Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon Recap

Mile 15: I feel awesome!! Gosh, all of my training has really paid off!

Mile 17: Savannah State spectators are awesome! Just the pick me up I need!

Mile 20: Hmm. This has been a long mile. Sheesh.

Mile 21: What. The. F*&!. Why in the heck did I sign up for this. What was I thinking. Ugh my longest run should have been 22 miles instead  of 20. Sh!t Sh!t Sh!t!!

 

These were my exact thoughts as I ran my second marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah. It wasn’t a pretty race, but I got it done.

I arrived in Savannah on Friday, early afternoon. The expo was a madhouse. There was only one road/bridge that led to the convention center and it seemed like all 23,000 of us were headed there at the same time. When I finally was able to park, I made a beeline for the inside to pick up my packet and parking permit. I also had to pick up a long sleeve shirt and light jacket. Apparently I missed the memo that there would be a cold front coming through that would also bring about very chilly conditions. The forecast I had anticipated was low in the 50s and highs in the 70s. Instead the high would never leave the 50s and it would stay windy all day.

Race morning

My brother and I got up at 4:30. Well I was actually up much earlier because I couldn’t sleep, but patiently waited for the alarm to go off before I started moving around. I had already organized everything that I was going to wear so it was only a matter of getting up, getting ready and getting dressed. My brother on the other hand had not and proceeded to begin asking me about different outfit choices. We left the hotel and were at the expo around 5:30. The race wasn’t for another 2 hours and as opposed to standing outside in the cold we sat in the car for an hour before heading to board the ferry to the starting line. This was the first time I have been on a ferry so it was quite a treat for me. When we got to the starting village we found where our corrals were and then looked for the gear check which of course was the farthest one back. Then we waited up against a bus that was deflecting the wind until race time.

The corrals were packed!Here’s where I began to visually see the breakdown between marathoners and half marathoners. There were 16 or 17,000 half marathoners and 6,000 marathoners. I was happy that we ran together for the first 11 miles before we broke up. The race started and a few minutes later we were off through the streets of Savannah.

Miles 0-5

These first miles were mostly spent dodging articles of clothing that were being thrown off along with the flanks of walkers who started in corral 7 knowing they should have been in corral 22. This area is what some have been calling the “rougher” areas, but the crowd support throughout here was great. People were outside their homes bundled up and cheering for us runner. I only checked my watch once at mile 5 to make sure that I was on my 10 min/mile pace.

Miles 5-10

These miles were fast and amazing for two reasons. One, we got to run through downtown Savannah and gosh is the city beautiful. The homes, the streets, the huge trees. It was all very small town and southern. And secondly, the crowd support. I felt like a super star! The crowd support was so great, probably the best I have encountered. I had to make sure that I didn’t get too excited and quicken up my pace. For the half marathoners this was heading towards the end of their race, and a fast one at that. But for me, it was only the beginning.

Mile 11.something.

Sometime after mile 11 the marathoners and the half marathoners split. Part of me wished I was running only the half. It’s the perfect distance. Not too much. Not too little. Just right. And with the crowd support they were getting I’m sure everyone was going to PR. Then there was the part of me that felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. The few. The proud. The marathoners. (Thanks Marines for that one). And as we split I saw how few of us there were. Here is where I told myself, the mental marathon begins.

Miles 12-17

A lot happened here but to sum it up I was feeling good. So good in fact that I began to doubt myself. And then the famous last words came at mile 15. I told myself how awesome I was feeling and how this would be a great race and I would surely meet my time goal.

The crowd support had thinned out significantly on these back miles. The greatest motivation came at mile 17 from Savannah State. I went through their area high-fiving people and feeling great. Single digits left! I was elated. I kept visualizing my normal 10 mile out and back run. 5 out and 5 back. Piece of cake. Also one of the main things I had been focusing on was making sure I was staying hydrated throughout the run. Alternating water and cytomax at every station. I also had my Gu gels and chomps that I was eating to also keep my mouth and my mind busy.

Mile 20

The longest mile.Only a 10k left I told myself. 6.2. Child’s play. My legs started to feel a little heavier and the wind that I had been battling for much of the race felt like it was picking up. More runners in front of me began to stop and walk or stretch. It began to concern me because although 6.2 isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a long ways from the finish.

Mile 21

I thought this mile would never come. Truthfully, pat of me wished that I had somehow passed the marker and that the next one I would see would be that for mile 22. In the distance I began to see a mile marker sign. Please let it say 22. Please let it say 22. Nope. Mile 21.

Miles 22-24

Miles 22-24 were probably the longest miles of my life. They were entirely on the freeway and the wind was now blowing directly at me. It felt like everyone around me was having a breakdown. This is the part of the race where we really needed those spectators from earlier on, but alas, it was just us. It didn’t help that earlier on in the race when I was approaching mile 12, that I saw the marker for mile 24 on the opposite side of the highway. So I knew that I had a ways to go on this stretch of pavement. To make matters worse, I swear this highway was banked. I spent much of this stretch either leaning to the left or leaning to the right. TNT Coaches were running by trying to cheer up this runners. ‘Just around this bend and down the hill” one said until we would be off the highway. When we rounded the bend and there was still highway ahead of us I cursed her out a bit under my breath.

