Race Review: Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Well, I’m a marathoner! It feels pretty bad ass to be able to say that and now I have a whole new appreciation for people that run marathons. Whole. new. appreciation. I’ve been trying to think about what to write in this post and I almost don’t know where to start. Let’s just say the race didn’t go like I planned and I’m still a little sad about it.

But I’ll go back to the beginning. Saturday morning I had a 4:00am wake-up call to get ready for the race. I did that thing I do which included taking a self-portrait.

And stuffing 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my running top.

Speaking of those sandwiches, I ate half a sandwich at Miles 4, 8, 12, and 16. I wanted to eat half at Miles 20 and 24 too, but the thought of another one after Mile 16 was making me want to punch small children. At Mile 22, I forced myself to eat two more bites but that was all I could take so I ditched the rest.

Ok, back to the morning. Michelle, Dan, and I headed to the Savannah Mall where all the buses were picking runners up to take to the start. I was freezing and worried I had underdressed for the race.

Traffic was a little heavy, but once we parked we got on a bus right away without problems – around 6:00am.

That’s when the lines got longer. We heard from others that the buses weren’t exactly organized at first and a few drivers got lost. Thankfully we missed all that.

The bus ride took about 40 minutes and once we arrived at the start, we hit up the porta-a-potties. That line took another 30 minutes. During the wait, I made Michelle take a picture of the sweet throw-away sweater I “borrowed” from my friend K.

No Good Will needed. Just ask your friends for embarrasing clothes.

I also found Brad during that time. Brad and I are in the same training group and have a similar pace so we run most of our training runs together. We were all in Corral 12 and by the time we were out of the port-o-potty line, 9 corrals had already started the race. So, Michelle, Brad, and I ran to get into our corral and made it just in time to take a couple pictures before we started.

The start of the race was surprisingly awesome. An entire bridge was closed for all the runners so there was no bottleneck. The rest of the course was rather unimpressive. Very little of the course was scenic and we ran through some questionable neighborhoods. But all the residents of those neighborhoods were out cheering for the runners which was amazing. They were an extremely supportive community. 

Mile 3: We ran into Allison, who along with her boyfriend, may be the cutest people I’ve ever met. Then, Brad and I saw at least 6 people from our running group, Marathonfest, which was fun.

Mile 4: I wondered what the BFDeal was about Rock ‘n’ Roll races. I’ve heard from everyone how awesome they are and this one wasn’t even in the top tier of awesome races.

Mile 6: I started having left shoulder pain that I thought was because of my Camelbak. I didn’t use my Camelbak during the race, so I guess it’s just me?

Mile 7 (I think): We ran through downtown Savannah which had the most crowd support. My favorite sign from a spectator said, “something inspirational.” I thought that was cute and it gave me a good laugh during the race.

Mile 8: Left knee pain started. It felt uncomfortable at first and wasn’t constant. So when I didn’t feel it, I could cruise along at a 9:30 pace. When I did feel it, I dropped to an 11:00-12:00 pace.

Mile 8 or 9:  Michelle, Brad, and I saw Dan along the course. I know it was for just a second since we were running by, but it was really awesome seeing someone on the course cheering for you. That was a first for me. So, all of you runners that have people willing to go to multiple mile stops for you – consider yourself lucky!

Mile 9: Brad and I walked through a water stop and Michelle kept going. So we lost her.

Mile 11.5: We split from the half marathoners. My shoulder was hurting, my knee was hurting, and I never wished so much that I had signed up for the half instead.

Mile 13.1: Port-o-potty stop. I wanted to stay in that port-o-potty forever so I didn’t have to finish the race. <— words I never thought I’d say

Mile 14: Everything was going to shit. I kept thinking about my 24 mile training run that was so much easier and how I finally worked out all my stomach issues and now I have a shoulder and escalating left knee problem out of nowhere.

Mile 18: Brad and I started taking more walk breaks. He wasn’t doing so well so he told me to go on without him if I thought I could still make a sub-5 hour marathon. So, I did.

