The Savannah Rock n' Roll full and half marathon took place Saturday, Nov. 7th. Those of us who ran it since its inception in 2011 were given special race bibs to highlight that we were legacy runners celebrating its 5th anniversary. We were making history! Oh the irony, because this race was about to leave a lasting legacy of angry Facebook rants and posts to come. I hope it doesn't turn away runners from wanting to run in our beautiful city. It was just definitely an off year.
Because I had just completed the TCS New York City Marathon the weekend before, I ran the half marathon with the intention of just having fun - no pressure, no sweat - except I crossed that finish line completely drenched in sweat! Pouring loads and loads of sweat! I'm not weather man, but it was safe to say that it was 100% swamp ass weather and it was by far the hottest RNR Savannah yet! I'm sure if I had specific goals on setting a PR, I would've been devastated and angry. However, my plan was just to take it super easy on this run. On top of that, it was my birthday weekend and the Competitor Group gave me a big ole birthday pin to wear for race day and I wore it proudly! My goal was to have an enjoyable 13.1-mile jaunt along my home turf, joined by the company of 20,000+ runners...oh, and to also find beer and mimosas on the course. I already had it mapped out with friends in Gordonston, as well as the 13th mile. Oh yes! I was prepared to get my chug on!
On race eve, I set aside a long-sleeve tee just in case I needed it in the morning. In the last 4 years, we've bundled up in layers at the start line and would gradually shed our clothing before the race started - shivering at the start. That morning, I woke up and checked my Weather Channel app and saw that it was in the low 60s, but with the humidity, it felt like it was 71 degrees. Wow - this was at 4:30 in the morning! No need for my long-sleeve tee. It was going to be a hot day! The Savannah RNR Facebook page had even posted up a notification about a Heat Plan. I'd never experienced anything like this before. This weather was definitely not typical for race day. We usually have cool, crisp weather perfect for running - especially with this one serving as a Boston qualifier.
I noticed that I didn't have any of the usual pre-race jitters the morning of the race and realized it was because I took away all that pressure of trying to PR. Man, it felt good to be able to relax and take in all my surroundings. The only nervousness I had was preparing to sing the National Anthem to kick off the race - in front of 20,000+ people! Gah!! Terrified that I would goof up the lyrics, I had my cheat sheet ready! It went very smoothly I must say! It's been a dream of mine to be able to sing the National Anthem to kick off the race and it finally happened! Here's to hoping they invite me to do it again next year! After I sang, I joined Corral 3 and waited for our wave to start.
Many people think that the race runs through all the pretty historic downtown areas that you typically see in travel brochures or filtered Instagram posts, but the reality is that we run throughout ALL of Savannah - the pretty parts and the not-so-pretty parts. However, the folks that live in the not-so-pretty parts of town are out there showing just as much support and love for the runners. It's a nice sight to see.
Ugh, how can I already be soaked in sweat and we haven't even reached the first mile marker yet?! The humidity was unbelievable. In efforts to stay hydrated, I made pit stops at every single water and Gatorade stop (as well as anyone offering beer along the course). Later, I would find out that many of these stops would run out of water and/or cups for the runners in later corrals. Yikes! Not good. Competitor later issued an apology.
As I ran past rowdy spectators, one even dressed as Forrest Gump, I held up my birthday pin, screaming obnoxiously, "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY WEEEEEKEEEEEND!!" and was rewarded with a chug of some nice cold Coors Light. Classy! I was having a fun time, despite the heat and was enjoying the sights running through parts of town that weren't part of my usual training routes. I even struck up a few conversations with fellow runners throughout the course.
As we headed into Gordonston, I saw a runner down. I remember saying out loud, "Oh no. Oh no. No, no, no." There was a concerned crowd standing around him as someone on the ground was giving him chest compressions. We alerted residents that a medic was needed. As we notified the residents, I saw another group of runners help out another runner who was about to faint. He was completely spaced out. This was getting scary and it was only getting warmer and warmer. Competitor would later call the race and divert runners to the finish due to the heat, as well as local medics and EMT staff being inundated with emergencies along the route. Not many completed the full marathon. Many were angry and took to social media with furious rants on having their race cut short. I agreed with Competitor in shutting the race down. Not too many people know when to listen to their bodies and will push ahead at any cost to finish. I know because I'm one of those people. However, since I ran the half, I wasn't affected by it. I finished before they shut the race down. I saw many of my friends struggling that day and my heart went out to them. It sucks to train all season long for race day conditions to be so poorly The humidity killed that race. Mother nature, you!!
Despite the warm temperature and the awful humidity, I still managed to finish the half marathon in under 2 hours. As I said earlier, I didn't put any pressure on myself and the intent was to just go out and have fun - and that's exactly what I did. I stopped to take pictures, guzzle beer, chat with friends, and walked some with runners who weren't having such a great race day. As I crossed the finish line, the commentators recognized me from singing the National Anthem that morning and stopped to interview me. I felt like a rockstar with my big ole birthday pin still hanging on for dear life on my tank.
Overall - the race was a great experience for me. I'm sorry that the weather didn't cooperate this year and that it left many with a bad taste in their mouth on the Savannah Rock n' Roll. However, this will always be the race that initiated my running and I'll keep with the tradition of running this race that I strongly believe started the movement of runners in our city!