I rocked. I rolled. I ran. I marathoned ... all over Savannah! And it was...
A-freakin-MAZING!!!!!!!! :) :) :)
I'm actually not sure there are enough exclamation points or emoticons that could capture the delight in this marathon.
Let's see where I left you all on Day One in Savannah. ;)
Ah yes - the alarm clock was set
I actually was able to sleep through the night and NOT wake up every 20-30 minutes checking the alarm to make sure it was set. Maybe because I made Tori and Michelle set their alarms as well JUST to be on the safe side. I would've had a wake up call as well, but for some reason our hotel room phone was defective. I almost walked down to the front desk to ask for a wake up call then realized I needed to get a grip. 3 alarms set was enough. :)
As soon as my eyes opened on that morning, the nerves started to set in.
I actually sat in bed thinking "I can't do this! There is NO way I will survive this today."
Michelle and Tori could see the concern on my face and reminded me that I would in fact survive. I had trained for this day. I would OWN it.
Thank goodness they were there.
Thank goodness for the countless text messages, tweets, Facebook messages and good vibes sent by all of you.
Thank goodness we were meeting my dad downstairs so I had to go to the Start Line.
Once the nerves started to subside, the excitement started to set in.
As we walked to the Start Line, which was thankfully just 1/2 a mile from our hotel, we were surrounded by thousands of other runners.
I LOVE that feeling. When everyone is stretching, checking their garmins, polars and phones to make sure everything is ready for the run.
The excitement of a race is contagious - it's as simple as that.
We approached the Start and we had to grab a pre-race photo. Thank goodness my dad was there to serve as OFFICIAL group photographer.
And then we passed it - the Start. Isn't it pretty? ;)
After we walked past the start, it was time to get in line at the port-o-potties. Well, first I tried to use the bathroom at the Hyatt, but that line was out and around the front desk area so we made an attempt at the port-o-potties.
There were too few port-o-potties for all the runners coming from our side of the Start Line. PLUS, as people tried to get to their corrals, they cut into the bathroom line thus lengthening it or having people lose their spot or a new odd line being started. Also there was just a tiny sidewalk for a port-o-potty line, a path to the higher corrals and people spilling over from the first few corrals.
I know the port-o-potties always seem to be a cluster at the Start, but this was one of the worst.
(Note: as I was walking around the city after the run, I saw a TON of port-o-potties with plenty of room for lines much farther down past the first few corrals. I'm sure many people didn't know about them, but if better adertised some of the congestion may have lightened up.)
It was 7:55 - Race started at 8:00 - and we had made zero progress in the port-o-potty line so I decided to bite the bullet and just head to my corral.
(Note: I had moved from corral 15 to corral 6 at the Expo so my start time would be earlier than originally expected)
I figured that since I was running the full marathon I would be stopping to use the bathroom along the course anyway - might as well just make it earlier than expected.
This was the first Rock 'n' Roll race I've done that had a half marathon and a full marathon so it was cool seeing everyone mingling together in the corrals before the Start.
That 10 minutes before my corral headed to the Start Line passed in a blur.
I was READY once we walked up the Start Line and I heard the countdown begin ...
5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1! GO!!!!
And we were off.
Either way it was marathon time BABY!
The streets for the course were nice and wide. At no point in the run was there any sort of narrowing or bottlenecking - even when running through the neighborhoods/squares of the historic district of Savannah.
The race started at 8am, but the streets were lined with fans/cheerleaders/bands. Older women out in their bathrobes waving to the runners, old men not sure what was going on, but happily smiling to the races and people of all ages setting our chairs on their porches and lawns to settle in and watch the run.
The signs were creative. The bands were working it. The water stops were well stocked. The atmosphere amazing.
I was trying out my new Garmin GPS watch for the race and was wicked happy with it. I loved having the current pace right there without having to fumble with my phone in the armband.
I was shooting to finish in under 4 hours. My ultimate goal was to finish under 3:59:26, which would cut 2 full hours off my first full marathon time in 2006.
This goal meant I needed to keep around a 9:07 min/mile pace. Thank you pace calculator for being my new favorite website. ;)
So as I approached the Mile 3 and caught a glimpse of the 5k markers, I spotted the empty port-o-potty. I figured that was as good a time as any to finally use it. Plus, would I look back at the marathon and really be upset with my 5k split - okay maybe ;) - but at least I'd know why.
Since the full and half marathon runners were all running together until Mile 11, I had to stop myself from getting caught up in the moment and speed my pace up. I had to real myself in over and over again.
Thankfully I was getting awesome text and Twitter encouragement from everyone as I ran that was keeping me motivated and positive. It also helped keep me on pace since my running partner/coach/BFF Sarah kept telling me my pace was spot on!!
It wasn't til I saw this sign...
... that the fact that I was running the FULL marathon hit me again!
Decent pic considering I was trying to run while do this ... full disclosure: this was my 5th attempt at getting a shot while moving. :P
Around Mile 11, the full marathon headed to the left and the half marathon continued straight on to the Finish.
Boy did the crowd thin out at that point. I kinda missed the energy of the larger group, but I was focused on the run.
Here's what kind of stunk. After running through Savannah for most of the half, the full marathon headed to the highway for what felt like a lifetime until we were able to exit the highway and get back to the "neighborhood" run. In real life, it was probably about 3 miles. But the sun started to shine and the heat started to climb as we made the trek along the highway.
While on the highway we hit the half way mark - never thought I'd be so excited to see a 13.1 mile marker. ;) I crossed the line at 1:57:53 - YES! Under goal. At that point I reminded myself: well just need to do that one more time.
