Monday, November 14, 2011

Savannah Marathon: Ripping the Band-aid Off

On November 5, 2011 I ran my 15th marathon. The Savannah RocknRoll Marathon in the beautiful historic city of Savannah. It was my first marathon in the Master's division.
For those that don't care for the boring discourse and details here are the Cliff notes for the cheaters and short attention spans.

Participant Detail
Finished In:
Natalie Fischer
Marietta, GA
Age: 40 | Gender: F
Overall: 258 out of 4741 · Division: 5 out of 423 · Gender: 44 out of 2482
Pace5Km10 Km10 MiHalf20 MiChipTimeClockTime

Here is the links to the photos and video: Link!
And my outfit:

For the past few years , as noted in the sparse but all blog posts here, I have struggled with injuries. In 2009 I ran my 2 fastest marathons and since then I have had:

  • A humbling trail marathon
  • A "Did Not Start" marathon due to an ITBS injury on my left side and pleurisy infection.
  • A "Did Not Finish" marathon due to injury at mile 17
  • A disappointing and painful 3:41 marathon because (of a non running) related back/Si joint injury but nonetheless got me to Boston.
  • A sub par training cycle and disappointing 3:31 marathon due some hip problem on my right side--probably related to the SI joint injury.
  • A 3:55  "training" marathon that was my longest run before Boston for my shortest ever training cycle.
  • A fun Boston experience but nevertheless another sub par training cycle and subsequent 3:33 marathon finish due to the same nagging--now seemingly chronic-- hip problem.
I had told Steph on ride last winter that Boston was going to be my last marathon. I think I said something about giving up running completely and either getting fat or being a swimmer. Steph, of course didn't believe me and said all it would take would be one good race. Well Boston wasn't that race but I didn't give up.

Over the summer I worked on building back some miles and cross trained a lot. Like I don't think I had week since Boston that I didn't log at least 10 hours of exercise with the usual being 14 hours. In August I began training in earnest for Savannah. By mid October I realized that I was on the verge of my most solid and consistent training before any marathon I done. I hadn't been wearing a watch for any of my training so I didn't know where this put me in terms of what I could expect from the marathon--assuming I made it to the start line injury free. And with my recent history, I wasn't holding my breath.

Upon the advice of RW forumites I purchased a watch. I found that I was probably about where I was when I ran my pr of 3:28 in 2009. My hip still was a bit of problem but I was still able to train and was hitting every.single.workout I set out to do. I wasn't having to go do my turn on the spin bike because I couldn't run as much as I needed. I was able to do double runs instead of having to do double spins and an easy run. I didn't have to take an entire 2 weeks off and ride my bike because my hip hurt too much to run. Because, I could just run. It was so awesome. Running had finally taken me back!! And as a result. I got back together with my old friend time and pace. Data, like me, was making a comeback. Fingers crossed.

 On my last  longish run (16.25), about 2 weeks before the marathon,  I was wearing my new old friend  watch and realized that I was sort of just lallygagging it. And I realized that was because I was afraid. I was afraid to really run. I realized that I was always holding back, going easier and slower than I needed to because I was still acting like I was injured. And that was when I really realized: I wasn't injured anymore. 3 months of averaging 55 miles per week? Yeah. That is not an injured runner. So about halfway through the run I look at the watch and figure I am running somewhere in the 8:50s avg. And I tell myself: Rip the fucking band aid off already! You.are.NOT. injured. And so after the terrible steep and long hill end around 9.5 miles I dropped it and picked up the pace the entire way home. It was so awesome and felt so good to run hard and finish with so much left in the tank. Entire run was an avg of 8:20.

Then two days later? I ran a 5k PR (20:39) !  My first pr at any distance since April of 2009. With that I felt I had pretty good chance of running a pr at Savannah. If it was a prefect day I thought sub 3:25 might even be likely. So my goal was to pr but shoot the moon and go for sub 3:25 if the stars were in precise alignment.

I'll advised, but nevertheless I PLANNED to run positive split. I felt this was assurance for a pr and possibly 3:25.  My goal was to hit the half in 1:42xx and then hold on for as long as I could. The only times I have run under 3:30 I hit the half in 1:42xx and 1:41xx.  When I have tried to run even or negative splits and hit the half in the 1:43-45 range I always come in over 3:30. The way I saw it I had nothing to lose. I don't plan on running Boston and even if I did, I know I can blow up and hobble out 2 hour second half. My only option was to go for broke. At this point, I really didn't care if I got broken in the process. I have learned, that with time, I can fix me.