At this point I had to stop and walk. Why? Because at one point I was running next to a lady and about 3 minutes into us “running” next to each other I looked over and realized she was walking. You have got to be kidding me. So I stopped and power walked. I looked ahead and saw the water station and decided to run to it and then walk through it.

Mile 25-26.2

Only 1.2 miles left. Only 1.2 lllloooooooonnnnnnggggg miles left. At this point I was looking down at my Garmin every minute. My pace had dropped significantly, my goal time was definitely out of reach and at this point all I wanted to do was be done. I went through the last water station and decided that the faster I run the faster it’s done. Well faster is all relative but the finish was finally in sight. I made the last turn and saw the finish line up ahead. I started passing people on the way to it. The spectators were cheering for me telling me I looked strong and that I was almost done. Truthfully I felt bad passing those people at the end. I don’t know why, but I’ve always found it in bad taste. If I were in their shoes, and I have been, that’s the last thing I want. But I just wanted to be finished. I crossed the finish line and glanced down at my watch. 4:45. 15 minutes slower than my goal time but 9 minutes faster than my first marathon time.

I felt accomplished, satisfied, and tired. Good news is I didn’t collapse into the medic tent like I did after my first marathon. Better news, I’ve still got the marathon bug, with my eyes set on marathon #3 next fall. Great news, is that I didn’t get down on myself afterwards. I’m not comparing my performance to other people’s and I have no regrets about the race I ran. Instead I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride within myself. And that is an AMAZING feeling!

After the race. Tired and ready for a nap.

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Pre-Race Jitters

Pre-race jitters. Everyone gets them. Mine are me second guessing myself. While talking to my mom today I found out that she and my Dad would not be making the trip down. I figured they wouldn’t because he was only discharged today but there was still a little glimmer of hope that I had. My brother is supposedly still coming down to run but he’s still teetering out of the teenage angst stage of his life and has unpredictable mood swings. So as far as support goes, I’ll have none.

Today my mom asked if I was ready for the race. I mumbled something back to her that I can’t even recall and said something along the lines of ‘ready as I’m going to be’. I’m starting to wonder if I’m ready for this race. I think it has a lot to do with the whole taper thing. I feel like I haven’t been running enough this week or last but that’s apparently what you’re supposed to do. Hopefully it works.

The race

This race is going to be interesting, to say the least. I mentioned it on my twitter as well as the facebook page for the event but this race is definitely not marathon runner centered. There’s a half and a full and it seems like the half marathon runners get all of the advantages. The event organizers are telling spectators to be around the start finish and mile 8. They say that the rest of the course may not be accessible to vehicles due to road closures. Say what?!?! So miles 9- 26 are going to be real lonely. Then I decided that I wanted to see the course from a the street level or slightly above it. Thankfully due to technology today and Google Maps this is all possible. And I wish it wasn’t. Whenever I imagine people putting together the course for a race, I imagine it will go through the best parts of your city. I mean in essence races as large as this one help with tourism because people will hopefully want to return after visiting for the race. I guess I just hoped that the course would be a nice scenic one instead of the backroads course it appears to be.

Another thing I discovered is that I won’t get to see the headlining Carolina Liar concert. That is unless I have an AMAZING race on saturday and PR by an hour and a half. I hope to PR but not by that much. In any case, the race starts at 7:30a and Carolina Liar goes on stage at 10:30a. Meaning that some marathoners will still be running while the “Finish Line Festival” that’s “supposed” to be for the participants is going on. This just really bothers me and boggles my mind. I mean it’s common sense to me that that seems a little unfair but maybe not everyone else. Or maybe they’re trying to encourage everyone to BQ so that they can see the group perform. No offense race organizers, but it’s going to take a group much bigger than Carolina Liar to get me to quicken up my pace by that much.

BUT, the weather is supposed to be great, and this will be my first time going to Savannah. And it’s my 2nd marathon! That’s pretty cool. I’m going to try to stop sweating the little unimportant things (like I usually do) and instead just focus on having fun and enjoying myself.

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach Recap

Welp, Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach is now one for the books. The race was not one that I had been training for per se but it was more of a training run leading up to my marathon in November. I didn’t have any real expectations other than race hard, race well, and PR. Not asking for too much ;). The race itself was on Sunday and the expo was Friday and Saturday. I got into town at my parents on Thursday and decided I would to the Expo on Friday.

 

While I love a good expo, and it’s probably one of my favorite parts of the race, I don’t like a crowded one. So my mom decided she would join me and we got there around 2p, and just as I had wanted it was not super crowded. We went in I got my gear bag and t-shirt and then we proceeded to wander around and see what we could find. Several hours later and a wallet much lighter we left the expo. My mom decided that she and my Dad weren’t running that they would volunteer (She really just wanted a t-shirt). So they signed up to volunteer.