But on the other side of the stretch of asphalt was a GREAT run through Savannah State University. I owe one big 'ol THANK YOU to those students! Miles 16-18 were through the campus, including a stretch that went through the football stadium along the track.
The students brought their A-game to cheering. There were high fives, hand clapping, cheers, songs, marching bands, the football/softball/basketball teams and what I believe was the ROTC.
Their energy gave me the boost I needed. As I entered the campus, I thought to myself just 10 more miles remaining - as soon as I stepped past 16.1 - I said less than 10 miles to go/out of the double digits. :P When I stepped off the campus, I had just 8 miles to go. Doable.
Once we left the school, it was time to head back to the highway to get back to downtown for the Finish.
My dad may be the best spectator around. He was able to see me at 4 different spots along the marathon course, which was pretty laid out - so that means the man was hustling!
Once Mile 18 passed, I was really getting good at texting and tweeting while running. Maybe since my pace slowed a little it made it easier. Or I'm just that talented and gifted. See my above picture while moving shot. ;)
But, I needed the support and the encouragement from everyone everywhere to make it through those last 8 miles. I could feel it starting to set in.
The heat was picking up. The sun was shining bright. I was ready to be done.
The doubt once again started to set in at Mile 20. The mile that many say makes or breaks a marathon runner. I can understand why.
But, every time I wanted to stop. Every time I wanted to just give up. Every time those tears started welling up in my mind. I clasped my hand. Why you may ask? Because a wise friend of mine gave me some words of encouragement and I had them written on my hand. Clasping my hand shut made me feel secure. Every clasp made me feel his AWESOME hugs. Every clasp gave me the love I needed to go on.
Thank you Alan (aka Sweating_it_off)/Sweating Until Happy)! xoxo
So as I crossed that 20 Mile mark and I kept checking my pace with Sarah - texting convos are hard through sweat and tears :P - and she kept telling me I was on pace. I was going to do it. I would finish sub-4. So I had to believe...
20.3 on the watch and I realized - this is the farthest I had EVER run consecutively. Hell to the fuckin' YEAH! I was bad ass and ready to finish this thing.
Then I started playing the games with my own mind:
Mile 20 - just a 10k to go
Mile 21.2 - just 5 miles to go
Mile 23.1 - just a 5k to go
... and at Mile 22, I saw my dad - for what would end up being the last time before the Finish - and I got teary again. He was cheering and taking my video and I could tell how proud he was. I just lost it.
I started walking for a moment, settled my emotions and got back to running. I had a goal to beat.
So as we ended back up on the highway I saw the Mile 24 sign. Just 2.2 miles to go...
Once we met back up with the half marathoners that were still finishing, the crowds grew in numbers, the signs were amazing, and it was time to bring it home.
Then there came a hill. I remember turning to the guy running next to me and saying "Can you believe they put a hill this close to the Finish?" For some reason he didn't want to chat. :P
Mile 26 - in all its glory - there it was.
I looked down at my watch and realized I had less than 4 minutes to get to the Finish and accomplish what I set out to do.
Getting to the 0.2 mile shoot ... seeing the Finish Line ahead of me ... everything around me became a blur. I couldn't hear anyone (as noted by a fellow WW Leader who said she was cheering for me and I didn't respond - Sorry Tara!), but of course I noticed that the camera guy wasn't taking pictures as I came up to the "Smile" signs less than 0.1 from the Finish.
Then I mustered everything I could and moved my legs as fast as I could across the finish. I stopped my Garmin and realized - I DID IT!
I threw my arms up with such excitement I could've pulled a muscle.
It was over. Wow! All that led up to that moment.
But, I was too busy grabbing my medal, my chocolate milk, my water and my bars to focus on all of that at that moment. :0)
Thanks Got Chocolate Milk for the Refuel!
Somehow out of all the people, I spotted Michelle and Tori (who were proudly showing off their Half medals) in the crowd. After meeting up with them, I realized I could not catch my breath. I just couldn't get a full breath.
We found a patch of grass, I laid down, took some deep breaths and started to cry. Tori asked me "are those happy tears?" And I assured her they were in fact tears of joy that I couldn't stop from flowing.
But above all there were SMILES
I did it. I officially finished in 3:58:49 - beating my honest goal by 37 seconds. Yup, I took 2 hours and 37 seconds off my marathon time. :)
I keep looking at this picture on my phone and bursting with PRIDE!
I still look at the race info - the pace, the finish places - and I can't believe they are really all mine! I finished within the top 25% in all of the categories - wwhhaaa??? Amazing.
I signed up for this marathon the day I hit my goal weight with Weight Watchers in January 2012 as a way to celebrate. Little did I know how much the training and the experience would truly enrich my life...
I was so happy that Michelle and Tori were there by my side at the Finish...
... as well as my dad throughout the course and at the Finish. I am wicked lucky that he makes the trek to see so many of my important races.
And I also thank my mom who hangs back to watch the pups!
So once I caught my breath and we all located each other at the massive Finish area, we got my medal engraved - a must for me at any race that offers it.
Isn't it beautiful?!?!
So I'm sorry this post got lengthy and probably me rattling on at lots of different points. But for me, this race wasn't about my pace at each and every mile - even though I kept track of those numbers - it was about the experience and finishing what I set out to do. I accomplished yet another thing on my bucket list.
The race course and scenery wasn't everything I imagined. I thought we would be running through more of the 22 squares Savannah had and less time on a highway, but I understand logistics can be hard. The crowds made up for all of that and then some.
So I will leave you with this note in terms of the marathon:
We all rocked, rolled and marathoned through Savannah!
Next post will cover the rest of the day or "post marathon" Saturday!
P.S. If you made it through the whole post, congrats!! Now get a beer - you deserve it. :)