Well hot damn. Has it really been ten days since I ran the Savannah RNR Marathon? Coulda fooled me. These days are flying by. I’m pretty sure school has something to do with that. And the fact that I’ve written 3.5 papers in the past week. Mmhm. That explains why I’m just now recapping the race.
Seriously though. No excuses.
I am busy.
You know this. I know this.
Nevertheless, I have things to say. I want to capture the events of this race before the emotion leaves my head… because trust me. There was a whole lot of emotion during this run. That is why it is currently 1AM and I am whipping out this recap. Because if not now… then who knows when I’d get it done.
So if you want the hard facts… here they are:
Fact #1: I ❤ Savannah. And need to go back and visit it during a not-so-crazy-busy weekend.
Fact #2: The race atmosphere was awesome. Crowd support? incredible. The course itself… well, let’s just say it was definitely lacking. Six miles (or whatever it was) on a legitimate highway does not scream “ideal marathon course”… at least, in my eyes. Exit ramps and on ramps? No thank you, sir.
Fact #3: The actual marathon itself? It went great for me. Heck, I even PRed (but let’s be honest, that’s not too surprising considering my 1st marathon was on a notoriously hilly course, and this course was as flat as a pancake).
Fact #4: The race was full of many ups. But also many downs. Oh my word, were there ever downs. But I will get to that in my actual recap of the race. I’ve been thinking all week how to describe it. In fact, I’m still at a loss for words. But… the emotion is still there. It’s all still very tangible. I just wish I could express it better. I’m sure it’ll come with some more time. And I’ll talk about it in my next post. So be sure to check back. For now, that’s all I can find to say.
Anyway, I want to touch on the Race Expo in this post.
Ryan and I left for Savannah mid-morning on the day before the race. We dropped Happy off at her little doggy-paradise, and continued our way South to Georgia.
Our drive was quite smooth (no flat tires this time!) and without traffic, and we pulled into Savannah around 3:30PM.
We bebopped around the downtown area for a little bit. Savannah is a darling, little town. Truly, it is
But then we realized just how many people were also doing the same thing. In this little town.
I present to you…
Ah yes… see that bridge there? That bridge led to an island. An island that was the home of the Convention Center – the building that was housing the packet-pickup. A place where all 23,000+ runners. Plus their families. And their cars…were wanting to get to. If you look super close in that picture, you can see bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Ryan and I actually avoided that traffic (I’ve heard stories that people were sitting in their cars for hours waiting to move…just even a few feet… to get across to the other side) by parking on the Savannah Side of the river on River Street.
At this point in time, we actually hadn’t realized that we had to somehow get ourselves across the river. We were under the impression that the convention center was on our side of the river. Turns out, we were way wrong.
See that white building across the river?
That’s the convention center… AKA, our destination.
I guess this was their idea of a pre-requisite obstacle course to obtain the darn race-packets and race-bibs. Survival of the fittest, right?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough room in my duffel-bag to pack my snorkel-mask… (because, duh, I brought my entire running wardrobe instead, remember?). So, instead of heading back to our car to sit in that lameass traffic, Ryan and I decided to be adventurous and take the ferryboat across the river.
So, we stood in line for about 45 minutes and waited for our turn to board one of 2 ferryboats carrying people across.
Fortunately for Ryan, there was a lot to look at going on around us.
Like these really big boats…
I, on the other-hand, did what I do best… and entertained myself by going clicker-happy with the camera.
And I guess I took some normal pictures, too. You know… some of the historic (and probably important) buildings on River Street
Ryan and I were lucky we got in line when we did. By the time we boarded the ferryboat (around 5PM, I’d say) the line we were waiting in had quadrupled in size. I kid you not, folks. I’m afraid that the city of Savannah was a bit ill-prepared for the mass amounts of people (and cars), that tag along with Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons.
Nevertheless, we were finally on our way across the river, sans flippers.
Once in the convention center, Ryan and I weaved our way to check-in where I picked up my race-bib.
Then we made our way through even more people, and somehow ran into my buddy, Raul.
I honestly have no idea how he managed to spot me and Ryan, but I’m so glad he did.
You see, Raul’s story is quite the inspirational one. Just last year, Raul weighed something that was close to 300 pounds. On November 8th of last year, he decided he had had enough, and he was going to turn his lifestyle upside down, revamp his daily habits, and regain his health. Over the course of a year, Raul lost nearly 100 pounds and now is in the best shape of his life… not only physically (because let’s face it, he’s rockin’ a bodyfat % in the mid teens) but also mentally.
From Raul himself… (re: his Facebook page):
“One year today ago I began my lifestyle transformation journey with Nick & Memi Goings. Since then we were able to experience what may seem as unobtainable results. From a max of 16 pushups to a full set of 70 controlled pushups, No chin up capability to 10 unassisted chin ups, an official weigh-in of 292 lbs to seeing 209.9 on the scale, 18 lbs of lean body mass increase, body fat down from 44%+to 17%, from 1-3 minutes on a stair-climber where my heart reached 200 bpm… to running a 1/2 Marathon with running coach Kelly Fillnow with my HR 165-170 bpm in 2:21:01 minutes. Today marks the start of the year to follow which I know will continue to bring more focused accomplishments. I’m so thankful for the change we all have access to if we just allow ourselves to experience it to the fullest. If you have any questions please ask. May today be the start of you’re very own lifestyle transformation journey.”
