Best Damn Race Savannah Half Marathon Race Recap 2/16/19

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I have been looking at half marathons in Savannah forever, it seems. But I’m picky; just ask Mr. Judy. Many of the halfs there are in April — too hot and humid (and maybe rainy)!  Of course sometimes you can catch a break, but no. Just no.

Then Best Damn Races announced they would be doing their first race in Savannah — in February. Two days after my birthday. Sold. Remember, I also ran the inaugural BDR NOLA race (read about that here).

Packet Pickup & Expo
Pickup at Forsyth Park was super easy. I did have to show my license, which I find oddly enough is rare. The goody bag actually had a few goodies in it:

  • Pint Glass. They’d announced this recently so I knew that — love me a pint glass (good for smoothies).
  • A candy from Savannah Candy Kitchen along with a discount for the store.
  • A double package of biscoff cookies. Why? No idea — as far as I can tell there’s no connection to Savannah or GA. I’ve been playing around with shortbread as part of my fuel this training cycle — well, now I have plenty of Biscoff. Except no races. Maybe I should freeze them?

I didn’t even look at the expo, so I don’t know what they had. In NOLA there wasn’t a whole lot. The only downside is that Forsyth Park was a mile and a half from our hotel. Add to that the fact that I wanted to stop at City Market (outdoor shopping area) for some pizza, but had the wrong address, and also met up briefly with another Skirt Sports ambassador . . . let’s just say there was more walking the day before the race than I’d planned on.

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Lots of Skirt Sports hanging out before the start

The weather & dressing
Our first few days in Savannah were downright chilly. Cloudy, mornings in the 30s/40s. Dry. Yup, perfect racing weather. I did my last two training runs and I really wished I’d brought capris with me! I actually began to think I’d brought the wrong outfit for the race. Alas, the weather warmed up on race day. A lot.

Race morning actually seemed pretty good: cloudy, dry, but almost 60. It didn’t feel that humid . . . at the beginning. We were all saying the weather was perfect. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wore my Skirt Sports Wonder Girl Tank (Skirt Sports Ambassador) and Cool It Skirt  — yes, the exact same outfit I wore in almost all of my halfs last year. The Wonder Girl Tank has the cleavage alley pocket, and after dropping my little tube of Saltstick Chews once, I put it in there — which worked great. I have a tendency to forget to take them, but this made it much easier; since they’re in their own little tube, there was no problem with sweat getting at them.

I went back and forth a lot about whether or not to wear compression socks, but in the end decided against it and am very glad that I did. It heated up quickly (although thankfully stayed cloudy the whole race). It spit rain just a tiny bit here and there, but there was never any real rain (which would have felt nice).

Then there was the whole shoegate fiasco (read about that here). I don’t think that was what caused the blood blister — my guess is it was the brand spanking new pair of Balegas I wore? I have the exact same pair, but new ones were just so clean. They looked so pretty and matched my outfit beautifully. Could they have really caused a blister? I guess we’ll never know.

And what didn’t I wear? My cool it towel! I brought it (just as I brought it to my Ocean City half). I decided not to wear it in both races, and in both races, that was a mistake (especially in OCNJ). Hopefully this time I will learn from my mistakes!

My Race Plan
I didn’t bother to ask Rachel @ Runningonhappy for a race plan — still! Training had been rather odd. I was so slow in the beginning, still feeling niggles, I basically chalked this up for a fun run. Then the niggles got better and my paces got better, and my secret goal was to prove to myself I could do better than 2:30, maybe even PR — without a downhill.

So how’d that work for me?

  • Mile 1:  10:45. It was a crowded start, but also a small race, so I’d moved up between the 2:30 and 2:20 pacers, which probably accounts for the speedy for me pace. Did I start out too fast? Maybe, but I don’t really think I did.
  • Mile 2:  11:12. Narrow streets, very crowded.
  • Mile 3:  11:05. Flat. It took a few miles to find my own space to run.
  • Mile 4:  11:04. Flat.
  • Mile 5:  10:50. Flat.
  • Mile 6:  11:18. I remember we ran under an overpass here, so there was a dip in the road — don’t ask me why I slowed down. Futzing with fuel, no doubt.
  • Mile 7:  11:09. This was a nice — but very narrow — paved running path around Hull Park. There was one girl who was just ahead of me for most of the race, also a run/walker, and she seemed to feel that she could just walk whenever she wanted to without caring what was going on behind her — she would walk on the narrow path instead of getting over onto the sidewalk next to it. Yes, she pissed me off.
  • Mile 8:  11:48. We ran down pass Hull Park, then turned around and ran around the other side of it. Again, not sure why this was a slow mile.
  • Mile 9:  11:34. Flat.
  • Mile 10: 11:58. It was, thankfully, a cloudy day. But by now the temps were getting warm for someone who’d been dealing with polar vortexes a lot. Also a toe on my left foot had begun to hurt — I suspected a blister, even though I am not prone to them and I’d applied anti chafe stuff generously to my feet (and other chafe prone areas — it turned out to be a blood blister and there was no chafing elsewhere).
  • Mile 11: 12:09. Flat.
  • Mile 12: 12:07. Mostly flat, the beginnings of a slight incline that would carry over into the next mile.
  • Mile 13: 12:13. This course is pancake flat, but there is just a very slight incline in this mile. Normally I am ready to be done here and pull out a fast mile. Nope. Now, a word about that 2:30 pacer. In the beginning of the race she was definitely running faster than a 2:30 half — in fact, one girl said she was on track for a 2:15 race and she was running around me. The pacer was actually using run/walk intervals. At some point, though, later in the race, she ended up behind me, which obviously made me think I was going to achieve my goal. She did pass me in this last mile and crossed the finish line pretty much right at 2:30.
  • Last .12: 8:34. I did manage to sprint it to the finish line.

