It started the way most of my running adventures start, bouncing texts back and forth with a friend until it snowballs into something epic…
Rock’n’Roll sent an email (that somehow got past my spam filter) offering $29 off a race on Leap Day, so I texted my friend JJ asking if she wanted to meet in Savannah for a marathon. Run a little, drink a little – the perfect weekend! A few weeks later I realized the Raleigh marathon was the day after Savannah. It was too perfect not to ask…drive back to Raleigh after Savannah and do a double?
I’d like to think it was a whirlwind moment of insanity in which we signed up all willy nilly before we had time to comprehend what just happened, but we both signed up for Raleigh weeks later. We knew what we were doing, I think. I even convinced my friend Don to come along too.
Long time readers remember Don from the infamous CMM 2011 Barbie Blog
My training was horrible and not at all what it should have been for the double. Surprise! I stuck to doing a marathon or 50k every month and pretty much doing what I wanted in between races. One of these days I’ll really train, I promise…
November came fast and before I knew it, I was picking Don up from the Raleigh airport and we were heading down to Savannah to meet JJ. Other than idiotic parking, everything went really smoothly and we were able to eat, get our packets, and drink some beer without much trouble.
We spent most of the day in complete disbelief of what was about to go down. All 3 of us probably said the same things over an over because it was so consuming -Were we really doing two marathons in two days?
I slept well, but woke up just before the alarm. The hotel provided a free shuttle and had a very runner friendly breakfast well before 6 am (seriously impressed – Hampton Inn I-95 North went above and beyond) and got us to the race start before any port-a-potty lines had formed.
My race plan was to meet up with CLTrunner’s wife and do a few miles with her and her friend, who was doing her first marathon with Team Determination. Both ladies warned me they’d be slow, which made me smile because I’m usually the one warning of my slowness. The goal was to take Savannah slow, and attempt to negative split it. Is there a better way to negative split than to walk/run the first two miles??
The only downside – starting in Corral 21, which put me over 20 minutes behind the clock. We knew it’d be a warm one…I just hoped going slow would help me deal with it.
The first two miles with Mrs CLTrunner and her teammate were the best of the race. It was nice getting caught up in the awesome nervous energy of a first marathon, esp when the person has fought hard and overcome many obstacles to get the the start line. If I didnt have 2 other people waiting on me to get back to Raleigh, I might have just stuck with them the whole race. But I had a double to complete, so I left them at mile 2 hoping to catch the 5 hour pace group before the finish.
The next 10 miles were pretty uneventful. Compared to TCM, the lack of crowds and pretty scenery was even more apparent. I went into a bit of a zombie mode, not noticing much other than how graded the streets were.
We split from the half marathoners and onto a highway overpass. The direct sunlight was a bit of a shock, and things quickly started to heat up. I wasn’t feelin so great as I crossed the half mat in 2:28:39.
Luckily I started passing a lot of Maniacs…I paused to talk to each one before passing them, asking if they had seen the 5 hour group…and hoping someone would come with me on my search. No one took the bait, but at least I was able to cheer for some people during the upcoming out and backs.
Finally around mile 16 I spotted the 5 hour pacer. She was coming towards me as I was on my way out to a turn around. I said “I’ve been looking for you!!” and gave her a big smile. I got a blank stare back, which should have been a sign…but I made note of when I saw her, got around the cone and determined she was a little over half a mile ahead of me.
The chase was on.
The maniacs I had passed earlier all cheered me on “The 5 hour group just went by, you’re gonna catch her!” It took a lot of self control to not just push it, but I was smart and enjoyed the next few miles through Savannah State University. This section was by far my favorite of the 2nd half. Student groups were out cheering and we got to run around a track, which felt like heaven after 18 miles on concrete and asphalt!
It was hard leaving the stadium…the energy was just so great there…and the first steps back on the hard surface was hard. I wished I was on a trail. Finally around mile 20 I caught up to the 5:00 pacer. We compared watches, and I was a good 6 minutes behind her, so I hoped to just stick with her and slide in under 5 according to plan. She said she was doing 11:27s, which sounded easy enough and I shuffled behind her.
She had lost her whole group and she wasnt talking. After almost a mile Garmin showed us at an 11:09 avg, so I asked if she was doing a run/walk since it was so off. I don’t think she realized I was there because it took her a few seconds to realize I was talking to her…she said she was walking the aid stations…and then she took off!
WTF pacer?? You’re pacing nobody, do you really wanna run with the sign for no freakin reason??? Why be a pacer when you’re freakin anti-social. We leap frogged and each time I attempted conversation, but I felt like I was in one of those trail races where the other back of packers are trying to drop me so they’re not last. Bad pacer!! I’m still annoyed with it…after spending 20 miles thinking it would be better once I caught her – IT was WORSE!
Other than the messed up pacer – it was getting REALLY HOT. it was about 75, which sounded ok except for the sun and complete lack of shade. The sun was really beating me up! I worried about my Team Determination ladies and hoped they were enjoying the suck more than I was (they rocked it, BTW!).
I kept looking at my watch and wishing I was a TCM…not only was it cooler…but I kept thinking “If I was at TCM, I’d be done by now!” It just sucked and felt like a death march. Somehow I made it to the finish…and, like always, seeing that made it all better.