My 20 weeks of training had finally come to an end; FINALLY, I was in Savannah, Georgia to run my first official half marathon. My wife and I flew in from Charlotte the day before, dropped our luggage off by the hotel, and headed out to get some grub and of course, my race packet. As for the grub, well as analytical as I am, i.e. researching area restaurants prior to our arrival...my wife picked the Satisfied Restaurant (http://www.satisfiedsav.com/) on the fly (great choice & highly recommended), and there I had a Roast Beef Panini and homemade potato chips with ranch dressing.
Satisfied Restaurant Corner Booth with a Great View
After finishing lunch, my wife decided to send me to the EXPO by myself while she caught some well-deserved Zzzzz's. I made my way to the River Street and caught a ferry over to the Expo Center. As I entered, I noted several people doing on-site registration. I continued by them, through the Rock N Roll Series banner and to the "S" alphabetical letter desk to retrieve my packet. First my bib #5330, then for my shirt and swag bag. At first I was a bit disappointed in the green tech tee, but after a while it grew on me. As I rounded the bend, I enter a Brooks Running Jungle. At first glance, I thought the only gear that was for sell was by Brooks and REALLY high priced...but I was pleased to discover other running vendors outside the initial entry area of the Expo. Another pleasure was meeting up with two of my Dailymile friends Chris U. http://www.dailymile.com/people/RoadNinja
& Jason http://www.dailymile.com/people/JLaw for the first time in person, who were also there to run the half. We checked out the vendors, sampled a few nutritional products (and squirrelled some away for later too, scientific research purposes of course...), and I ended up purchasing a sticker that read "If I collapse, someone please pause my GARMIN". I also bought a tube of lime flavored NUUN tablets (http://shop.nuun.com/lemon-lime) for my hydration needs during future training based on rave reviews from my Dailymile friend Dave. http://www.dailymile.com/people/DaveN9. Chris, Jason, and I said our goodbyes, snapped a few pics, and I set off toward my hotel.
Left to Right: Chirs U., Me, & Jason
I woke up at 5 something in the morning, trying to take it slow, and methodically prepare for my big day (yes, I had laid out my gear in order the night before). The slow part worked out, but methodically went out the proverbial window about 6am when I could feel an adrenaline dump from the anticipation of the race. I literally held out my hand at one point to show my wife the visible shaking in my hand as I held it out in front of me. I'm sure this shaking was proof that all the training had made me want to make sure I didn't blow my big day. My wife and I left our room about 6:45 and started our half mile journey towards the start line. Once there, she told me good luck and we went our separate ways, after which I made my way down to corral 4. Heeding the advice from my Dailymile friend Lamond V., aka http://www.dailymile.com/people/LamondV, I got in line for the Port-A-Potties at 7:30. Almost to the minute, Lamond's estimation of a 30 minute wait time was right on spot, upon my exit; I could hear the announcer telling the first set of runners to get ready. I made, my way into the front part of a very crowded corral and waited for our turn.
Start - Mile 5ish
I came across the start line and immediately made my way toward the right side into an area that seemed to have fewer runners. As I looked ahead, I saw the first and biggest incline of the race, which went over the same water area that separated River Street from the Expo. I mentally tried to stay calm and focus on my HR (Heart Rate). Yes, I'd elected monitoring my HR on my GARMIN as my race pace strategy. (Lesson learned from my training: My HR Mode on my GARMIN is equitable to the tachometer on my car. My 3000 RPM's is around 155 BPM HR. My 4000-5000 RPM's is between 155-170 BPM HR, and between 170-186 [my max HR] is 6000 RPM's to my Red Line Area.) As I made it over the hill, I saw a sea of runners going straight ahead for at least a mile. The route then took a left as we started through a residential area of Savannah. The streets were lined with residents/spectators offering encouragement and our first water supply. As my GARMIN (http://sites.garmin.com/forerunner110/), dinged alerting me of mile 2, I pulled out my water bottle with electrolytes mixed in (Walmart brand), and downed a couple of gulps. We continued to weave through residential streets and ended up back under the highway ramps and bridges. By mile 5, I had started to get into my rhythm and could feel my adrenaline starting to give way to my training and experience. I continued to monitor my HR just like you would if you wanted to maximize the performance from a finely tuned race car. No...I don't think I'm a race car, but the theory is the same...vroommmmm, change gears....vroommmm...you get the picture.
