“What if you just didn’t run the race?” – The Rock ‘N Roll Savannah Half Marathon Race Report

After my big weeknight out at Saloon on Thursday night, I woke up hurting on Friday morning. I wasn’t packed for Savannah. My life was basically in shambles, which is pretty much the case about half the time. I went home to pack before meeting my mom, who was driving down from North Carolina on her way home to Florida and coming to the race with me.

2011-11-04_12-51-51_171 My dog hates me because I’m never home

We got on the road about 1:30 and headed down to Savannah, which is a really fantastic city. However, I already was stressed out about the logistics. 23,000 people were set to run the race, and Savannah isn’t really set up in a fashion that is conducive to that volume of people all converging upon it at once and having to get to the same place all at the exact same time. We dropped my truck off at our hotel in Hardeeville, about 20 miles from Savannah, and then took my mom’s car to the Expo.

I am an excellent navigator, but my mom missed the turn onto Hutchinson Island and that turned out to be a fatal error. The U.S. 17 Bridge over the Savannah River coming from the South was literally stopped traffic for miles with people trying to get to the Expo. We had a brief thought of turning around and joining that line.

2011-11-04_16-06-00_784 I like the way this is going so far.

Quickly realizing that we would never make it to the Expo by 7, when it closed, even though it was only about 4 pm, we decided to take a gigantic detour and try to reapproach the bridge from the North, like we did the first time. After about a 45 minute scenic drive, we achieved glorious victory. I’m pretty sure the same people were still sitting on the bridge. It was such a cluster. RDub should have done a traffic study on this, but seriously, I would think any idiot would be able to figure out that trying to get 23,000 people to one place when there is only one way on and one way off is really not going to work. Strike #1.

We made it to the Expo, where I picked up my number and took lots of ridiculous pictures just to amuse you all.

2011-11-04_17-14-48_769 I’m supposed to be pretending to run. Obviously.

Being that this is a Rock ‘N Roll race, there are all sorts of cheesy places you can take pictures. Remember that I looked decent in the pictures in my last post, because I assure you there is not a single attractive picture of me in this one.

2011-11-04_17-18-04_446 Elvis likes to party.

The expo was PACKED. Easily the busiest one I’ve ever been to. As I am claustrophobic and a general hater of people, I started to freak out and we had to leave.

2011-11-04_17-28-26_226 GET OUT OF MY LIFE

We went back across the river to get dinner downtown in Savannah. It really is a beautiful city.

2011-11-04_17-05-53_510 View of Savannah from the Expo of Death

Instead of fueling up for the race on something intelligent, like simple pasta with veggies, I opted for shrimp and grits. Ever since I ate it for the first time about 2 months ago, I’ve become a shrimp and grits whore. Sorry I’m not sorry.

2011-11-04_18-40-10_531 I can eat a lot, but this was way above my level of gluttony.

Here’s a picture of a street we ran down during the race. Ogelthorpe, I think.

2011-11-04_17-57-06_966 I was trying to capture the spanish moss and oak trees. Instead I got that dude.

We did some logistical planning and then headed back to the hotel to try and get some sleep. 5 am comes early! I woke up reasonably refreshed and ready to Rock ‘N Roll (ha!). We made it to the mall, where we were supposed to get on a shuttle to the start, since there is no parking in downtown Savannah. We got to the mall at about 6 am. The race started at 7:30. Plenty of time, right? Wrong.

2011-11-05_06-34-06_346 One of about 5 lines, all of which were this long or longer. And I’m not even close to the front of the line at this point.

We waited in line very patiently for about an hour. In true testament to my ongoing struggle with bad luck, the buses would pull all the way up to the front of the parking lot and start loading people – aka, the line farthest away from mine. As the other buses pulled in, they would pull up right behind the other buses, meaning there were very few times that enough buses were there at once to make one stop in front of my line. Strike #2. We finally got on one at a few minutes before 7 am. We made it to the starting area at 7:24, and I still had to find my corral. I have no idea how the millions of people behind us in the shuttle line could possibly have gotten there on time, if at all.

