Rock ’n’ Roll Savannah 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Half Marathon #12
Combining into one recap since I only had one day in Savannah before the race.

Friday/Expo

This was an absolute nightmare.  Where to begin.  The race guide suggested taking the free ferry across the river to the expo.  I headed over to the area with my sister Allison, Chris (bro-in-law), P, Dad and Nancy.  A city worker suggested taking the free trolley over the bridge because there wasn’t a wait.  Easy enough.  As we crossed over the bridge we hit traffic.  Bumper to bumper traffic.  It took a good 20-30 minutes just to get in the expo.

The expo was crowded but had some great things.  I purchased a new skirt and arm warmers from Running Skirts (ended up wearing for race) and held off on signing up for the NC race.  It was just chaos and I knew the non-runners in our expo trip were ready to get out.

very, very crowded.
We decided to take the ferry back.  This is what was taking 70 people at a time across the river.  You tell me how you expect 2 of these boats to actually get 20,000 back and forth quickly…

As we were getting on the ferry to go back to Savannah, the line continued to get longer.
those are cars all along the bridge.
From what I heard, this line took over an hour to get through…

 Yes, the traffic was backed up all the way OVER the bridge and we were scared to attempt it on the way back.  We had to wait in line for probably 15 minutes or so before it was our turn.  When we arrived back at the downtown Savannah side the line was even worse to get across.  I called my friends and told them about a shortcut and realized how miserable this would be for people arriving late.  I later found out (via their facebook page) that the RNR team extended the hours of the expo by an hour but it still wasn’t enough. This took up so much of our time it was exhausting.  I hope they change it for next year.

We had dinner reservations at Garibaldi’s with my friend Bradley and her husband John.  Talk about amazing (forgot to take pics).  Carbed up on pasta and chocolate cheesecake and we were back at the hotel and asleep by 10.

Pre-Race/Start
Staying one block away from the start is the always a bonus.  I only had to wake up a little after 6 to be ready for the 6:45 half fanatics picture.  Ran over and took the pic, and ran back a block to the hotel to meet my family and John.  We had a plan to start together.  After a quick warmup, P, Bradley, Dad and Nancy walked us towards the start to watch us at the beginning.  I wasn’t really nervous.  I tried not to put any pressure on myself.  We ran into several TNT friends and chatted the entire time even as the gun went off.

half fanatics/marathon maniacs
in my new skirt and arm warmers pre race.  LOVE!
The goal was to start slow to help John pace (he is super speedy) and I would be off to run my race and shoot for my PR.  The weather was perfect racing, chilly with a breeze.  I believe it was around 50 degrees.
Miles 1-8
I really did attempt to start slow.  But my body didn’t want to.  I felt great.  I honestly feel like the race is a bit of a blur but here’s what I remember.  I noticed the beginning of the course was headed into the lower income parts of Savannah.  It was lots of run down houses with iron-bar protected windows.  It wasn’t a place that I would want to be by myself.  BUT the locals were so sweet.  They all stood on their porches and cheered or had lawn chairs out and nodded with a “God Bless.” There was a cheer station that was playing Beyonce and those girls were dancing like no other.  Definitely put a smile on my face.  The course had a lot of turns and I did my best to cut them as close as possible to not add too much distance to the actual course.  I took my GU at mile 7 I think.  I knew how hard I was running and I didn’t want to risk crashing out too early.  
The race guide suggested spectators wait at mile 8.  And boy were they there.  From mile 7 to almost 9 the course was covered–even more than the finish.  The spectators were almost too much and were in the course but it gave me an insane rush to keep pushing.  It was probably the most support I have seen on any course I have run thus far.  

Miles 9-13.1
When I hit mile 10, I knew I was going to be close to my goal.  I could tell my legs were getting tired so I ate a pouch of the sports beans.  Near mile 11 there was a loop where you could see runners ahead and behind you as you circled-I loved seeing a few of my TNT friends-hearing their cheers helped.  I also saw a TNT coach and assured her I was fine.

There was one point here where a lady was on the sidewalk jumping up and down yelling “you gotta just grab the bull by the horns and go!  GO! GO!” It was highly entertaining and I was glad to see someone cheering in an otherwise empty area.

