More than anything else on Saturday, I missed having a running buddy by my side. I have never been fond of large races and for me they are that much less enjoyable when running one alone. With well over 10,000 runners at the start, you can imagine it was rather crowded and I don’t necessarily like crowds…guess that wasn’t really the place for me. Having said all that, I will say Savannah Rock n Roll did a very good job of managing the runners and all the logistics that go along with it.
My husband and I took the 1.5 hour drive up to Savannah on Friday afternoon and headed directly to the expo. Bib pick up was smooth and quick and I spent a little time shopping there, managing to pick up a new running belt with two detachable bottles. I am hoping this one will finally work for me as I have difficulty finding one with bottles that is comfortable. I have always loved my Spibelts, so I have high hopes this will be the winner. After leaving there, we did a little shopping, had dinner, and settled into the room for the night.
It was another early morning wake up because I chose to buy a shuttle ticket between my hotel and start line to alleviate the transportation issues I knew would be present had I tried driving downtown that morning. Doing so meant standing around the start area for nearly two hours, but it truly was the lesser of two evils. A little before the 7:30 start, I made my way to my corral and actually crossed the official start line around 7:50. From there, it was a relatively uneventful race for me. As expected with the large number of runners, I had to do the “bob and weave” quite a bit around large groups or those who would stop dead in front of me, but all in all, it was not as bad as expected. The on-course support was excellent and there were tons of individuals out to cheer on all runners. That is one thing I do love about this race. It has some of the best spectator support I have ever experienced.
As the miles ticked by and I would glance at my Garmin, I knew I was keeping a good pace and feeling good throughout. I was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the finish line a full two and a half minutes faster than my finish a couple weeks before in Myrtle Beach. I had again posted my best time since my ankle and knee injuries & surgeries well over four years ago. It was somewhat amusing since this is the race that pretty much started that ball rolling in 2011 when I ran the inaugural Savannah Rock n Roll on what turned out to be a fractured ankle.
I collected my finisher medal, water, chocolate milk and various snacks and then made the long walk to gear check to grab my bag and get a warmer jacket on. Then it was all the way back to near the finish to catch a shuttle back to my hotel. While waiting for the bus to fill, I checked my texts and saw Rhonda’s great news!
While, Sue was busy running in Savannah, Lisa and I were doing another Carolina double but this time in reverse. We started our weekend in Florence, SC with the Run Like a Nut Half Marathon which is part of the Pecan Festival. We arrived on Friday and picked up our packet at Fitness Forum. It was quick and easy. After dinner, we relaxed in our room and prepared for the morning. Race morning was a little chilly but nothing that we couldn’t manage. We headed over to the start. We had driven the course the day before so we knew what to expect – at least that is what we thought. Not sure what we drove but it WAS NOT the Half Marathon course! We were actually thankful as that was boring…..this course was through beautiful neighborhoods. I somehow managed to not get my GPS started on time so my timing on my watch was off. We had a great pace going and then at mile 1 Lisa’s right knee buckled. We stopped and then walked a minute but she insisted she was fine. I was feeling really great and just felt like running. I threw the intervals out the window and went with my body. The race was fairly flat until mile 11 when they threw in a few hills for fun. We headed for the finish line and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I FINALLY had a new PR! September 2013 was my last PR. I have only been close a couple of times to breaking it but today, I beat it by 2 min and 15 sec! I was beyond elated! We also found out that Lisa placed 3rd in the age group! A great morning indeed.
We showered up and headed to Wilmington, NC to pick up our packet for Sunday’s race – the Battleship North Carolina. Packet pick up went quickly – once we went to the right building. We ended up in the Civic Center in the middle of the Marine Corps Ball practice…..oops. After getting our packets, we headed to get breakfast for dinner and then to the hotel for a night of disappointing football. Morning came and the temps were much lower than we had prepared for! Because we had to park and then take a shuttle to the race start we left a little earlier than normal. The shuttle went smoothly and we had plenty of time to use the port-a-potty before the race. I chatted with Sid Busch (a fellow Navy retiree who has run over 200 marathons) and we both agreed it needed to warm up quickly!
We started the race knowing that today we were taking it slower, using the 2:30/30 intervals, as neither of us wanted to have any possible injury. Well, 1 mile in and Lisa’s knee buckled again! I knew this was not good. She walked it off and then at 1.5 it did it again and this time I saw the tears forming. I was prepared to put her on a medical vehicle or walk the entire race. We ended up walking for a bit as the bridge we had to cross had metal grates. First of all – I am not a fan of bridges. Secondly – I am not a fan of heights. You could see through the grates! As my knees were turning to jelly, I just knew I was going to vomit everywhere. I didn’t and we made it across without incident. Taking it nice and easy we ran a gorgeous first half with the back half being a tad boring. Then we headed back across that dreadful bridge! I still felt sick as we walked it again. Once we crossed over and the sigh of relief came all I could think about was the finish line and the fact that United States Marines in dress blues would be giving us our medals. My heart hurt just a little as I was wishing my son, Brian, would be one of those Marines but I knew that wasn’t possible. We rounded the corner of the last ½ mile or so we something caught my attention and I saw MY SON’S vehicle parked at the bottom of the hill! It has distinct markings so I KNEW it was his! I was so full of emotion. I hadn’t seen him in a while and with tears blurring my vision I desperately searched the crowd for him. Then with the finish line in sight I saw him! He was standing right past the finish line. I ran through, got my medal and got the best prize ever (even better than a PR) – a giant hug from my son. I was crying. Lisa was crying. It was amazing!
Next up, Sue and I, in true Thelma and Louise style take off on a 10 day excursion together with 7 races in 8 days!