Mile 19: The only mile during the whole race where I felt great. No knee pain and my energy kicked up a notch.

Mile 20: Walk breaks aplenty.

Mile 21-24: These miles were on a deserted highway with no crowd support and no bands. The highway had a lot of steady inclines  and a nasty headwind that just took everything I had left in me. My knee was so bad after Mile 20 that I felt if I didn’t stop to walk, that my knee would have buckled under me. So for the remaining miles, I ran until my knee couldn’t take it anymore and then walked.

Mile 25: I started to cry. Not because I was about to finish my first marathon, but because my shoulder and my knee were killing me and I finally realized I wasn’t going to make a sub-5 hour marathon after all. I can’t even talk or write about that mile without tearing up.

The last 2/10’s: I was tired but my knee was surprisingly ok right at the end. So, I ran through the finish because there is no way I was going to walk any part of it. I was finally a marathoner and it was kind of bitter sweet.

Although I was properly rested and hydrated, I didn’t feel awesome at any point during the race. I put in 5 hard months of training, I finally solved my stomach problems after a year of making friends with race port-o-potties, and I get taken out by a knee problem I’ve never had before. I never even hit a wall. It’s just that $%#$& knee that held me back.  <—- insert your own expletive

By the way, Brad finished too. He didn’t want to take a picture, but I made him. 🙂

Around Mile 14, I was sure I was never going to run another marathon. Now, I alternate between never wanting to run another one to wanting to run another one while I’m still trained so I can prove to myself that I’m capable of my goal.

On one hand, I’m so proud I finished something that most people in the world can’t do. On the other hand, it’s hard to accept that I couldn’t achieve my goal, and with all the time involved in training, who knows if I’ll get another chance to find out.

Overall, I had a really great time in Savannah. And I can’t even tell you how awesome Dan is for driving us to Savannah, back to Orlando, and all around town all weekend. The guy is a freakin’ saint. We also had some really fun blogger get togethers that I’ll tell you about in another post. So, thank you Michelle, Dan, and Brad for making my first marathon weekend so memorable! It’s really amazing to have supportive friends with you the whole way. No way I could have done it alone.


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64 responses to “Race Review: Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

  1. Sue

    I was also at the Savannah race! I ran the half marathon. Congrats on making it through your marathon. Be very proud of yourself! The part that annoyed me was towards the end of my race, when we were forced into a really small path towards the finish line. I couldn’t pass the slow ass people in front of me–dammit! But it was a great experience.

  2. I know how you feel about being disappointed. I ran my first in 4:41 and my 20 mile training runs (I did 3) were done at about a 9:15-9:30 pace so I thought for sure I could pull a sub 4:15. Nope! It all went to hell for me too and it was brutal. It took me a long time before I looked back and was happy that I DID IT. You’ll have redemption 🙂

  3. Love your honesty and openness here hun! I know all about setting goals and expectations and well…. they not come to terms. The main thing to focus on is you DID finish, you DID the training and you figured otu the stomach issues. New knee pain is well… a pain… but once that’s sorted I can only see another marathon in your future!

  4. That’s a fantastic time for your first marathon. I know it sucks to not meat your goal, but just think of all the shit you put up with in this marathon. If you only have half of those problems in your next race, well, who knows what you could do!

  5. Congratulations! …and I started to tear up at your Mile 21-24 para..maybe it’s early or maybe I’m a sap, too. Hope your knee and shoulder are doing better today. And, you did it! Whether or not you complete another…you know you can! Woohoo! I can tell you, I don’t have a desire to do a whole marathon…maybe someday a half…maybe.

  6. You. FINISHED. The freaking marathon. I am so, so impressed. Way to push through it.

  7. You ran a great race, girl. Be very proud of yourself, MARATHONER!!!!!

  8. Dang Girl, Congrats! It may not have been all you dreamed of, BUT YOU RAN A MARATHON. For those of us who are elated when we can do 4 mi on an elliptical, that’s pretty amazing.

    Don’t let your expectations get you down. You did it. CHEERS.