The last mile was all mental.  I just kept picking off runners and stayed focused on my watch.  I knew it was going to be close.  The last mile was slightly uphill (so cruel) and all I could think was push, push, push, PR, PR, PR.  I sprinted down the finishers chute like there was no tomorrow.  I was smiling and almost in tears as I received my medal.  

Race Results

800/14,035 overall
250/9791 females
53/1718 females 30-34
and…YES!  37 seconds faster than my previous PR to finally give me a new one and get in the 1:45 range!  
Garmin Results

I am still amazed that I actually ran a course full of turns correctly.  I am used to my garmin being over by a bit more than this.  I’m really proud of my focus.
Post Race
I received my medal and the typical RNR post race goodies and began to search for my crew.  I apparently ran too fast and my cheerleaders were still on their way to the finish and I had to wait on them.  We met up and waited for Chris to finish his first 1/2 marathon and then for John and Allison to finish their first marathons.  
Allison all smiles to be done with her first marathon

It was a long, but fun day.  I got to see a ton of my TNT peeps, cheer on family and friends, see (well, hear)  2 wedding proposals at the finish and enjoy a beautiful day.  I was very glad I packed extra clothes though because it was very windy when I finished.
Me and Bradley
First time 1/2 marathoner Chris!
Me and P

We hit up a pub for lunch (starving at this point) and I enjoyed a burger and soup.  Apparently this English pub didn’t do anything fried so no french fries. :(

That night we all met back up to watch some football and enjoy a few cocktails.  I must say that marathon watching takes up way more of your day than you realize.  I think I spent most of my trip eating, drinking, cheering and running.  No sight seeing or shopping (which is fine, I have been to Savannah many times).
Me and Pops watching football
Overall:
Favs:
Course Support
Hotel
Family/Friends
New race skirt/arm sleeves
Shirt (still typical of a RNR but much better than usual)
PR
Weather
Not so much:
Expo
Post race band
Not scenic course
Basic RNR post-race
The Bling:
I like this medal.  I don’t love it, I don’t hate it.  Just like.  Again, RNR medals all look very similar.  This one is still pretty cool and looks like the fountain at the finish/post race party area.  

Final thoughts:
I have mixed emotions on recommending this race.  The expo really put a damper on things and I hope RNR changes it.  I thought parts of the course were good.  The marathoners ended up on the interstate during the toughest miles and that sucks.  RNR needs to do a better job planning out “cooler” courses.  Savannah is a beautiful city…but I know it can be hard to travel to.  If you are trying to check GA off your list, this is a good option, it just may not be the cheapest.    It is during the perfect time of year for racing, the weather is great, and the course is flat.  Great PR course (I know several others who PR’d too).  I had a blast with my family, P, and friends.  But I probably won’t do this one again.  I need to focus on other states.

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Elizabeth

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9 Comments

  • I was wondering how logistics would work for that area- guess it didn't haha.

    HUGE congrats to set a new PR- way to end 2011 with a bang. I know right now we don't have any races planned- I'll be releasing my 6 month schedule within the next week or so!

  • I'm so happy for you on your PR & how you ran the race. Your skirt/arm warmers are awesome & you got great photos.
    Too bad about the expo. The Boring Runner wrote about the expo too – he totally missed it b/c traffic was so bad :(

  • Congratulations!!!! What an amazing time!!! I LOVE the skirt and matchy arm warmers! Perfect for your TNT outfit :)

    I still have to do a race in GA (Any distance, as long as I get a medal). Which one would you recommend?

  • Congratulations on the new PR! Sounds like there were some great spectators out there. I actually sometimes like when courses go through different types of neighborhoods (including sketchy ones) but sounds like this course was a little lacking overall! Congrats again!

  • Awesome race recap. Way to go on an awesome run! I heard about the expo nightmare…yeah, that sucks. But yes, definitely love the skirt and arm sleeves! Bummer we didn't get a chance to meet up (hopefully, someday at another race)

  • Great PR and nice skirt arm warmers!

    I have yet to do a RNR race and when I see 15K people running one race (and their prices) I know why. I'm stressed out just thinking about the logistics of all of that.

    I've never been to Savannah but my husband lived there for a few years. I thought it was this scenic place all over but he corrected me and said that the scenery backs right up to the poverty. It sounds like that's true from your course description!

  • That is a really impressive PR. Congratulations!

    I have heard a lot of negative feedback on this race. Hopefully they make some changes. I don't think they anticipated the demand for the race at all.

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