As soon as we got back to the condo, we splurged and split our rum soaked caramel cake.

IMG_5575An evening out was the perfect way to round out our vacation.  I have to admit, after a few days of not working out and eating pretty bad, I actually feel relaxed and good about it.  I was on a routine that was not sustainable.  I needed to take a break to refresh.  Enjoy time away.  I need to let go, have a few too many drinks and laugh like a child with my girls.  Their smiles are contagious.

IMG_5489It’s good to be back and blogging.  It’s also exciting to share some big news and a fun challenge for my readers.  Ever heard of the Marriott Center City?  Located in uptown Charlotte, the mainstream hotel is about to undergo a huge renovation.  As part of the renovation, they are accumulating images from social media with the hashtag #DesignCharlotte.  Some of the images will be displayed in the improved hotel.  Those who participate will be entered in supreme giveaways.  I love this idea.  In fact, I will be working with the hotel over the next few months to spread the word.

IMG_4867The hotel is looking for images that feature your favorite elements of Charlotte – think street performers, ball parks, favorite craft beer.  I’ll start there.  As a tribute to our favorite vacation beer, I’m introducing Noda Brewing Company beer – Cavu.  Smooth. 16 ounces.  Light.  Perfect for the summer.