  9. Congratulations Paula!! Even though things didnt go as planned, you still finished which is a HUGE accomplishment! I think its awesome that you kept pushing through it all and made it to the finish with a smile on your face. And now there’s nowhere to go but up since you know what to expect 🙂

    Boo for random knee pain. The same thing happened to me during my first full. It felt like someone was stabbing me in my knee and I’d never felt that kind of pain before.

  10. Congrats Paula! Those highway miles were BRUTAL we all agreed on that. Some guy even died on the highway. No joke… it was really sad.

    Anyway, I hope you are ecstatic with that time, for your first marathon with a difficult ending portion, that is amazing. And you’ll run another ;-). I know it stinks when your training runs go better than the race, that happened to me for my first too, but it just leaves room for improvement on your next!

    Congrats MARATHONER!

  11. Eh, forget the time thing. You freaking ran 26.2 freaking miles when you could have quit. Nobody is ever going to ask them how long you took to finish it (and if they do kick them in the shins and pummel them with one of those giant tires you toss about during your workouts). It’s like the old joke, what do you call the person who finished last in their class in med school? Doctor.

  12. Connie

    Oh Paula, I’m so impressed! Great job!!!!!

  13. I can’t begin to tell you how much I understand this post…I finished about a minute slower than I wanted which was the difference in breaking 4 hours- for some reason I see suchhhh a huge difference in those numbers…so automatically instead of being proud of myself, I’m dissapointed. But if you think about it that way- I dont’ think you’ll ever be happy with your time cause you’ll always want something better- the way I see it- you finished in 4 hours and 65 minutes- congratulations!!! The fact that you ran for that long and had the strength to finish despite your pain is incredible…and I was also on the internet looking for another one to prove myself right away 🙂 Amazing job on your first marathon you should be so so so proud of yourself!!!

  14. Brad

    Hey Paula…you did AWESOME on Saturday! I know I wouldn’t have done so well those 18 miles without you (I would have dropped out at mile 16 when we couldn’t pass the SPEED walker). I say we sign up for another race and do this thing in under 5:00!

  15. I am so, so proud of you — I will most likely never run a marathon because I know how much commitment it takes…and how much emotional strength! My nightmare is that something will go wrong on race day, so I’m really, really sorry that your knee was a beeeeeatch.

  16. Why the heck am I tearing up? I’m super proud for you! Even though I felt great during my run, I immediately signed up for another marathon…something I SWORE I would never do. Now what I have 20 miles this next weekend, I’m thinking that was not such a great idea!
    I think your finish time rocks for your first marathon and knee and shoulder pain! Hold your head high and be proud of yourself. You’re a badass!

  17. Paula, you are truly amazing. YOU RAN A F—ING MARATHON!!! I actually said to my mom on Saturday afternoon that I was thinking about running one–because you inspired me! (Love that something inspirational poster, too). So, put all the BS aside and just be happy that you did it. I’m sure your next one will be better. 😉 XO

  18. Way to go Paula!! Congratulations!! Don’t stress too much about the time – it was your first, and you finished, which is more than most people can say. I’d keep an eye open for a redemption race and kick its ass, after you kick your knee’s ass for being such a bitch to you. You know you have it in you for a killer race, so I say go for it. But for now – relax, recover, and rehydrate with tons of delicious vodka. You’re a marathoner damnit! 🙂 Congrats again!

  19. You are awesome. That is all. Eventually the disappointment over missing your goals will probably ease some but you’ll still be left with one kick-ass fact — you’re a marathoner! That plus all the training you put in makes you one tough chick!

  20. I have to agree with you about the course- it wasn’t anything to marvel at. And the last few miles on the highway sucked major balls. But you pushed through and made it to the finish line which is no easy task! You’ve got the rest of your life to do another marathon and feel great about it!

    Congrats on the finish! You’re a marathoner!

  21. runeatdatesleep

    First of all, congratulations!!! Secondly, I know exactly how you feel. I thought I had it all figured out when I ran my first, and then I got beat up by huge ass blisters on my feet. Didn’t see those coming at all. So, I know the feeling of disappointment, but believe me, it will pass. So proud of you!

