On November 7th I ran the Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon.
My parents and I flew down to Savannah on Friday morning, and went to the packet pickup pretty easily on Friday afternoon. From the start I was shocked at how much more crowded it was than Rock n Roll Philly a week prior. There were tons of runners at the expo and as we explored Savannah on Friday evening it seemed like we saw runners everywhere.
On Saturday morning the race started at 7am. We stayed at a hotel right on Bay street (where the starting line was) so we were able to easily leave our hotel around 6 to walk down the street to the corrals. There was plenty of time to walk around a bit but again I was shocked at the lines for the port-a-poties. They were SO long! I was glad I had taken care of things at the hotel.
As we waited in our corral the announcer kept saying that they would be closely monitoring the weather since the humidity was high and the temperatures were expected to rise. They would strictly enforce course cut off times (for the full marathon) and shut down the courses early if the conditions became unsafe.
I have never been so glad to be running the half marathon. I also hope for now on it’s always necessary to wear throw-away clothes at the start due to lower temperatures. There was no exta layers needed while waiting for this race to start!
After the national anthem the race ended up actually starting around 7:20ish. Later the Competitor Group said it was due to fog and conditions on the course. It was unfortunate that it started late though since the temperature was already rising.
We slowly made our way to the start.
See the thick air? and so many runners!
My plan for the race was to run the first mile, then start into my 1:30/0:30 run/walk intervals, as I have done through the past couple races. My dad planned to run with me.
I felt great for the first mile, passed a lot of people and managed to catch up and get a little bit ahead of the 2:30 pacers, who had somehow started in a corral ahead of me. From there I settled into my intervals.
When we got to the first water station around 1.5 I was shocked at the LINE of runners waiting to get water on each side of the road. There was no running in, grabbing a cup and cutting out of the way. It was a complete stand still. I have no idea what was going on but I decided to just keep going. The race course was still pretty crowded and people were constantly jockeying for position so I hoped that by continuing on it would start to thin out a bit.
It didn’t. Due to the humidity and rising temperatures I think many people were taking the race at an easier pace than normal, and it caused more crowding when things would normally thin out.
At mile 2.5 my dad told me his knee was acting up so he’d have to take longer breaks. He told me to go one ahead so I did.
I continued on with my run/walk intervals and got water at every water station from then on.
I hit the 5k mark at 33:59. I was feeling pretty good, despite everything.
However, about an hour in, my body suddenly felt like a ton of bricks. I overheard a runner saying that it takes about an hour for your body to feel the effects of the humidity and it seemed to be completely true for me.
I was sweating a ton, and my legs just felt heavy. I told myself that it was definitely not going to be a PR day but to keep moving forward and take in the gorgeous city around me. It was really gorgeous – beautiful grassy squares with statues and fountains, moss covered trees arching over the streets and gorgeous houses. Savannah is a really beautiful city.
Every now and then I’d pass a runner who was down on the sides, always with another group of runners around them. At mile 6.5 I heard sirens behind us, and an ambulance came through, and the runners parted to each side. It was at that moment that I decided this race was absolutely not worth pushing myself beyond what was comfortable, because it could become dangerous. My pace decreased every mile from then on.
It was around this time the 2:30 pace group passed me. I couldn’t have cared less.
I was soaked in sweat to the point where it looked like I took a shower with my clothes on. I contemplated tossing my tank top and just running in a sports bra – something I have never in my life thought to do, ha. My feet were sloshing because they were so wet.
But when I looked around I saw the most supportive community around me. Every single runner around me was, I’m sure, struggling with something. But everyone kept moving forward. Motivating each other. Helping each other.
The residents of city of Savannah was amazing, there was constant crowd support. Many folks that lived along the course brought out water, Gatorade, soda, oranges, beer and their garden hoses to cool us off.
I tried to make the best of a really crappy situation, because it really was completely out of my control.
I hit mile 10 I think around 2:00-2:05 – but I’m not sure because unfortunately I don’t have a split recorded for that.
Around mile 12 the marathon leader passed me. I was shocked that the leader was just then passing me, because at this point it was about 2:25-2:30 on the marathon clock – and though I could only dream of crossing a marathon finish line in 2:40 or whatever it is he did, I know that usually leaders come in faster than that.
I crossed the finish in 2:44:01. No complaints. The cold icy towels they gave us after were finished were the best.thing.ever.
I found a grassy area in the park near the finish to sit down, rehydrate, listen to Rascall Flatts (cool right?) and waited for my parents to finish. Luckily, thanks to runner tracking I knew they had slowed down significantly, but could tell they were moving towards the finish line together (aww).
As I sat there waiting I started hearing people saying they had closed the marathon course. I saw a few marathoners sit down and they looked completely defeated. I didn’t pry and ask what happened but I could only assume they didn’t get to complete their full 26.2.
After my parents finished we walked to pick up our gear check bags (that had been bussed to the finish) and got a photo in front of the iconic statue in Forsyth Park.
There were a lot of things that went wrong with this race, but despite that I had a really great time running in a city I may never run in again. Savannah is gorgeous. Its residents have huge hearts. And runners are great people always willing to help out a fellow runner in need. When it comes down to it, I think those are the most important things.