Chapter 1: Best Laid Plans

I wanted a perfect day in Savannah. And I was going to do what I could to make that happen by controling the things I can control. But then a week or so before the race I began to lose my mind in obsessing over the things I couldn't control. Things I couldn't control, i.e; weather,being late because of traffic, shuttles or getting lost, starting my period, food, illness etc-- that would ruin my plan of having a perfect day. Because in my mind, I had ZERO shot at a pr if it wasn't a perfect day. I felt my training, while good, was weighing on the thin line of not just not quite good enough.
Ryan and the kids were staying home for this race and it was to be a girls weekend. Steph, her sister in law Michelle and I rented a little house on Tybee.
 Originally I wanted to stay in town but all those hotels/condos were gone by the time I registered in June. After much communication with the rental places on Tybee it was determined that there would be shuttles to get runners to the race. Since this was inaugural event I tried to make all my control freak plans with the idea that if it could go wrong it would go wrong. In that case you pad everything timewise. We bought early shuttles tickets--5:30 am pick up. Planned to go down to Savannah Thursday at lunch time. Hit expo. Go to Tybee. Spend Friday chilling and eat an early dinner that I would cook at the cottage. Eat at 6 and in bed by 8pm. Wake up at 4 am. Be at shuttle at 5:10. Go to race and run an awesome Pr. That was the plan.

Chapter 2: Thursday
After a week of mad packing, laundry and organizing where kids would go after school Thursday and Friday  and organizing their weekend plans, I was ready to roll. I picked up Steph and Michelle and we were on the road to Savannah by 1 pm.. As we are packing up the car, Doug tells me he got child care for the kids and will be coming down on Friday after he takes them to his parents. I admit that I was a little jealous that Steph will have her husband there to support her but I've run many a marathon unsupported so it doesn't bother me that much.

 It was a rather uneventful drive with the exception of my freaking out about my newly sprouted cold sore. I knew this meant that I was stressed, maybe about to get sick (my nephew had strep) and/or start my period. I tried many times to remind myself to NOT worry about the things I couldn't control. I tried but I was still totally wigging the fuck out.

We go to the expo with time to spare despite my usual navigation challenges. We picked up our numbers. Said Hi!~ to our friends Kate and Joe manning the Big Peach booth.

The cottage was perfect and we unpacked and went to dinner and got to bed by 9pm. Everything, I thought as I drifted to sleep, was going as I would have hoped. Even the weather was looking ideal.  . .

Chapter3: Friday is where it all went to hell
I woke up Friday morning happy. I even got to sleep until 7:30! That never happens. No one is up for a run with me so I go solo. It is a crisp and beautiful morning and I feel awesome. I take this picture around the corner from our cottage when I head out on a road between the marsh to the beach. 

When I got to the beach it occurs to me that this wind might be a big problem if it is this windy on Saturday. But, I think, surely it will die down before then. I run happy down the sidewalks of Tybee's maindrag. See Kate heading to the expo and wave to my friend. This is a great day!
And then,  it starts to crumble. Ryan calls and is frustrated and overwhelmed. He is having a stressful day at work and takes it out on me. I  fall apart a little. I try not to let it bother me and move forward with the days plans: Take Steph to the expo, go to the store, eat lunch , relax and make dinner and go bed and wake up and kick some ass. 

Michelle doesn't come with Steph and I to the expo. She didn't sleep well and wants to take a nap. She also tells us that her husband has surprised her and is also coming down later that day and will be at the race to cheer her on. I am happy for her since this is her first marathon but I am really beginning to feel like the fifth wheel and also feel a little sorry for myself that no one will be cheering me on or waiting for me at the finish.

I have fun at the expo since I don't have to worry about getting my number and shirt and official stuff. We are there early enough that it isn't so busy. I run into quite a few friends too. Here is my dear friend Desiree who I rarely get to see:
And here is Steph manning the GU booth. She is the cutest. 
I wander around the expo trying to find a 3:25 pace band. I can find 3:20 and 3:30 bands but the 3:25 does not exist. A few people encourage me to try for 3:20 but that would be a fool's mission. So I decide that I will just write a few check points of 3:25 in sharpie on my arm. I had printed out a pace sheet from this website that planned a slow start, fast middle and slow fade at the end to get me to 3:25. Which really I want sub 3:28 but I think I can do 3:25 on a perfect day. 

