Monday, November 21, 2011

Inaugural Rock N Roll Savannah Half Marathon

Half Marathon #2 - November 5, 2011 - This time with my girlfriends!
    Running with friends has become so important to my training. I used to think I only enjoyed running alone and would only run with others occasionally. I have gotten to the point now where I really miss my running buddies if I have to run by myself! Traveling and running races with my friends just may have to become a regular thing! I convinced two of my running buddies to head up to Savannah with me for the Inaugural Rock N Roll Half Marathon. Only one ended up actually running the race with me but the three of us had a great time!
    We arrived in Savannah the Friday before the race. We got there about 4pm which was actually a little late for my nerves - especially when I saw the 1) traffic and 2) line to get across the river to the Expo!! Savannah is a tiny little Southern town not used to crowds except for St. Patty's Day! So to have 23,000+ runners, friends and family descend on it for this weekend - well, frankly, my dear, they had some issues! Thankfully, I know Savannah well and was able to navigate the streets to where we needed to be and park. We headed down to the river to take the ferry across to the expo. The line must have been a quarter of a mile long! We just kept walking and walking, hoping to find the end. Here is where problem #2 comes in to play - they had two ferrys to carry people across to the Expo. The ferrys probably held about 30 people, maybe. There were HUNDREDS in line! At about 5:30 PM (the Expo was schedule to close at 7 PM), they had the brilliant idea to open up one of the river boats to carry all of us across! Why did they not do this all day?? Once they did that, it wiped out almost the entire line and we were across in no time! I was really worried! I wanted to have plenty of time to shop!!
    Once at the Expo, everything else went extremely smooth. Bib number, shirt and bag pick-up was quick and easy. Not much good stuff in our swag bag though - for a race this big and a company that is for profit, I think they could have thrown in some samples of something!! I was expecting the Expo to be a runner's shopping paradise also because it was a Rock N Roll race. Not so much. There were a lot of people from around the South pushing their races, which was really cool. Amanda and I kept picking up the flyers saying "Ooo! Let's do this one!" or "How about this one?" I think I hooked Amanda on the whole traveling to run thing. She was very excited! The rest of the Expo was sort of a disappointment. I wanted to see more stuff and try new things. I guess I have been spoiled now by the Disney Expo and my hometown Expos for the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon and River Run!
    There were a few good food and drink vendors we got to sample. I got to see my girls from Running Skirts and stock up on some stuff. But the best find was Skin Sake. We received a sample to try and I am hooked! Apparently not widely offered in stores (I only found two in Florida) but you can order it online. And I will be ordering it! I tried the Skin Sake Athletic to prevent chaffing from my sports bra and it worked like a charm! Not one red mark on me!
    We were practically starving by the time we left the Expo - it was almost 8:00! As we were driving in, I had noticed an Italian place a few blocks off the river. I thought that we could try it for dinner. My thinking was because it was not right on the river it would be less crowded - HA! Boy, was I wrong! When we arrived at Corleone's, they told us it would be a two hour wait - OR we could wait for a table outside which was first come, first serve. So we stood around and watched people eat! Trying to figure out who was going to finish first and who we had as our competition for a table. It was crazy! I think the worst part was watching all this fabulous, fresh, homemade Italian food walk by!!
    We finally got a table in about 45 minutes and quickly ordered. I wanted to eat everything on the menu at that point! But I settled for a Ceasar salad, Penne a la Vodka and a side of meatballs...

Needless to say, I ordered too much food and had to get a doggie bag! It was sooo good though and I will be back the next time I am in Savannah!
    We finally got to our hotel around 10PM, cleaned up and headed to bed. We were excited and ready for the morning! I was actually able to sleep some and before we knew it, we were up and getting ready for race day! Gina had decided not to race so she dropped Amanda and I off as close to the Riverfront as she could. We headed for the starting area and finished getting ready for the race. We still needed to pin on our bibs and put on out "D-tag" timing chip. Did I mention it was freezing? Well, in the 40s - which is freezing for this Florida girl! Yet I was still dressed in a strappy tank and running skirt, plus the addition of arm warmers. So thankful for these! Running Skirts has these great arm warmers that roll-out over your fingers so you can keep your hands warm if needed - Brilliant!
     We checked our bags into our appropriate school buses - yes, I said school buses. Hey, it worked! And then headed to the starting line. I was in corral 10, Amanda was in 11. There were some 20-30 corrals along Bay Street! They let us out in a wave start, one corral at a time. It was an easy, flawless, relatively uncrowded start. The route took us through ALL parts of Savannah, including what Amanda dubbed "the other side of the tracks." Something we learned about the Rock N Roll series of races is that they take you through all parts of the city, not just the tourist spots.
    It was really amazing how the people of Savannah came out to cheer us on. Even in the cold and at such an early hour, there were people everywhere! Standing in their yards, on their porches or leaning out of their doorways. There was hardly a place where there were not people smiling and cheering us on or just offering a friendly good morning like we were out for a run on our own, not with 22,999 others!
    I wanted to beat my Wine & Dine Half time. I wanted to get to 2:15. As I neared the timing clock at mile 12, I noticed it was under 2:15 and I know I had started at least a few minutes after the clocks had! I ran 9:1 intervals mostly and felt great the whole way. I was distracted by the sights and the people during the entire race and the first 8-9 miles just flew by! At about mile 11, I worried about Amanda, who was ahead of me, but had faith she was doing well. Her furthest distance was 11 miles and this was her first half marathon!
    I made it to the finish line with an official time of 2:13:34, beating my goal time and so happy!


    There was tons of food and drinks after, a beautiful medal and space blankets! But truly the best part was meeting up with my girlfriends to celebrate and hang out in Forsyth Park listening to the After-Party concert put on by Carolina Liar - my new favorite band!
    What a great race! And of course, since we did the Inaugural we will definitely be back next year!

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