Now begins the parade of unattractive photos.

sam_1012 We had time for a quick photo-op with one of the signs my mom made me!

I loved having my mom there for a lot of reasons, one of which is that she could take lots of cheesy pictures of me as I got ready to start the race.

sam_1014 I found my corral, #10, about 2 minutes before it was set to cross the starting line. Whew! sam_1017 The starting line

The race course itself was ok. The first 7 miles were run through predominantly industrial areas, which bore the hell out of me. Strike #3. However, I was consistently amused by the number of workers at said industrial areas who seemed to have left their jobs for awhile to cheer us on. We also ran through some very poor neighborhoods, which I usually like doing because I think it’s important to see all the parts of a city, not just the “nice” parts. The people who were out so early in the morning were very excited to see us, which is always a good feeling.

Around mile 7, I saw my mom. She had made me signs and also had the girl next to her holding one. I really love when people come to my races to cheer me on, but this is the first race my mom has ever come to of mine. I am pretty sure she thought she was going to hate it and find it super boring and annoying, but she did not. I am so glad she came.

From miles 7 to 9, the course was actually really pretty. It was through the historic part of Savannah and the old buildings and huge trees were gorgeous. However, I’m not great about remembering what I see in races. The one thing I really do remember is a guy standing holding the best race sign I’ve ever seen. It said, in reference to the race:

“It’s SO LONG. It’s SO HARD. DO IT FASTER. (That’s what she said)” This is why I need to figure out a way to run with my camera during races, because I absolutely would have stopped to take a picture with that guy.

sam_1018 Apparently, we ran past this fountain. Good to know.

From mile 9 to the end, we ran in residential neighborhoods. They were nice and the crowd support was decent, it was just nothing to write home about. If I’m going to be stressed out of my mind trying to pick up my packet, get on a shuttle to the starting line, etc, I’m expecting course greatness. For me, that just wasn’t the reality here. Also, as some of you know, I have some heart problems that sometimes are an issue for me while running. They have been getting worse lately to the point that now they sometimes  affect me when I’m not running. I haven’t been taking care of myself very well lately (read: not sleeping enough, drinking on weeknights, eating too much Chick-fil-a) and that isn’t really helping my cause. I set off at a good pace at the start, but my heart got so out of whack that I ended up having to walk a good bit to calm it down. Definitely not my best showing, and I wish my mom had been there on a  day when I coated myself in glory, but what can you do? She had a good time anyway because she saw a little person running, which she thought was extremely cool. She said seeing people of all shapes, sizes, and ages has inspired her to pick up running again AND come to more of my races. I knew I would convince her that they don’t suck!

sam_1020 Just after crossing the finish line – putting on my medal!

I felt really terrible and sick when I was done, which is not typical for a half. I don’t know what my problem was.

sam_10211 Check out the roll of posters my mom made! She’s presh.

I went back to that fountain I was supposed to see when I ran by and took a picture with it, since it turns out that it’s the fountain on my medal.

sam_1023 There’s no such thing as too many cheesy post race photos.

I felt really sick and awful after the race, so I had to get the post-race food of the gods – Saltines and Sprite. It should be noted that it is generally recognized that you’re supposed to eat things like “bananas” and “foods with protein” and other “foods with nutritional value” after a race, but usually I’m trying my hardest not to throw up, so Sprite and Saltines it is.

saltines They’re made with sea salt now, so they’re healthy.

The good news from this race is that despite my heart having a fit, my back felt pretty good. I could have done the full if I had to, but I’m glad I didn’t have to. I’ll save that for next weekend. Outer Banks Marathon, here I come!

2011-11-06_09-05-55_491 Close up shot of my race number and medal, because you obviously care.

P.S.  Before y’all start freaking out on me, yes, I am going to get my heart checked again to make sure I’m not dying. I would feel terrible if I had a heart attack and y’all couldn’t read the sardonic vignettes of my absurd existence. Although that would make good blog material…