I am tired of the expo and try to convince Steph to come with me but she is having too much fun volunteering at the Gu booth and decides to stay. She says she will catch a ride with Lisa who is coming to eat with us at the cottage. 

So I leave and go the store and buy food for dinner and return to the cottage. I am still feeling emotionally fragile and nervous. I am still upset that my husband is having a bad day and I am off doing selfish things and feel that probably I shouldn't even be here. Then I decide I am probably just hungry and Michelle and I go to lunch:
After a beer and some tacos at the Social Club I  feel like things are looking up.  

Michelle and I go back to the cottage and her husband and son show up. He takes her off to see Tybee and I am left alone. I get everything ready for tomorrow--outfit, check bag, gu's etc. Then I read a little and try to sit outside on the swing that overlooks the marsh but it is too windy. Afterwhile I decide to start dinner. It is after 5. 

By 6:00 dinner is pretty much ready but Lisa  has been stuck in traffic since 4 and still not at the expo to pick up Steph. I do the math and realize even if she gets to the expo now and runs in and gets her number she still isn't going to be at dinner until after 7. During this time I realize I have just started my period. I have a headache, back ache and cramps and need to eat dinner. I proceed to have a complete melt down.   Michelle is kindly trying to peel me off the ceiling when Doug arrives. Men love shit like that right? Doug and Michelle convince me to eat dinner and Michelle advises me to take an Alleve. I do both. By now it is almost 7:30 and Lisa and Steph are still not here. I cover up dinner so they can eat when they get to the cottage. Then I get ready for bed, put my ear plugs in and go and lay down and read my book. 

I hear them come in around 8. I tell them where all the food is and go in my room, turn out the light and try to sleep. I am pretty sure perfect day is gone. I am so sad because I am quite honestly tired of training to have a sub par marathon experience. I sleep fitfully and the thought that keeps me up is why can't I ever have the perfect day? Woe is me. The universe hates. Trust me. I don't even like me. Pathetic.

Chapter 4: Race Day is Here.  Sigh.

At 3:30 am I start contemplating if I can get up yet. I don't want to lay there anymore. I want to move this day forward. At 3:45 I get up and turn on the coffee maker. In the process I wake everyone up. I go ahead and get in the shower since I know Steph will also want to shower before her race. I get dressed. Drink coffee.I eat a bagel with salt and peanutbutter. Have some Uncle Sam's. I feel like crap. Cramps. Aches. I am sad because my plans did not include starting my period 4 days early. I've done many long runs on the day I start and they always suck. I have never had a good run ever on the first day. I feel resigned to my crappy marathon fate. I am annoyed that all that great training comes down to this: Stupid girl crap. 

 Doug tries to cut the nervousness ( I really don't know what he was thinking stepping into a house with 3 women about to run a race.) He encourages me that I can run a pr today. I have absolutely no faith in this notion but nevertheless I write up some of the 3:25 splits on my arm. This is what I write:
Mile 1: 8:18
Mile 4: 31: 49
Mile 8: 1:02:48
Half:: 1:42:21
Mile 16: 2:04:44
Mile 20: 2:35:50
Mile 24: 3:07: 21

And then on my left hand I write "Believe" and on my palm I write "You can." Not you can finish or do it but rather you, Natalie, can believe in yourself. Even writing it I know I don't buy it at all but maybe when I am stupid in mile 23 I will. For good measure I write HTFU on my right hand. 

Chapter 5: Get on the bus!
We are the first people to arrive at the shuttle stop and are first in line. I start worry though that I won't be on the first bus out. I go talk to the guy organizing the buses. I tell him I want to be on the first bus to leave and want to know exactly which bus that will be. He tells me that whatever bus I get on he will make sure is the first bus to leave. I can't tell if he is teasing me but the bus I got on was in fact the first bus to leave.

Once we finally get on the bus and are all seated the driver asks "Does anyone know how to get to the start?" Everyone giggles, nervously. Then he says, " I am not kidding. I also can't read the signs in the dark. I need someone to tell me how to get to the start and read the signs for me." 

