Wow. Has it already been two weeks since the marathon? I’m really glad I made a list of notes because I didn’t think it would take me this long to get a recap posted!
We got into Savannah around 4:30 on Friday afternoon and hit up the race expo which was at the convention center. The expo was already packed when we got there. I really wanted to do some of the activities in the Brooks Run Happy Island, but the lines were over a 40 minute wait! We grabbed our packets, snapped a pic, and headed back to the car.
We were leaving around 5:30 and I was so glad. There is only one way onto the island where the convention center is and traffic was backed up FOR MILES. I guarantee that there was no way everyone made it into the expo before it closed. I was quite thankful for my flexible job and the fact we could leave early on Friday.
We stayed at the Hilton which was a half mile from the start line and a half mile from the finish line. Perfect! They hosted a pasta dinner on Friday night, so we were able to carbo load. After dinner we got our outfits ready, kicked our feet up, and made our race plan.
We woke up at 6:00 on Saturday morning, and I ate most of a bagel and drank some Gatorade. I was much calmer than I usually am before a race and I was thankful that there were no butterflies in my stomach to deal with.
We got to the starting line at 6:55 and waited for the gun to go off. The race officials delayed the start, so we didn’t cross the line until 7:20 (we were in corral 6 of 21). It was right at 70 degrees when we crossed the start line.
Our race plan was to start slow and negative split the race. We knew it was going to be hot, so we decided to wear our fuel belts during the race. The first part of the race was awesome. There were tons of fans along the route and the music was great! We were feeling pretty great around mile 8, and we were right on track with the race plan.
The half marathon course and the marathon course split just before the 12 mile mark. We both got a surge of energy when we made that turn for the marathon course – there was no going back (or so we thought…). The course got weird around mile 12. We actually ran on the interstate! and it was awful. I have no idea what the temperature was at this point, but it was hot. It was also incredibly humid. There was no shade, no reprieve from the heat, on the interstate. There was a sponge stop and ice chips at mile 12 and it was heavenly. Even though we had out fuel belts, we were stopping at every water/gatorade stop to hydrate. The interstate was only 2 miles, but it felt much longer.
Miles 14-21 is essentially an out an back. We passed our friend when we were approaching mile 15 and she was approaching mile 20. She, and all of the other runners coming back towards us, were struggling. We were still feeling ok at that point, but we were worried about the next 9 miles and how we were going to get through them. Miles 16-18 were through Savannah Sate University and the crowd gave us a boost as we ran through campus. We were both starting to get overheated at this point and were very happy to see the turnaround point on the course. I have no idea how I managed a smile here.
We crossed the 21 mile marker as we headed back up onto the interstate. About 3 minutes later we saw the 23 mile marker. I was pretty tired at that point, so I thought it was just a mistake. Then we got to the sponge/ice chip/water station and saw the 24 mile marker. We also saw people turning around and running back towards us on the course. I almost cried when I found out that the race organizers had cut off 2 miles of the course and were sending us to the finish early.
There was no question in my mind about finishing early. I knew I would be joining the others and turning around on the course. At that point, 22 on the watches, I could tell The Professor was struggling. We had slowed down, but we were still on pace to finish under our goal time. He told me I needed to go on and finish the race, that he was going to drop back. Our plan was to finish together, but I really wanted to PR. It was a hard decision, but I kept running while he slowed to a walk.
A runner has to be prepared both physically and mentally for a marathon. Words can’t even describe what I was feeling when I had to turn around on the marathon course to get in my 2 miles. It was hot, I was tired, I had lost my training partner, course officials were yelling at the people running backwards, and there were bunches of tired marathoners running towards me. It was mentally one of the hardest things I’ve ever endured.
I’ve finished A LOT of races in my day, but I’ve never felt the way I felt at the Savannah marathon finish. I was so happy to see the finish line, but I was in so much pain! I was dehydrated (even though I had tons of water and gatorade on the course), I was dizzy, and I was worried about Justin. I was trying to breathe while trying not to cry (which makes breathing surprisingly difficult!) I had ZERO control over my body that last mile, but I did manage a smile at the finish line.
I got a cold towel at the finish and stumbled to the nearest spot to sit down, which happened to be a stack of empty palettes. I felt like hours passed (turns out it was 12 minutes) before Justin crossed the finish line. I was crying (which was embarrassing) and people kept asking if I wanted to go to the medical tent. Considering there were people literally passing out at the finish line, I decided not to go to the tent. I was finally able to move when I saw Justin cross the line. We took a finisher photo and then headed to the post-race “festivities.”
I made it about 10 steps before laying down in the grass. Rascal Flats was that headliner for the post-race concert, but they were finished playing before we finished the race. I was bummed about that. I don’t understand why the concert was so early. I understand I’m slow, but there were still hundreds of people behind me who I’m sure would have wanted to see the concert too! Ok. Rant over. I finally felt like I could walk after about 10 minutes, so we made our way to the finisher’s tent to pick up our finisher jackets (which are awesome!). We laid in the grass for another 30 minutes before we were finally ready to make our way back to the hotel.
That half a mile walk was brutal. All I wanted was a shower and a bed. I got both of those things, plus pizza and chocolate milk! It took me a few hours of being horizontal, but I finally felt up to going to the hotel bar. Beer did not sound good to me and my lovely bartender was nice enough to go find some chocolate milk.
Looking back, the race didn’t go exactly as planned, but I am so proud of myself and The Professor. I ran a PR and he completed his first marathon! My finish time was almost 3 minutes faster than my 2012 marathon: 4:42:44. Justin was able to recover and finish the race running in 4:54:47. The Savannah Marathon course was very flat, and I especially loved the half marathon course. I would definitely recommend the race to anyone. A lot of people have been talking about the negatives, but I believe the race organizers and volunteers did an amazing job, despite the weather challenges. Savannah is a race I would do again in a heartbeat, especially if we can eat brunch at the Funky Brunch Cafe again 🙂