Raul is a production guy by trade and has been having his film-crew document his entire journey. This past July, I was introduced to Raul by one of the upper people at my worksite, the YMCA. He had been working with one of our wellness directors and was utilizing my office for his “check-ins” once a week. So over the course of a few months, I really got to know Raul (and hang with Nick Goings, a running back from the Carolina Panthers, several times as well. Ya know…No biggie. Actually, it really wasn’t. Because I totally don’t follow football. Nick got a kick out of this).
During one of my conversations with Raul, the topic of running came up. When I told him that I enjoyed running, his ears perked up. When I told him I had run several half marathons and a full marathon, and was about to begin training for another full marathon, his eyes lit up. I knew he wanted in on the experience, so I told him some more about the race. The next thing I knew, Raul was dead-set on running the half-marathon – a goal his former-self never dreamed of achieving.
Needless to say, when we saw each other at the Expo, there were hugs abound. This race, and that weekend… (being exactly one year from when set out on his lifestyle transformation), was a big deal. He set me up with his camera crew and we had a little mini-interview, and of course… we chatted about our nerves for the race.
And of course, a photo-op happened.
After our little prerace pow-wow, Ryan and I continued zigzagging our way through the Expo.
To put it simply… we were underwhelmed.
This race expo didn’t hold a light to the Flying Pig Expo. And I was greatly surprised, considering it was a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon, after all.
The vendors, overall, were okay. There were lots of different nutrition bar samples (the Snicker Marathon bars were awesome!) sports-drinks samples, and clothing booths. But… there was something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on. Perhaps it was the fact that one of my blogger-friends, Heather, was not able to make the event to work her her RunningSkirts booth due to an unexpected illness? That’s gotta be it (missed you, Heather!).
Ryan, on the other hand, found himself a neat little gadget that I still don’t quite understand how to use. And then we stumbled across yet another opportunity for a photo-op. So of course, this happened:
And with that, our Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo adventure was over. Proooobably not worth the 3-hour roundtrip. Just sayin’.
Our journey back across the river was much smoother. We only had to wait a fraction of the time that it took to originally get across, because at this point, the city had recruited one of their big touristy boats to shuttle people back and forth. Once we actually got across the river, I understood why.
The line we had originally waited in? Yeah, it was even longer than when we were shuttled over ourselves. Twice as long.
By the time we made it back across, it was 6:30PM, and the Expo was supposed to close down at 7PM. Needless to say, there were quite a few unhappy people still stuck in line. Thankfully, the people in charge of the Expo extended their hours until 8PM… but rumor has it that the vendors up and left once 7 rolled around. Hopefully they’ll fix that next year.
Once back at our car, Ryan and I headed to find some dinner. My heart was set on pizza somewhere, but at this point, we just wanted to grab something and head to our hotel and check in.
We spotted a Subway, ordered two foot-long subs, and headed to our hotel to check-in (finally!). We stayed at the Holiday Inn Suites, located in Pooler, GA… a good 20 minute drive from the downtown area.
The staff was super nice and the room was pretty dang accommodating (seriously now, whyyyy are hotel beds always so damn comfortable?). The lobby also had these amazing cookies waiting for us (okay, maybe not just for *us,* but we still felt special). Homemade or not… whatever. I don’t discriminate (and neither does Ryan). They were ooey and gooey and had chocolate. Perfect night-cap before a big race.
Before we headed to bed, though, I wanted to make sure we knew where we were going in the morning. I know I mentioned in my last post that my biggest worry was not in regards to the run itself. Instead, I was most concerned about transportation to the start-line race-day morning.
Word on the street was that the roads leading into downtown Savannah were all going to be closed (for the most part, anyway), so racers were being strongly urged to take the semi-mandatory shuttles leaving from a local mall 20 minutes outside of downtown. Considering the fact that the city was such a clusterf*ck (that’s for you, mom. I didn’t say it) earlier in the afternoon, I didn’t want to risk getting lost in addition to what was most likely going to be horrendous traffic.
Ryan…being the prince charming that he is (I’m saying this in all seriousness, y’all) was more than willing to help extinguish my race-morning fear of getting lost on the way to the mall. So, at 9:15PM, we headed out for a “test-drive” to where the shuttle pick-up was supposed to be.
Let’s just say, it’s a good thing we did this little “test-run.” (I’m sure you know where this is going).
The route we drove took us directly to the mall… but upon further investigation (read: driving around the mall-parking lot, total highschooler-style), we realized it was the wrong mall. Apparently, Savannah has two pretty big malls on the same dang road, just a few miles (but with stoplights, a good 15 minutes) apart.
Once we realized that the lack of busses was not a figment of our imaginations… (and that there was, in fact, a second mall on the same road – seriously, who does that?!) we kept on truckin’ until we located the second, and more importantly — correct, mall.
And with that, we spotted some busses.
Feeling at ease, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s (HA!) sleep.
Except… I was too pumped full of excitement to fall asleep. So instead, I tried on a few options to run in, and Ryan sleepily gave advise on which race-day outfit to wear.
Once I made my final decision, I set out my clothes and race fuel (and breakfast and snacks for the bus) on the floor so I wouldn’t miss ‘em come morning. After a long soak in the bathtub, I finally headed to bed around 12:30AM.
For a 4:15AM wake-up call.
Yeah. So much for a good night’s sleep.
It’s a good thing I had an amazing night’s sleep the night before the night before the race. They always say that’s the most important night of sleep, anyway.