The plan was to get there on Saturday night after a dinner party my parents had. Well my mom wasn’t ready to leave so we took off from our house much later than we were supposed to and got to the hotel at 1:30a. The alarm went off at 5a. UGH! My parents dropped me off at the start line around 6a and proceeded onwards to their volunteer station. I still had time to spare so I hopped in line for the port-a-potty then got a banana and walked around, I’m sure looking quite unpleasant, but I’m just not a morning person.

It was at this moment when it dawned on me what corral I was in. Corral 5. I knew I was in this corral but I had no idea how many corrals there were. This was the closest I had ever been to the start line in a race. I started seeing people walk by with their bibs that had their corral numbers on them. 12, 9, 21, 18. Hmmm I must have picked the wrong corral. Crap. Well if anything this will motivate me to run faster. They finally opened the corrals. I went in. Stretched. Tried to relax. And here. We. Go.

Start

The race started and the pacers for the 1:52 group were right in front of me. I thought, hmm this is good I’ll try to keep up with them. WRONG. They took of like gazelles and I slowed my happy behind down. Then my right shoelace started feeling loose. Are. You. Kidding. Me??? We just started! I’m not about to pull over. I’ll wait it out. I got to the first mile fast. Really fast. A little too fast. Part of me wanted to slow down, but the other part of me said ‘Keep going! You’ve got a nice stride going! It’s too early to be getting passed!’

Mile 2-4

Coming around mile 2 we headed down the streets passed the beachfront hotel. Then I heard my mom’s familiar voice. I gave my parents a wave and a smile and kept moving. The next few miles were pretty uneventful someone dropped their Garmin watch (not sure how you could lose that and not notice) and another runner was racing through the crowds trying to figure out who it belonged to. There were also some weird turns. Well I guess I shouldn’t say weird but there were lots of turns through the various city blocks.

Mile 5

Mile 5 was long. Very long. It was flat. Boring and I could see runners ahead of me. Far ahead of me. Then I looked to my left on the other side and saw mile marker 11. I thought to myself that I would be glad when I got to that marker. Then I saw them. As I was just getting to or just passing mile 5 the Kenyans were coming up on mile 11. ?!?! Now clearly I know that I am no elite runner but are you kidding me?!? That broke my spirits for a while.

Miles 6-10

Miles 6-10 were long. Very long. And boring. My pace started to slow down and my right quad was starting to ache. I was soaked in sweat. Much of this part went through Camp Pendleton. There’s a loop around the camp and you can see all the runners who are ahead of you and can see where you have to run until you get to where they are. Ugh. Should have just kept my head down. Approaching mile 9 I was in almost a funk. I really wanted to slow down but my pride wouldn’t let me. I was off pace as it was and not willing to slow down just yet. I only had a few more miles left and a goal to reach. Too make matter worse the pace group for 2:oo passed me. Dangit!! Had I really fallen that much off pace? Then a boost came on from my iPod. Bieber’s “Never Say Never”. Now I’m not really a fan of his music and I only have this song on my iPod but it couldn’t have come at a better time. Granted the song is kind of cheesy and embarrassing but it did the trick. I decided to choose a better attitude and picked my pace back up.

Mile 11

It felt like it took forever to get to Mile 11. I started slowing down a lot. I kept telling myself that I had under a 5K left. I could do this. I could do it. There were a few people in front of me that I zoned in on. I decided that I wouldn’t let them get further in front of me than they were. I also began running alongside people. You could tell that people were starting to rely on others around them to get themselves through the last couple of miles. The last part of this mile also included going up a ramp. I knew that I needed to turn it on now. I was almost done.

Mile 12-Finish

I came through mile 12 strong. I was almost done. A few more turns and I would be on the final leg towards the finish. I started to smell the ocean. Yes!! The last half mile felt like it went on forever. I could see the finish line in the far distance. I wanted to pick up my speed but I had nothing left in me. I looked at my watch and my time was at 1:58 and some change. I knew I wasn’t going to break 2 hrs. And at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted to be done. And just as I was approaching the finish line P.O.D’s “Alive” came on. I love this song and it was such a perfect song to cross the finish line to.

Finish: 2:03: 45

The part that happens after runners cross the finish line is always somewhat humorous to me after the fact. God bless those volunteers that work the finish lines and food lines. All us runners can be grumpy, we’re smelly, we may have vacant expressions and we have the wobbly legged noodle leg walk. I was very happy that they had cold towels at the finish line. I got my goodies and my medal and proceeded to find my parents. There were quite a few people getting into the ocean and I wanted to but I didn’t want to get sand on my feet. HaHa. I also didn’t even get my free beer! I just didn’t feel like it would sit well with me.

While I didn’t race as well as I would have hoped, I’m still pleased with my performance. Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah is in 60 days and once I start getting into my longer runs I feel confident that I’ll have a good race.  🙂

Also HUGE kuddos to Alana Hadley, a 14-year-old young lady who ran the race yesterday in a time of 1:17!!!! Wow. Wow. WOW!!

Race Bling!

~T