Start Line of the Race
I was amazed at how great I felt at the 10k mark. I even was mentally having a dialogue with myself about how I felt I could pick up the pace, but me and myself agreed that I would probably burn out before the finish line if I kicked it up this early. Still trying to maintain my HR between 165-170, I was running just over an 8 minute mile. Somehow I missed seeing my wife in the crowd at the starting line, but quickly gained a visual on her after she called out my name around the 6.5 mark. Editor's Note: It’s amazing how energizing the voice of a loved one can make you feel!!! Fast forwarding to around mile 9, I made a mental note that for the first time in the race, I saw an appreciable amount of runners beginning to walk, or at least take walking breaks. I remember thinking to myself maybe the explanation for this was some of those runners had trained to the 10k, or 10 mile point and stopped and their bodies were beginning to peter out. As I neared the 10 mile mark, I could feel my body for the first time feeling some loss of energy, but there was no doubt in my mind I had enough gas in the tank to not only finish this race, but keep up my current pace of around 8:10-8:20 minutes per mile.
I continued my HR monitoring, but noticed my HR naturally wanted to hover around 170-175 BPM now. I dialed back my pace a bit in an attempt to lower my HR, wanting to have enough gas in the tank to really kick it in the last mile or so. The full marathoners and the novelist half marathoners like me had run the same route until mile marker 11.5, but then split our paths. From the split to around mile 12ish, I continued to focus on my HR as well as I started sizing up approximately how many people I could pass. I also continued to implement my hydration, fueling, and cooling strategy of fluid every 2, GU every 4, and from about mile 6 onward at every water station I dumped a cup of cold water over my head to keep my core temperature down.
Miles 12.5- 13.1
...Now nearing the finish line, I remembering a funny shout out during which someone said "Use the Force", and I thought ???. Simultaneously, I started my accent up the 2nd biggest incline prior to making a right turn after which, the Finish line was in sight. After making the turn, I immediately kicked in what I had left in my tank. I'm not sure on the number, but in my estimation, I passed probably 30 or so runners before crossing the finish line and stopping my GARMIN.
At the Finish Line / Secured Finisher's Corral
I remember running through and past the finish line before reducing my speed. Several volunteers were handing out finisher medals, at which point I lowered my head and someone placed it around my neck. Just like that, 20 weeks of training came to an end and I reaped the reward (more than just a medal) of a lot of self-sacrifice, hard work and determination. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I heard my wife call my name again, as she was paralleling me outside the security barriers. I gladly accepted all the fluids and fuel being handed to me by volunteers before exiting the secured area and reuniting with my wife.
Adjacent the Finish Line Post-Race
My Offical Stats:
Age: 39 | Gender: M
608 out of 3598
Having a wife and children who support me and my love for running.
Successfully finishing my first official half marathon injury free.
Having Dailymile Friends that support and encourage me as well as provide training plans, advice based on their successes and failures, and A SUPER COOL PICTURE OF ENCOURAGEMENT http://www.dailymile.com/people/jographer.
Picture made by Dailymile Friend Michael Cruz
My training and DM friend Scott S. http://www.dailymile.com/people/ScottAllenS, who selflessly constructed a non-traditional 20 week training Heart Rate Plan and provided support during my journey.
Meeting 2 of my DM friends in person for the first time, Chris U. and Jason.
My DM friend Michael C., who was nice enough to post my initial results because I've temporarily downgraded from a smart phone.
My DM friend Brad G. http://www.dailymile.com/people/BradG13 , who was nice enough to meet me in Raleigh, while I was out of town and in his neighborhood, to continue my training runs.
My DM friend Dave N. who without knowing it, acted as my hydration and fueling coach. Dave, if you're reading this, you have been instrumental in my approach to hydration & fueling.
The lady who was running the race as a tribute to Lauraine (who died after a 5 year battle with cancer) on the back of her shirt and was running in front of me until around mile 3.
My post-race trip to Jamaica, during which my wife and I got to reconnect after some major months of work and daily grind stress of life.
Thatched Umbrellas on the Jamaican Coastline, Where We Sunbathed Daily
(And YES, I took this picture myself)
Editor's Note: I purposely left the "Born to Run", book by Chris McDougall http://www.chrismcdougall.com/ at home, just to get completely away from running, however, I brought and read "No Easy Day" by Mark Owen http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/books/review/no-easy-day-by-mark-owen.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I said that to say this...I highly recommend it, if for no other running related reason; I think we (runners) could learn a lot from Navy SEALS in regard to "Pushing negative thoughts from our minds" and "Willing ourselves to and through the task at hand". It was a GREAT read for MULTIPLE Reasons.
...and NO, I didn't run a step during my vacation.
Growing Forward... As a quote I just read while copying the link to GARMIN's website stated, "Motivation can't be measured, but performance can.", I will now begin my training on November 11th for my next goal in my running journey, the ASC Greenway 50k Trail Race in Fort Mill, S.C.
Some may ask why I'm skipping running my first official Full Marathon???
Well, 50k is only a few more miles, and I feel this race aligns more appropriately with my medium and long range running goals which are as follows:
December 2013, Table Rock Ultra 50 Mile Race, http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=16662
April 2014, Umstead 100, http://www.umstead100.org/.