Holy fuck do I ever panic. I am ready to bolt off the bus right then but I am blocked by a gentleman who by his accent I can tell English is not is first language. He is also a lot bigger than I am so it would take some gymnastics to get quickly around him. Luckily someone volunteers with their GPS and we are soon off. I am sick to my stomach but the nice gentleman who English is not his first language completely distracts me. We chat all the way until the bus comes to a stop and we have arrived. It is just a little past 6 am! Yay! Early. Now what the hell am I gonna do for an hour and half. 

Michelle runs off --to where I am not exactly sure but she is all the sudden in a hurry. Steph and I huddle close and make our way to the potties. We wander around together and I whine and complain about how horrible my race is going to go. I try to divine it right then for her: First I will line up with Joe and he will be all happy and fresh because he is young and faster than me. And I will try hard to keep up but will be sad because I know I can't do it. Then around 14 miles my tampon will fall out and then a few miles later I will bonk and shuffle sadly the final miles a filterless mess. Steph is laughing but I? I am pretty certain that is how it is going to play out. I do feel better talking about it though. 

Chapter6: Potty Like a Rockstar

We meet up randomly again with Michelle and she informs us that Brook's "Potty Like a Rockstar" is broken. The generator is not working. Figures. We are all together for bag drop but then I lose them both shortly after. It is only 6:30 and I am regretting dropping my bag. It is pretty cold and windy. I still have my pants that I plan to toss. I wander down to my corral. It is empty. The volunteers are dancing. I dance with them and talk to them about the specifics of corral 2. Which is the front? Which is the back? How long do we have to wait, etc. Suddenly I notice across the street a bar. It looks open! Holy shizzle!!! I dance across the street and stick my head in the bar. "Can I come in here?" And several people call out, You sure can! Holy crap, I say, this is AWESOME. I am so amazed that a bar is open at 6:30 in the morning. I ask the bartendar all kinds of questions of what can I have: 
A beer? Yep. 
A Martini? Yep. 
We also have coffee and juice, can I get you anything? 
Uhm, can I just have water? 
Several people laugh. I get my water and cozy up to the bar and strike up a conversation with a man wearing a M dot jacket. He is doing Savannah as a training run for some goal marathon he has next weekend. Huh. Everyone is more hardcore than me. He takes my picture:
And in this cozy warm bar I enjoy small talk with other runners and a bathroom cleaner than a porto potty. Potty like a Rockstar indeed!

Things, I think, are looking up!  At 7:23, with pockets stuffed with Motrin and gu,  I walk out the bar door and hop in corral 2. 

Chapter 7: Ready Set Rock and Roll
I instantly find Kate and Joe. I hug them both. Kate is tired from working the expo for the past 3 days and Joe is promising me that we won't go out too fast.  . . 8:18 I tell them for the first mile! Okay they say!

And suddenly it is 7:30 and we are off!! 

It is still predawn darkness and everything feels horrible. First mile is always the worst. I try to focus on things around me and listen to whatever Joe is talking about. 90's hip hop I think. Or is it chicken and waffles? I don't know. It all sounds terrible. Everything is terrible. 

And mile one is done... 7:35 
We have to slow down! We have to slow down! I yell at them. Too fast!

Mile 2 8:01--yay! back on plan.

Mile 3: 7:44 Okay. I tell Joe I think I am getting a side stitch. Blow out, he says. I do and it goes away. Huh, cool. Thanks Joe!

Mile 4: 7:59 not sure what happened there. Aid station I think. My foot hurts. I am not going to beable to do this. Negative thoughts abound.  Kate and Joe are talking, running on either side of me. I put my head phones in and try to chill out. It is going to be just like that time a few years ago in August and we all three ran 18 at Kennesaw. I got dropped  and sweated so much I sweated out my cell phone that I wearing on my wrist.

 Ugh, I wish my cramps would go away. This sucks.

I check my arm. We are just under my goal. Huh. Maybe this isn't so terrible. Maybe it is okay. Maybe. . .

I think this is the "ghetto" portion. A guy comes out of his row house wrapped in a blanket. He is drinking a Miller Lite out of the can. It is 8 am. Awesomeness! Pretty sure he looks drunk. Hair of the dog, yeah baby! Now this is a Rock n Roll marathon!

