Race: Rock and Roll Savannah
City: Savannah, GA Date: 11/09/2013
Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Weather: Perfect… could not have asked for a better day. Cold at start, but absolutely beautiful.
Course: A few rolling hills and somewhat scenic, especially the second part of the half marathon route
Summary: Personal Record updated 🙂
This was the first Rock and Roll/Competitor race I have ventured into doing since the Rock and Roll Las Vegas almost 2 years before. The Las Vegas Rock and Roll race was such a disaster, I wasn’t really interested in paying such high fees for a race to have a bad experience. However… By the time it came to make the decision about this race, I had already bitten the bullet and registered for the Rock and Roll Raleigh full – since I didn’t have to travel, if the race was a disaster, it was less of a bitter pill to swallow. Aside from that, two of my friends had run that race last year, including my friend that hosted me back in April for the Martian Half marathon, and they both spoke highly of this race, and since they’ve always been right and I trust their opinions, I kept it in the back of my mind. Still… I was hesitant. It was expensive. I could ninja trip this distance – after all, Annapolis was farther and Hilton Head was the exit off I-95 just before Savannah, so I saw no reason I couldn’t ninja this one…. but hotels within walking distance were over $300 a night and the less expensive ones meant a not so great part of town by myself, which I wasn’t exactly anxious to do.
The final thing leading me to this race was my MI friend. He signed up to be a pacer, decided to drive, and took me up on my offer to share the expense, so I registered for the race. We decided that he would drive from MI to Raleigh, and then I’d drive from Raleigh to Savannah and back, and then he’d drive back to MI. We would still ninja the trip, though, to save money.
This was a Saturday race, so we left on Friday around 8 am from Raleigh so we’d have plenty of time to get our packets, check in at the pacer station, and meet our other friend running the race for dinner. Because we’d done races together before, we knew what to expect with travel, so it was an easy trip down. We got there around 1, got checked in to everything and went back to downtown Savannah to meet our friend for dinner at The Outback Steakhouse – which really hit the spot for me! A burger and a baked potato – can’t ask for much more.
We had a great time chatting about running and goals and I really enjoyed meeting our friend in person for the first time. She is another from our virtual running group that I had wanted to meet for quite some time and enjoyed chatting with her. I publicly stated that I wanted to PR this race, so my goal was sub-1:51. I explained that my PR from the TCS Annapolis Half Marathon the previous year was, to me, marred by the shortage of .15 mi and I really wanted a *legitimate* PR. After dinner, we went our separate ways and prepared for the race the next day. In bed early because we planned for a very early start.
I don’t usually sleep well the night before a race – could be the excitement or just being in a different place, but I remember falling asleep quickly and deeply. I only woke up one time to turn the TV off and then not again until the next morning. I’m not sure I even moved throughout the night. I woke up excited for the race, but very nervous about my PR. I got everything together, did a few stretches and we headed out to make sure we could get a decent parking space. We parked at the Convention Center and took the ferry across the river to the start. My friend pulled out his headphones to listen to music while on the ferry and I realized… dang… I left mine in the car. Crap. I had no pre-game. I had no music during. gah.
We got to the other side of the river and made our way – in the sea of people – to the start. It was cold, and I was really under dressed. We kept our check bags until about 15 minutes before start. That was cutting it a bit close, but I was cold and I didn’t want to run with the fleece. We checked our bags and wished each other luck (remember: he’s way faster than I am – he was in Corral 2; I was in Corral 3) and lined up.
Finally, we started. I decided that I wasn’t going to even check pace. I was so annoyed about leaving my ear buds, I thought there was no point in even looking, so I turned the screen off and just ran what felt comfortable. The first couple of miles were a struggle – I was not warm and it was crowded, but eventually, it started to become easier and I was feeling better.
…and then I had to pee…
I passed by one set of port-a-johns because of a line, but by the time I got to the second set – around mile 4.5 – I couldn’t hold it. Line or no, I was going in. I rounded the corner and – woo hoo – no line! I looked at the first one – green! No wait! woo hoo! I pulled on the door to open… locked?!?! second door… locked?!?! 3rd door… locked?!?! what? then I noticed they were all zip-tied shut (groan). Just when I noticed it, someone else said “these are all zip-tied shut!” and, without a second thought or saying a word, another guy whips out a pocket knife and pops all of the zip ties off. For a second all of us standing in line were quiet and a probably thinking the same thing “who brings a pocket knife to a race…?” but, that thought was fleeting and we all got over it and went into the port-a-johns, thanking the knife guy along the way. That might be one of the weirder things I’ve seen in a race so far (other than the chickens a couple of weeks later, but I’ll save that for the Skinny Turkey half marathon race report).
This has to be one of the few races where I can honestly say my mind was completely clear. After the potty stop, I didn’t think about much – or at least, not much that I can remember other than “Spanish moss is kind of pretty” and “oooh – mile 5.5 – I should take a GU” and “Oh, there’s my MI friend” (he was holding a big green sign so he was easy to see) and “oh, mile 8 – I wonder how I’m doing…”
At that point, I flip on the screen and check my time and… holy cow?!?!! I am wwwaaaaayyyy ahead of schedule – like by over 20 seconds per mile. My first thought was “I should slow down”. So, I did (I thought) and kept going. “I should bring my camera back here one day – this place is photo-worthy”. I don’t really remember any other thoughts I had after that until I got to mile 11. I just enjoyed the architecture and wondered about the history, but otherwise, I can’t remember a single thought other than, “I should probably take this GU now… I have 2 miles left” and, once again, feeling disappointed that the race was almost over. I took the second GU and, again, fared better than I did in San Francisco, so I was good to go.
I revved up and finished the race at what I thought was 1:50:01 and I actually got emotional about it. I was so stunned and proud of myself I couldn’t hold it in. It wasn’t until hours later that I realized I had actually finished at 1:49:55 officially. I wasn’t sore or beat up like I normally am after a half and I just felt great. I was a little out of it for the first 10 minutes or so, but I even regained lucidity much more quickly than I usually do, so I was pleased. I waited for my MI friend, helped him recover, then we made our way back to the car and headed back to Raleigh.
I worked really hard for this PR. I have been training for a 3:45 full, and this proves that when you follow a training plan, it does work.
Trust the training, my friends.