A week ago I shared with you all my Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon Goals and this race blew everything I expected so far out of the water it was amazing.
I was up early Saturday morning for the 7:00 race start. I actually found a decent deal on a hotel with a great location, only two blocks from the start, so I probably could have slept in a bit more; however, I like to have plenty of time on race mornings. I was up at 5:15 which gave me plenty of time to get ready and eat my breakfast at the hotel before heading out. Plus it gave me just enough time to freak out about what to wear, the weather was only 48 (cold for around here), but would be about 60 when I finished. I decided on a super light weight, long sleeved shirt over my short sleeved shirt, because I hate being cold and took off.
I got to the start area about 6:00 which was perfect. It gave me about 30 minutes to relax and stretch in the VIP area (more on that in a different post, thanks RnR) and then made my way to the corral. I wanted to get into the corral about 15-20 minutes early because I wanted to have time to find, and then talk to, the pacer and 2:15 pace group. Since my goal was just shy of 2:15 (2:14:15) I was really hoping it was a good group that I could stick with most of the race. It would be fun to have people to run with and great motivation. I was super pleased when I met the pacer, who seemed like a nice guy with a great sense of humor, and saw that there were a couple really friendly girls in the group who I could tell were talkers just like me.
We waited as they released the corrals ahead of us and then all took off together. The first mile felt good, but it was TOUGH. Within the first mile we came upon lots of people who had obviously started in corrals way ahead of ours, but were walking already. I have no problem at all with people walking, but it was very frustrating, because many of them were in the middle of the course so it was hard to keep our pace group together as we had to weave in and out of lots of walkers. If you are going to walk, move to the side. Nothing wrong with it. (Trust me, I’ve walked more full marathon miles than I care to admit, stupid second half of New Orleans!) I know I personally saw a whole group of ladies with bibs labeled for corral number 18 hopping into corral 5 before the race. I wish people would be more honest about their placement, and that races would watch a bit better to try and prevent this. However, I know it happens at almost every big race. Not much you can do I guess.
In addition to the weaving in and out the first mile, it was too fast. Our group ran a 9:30 first mile when we needed 10:15 splits. So much for starting slow. I was mentally planning to let the pace group leave me and to try and find the right pace myself, I didn’t want to burn out too quickly, when the pacer slowed down to that 10:15. He must have realized he was going too fast. So I hung out with the group for mile number 2 as we ran through what could be considered a rougher part of Savannah. While it isn’t somewhere you’d find on a tourist stop, it was really fun to run through because lots of the residents came out the cheer and everyone was feeling really pumped up.
I was having a great time and really feeling strong. I realized that as the pacer was slowing down to below goal pace, and that worried me a bit. I didn’t want to fall behind especially when I felt so good. So, at the end of mile 2 I made the decision to pull ahead and leave the 2:15 pace group. I still had 11 miles left, but now I was all on my own.
Miles 3-5 I stuck pretty close to pace, just a few seconds faster than I needed. It was not an easy run. I definitely felt like I was racing, and not just out on another long run. However, I kept reminding myself that my goal was to push myself and to not fall into my slow and easy normal pace. After mile 5 I started to gain more confidence. Yes, this felt tough, yes, it was not easy, but I felt strong and the miles were ticking by pretty quickly. I let myself realize that I could do this – I was on track to meet my goal.
Everything changed when I knew that my goal was in reach. I felt more confident and much happier. My pace picked up and I managed to run miles 6-9 below 10:00. It felt good to see 9:something splits that far into the race. The course was absolutely beautiful at the point. Long roads lined with huge Live Oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss, gorgeous city squares complete with monuments, beautiful old houses, and great crowd support. I soaked it all in and had an amazing time.
Around mile 10 things started to get tougher. During my long runs I had been practicing finishing fast and had always been able to pick it up the last mile. Here I really wanted to pick it up a few seconds each mile starting at 10 and go all out for the last bit, but my legs were exhausted. They did not have any pick up left. I had worked so hard for this that I willed myself to keep pushing, keep going, and grind out those last three miles.
The look on my face in the picture below says it all, I pushed and pushed and pushed through those last three miles. Bit by bit.
At that point I started talking to myself a lot (in my head thankfully).
Just make it to mile 11. So close. Just two miles, you can handle that.
Just run to mile 12. Only one more mile.
Try to pass the girl in the purple you got her. Next one. Get that guy in the red…
I felt like I was barely hobbling along, and my legs were like lead. My pace had climbing from a 9:48, but it held steady right below that 10:15 I needed. I was going to do this.
Push Abby, push. Almost there, almost done.
When I crossed the finish line I was ecstatic. I had pushed hard, I had not quit when it was tough, and I had paced myself to not only meet, but to beat my 2:14:15 goal!
Thank heavens for those speedy miles in the middle and being able to grind it out even when it got tough at the end!
With this finish I had officially run my fastest half marathon in almost 4 years, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I am still not near my PR, which is a sub-2. However, I LOVE seeing progress like this and I felt amazing. I truly believe I ran the best race I could run that day. I had nothing left in at the finish, I gave it my all.
Overall, I am really impressed by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon course.
It has been by far my favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll race so far (and not because of the time, though that rocked too) for a TON of reasons.
First, this is a fast course – it is one of the fastest, flattest courses that Rock ‘n’ Roll offers.
Also, the half course is really well laid out – we ran through all sorts of different areas and by lots of beautiful parts of Savannah.
Finally, the time of year is amazing weather wise – November in Savannah is perfect race day weather. This race will be on my list EVEY SINGLE YEAR!
Who is joining me in Savannah next year?
Don’t forget that Rock ‘n’ Blog applications are due by Sunday, Nov. 16th!
PS – As I was walking around the city the next day I heard someone yell, “Hey you! Weren’t you in corral 11? 2:15 group?”
It was the pace group leader waiting outside a restaurant with other members of the local running group. He asked how I was doing, and I was very curious to hear how they did.
The pace group finished 8 people strong in 2:15:17.
He said they had a great time, but I am so glad I left them so that I was able to beat my goal!