Mile 5: 7:48 Hmm, starting to feel like maybe I want to run a marathon today. I think we see Joe's wife over here. Hey Sarah!

I have a gu.

Mile 6: 7:37 too fast. But it feels so good!

Mile 7: 7:48 just perfect

Mile 8: 7:43
Still ahead of where my arm says we should be. I am a little worried but man this course is FLAT!!

Think this is through downtown Savannah. I am having flashbacks of Boston. The streets are stacked with spectators. It is awesome. I feel like I am flying.

Mile 9: 7:34
 Feeling like a rockstar! Joe peels off to pee. I realize that I am going to need a bathroom stop too. Probably the kind of bathroom break I have never had to have in race at any distance I have ever done. I am trying not to freak out about it. It is really too embarrassing of a topic to share so that alone is what keeps me quiet about it. (And yet, I openly discuss it here. I am sure my mother is mortified. Apologies.)

Mile 10: 7:38
 Kate and I are running through a pretty area. I am so happy to have my friend here with me. Things in my GI tract are not behaving and I feel crampy. Stupid, stupid hormones. Too soon stop. Plus I need an open porto potty. I am not wasting time waiting in line.

Mile 11: 7:37
Joe catches back up. He must have booked it. I am impressed and know that I won't be able to do the same after I stop. Must hold it off.  Maybe it will go away.

I have my second gu.

Mile 12: 7:39
The half is peeling off. I look at the guy running next to me. I guess he thinks I am checking him out. I tell him I am checking his bib to make sure I am going the right way. He tells me he likes my pace. It is faster than he planned he explains, but it feels good. This is his first marathon. I don't want to tell him that is not really a good sign. We talk for a bit and his recent half marathon suggest this is actually not a bad pace for him. I point out Kate to him and Joe who right in front of us. I tell him to stick with them. I am going to have to stop for the bathroom soon and they are more likely than me to get him to the finish at this pace than I will be.

I think this is our first tour on the highway. You know I am never good on specifically what happens when in a marathon. I mean, this was supposedly a marathon that had a band every mile. I don't remember a single one of them.

Things that I note on the boring tour of concrete: is that the wind is at our backs and I also notice that at mile 23 we will be on this highway again and the wind, if it keeps up, will be in our face. And I further note: that is going to be a problem. I see that the second tour won't end until mile 24 and I am not sure when it begins.


I'll say this as a former lit major I have long noted the importance foreshadowing can play in story but often if you are not careful, you'll miss it. In this case I didn't miss it. Miles 21-24 were not the surprise for me that I think they were for some. I knew it was coming what I didn't know, or rather underestimated, was how much they would suck.

My pressing bathroom issue was starting to get desperate. No porto potties in sight. I start contemplating my mittens and a bush. Bushes look prickly. Let's hold out til the half. Surely there will be a bathroom at the half.

Mile 13: 7:36
I have surged ahead of both Joe and Kate. Bathroom bathroom bathroom.

Half: 1:41:14 
I am actually thrilled to be ahead of goal. And luckily there is porto potties. I sprint for it. It is a bit off the course so I have to run a little extra to get to it and jump the curb.

Ugh. Horrible. I just watch my time rolling away and there is nothing I can do about. And worse, my divination has come true. I am now "filterless". It really isn't that big of deal but the potential for a mess is there. Either way,  definitely NOT my idea of the perfect day.  But it will probably be okay. If nothing else I am not really motivated to get this done. As I run out of the porto potty a man yells, "Go get em girl!" Embarrassed,  I think about Uta Pippig. Stuff like this even happens to the pros. Well, in her case I guess she didn't stop. I am not that professional.  I mean, no one is going to give me money and laurel wreath when I finish this thing. No need to be totally gross, right?  (oops, too late. sorry!)

Mile 14: 8:52
I must have been sprinting hard because my legs start to feel heavy. Not a good sign at 14. I decide to have my gu early and pull back some. I am disheartened that I ran that hard and my mile was still that slow. Too long of a bathroom break for sure.

Mile 15: 7:34
Trying to catch up to Joe and Kate. I see Kate first on this little lollipop. Then I see Joe behind her.  By the end of the mile I  catch Joe! I am super excited.

