Post Race Recap: Rock N' Roll Savannah 2015 - Half Marathon & 5K

Hey Savannah, 
    Thanks for all the memories, beautiful scenery and awesome races. My heart goes out to the families of the two runners who died during and after the race. For me, I feel like it's a chance we take every time we step out the door. Life can end for any number of given reasons and at any given time but we can't let that stop us from living. Alright, .. now on to the weekend.
       I arrived in Savannah Friday night a little stressed and even more concerned that I wouldn't be able to pick up my registration packet. The Health Expo closes at 7 and I'm still looking for parking at 6 o'clock. I turned down one of Savannah's beautiful cobble stone roads.... down a steep hill and around a corner that I didn't think anyone should be able to navigate.. and there it was. The Savannah boardwalk/harbor area. I've been to Savannah a few times... but have never been here before. Eventually we find parking and then it happens: as I'm speed-walking back to the Ferry dock, I start to relax. One of the street performers is singing "This little light of mine.." and I join in, "I'm gonna let it shine," in harmony, of course. 
     I'm relaxed, but still no time to finish the verse... we have a boat to catch and on to the Expo.
      Dirty little secret -- Rock N' Roll Health Expos are my favorite because of all of the free stuff. Plus, I consider myself pretty new to running. So, it's nice to see what is available outside of my local running store.
     We make it across the river just in time to pick up our packets and abruptly get kicked out of the convention center. In all of this rush I find out that I had forgotten to sign up for the 5K. I gotta get that heavy medal... and support my wife, Karen, in her first 5K. I also didn't purchase a parking pass.
        Back across the river and to City Market for some food. We ate at this place called Vinny Van Go Go's. Great pizza. I was wearing my patriots hat that night... so the waiter mentioned to me that Gronk himself had dinned there a few weeks ago.  His story was that Rob Gronkowski was with a wedding party that ordered a take out pizza.. then tried to commandeer a table. The story ends with an apology and a $100 tip for all the trouble. 
     Fast forward to Race morning. I know it took me a while to get here. I told you there were memories to be had in Savannah. So, the solution for not having a parking pass on race morning: arrive early, park on the street as close as possible to the road blocks and walk. Honestly that was the best decision made all weekend. I just wish I had waited about a half hour or more to drive in. As it turns out, street parking is free on the weekends... So the spot that I grabbed Four blocks from the start line was perfect. It was one mile from the Start on Bay Street.. and one mile from the Finish Line at Forsyth Park.

     So, I'm at the start line and go through the routine... Porto potty line, gear check, banana, water, warm-up, wait and a quick prayer before the gun goes off. By then, the sun is finally coming up and I had run into more than a half dozen other Black Men Run members. There's always one of us in thr crowd. I always proud to be a part of this movement. 

    So, the game plan at the start with a comfortable and competitive pace in the high 8 minute range then around mile 7 -- pick it up a little and bring it on home for a PR after I hit mile 10. Needless to say, that didn't happen. The weather was about 70 degrees, foggy with low cloud cover at 7am. Pretty good weather right? Well, the sun came out and the temperature quickly shot up above 80 degrees with 90 percent humidity. I'm not going to say that these were terrible conditions, because I've trained in the heat and humidity all summer long. But It's not summer anymore and I think a lot of runners were caught off guard by the quick rise in temperatures. I checked my weather app which told me the temp wouldn't hit 80 until 10 or 11 -- well past my finishing time. 
     Anyway, everyone said it was a pretty flat course... and I agree. There weren't any major hills.. especially compared to Rock N' Roll Raleigh (peace, boylan, dorothea dix.)  Up until mile seven, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I was keeping up with the pacers for my corral. Mile 1, 2 and 3 were all under 9 minutes per mile. Miles 4, 5 and 6 were hovering between 9 and 9:05. Then it happened -- mile 7 was 30 seconds slower. Mile 8 was 8 seconds slower. Mile 9, I tried to recover... but it was too late and too hot. I started dumping cold water on my head. I think I almost drank too much.. because I started to get side stitches. 
     Mile 10 -- a whole minute slower.. and that's when the 2 hour Half Marathon pacers passed me. But that's also where the ambulance rushes past me as police officers frantically make a path through the sea of runners. Then I see an EMT running past me the opposite way with an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator device. From the look on his face... it looked like he was running to help another fallen runner... but I couldn't see where he was headed. Then... just around that corner another runner -- down on the ground with an aide worker elevating his legs and feeding him fluids.
     Mile 11 -- 30 seconds slower. I'm running/walking an 11 minute mile... but humbled, and determined to finish with my health rather than push my body too hard. I'm finally starting to notice that it is really hot. I still wanted to sprint the last mile... but those annoying leg cramps slowed me down again. So, I  finished. 13.1 miles in Savannah Georgia. In a City that I barely know... but I now feel connected to. It wasn't my best finish. But there will be other races. Final Time 2 hours 9 minutes.

    Speaking of which.... the next day (Sunday) it was my wife's turn to shine in her first 5K ever. Karen and her sister Kim signed up for the 5K... and so did I.  But we had completely different weather conditions. 55 degrees.... cloudy, raining and windy. Perfect running weather for me. I wanted to start with my wife...even though I know we wouldn't end up at the same time. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after the half marathon.... but I surprisingly felt great after drinking some chocolate milk and rolling out some of those aches with my TP Therapy foam roller. 

      So the game plan was to start from the back of the pack (corall 8) and make my way up to the front of the pack. I recommend everyone try doing this at least one. It was pretty fun -- well kind of frustrating -- but fun to be able to pass so many people after being passed by so many people on  Saturday -- if that makes sense. It's a confidence builder. So I started off pretty fast, .. and 8:10/mile pace, the second mile... 8:13/mile. It waas really weird. I felt so good..that I decided to get up on my toes and push even harder. The 3rd mile in 7:17/mile. I haven't run that fast in a really long time. Final Time on my Nike+ app is 24.21. 
    The most fun part of this race was the end... and nice sprint into what I assume is a minor league baseball stadium.
     Wait, ... I'm not done.. Even Ethan ran this weekend. Rock N' Roll has a Kids Rock Run. The kindergartners run around the block -- really short. The 1st through 7th graders run a full mile. EJ did an awesome job. He stopped once to catch his breath, but really caught his second wind at the finish line. He told me afterward that he heard someone say, "He's killing it!," but he says all he could think about was "I'm killing myself." 
    So, this fitness thing is officially a family thing. Staying active... Staying motivated, staying together. Go Team KnightLife.



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