Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time For Some Rock 'n' Roll: Recap Of The 2011 Savannah Marathon

by Bobby Aswell, Jr.

When I first heard that a new Rock 'n' Roll marathon was coming to Savannah, Georgia, I was captivated from the start.  What could be better than running an inaugural Rock 'n' Roll marathon in one of my favorite cities to visit?  With all of its southern hospitality and charm, I knew Savannah would have something great to offer!

When the race was announced, I immediately booked a room at the Inn at Ellis Square in downtown Savannah.  Logistically, it was the perfect hotel located across from the waterfront only 2 blocks from the starting line and 3 blocks from the ferry ride to the expo.

Arriving Friday afternoon, the first order of business was to hit the expo to pick up my packet.  Opting not to deal with the traffic and parking issues, I headed to the ferry for the short ride over to the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.  Luckily, I arrived into Savannah around 2:30 pm so I missed the masses taking the ferry and only had to wait about 20 minutes before getting aboard!

Glad I got there early!  Very long line to the ferry for the expo.
One thing about the Rock ‘n' Roll races, they definitely know how to put on an expo!  I grabbed my number, t-shirt, swag bag, and then proceeded through the expo for some freebies.  While there, I saw almost as many Charlotteans as I did vendors!  With packet in hand, I left the expo, boarded the ferry, and returned to the hotel for a little relaxation before dinner.

Race morning arrived with the temperature around 48 degrees and 43 degree wind chill.  There was definitely a chill in the air and the wind was blowing 13-15 mph from the NNE.  Based on the course map, I knew we’d encounter some headwind but it also appeared that we’d get some tailwind.  Well, the headwind wasn’t shy and made itself known early in the race.  On the other hand, the tailwind must have been in hiding because I never felt it!

At the start bright and early to check things out!
With Joan Jett & The Blackhearts ‘I Love Rock’n Roll’ blaring from the speakers, the countdown began and we were off.  Billed as a flat course except for a ‘noticeable’ hill in mile 21, I was looking forward to a fast race.  However, I was almost immediately surprised when we encountered a decent climb in the first half mile.  That made me wonder what other surprises awaited us!

Since this was my 3rd marathon in the past 21 days, my plan was to settle into a comfortable pace and maintain the effort as long as I could looking to finish in around 3:05.  After a couple of miles, I was on pace and felt comfortable.  The miles rolled by and I was still running well through the half-marathon split off.  At that point, the field became much sparser but I continued running well and was still on target through 20 miles despite the wind that always seemed to be slapping me in the face!

With only a 10K to go, next came the ‘hill’, an overpass bridge leading to a desolate highway we would be running on for several miles.  The hill wasn’t too bad and ending up being the least of my worries as once we hit the bridge, the headwind became much more intense!

Running along what seemed to be a highway to nowhere, Mother Nature must have been getting a good laugh as the headwind was really smacking us in the face!  With nowhere to hide and no one to draft behind, I did my best to maintain my effort but my pace was definitely slowing!  After several miles, we finally exited the highway and thankfully, the wind became less intense.

With a mile or so to go, we merged back in with the half-marathoners in route to the finish.  Slightly uphill, seeing all of the half-marathoners motivated me as I always like having ‘targets’ to shoot for!  With the finish line in sight, I put my arms in the air and crossed the line in 3:09:14, Rock 'n' Roll marathon #1 in the books!

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon #1 is in the books!
After the race, I went back to the hotel to clean up and check out before having lunch with fellow DARTers Marc and Johane Hirschfield who finished the half-marathon.  After scarfing down a ½ pound cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and a couple of cokes, it was time to hit the road for the 4 ½ hour drive back to Cornelius.

Delicious post-race lunch!
Even though I missed my goal by a couple of minutes, I was happy with my performance.  My first Rock ‘n' Roll marathon was in the books and a success!  And, as you’ve probably guessed, it won’t be my last!

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