Mile 16: 7:54
Dying a little at the beginning of the mile. Joe says it is fine. We are just under 3:25 pace. We can even slow down a little, he says. I am hot and Joe offers to take my arm warmers. Butterfly arm warmers look pretty on Joe.

Mile 17: 7:41
 Screw this going slower crap.I am feeling good again.  Let's catch Kate. Joe thinks I am nuts. He says, we can't even see her. She is gone. No she isn't, I tell him. She only a little ahead. I saw her!  He doesn't believe me. But me? I like to have something to chase. I mean what else do we have to do. Besides. I need to get this marathon done. It could get really messy.

I pick it up and Joe doesn't come with  me on my fool's mission.

But me? I rip the band aid off for good. Let it hurt and  make it quick.

Mile 18: 7:37
 I see Kate. Joe was right. She does seem really far away. But I like chasing her. It isn't that I really want to talk to her but seeing her up ahead gives me something to focus on. What I would like is to run all the way to finish 20 seconds behind her, chasing her all the way home.

Mile 19: 7:48
Kate is closer. Uh oh. She might be slowing. Noooo... I have another gu and hand one to gu who looks like he is pretty desperate for one. He manages a thanks.

Mile 20: 7:54
I catch Kate.

I am so happy to be with my friend but sad that the chase is over.  But worse is I can see she is having a hard time. She says she is mad. Her legs are done she says. Arghh, expo legs.  I feel bad and try to rally her. I offer her a gu.

I am surging ahead and she is falling back. I keep glancing over my shoulder and she is there but not trying to stay with me. This makes me sad. Kate is an amazing runner. A far stronger runner than me so I know she is having a bad day and I hate that for her. I have a hope that she will rally or will probably catch me when I run into the bonk in a few miles. I feel fine but I am certain it is going to go like a light switch at any moment.

I am spot on pace for a 3:25 finish. I know that is not going to happen and that is okay but I really want to pr so the further I get from 3:25 the harder the pr will be to get.  I mean 3:25 could but I can tell I am slowing and I just never really 3;25 was going to happen today.

I feel good but my legs are on the verge of a cramp. I can feel the preliminary twitching that will proceed full on calf cramps. Pushing the pace any faster is going to be a disaster. I start doing my late in the marathon math to figure how slow I can run per mile and still nab a pr. I come up with 8:30. I figure if I keep the final 6 under an 8:30 pace I will skate in with a pr--albeit a very small one. But a pr is all I really wanted. I also know I probably need to run faster than that since I am not really all that great at math.

My cardio is strong. If my legs weren't being so dumb and fat I could totally run faster. My hip doesn't hurt, my cramps are gone (I think I scared my period away), my ITband is happy,  and my Achilles is fine, grr, but those dang calf muscles are on the ledge.

Good news is I am passing a lot of people that had passed me after the half. I know it isn't very nice and I know I am fading too but it does make me feel better that I am doing better than most of the runners around me. But I also know that just because I am not bonking at 20 doesn't mean it won't happen. A lot can still happen in that final 10k, and usually does.

Mile 21: 8:06
We turn onto the Truman Parkway. AKA the highway of broken dreams. It is a bit of hill but the news isn't the tiny hill but rather the 20mph headwind. Holy mother of fuck this is worse than I thought it was going to be.

Up ahead, in the distance I see a very muscular black woman. She looks amazingly powerful, not your usual distance runner physique. I wonder if I can catch her. She becomes my new carrot and the focus that is going to get me the fuck out of this concrete jungle. Asap!

Mile 22: 8:04
The wind is hideous. Still in 3:25 range but it is slipping towards 3:26. I try running over near the concrete barrier to see if the wind will be less there. Nope, no different.  I make the decision  to ease pace. I rationalize that I need to run for effort at this point and effort wise the low 8's are feeling like 7:20's and that is going to be a recipe for ugliness in another mile or 2. I figure, hope 8:30s will be my best bet. It won't be easy but it will be faster than walking and less of battle than it is to hold the low 8's or try for sub 8's. Hopefully with 8:30s I won't totally extinguish my match. I know, I have 2 more miles because I saw the 24 mile maker at the highway exit earlier on the course but I am still hoping that I am wrong and we actually get off this damn highway before then.

 I eat half of a gu.

Mile 23 8:27
 Ughhh. It is so awful.

