The race, held on April 2nd, fell on a very wet and balmy weekend. The weather wasn’t quite as ideal as last year’s. In fact, the Doppler radar showed Savannah completely entrenched in various shades of deep dark green. Ugh, Mother Nature can be so iffy. You never know what you’re gonna get (channeling my inner Gump) and since you can’t control the weather, you can at least take charge of the situation given. I knew I was going to run this thing - rain or shine - so I went ahead and prepared myself mentally to run in the rain (which meant just throwing a visor on top of my stack of clothes).
Well whaddya know? Someone must’ve put on his/her boogie shoes and rocked out a mean rain jig, because although cloudy, the rain thankfully held out for the race. I’m glad because with 70% of runners coming from out of town, I would hate for the race to be canceled and their missed opportunity to run this beautiful course - which by far, is my favorite locally! You are truly running through the prettiest parts of Savannah. Half marathoners run around 12 historic squares, while the 5K weaves around 4. It’s the perfect “run tour” to view the city’s historic layout, rich in architecture with the magnificent homes and wrought iron fences (which inspired the race logo), Spanish moss-draped oaks, lush green trees, bright and colorful varieties of azaleas in bloom everywhere, historic Grayson Stadium, and a finish line right around the iconic fountain in Forsyth Park. Trust me when I say this course is absolutely gorgeous!
Just this week, I received my Runner’s World and Women’s Running magazine subscriptions - all of them highlighting the great Roberta “Bobbi” Gibbs and the movement she made for women in running. In 1966, this 23-year old’s Boston Marathon application was returned stating that “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon.” Boy, did it light and fire, which only made her more hell bent and determined on running the Boston Marathon. On race day, Bobbi hid in the bushes waiting for her opportunity to jump in with the other runners and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Not only that, she ran it fast! She completed it in 3:21:40 - beating more than half the field - wearing her brother’s Bermuda shorts, a bathing suit, a blue-hoodie, and some brand new men’s size 6 Adidas (back then, there weren’t any running gear for women). Wow!
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of when this 23-year old female defiant became the catalyst spurring the movement for women to participate in the Boston Marathon. It didn’t happen immediately. It wasn’t until 1972 when Title IX was enacted and women were officially allowed to run Boston. If you think about it, the first US Women’s Olympic Marathon was only introduced in 1984 (with Joan Benoit Samuelson winning it) and Bobbi Gibb wasn’t even recognized for her three consecutive Boston wins until 1996! Put it into perspective and you’ll see it hasn’t really been that long at all! And now look - we have races that are dedicated to women and in my hometown! Now that’s not to say that the Publix Women’s Half & 5K is only for women. Men are welcomed and encouraged to run it also!
As I finished belting the last notes of the National Anthem, I made my way to the start corral and found my girlfriends. I didn’t set a goal for the race and just wanted to run what felt good to me. No pressure! We had the best time running the race - gabbing the miles away and laughing at our silly selfies along the route. We would occasionally offer words of support to one another, as well as the other runners along the course. We were completely blown away by how far ahead Joy Regina was in taking the lead. She’s a fast one! It was truly inspirational to see her go! We cheered on our training pals who were in pursuit of some impressive PRs and they both killed it! I ended up finishing in 1:54 and I’m pretty happy with it! I felt great at the finish which means I could’ve given more effort. I’ll try it for another half marathon. It’s best to see how I can do without drinking beer the night before ;)