I had been wanting to run Rock n Roll Savannah since 2012. It was one of the first races I registered for when I bought my first tour pass. My goal was always to run the full marathon, but I came up very short on training time. My longest run had been 17 miles on a treadmill, nowhere near the 20 mile long run I had originally planned for.
When I landed at the airport, we were greeted with lots of balloons and signs. Well, I personally wasn’t greeted, but all of the runners could see exactly how welcomed we were in town. (This is very different compared to some other cities where it seems like we are more of a burden than a welcomed tourist.)
Year over year, the weather in Savannah is a bit unpredictable. On some years it is very hot. Other times it is humid or cold. The race was a bit cold, but it would actually heat up quite a bit during the day. In all of the morning cold weather I totally spaced on wearing any sunscreen. What I also found very odd was that the races were on a Saturday, rather than a Sunday. When I thought more about it, I realized that Sundays were reserved for church, and races would probably cause a significant gridlock in town or a lack of registration.
Since the race was a point-to-point course, I decided not to fuss with race day parking and Lyft. Instead, we bought shuttle tickets. I’d head in to the race via trolley! On race morning, the trolleys were very quiet and empty. For such a large race, I was surprised at how few people there were leaving from Grayson Stadium. (There were three pick up points, so I’m guessing the other places had more pickups.)
Because we relied on the shuttle, I was at the race start much much earlier than usual. It was so early, in fact, that they were still setting up the porta-potties and bananas! You could practically be the first in a clean porta-potty arriving that early. It was fairly cold and I bundled up for the occasion, but decided on a jacket layer that I could remove once it warmed up. I got to watch the sunrise before the race start, which was really nice!
The race was very flat. Having such favorable race conditions, I may have been able to pull off a full marathon but I was glad to have downgraded to the half. When I crossed the start line, I had this unfamiliar sense of dread…kind of like, “Why do I bother with these races?” It was odd, because I had significantly less races this year than the year before. As I started the race, I felt very tired — physically tired, mentally drained. Maybe it was work or my classes, but at the moment, it felt like this race was more of a burden than something to enjoy. As the miles ticked off, I tried to push those thoughts out of my head and tried to reconnect with my breathing and my legs. After all, I get to run and it is a privilege.
The historic downtown district of Savannah is beautiful. There are large homes, neighborhood squares that serve as roundabouts, and lots of Spanish moss! The trees and Spanish moss hang over the skies like a shield from the elements. At the time of this race, Voting Tuesday was among us. In Colorado we are able to mail in our ballots or drop them off early. There had been a significant amount of press coverage about voter suppression in Georgia, and it hadn’t quite landed on me until I saw yard signs for Kemp and Abrams. Running through town and driving along its outskirts, you can definitely make out the neighborhoods that was maintained, the ones that were less maintained, and the parts that were just for show. There were plenty of churches for people to enjoy, both from the outside and the inside. The run through town was a pretty scenic overall and gives you a flavor of the nice parts of town. We did get a chance for a few quick moments to run through a local neighborhood. A few families were out cheering us on and one had even set up a makeshift aid station. The finish line festival was at Forsyth Park. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, and there were plenty of food trucks, music, and drinks to go around. One odd thing was gear check. I had dropped mine off in alphabetical order, but once I got to the finish they had separated out the marathon finishers’ bags and half finishers. Since I still had a marathon bib, my bag got sorted in the marathon truck. It was the first time I almost lost a bag at a race!
After the race, we headed to Tybee Island and climbed up the lighthouse. Being along the coast was a nice change from landlocked Denver. I almost crashed a wedding proposal. My friend was right around the corner and quickly snapped a few photos for the lovely couple. Being at the beach, I really missed the sound of ocean waves and the wind in my hair. Thankfully I’ll be running Honolulu in December and Surf City in February. Additionally, anytime I need to head to Seattle for work I can also spend some time enjoying the seaside.
I’d love to go back to Savannah to eventually run the full! Maybe one day soon 🙂