 An 8:27 mile felt like an eternity! It is runner carnage out here. People are walking, vomiting, some are leaning on each other. I just have my head tucked down and am trying to make myself as "aero" and as efficient as possible. Focus is on form and my turn over. I try drafting by tucking in behind the taller male runners I come upon but it doesn't help at all. Everyone is so spread out. I really want to walk but I keep telling myself walking will make it last longer.

 I finish off my gu.

Mile 24: 8:22

 I see the clock. I lost the 3:25 pace. With only 2 miles left I can't make up a minute now. I guess I am on 3:26 or over but do the math and know if I stay under 8:30 I can still narrowly pr and faster and I might can break 3:27. I check my hand, believe that I can, and I go for it.

Mile 25: 8:11

Stupid legs! Go faster!

I really don't remember much about this mile. During this mile I  do see a sign that says "2k to go" and I puzzle about it. And then I think about the littlest cross country kids and that is their race distance. If they can do it, I can do it!

It is hard to pass people. The half marathoners are fenced off on the other side of the road but they have more of the road than we do. The marathoner side is narrow. I am stuck behind this woman and this man. I really want to pass them but that would require a lateral effort that I just don't think I can manage at this juncture.  Suddenly, the man and woman part to allow me to pass. I am surprised and happy and decide I should make a good showing for their nice gesture. I drop it with all I have got  for the last 1.2 home...

Mile 26: 7:57

 I am grimacing and smiling and elated. Finishline Finishline! Where are you! I see my carrot again. I am on the hunt for her. Miles and time are running out on me. We turn the corner. Hammer, hammer, hammer, catch her, catch her!!! I will not stop trying!

Mile 26.2 1:36
 The chute narrows even more and I swear everyone else is slowing down. I am passing people left and right. Why don't these people run faster? The faster you run the sooner you are done! I weave around people and finally! I catch her and the 10 seconds later pass under the finishline with 3:26 firmly on my watch. A 2 minute pr! I am so happy!

So Savannah was not my prefect stars align marathon by any stretch. It was definitely not my perfect day but I made it work. While before the race I definitely let the little things get the better of me. But during the race  I did not let the things that I could not control ruin me and keep me from running the best race I think I had in me that day. I came to Savannah to run a pr and I did.

What is most amazing to me is that 15 marathons and I still experience and learn something new every time I race. It still isn't old hat.

Here is me and Steph in the post marathon after glow. I luckily found Steph right as she finished. Pr's all around! 3:55 for her!
 I had been wandering around like Milton looking for my red swingline stapler after I finished. My phone was dead and I couldn't find anyone I knew and was on the verge of another wigout. So it was very fortuitous that I found her. We got her bag, changed in a coffee shop that also served beer--, got me a beer, her some coffee-- and went off to see everyone else finish. I didn't have my phone or camera so I wasn't able to take any pictures. (insert sad face) The above is one Doug took when we finally found him a few hours later. It was pretty exhausting walking around after running ( I swear I walked 5 miles after finishing) but I really think it aided in my recovery. My tinman hobble was pretty minor after this one. 
The day ended well with pizza and more beer at Hucapoos on Tybee. Here is Steph and Doug and Harvey .

The End. 

Thanks for reading, that is if you made it all the way through. 


  1. Congratulations on the well earned PR Nat!!! Sounds like there is a sub 3:25 waiting in the near future. Great RR as always. Stay healthy!

  2. Great report, and great job on the PR!! I don't remember how I came to find your blog and add it to my collection, but this was a fun read. I cracked up laughing when you said you think you must have scared your period away. The same exact thing happened to me at the recent New York City marathon -- it suddenly arrived early the day before the race. I was so mad because I knew it would be bad on race day, but suddenly it got very mild and was fine. Hooray for scaring it away!

  3. I wanted it all to go according to plan. For Fri to be easy, for there to be no GI issues, to not have headache, to get to bed early, to sleep easily, to not take any NSAIDs. None of that happened. While I lay awake on Fri, I seriously considered not starting or dropping to the half. Headache was that bad and PF killed from standing all day. Ugh.

    Turned out OK for both of us, though, so there you go. The stars do not have to align (OK, except for Cathy the angel showing up). We just have to not give up.

  4. Does it feel weird to be finishing a full while the announcer is congratulating everyone on a fine half marathon finish?