  22. you just never know how a race is going to pan out no matter how awesome or crappy your training runs were – you are a freaking MARATHONER – CONGRATULATIONS!! 🙂 that alone is rock star status!

  23. amber lavinder

    You finished! Way to go! When we split from you guys at mile 11 I wanted to give all of you a huge round of applause for even having the courage to continue.

    The course wasn’t anything special. I was sad about that but the support was amazing like you said. Also, I saw that sign that said something inspirational. It made me smile too 🙂

  24. YOU DID IT! You did SO WELL. Marathons are so hard – they really push you to the limit. You didn’t give up, and you are smiling in all of your pics. You were ready, and you did great. Amazing job, Paula!

  25. Laurie

    Congrats Paula!!! You did it and did a great job!! Awesome!

  26. I am in awe of you for even finishing. I can’t even imagine how tough it would be to get through a marathon. I understand though, if something came up that prevented me to do as well as I planned I’d be a bit bummed too. Still, HUGE congrats Paula!
    Also, you look super hot in all your race pictures, meow!

  27. Katie G

    You are the bomb diggity. I am amazed at your determination and commitment.

  28. I think this is the most honest marathon recap I have ever read. I’m really sorry your knee pain bogged you down 😦

    I’m super proud of you! A marathon is a marathon. It’s freaking hard, and that’s why only 1% of the population can claim to have done one.

  29. First, congratulations on becoming a marathoner!! Just think how many people will never be able to say that in their life. Second, even with your hurt knee and shoulder, you finished that race and that is something to be proud of! I have been there in a race (not in a marathon, but I am sure the feeling was similar) and it sucks. But you finished, and that’s all that matters. That and you lived to tell the tale 🙂

  30. Just to echo everyone else, YOU ARE A MARATHONER!! That in itself is damn impressive. I’m sorry you didn’t meet your goal time and I know how frustrating that is – but give it a few days (or weeks) and you’ll want to get back out there and try again. And I’m sure you’ll crush it! 🙂

  31. You are SUCH AN INSPIRATION and I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!! Congrats Lady! You are a MARATHON RUNNER and that is an amazing achievement!!!!

    For what it is worth, (and I know that you are disappointed with your time, and I am truly sorry that damn knee pain got in your way!) you have given me hope and inspiration that I too can do this. I loved following your journey and I am SUPER proud of you!

  32. Lee

    I think you did great, but I know the feeling of not making your goal. I did one marathon in 2007 and it took me 6:30 which was not what I expected at all! (It was like a freak heatwave and I ended up walking a good chunk of the last six miles.)

    I love how you have PB sandwiches in your shirt.

  33. Congratulations on running a marathon! That is awesome. I can’t even fathom doing that. I totally understand the disappointment on the time, but you are a MARATHONER! Rock on!

  34. Chuluotababe

    Congrats Marathoner! I was thinking of you on Saturday morning when I was trying to run one mile straight without stopping.

  35. I’ve got nothing more to add than everyone else. You did finish! You did PR! I missed a sub 5 hour in October by 2 minutes (2 freaking minutes!), and it just about broke my heart, so I get where you’re at. But give yourself a rest (especially that knee) and then Fire. It. Up. You have it in you. It just wasn’t your day, and that’s ok. By the way, I was DYING to find out how you did all weekend–I kept checking twitter and your blog. Congratulations!

  36. i know that someone saying “don’t worry about your time… you RAN A MARATHON” probably doesn’t help how you’re feeling, but that’s all i could think when i read your post. YOU RAN A MARATHON… and that’s totally badass. i almost died after the half, so i bow down to you. and yanni.

  37. Congratulations on running a marathon! I don’t think I could ever run that much. Don’t worry about the time. You ran a freaking MARATHON! 🙂

  38. I was waiting for a recap, I was hoping you didn’t die! I am seriously so proud of you. I’m running my first full in a couple of weeks and had been following your training and seeing how it compared with mine. You’ve inspired so many people and us stranger readers out there love you!

