On July 31, I registered on-line for the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
But, months before that, more than one person said, “You should run a marathon.”
I was quick to let each suggester know that, “I don’t even like to DRIVE 26 miles!”
In fact, I don’t even like to drive more than 4-5 miles!
After each suggestion, I began to wonder if I might be able to run a HALF-marathon.
I have run around 1-2 miles every day or other day off and on for decades. There have been times of hiatus, but I have probably run almost as often as I have taken breaks. It was this past January that I registered for a 5K (3.1 miles) at the tow path. I hadn’t plan to run it. I got up one Saturday morning and saw a Facebook status by a friend who was encouraging her husband who would be running that morning. I thought I would give it a try. It had been quite a while since I had run an organized race. My goal was to run without stopping. I had not run three consecutive miles in ….. well …. the last race I remember was one I entered with a friend in Albany, Ga around 2004, I think.
That chilly winter morning, I made it down the tow path and back …. without stopping. I reached a new goal in distance and in stance.
And that was when I began to think that I might be able to finish a half marathon …
if I was diligent to train, train, train.
I have a friend who mentored and encouraged me for a while. Walt loves distance and was kind to slow down and let me join him on some of his runs. I still remember the morning that I ran somewhere between four and five miles. He headed home to get ready for work and I decided to try to make it to eight. And I did it!
I was thrilled … and quite surprised, to be honest. I didn’t expect running eight miles to be that easy.
That was the morning I knew I could do a half marathon.
I started using RunKeeper in December of last year. It is an app that tracks distance and speed with a plethora of sports including running and cycling. I added the Jeff Galloway training app on August 1st to help me prep for the half marathon. Jeff Galloway was an Olympic runner and has been a coach. His coaching/running technique is based on a style of movement where you alternate running then walking. I already exercised this way, but his app gave me structure.
When running, you will “hit a wall” where you feel like you just c.a.n.n.o.t run another step. Often, that wall is at the point of your longest distance covered in the past. So, if you’ve run as far as 12 miles in the past, but today plan to go 13, you’ll “hit a wall” around the 12 mile mark. Because of this natural reaction by our bodies, Jeff pushes you to train PAST your goal. His app has runs of 13, 15 and 17 miles before the half-marathon event. I ran 13 on September 13th and 15 on October 6th. (I choose not to push my body to the 17 mile mark at all.)
I’ll be honest in telling you that I felt like I had “peaked” and “tapered” too soon. There should be a time of rest for the body before the race, but I worried that I had rested a bit too much between October 6th and the race date of November 3rd. I had done some running, but not as much as “normal.” I a.l.w.a.y.s struggle with lethargy in the fall/winter. I believe I can attribute this lack of motivation to continue aggressively pursuing running to my annual fall slow-down.
Glory and I headed to Savannah on Friday afternoon. We arrived with plenty of time to take the ferry across the Savannah River to the convention center for my packet pick up. There was a fantastic health expo set up with all sorts of gadgets, clothing and goodies for sale. I wish I had a pocket full of money so that I could have bought a few things. But, I’m pretty choosy about where I’ll drop my money – especially when traveling.
and Glory and I rode back across the river.
I wanted to be in bed early so we
located our misplaced car,
grabbed a bite to eat
and then headed to bed.
I’m usually in bed between 8:30 and 9:00pm.
We didn’t make it into bed until around 10:30.
I’ll be honest and tell you that this made me a bit nervous.
I’m a stickler for getting really good rest.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t rest well at all. We stayed with a friend, Debbie, that I met on a Meet Up excursion to Savannah. It was a kayaking adventure back in July of last summer. In spite of Debbie’s oh-so-comfortable accommodations, neither Glory nor I slept well. I don’t know if excitement was a factor … but I felt like I took cat-naps all night rather than actually truly sleeping.
My lack of full rest, over-zealous tapering and general anxiousness about the race
made me fretful on Saturday morning (which is very out of character for me).
I really worried that I might not do well.
I worried that my “Barbie knee” (my right knee clicks/grinds when I run) would hurt (as it does some times),
I would run out of energy and have to walk the last few miles,
or I would be the very last runner on the course so the police man/race route sweeper
would make me feel a burden for not having finished sooner.
This race, like all races with large numbers of participants, begins in waves. The first wave starts at race time (8:00) with more releases of runners as each group before is on their way. There were 25 corrals in this race. Your estimated time of finish is used for corral placement. I was in the LAST corral – #25 – since I wrote down that I expected to finish around 3:15.
The first mile or two was expectedly stiff. Most people struggle when warming up.
Most of the race route was run through beautiful historic neighborhoods or downtown.
We were heavily shadowed by boughs of moss-covered ancient oaks.
There were printed signs that said “Welcome Runners.” The lamp posts had decorative banners proclaiming the same.
There were comical homemade signs all over the race route that were good for an encouraging laugh.
Some families had music playing and were standing by the road cheering. There was a young man in his yard playing bagpipes as we passed.
There were entire families that included small children with pom-poms, teens, adults and grandparents
sitting in their front yards cheering for us as we ran by. I’m telling you, it was amazing!!
Around mile ten …. I still felt great!
Mile eleven is where I felt most encouraged and began to run a little faster.
What a great feeling!!
I crossed the finish line
without injury …. always my goal.
But, so much better, I wasn’t the last one over the finish line. As I ran there were as many people behind me …
as there were in front of me.
More often than not, I am the 250th out of 252 participants, for example.
In Savannah, I was 9,425 out of 11,131 in the half marathon event! whoohoo!
I was faster than 1,706 other people!
I finished under my goal time of three hours and I wasn’t the last one to cross the line …
but so much more than that …
I had a GREAT time!
I stopped to stretch at least three or four times along the way.
I stopped at every water station … which meant I also had to stop to use the restroom once.
I told people over and over, “Thank You for VolunTeering!!”
I took two videos and a hand full of photos. As I ran, I talked to people who needed encouragement.
I accepted LOTS of high-fives that were offered.
The rule in running is that you should be able to talk (for me, sing) if you are moving at a comfortable, sustainable pace.
So, I sang with my ipod so I knew I wasn’t pushing too fast.
And as I got ready to take off on each “run” interval,
I began that portion with skipping. Yes, I did.
You know what? There are plenty of people who finished BEFORE me
and pushed to make sure they were running their “best time,”
but they would all be hard pressed to say they had more FUN than me!
I ran the race, I got the t-shirt AND the medal!!
The next goal I am c.o.n.s.i.d.e.r.i.n.g :
doing the Ironman 70.3 next September.
Wouldn’t that be an AWESOME birthday present to myself …
to be able to say that I did an Ironman the month that I turned 50?
Anybody want to join me?