The 2016 Savannah Women’s Half Marathon is now in the books, and what a great race it was! It marked my 13th 13.1-mile race and was also my debut as a pacer. As I shared before, I was very nervous but at the same time really excited to be the 2:30 pacer. It was my first time having this responsibility and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The events leading up to the race started on Thursday at our local Fleet Feet store. New Balance hosted a special ladies’ night out where laughs and bubbles where floating everywhere. It was fun to share with fellow runners and it definitely got everyone pumped for the weekend.
On Friday I had to work in the morning so I didn’t head to the expo until the afternoon. Like last year it was very organized and had a unique feeling since they do it at the ballroom of the Hilton DeSoto hotel instead of the traditional convention center. Besides all the coloruf New Balance shoes they had some great local vendors like Dancing Dogs Yoga and Nourish, a great brand that makes all natural body care products. I got a couple of huma gels for my long training runs and a little fair trade eco-friendly bracelet made from African seeds.
That night we decided to get a couple of pizzas from Papa Murphy’s for dinner and I knew it was not a very smart move but, since I was not going to be pushing myself, I didn’t worry too much (I get the veggie pizza, no cheese on gluten free crust… yummy!) After the overload of sodium and a few glasses of water, I laid out my clothes like I do every night before a race to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
Race day came and a huge storm was passing through Savannah. I’m one of those people who loves running in the rain. It makes me feel free. Alive.
At this point I’d have usually eaten a toast with a banana and some nut butter but I was so stuffed from the pizza that I sipped on a cup of warm water with lemon and some coffee. I got dressed and headed out. Ten minutes into my drive I knew I had to hit the porta potties as soon as I got to the starting line but I also knew that there was going to be a line and the race was only thirty minutes away. I decided to stop by the gas station really fast and continued my journey… Again, I knew the pizza was not a smart move.
Parking was surprisingly easy. I walked to the coffee shop on Forsyth Park and met with my friend Julie who was also pacing. At this point I realized that the staples from my pacing stick had fallen so I was just hoping I could get some tape to make sure it wouldn’t slide down, but I didn’t.
I went to the starting line and got to my spot right on time. There was so many people and the energy was so contagious! I talked to a couple of the girls that wanted to run with me and off we went. For some of them this was their first half marathon, others were veterans and just wanted to improve their times.
Oh! Did I mention that by the moment I stepped of my car the rain stopped? We got blessed with a cloudy morning, very little wind and some humidity.
The whole race went great. I stopped at the first porta potty really fast because I just chugged a bunch of liquids that morning (not smart) but caught up with the group pretty fast. I also had to fix my pacing sign a few times but it wasn’t a major issue. The course was beautiful because it mainly goes through downtown Savannah and Ardsley Park, a beautiful old neighborhood surrounded by oak trees and Spanish moss.
It was so energizing to see so many women running towards a common goal: crossing that finish line. The support that we had along the course from other runners and spectators was just an incredible reminder of how powerful we can be when we empower one another.
After running for a couple of hours, mile 12 came around… Time goes by so fast when you are having fun! I told the girls that were still with me to go ahead and give it all they had. I crossed the finish line in 2:29:03, we did it! I got my medal and hanged out at the finish line for a little bit. I waited on my sister in law who was doing her first half, listened to the band that was playing in the park and walked around the farmer’s market… What a great way to start the day!
Being a pacer definitely surpassed my expectations. It felt really good to help a group of strong women achieve and even surpass their goals. Giving back to the community and to the things that make us happy is always a gratifying experience. I look forward to next year’s race and hopefully to more pacing adventures in the near future!