Savannah Women’s Half Marathon Recap

2016 Savanah Women's Half Marathon Race Recap and Review

I had an amazing weekend in Savannah with Carrie, Christina, and Angie! This was the second year of this race, but I couldn’t tell it was so new. The race is small, about 1400 half marathoners, and the logistics of this race was a breeze!

The days leading up to race morning, we were very concerned the race was going to get cancelled.  When we went to bed Friday night, there was a 95% chance of thunderstorms through 10am.  The race organizers said that they would delay the start an hour at the max, but would keep us updated through email and social media.  It stormed its ass off overnight…torrential downpours woke me up several times!  However, the rain cleared up by 6am, and left a warm and muggy morning behind it.  It was around 70 degrees at the start with 100% humidity (not exaggerating here).  The sun stayed behind clouds most of the race, thank goodness.  In the summer, my body runs in humidity all the time and while not pleasant, my body gets used to it. However, this was only the second or third hot and humid run of the year, so I just wasn’t physically acclimated to it yet. I knew going into the race that my performance would be impacted and running by feel was even more important than ever.

My coach and I decided this race would be used as a “fitness test” of sorts. The plan was to race it to see where my fitness is after several weeks off of hard training. I’ve never been great at running races just for “fun”, so I was glad to have a purpose going into the race. I thought I’d realistically finish between 2:15-2:20, but would have been pleased with anything under 2:30.

Our hotel was only a few blocks from the start, so we got to the corrals only 30 minutes before the gun. After a quick bathroom break and selfies, we were off!

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Miles 1-3: 11:06/10:57/10:42

My goal was to start slow but not ridiculously slow.  I know that my body always feels sluggish the first 3 miles so I just tried to keep it at a pace slightly above conversation pace.  The first mile was really crowded but it thinned out a bit by mile 2. I had planned on taking Powerade at the first water stop, but they only had water there, which was disappointing. I had a bottle of water I was carrying with me, so I passed on that. There was a nice breeze, but I still felt really warm by the end of mile three, so I took my gel then instead of at the end of mile 4 like I had planned.

Miles 4-7: 10:46/10:42/10:14/10:22

I tried to maintain my pace until mile 5, then told myself I would pick it up if I was feeling good.  I definitely felt like I got into a rhythm during miles 4 and 5. Miles 6 and 7 were clearly faster, but also uncomfortable and I was concerned that I was pushing it too hard too soon.  I took my second gel at the end of mile 7 and was really starting to want the race to be over.  I started thinking about the pool at our bed and breakfast and decided I was definitely getting in once the race was over. Looking back, I may have pushed it a little too hard these miles.

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Miles 8-10: 10:43/10:28/10:53

I walked through a water stop at the beginning of mile 8 and made a friend named Patty.  It was her 40th birthday weekend, and she told me it was her second half marathon, her first was back in October and she finished it in 2:35.  She was going for a big PR (and was clearly on track) but was struggling a bit.  Her friends had drove up with her from Tampa, but dropped out of the race because of the rain potential. Instead, they were along the course cheering her on, but she hadn’t seen them since mile 2.  I slowed down and chatted with her and pushed her along.  When we got into mile 10, I told her this was going to get hard but I’d be happy to stay with her to help push her and we were going to pick it up and really take it home, and she welcomed it.  Truthfully, having her next to me helped me push, too.

Miles 11-13.1: 10:12/10:14/10:11/2:05

We picked it up, and these miles sucked.  These miles sucked so bad.  Did I mention they sucked? I poured water on my head through the stops and didn’t stop to walk through most of them, I was just holding on. The last water stop, around the end of mile 12, my new friend found her cheer squad and she stopped to say hi to them, and told me to keep going, so I did. During the last mile I was feeling rough and kept telling myself it was almost over. Then….MY IPOD DIED!!! This has never happened to me in a race before, especially when I needed my music so badly. Luckily, I knew I had to be close so I chugged along. I tried to sprint when I saw the finish but got lightheaded so backed off. I crossed the finish in 2:19:36, and was really glad to be done! I’m sad I lost my new friend and didn’t reconnect with her after the race, though.

I met up with my friends and we celebrated our races. Both Carrie and Angie managed to get huge PRs (6 and 7 minute PRs!!!) despite the conditions, so we were all very happy with how the day went.

2016 Savanah Women's Half Marathon Race Recap and Review

Celebrating post-race!

After celebrating at the finish, I got my dip in the pool, and it was GLORIOUS!!

2016 Savanah Women's Half Marathon Race Recap and Review

Carrie and I soaking our legs after the race

Overall Thoughts: The conditions definitely impacted my performance, but I was realllllly pleased with what I was able to pull out. I am honestly not sure I could have shaved much more off. If I had to do something different I probably would have taken another gel around 10 or 11, but I only brought two with me.  When I compare this race to the race I had last July in Chicago (which also had unseasonably warm/humid temps), I can see how much I’ve grown as a runner.  This was different in that it was not a goal race, but I still feel like I would have approached the race the same even if it was.

I really liked this race despite the conditions.  I thought it was well done, and all the out and backs were SO FUN since I had three other friends running the race (and most of the race, we were within 5-10 mins of each other), so at each out and back I got to see & high five Angie, Christina, and Carrie. This happened probably 3 or 4 times during the race.

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Going into this race with the mindset that it was a fitness test was just what I needed for it to have purpose. I would have had a hard time pushing without that. Also, meeting Patty on the course really helped. I think had the weather been closer to the 40s/50s I probably could have come in around 2:15. My race in June should be in similar conditions, but hilly, so this was a great benchmark heading into training for it.

Loved: This was very well organized despite being a small race in its second year. Each water stop was well stocked and well manned. Leading up to the race, there was ample communication about their plans in case of inclimate weather. The boutique expo was small but very relevant to the women running the race. I also love that we got a very nice bag instead of a T-shirt!

Criticisms: I would have liked to have seen sports drink at each water stop, as well as chocolate milk at the finish. Also, I was not impressed with the medal….I think it may be the least attractive one I’ve earned.  These are small things though, the race was still great!

2016 Savanah Women's Half Marathon Race Recap and Review

The race was just what I needed to get my motivation back. Once I decided that this was no longer a goal race, my training became really lackluster. I’m really excited to get back at it!

If you’re looking for a great spring half marathon that can also be a girls weekend, I would very highly recommend this race! We had an amazing time in Savannah and would definitely do this race again!

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Jess

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