  39. Well fuck that shit. Don’t you just hate your body sometimes? Well regardless of what you decide to do, you can only get better and at least you know you are a baller at the half. See you in Vegas for running redemption!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Stefanie

    Congrats Paula!! You are a marathoner!!

  41. Congratulations Paula! I’m sorry about your knee giving you some crap. You pushed through though and showed that race who’s boss!

    I say take a few days (at least) before deciding whether to do another one or not…no need to rush a big decision 🙂

  42. I can certainly understand feeling disappointed in not reaching a goal you had for yourself…and even more so when it resulted from something SO unexpected. I still think you’re awesome though! You’re a marathoner!!!!!

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  44. That’s the crazy thing about races. It’s ONE day and you can have perfect training and something silly will come up on race day and take you down. I say go for it. Run another one and take it down. The same thing happened to me last year. I ran Chicago 15 minutes over my goal and finished with the determination to set it right. I signed up for a marathon 4 weeks later and PRed with the goal I wanted. You just never know, another day may be your day. BUT all things considered, you still ran a freakin’ marathon!! Woo HOO!!!

  45. MARATHON!!! You ran a freaking marathon!!! I know you have some disappointments but I hope you will look back and realize you did great! Even with all the hindrances (the bastard knee and shoulder) you had a GREAT time.

  46. Oh girl… Congrats you made it through pain, doubt, anger, blood (maybe?), sweat, and tears!!! It would take me 8 hours (if that) to complete a marathon! You are a rockstar never doubt that 😉


  47. David

    CONGRATS Paula! So proud of you for reaching down and crossing the finish line! That’s a major accomplishment itself for a first marathon – you rock!!


  48. Congrats on your race, lady! Loved the honesty in your recap. Marathoning is freaking HARD. It sucks a lot of the time. It’s pretty well worth it in the end, but there are so many moments of self-doubt that you wonder if you’re really even alive while running. Regardless, I hope you celebrate the eff out of the race because it’s a marathon no matter how bittersweet. And yes. You should do another!

  49. Congrats on your race!
    Each race I run gets easier but the first is always really difficult. Now that you overcame that hurdle that you know you can do it, if you decide to run another, it can only get easier. At least mentally.

  50. Congrats on being a marathoner!!! I’m running my first marathon in 2 months and you have been such an inspiration. I’ve loved following your marathon training journey. 🙂

  51. I really hope my comment doesn’t get lost in the 54 before mine. But reading your recap REALLY inspired me to take that next step and CONSIDER an actual marathon. Even though you hit a lot of tough spots, you FINISHED!!! Which is awesome. Congrats – hold your head up.

  52. The last time I had shoulder pain like I think you are describing it turned out I needed a new sports bra. That may or may not be helpful.

    Congrats on finishing!! Despite all the blah, you powered through and you are a marathoner!

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  54. MARATHONER! I’m so proud of you girl, reading this recap made me tear up cause I had major knee issues on mine — I can totally relate. But when its all said & done you finished & that’s all that matters. You’re a badass. You’re in the 1%. And you’re awesome!

  55. Tameika

    Congratulations on becoming a marathoner! I know you had some unexpected issues and didn’t quite hit the mark you expected, but you became a part of an exclusive group of tough and dedicated athletes. Congratulations again!

  56. Kristianna

    Having not talked to you about the race yet, this is the first I’ve heard. While I was reading this story (and wiping my eyes), I didn’t have one single doubt that you would finish the race no matter what. That’s just who you are – you don’t give up. Ok, it wasn’t the experience you wanted and that really sucks but, damn girl, you have so much to be proud of. You did it. And you can do it again. If you finished after all that shit the first time, just imagine what you might be able to do next time. I look up to you (you know, cuz you’re so much taller).

  57. Oh my goodness Paula, you are a marathoner, congratulations on such a feat! I know there was a lot of blah mixed in there, but you still charged through and that is what matters 🙂

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