2:30:33 — Official Time
11:30 Average Pace
16 out of 30 in F55-59
216 our of 374 Female Runners
408 out of 599 Runners

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Notice the 2:30 pacer . . . behind me — if only I could’ve kept up this pace later!

So no, I didn’t meet my goal. I’d worked hard to get comfortable being uncomfortable with slightly overdressing my treadmill runs and some outside runs during this training cycle (although it’s hard when it’s super cold!); this worked well for me in NOLA and I guess it did help here, but I still don’t know if I can do better than a 2:30ish half without a downhill.

OTOH, I never had time to acclimate. It was raw and much colder for my other two runs in Savannah: 50 and 39! This half started at 61. While the blister hurt, it wasn’t that bad and I don’t think it effected my race (after the race is a different story!). My half in NOLA was much hotter, much more humid, and there was sun towards the end — yes, it was a little bit slower, but the runs I’d done to acclimate were also in line with what I actually got dealt with on race day.

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The energy was obviously there — the mental power, not so much

Should I have started out slower? I think the short answer is yes, but OTOH, until the second half, my pace was very consistent. I do think that it was the warm day with no chance to acclimate that got to me. That plus the stress of losing Gizmo shortly before the race and probably walking around too much the day before the race — I have to say while I was excited at the start as I always am, my legs felt dead from the start.

Oddly enough I had a rather similar race in Cape Cod — but no blisters — under vastly different weather circumstances! I am only a little disappointed. No real injuries, a decent time for me especially considering the change in weather, and another state added.

Will I be stuck in this finish time area until another breakthrough — or have I peaked? Only time will tell. There are many more states to add!

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That hydration vest is so important to me — and makes me look like my boobs are at my waist, too! Function over form.

Was the race well run?
Best Damn Race puts on great races. If you sign up early enough they are not expensive. Volunteers are enthusiastic. Courses are well marked — in fact the course is the only place they lost points for me — I think it was one of the most boring half courses I’ve ever run. Which is sad, because Savannah is a really lovely city. Luckily we were able to see it on our own.

I use a hydration vest, so I never stopped at an aid station, but as far as I could tell they seemed well stocked (I hope they were for those further back than me). There was still lots of food when I finished — again, hopefully there was for the runners finishing after me. But Dunkin Donuts had run out of chocolate donut holes. 😦

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In my post race daze I kept trying to get the top off of the mini brownies. It was just a sheet of plastic I could easily lift. At least they were worth it!

There was still a nice spread:

  • Donut holes
  • Pizza (there was a small wait, but I am not that hungry immediately following a half and didn’t want pizza at 10:30 in the morning anyway)
  • Candy — there were still mini Snickers! Score!
  • Bananas (they did look rather green, though)
  • Mini brownie bites that were so fudgy and delicious!
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Hurts so good. Yes, it was actually in the 60s. No, it didn’t feel like it after I stopped running.

There’s beer, too, of course, but I don’t drink and although I had my wrist band to give away, I just totally forgot about it. There are also free massages, and they take their time with you, which obviously meant a wait, but it was well worth it. It was more of a sports massage — in fact, my calves were actually killing me afterwards because she used deep pressure — yes, I had some black and blue marks, but I bruise easily. I did think about telling her to ease up on the pressure, but I figured I probably needed it and they did feel a lot better the next day (as did my blister, thankfully).

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The meetups make the race so much more fun!

Positives:

  1. Best Damn Races are so well organized
  2. A goody bag with actual goodies!
  3. A pint glass
  4. A cloudy day — I’m pretty sure my time would have suffered a lot more if it had been sunny
  5. Free photos (up quickly)
  6. Free massages
  7. Meeting up with some Skirt Sisters
  8. Meeting up with Karen @ Runningfifty
  9. Plenty of food at the finish line

Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:

  1. Much warmer than the rest of our stay in Savannah
  2. The course — it really did not showcase Savannah at all
  3. My first blister in a race
  4. This is not a huge negative, but BDR NOLA used a drawstring bag for the goody bag & I use it all the time; I was looking forward to a new one but this goody bag was a canvas shopping bag

What I learned
Nothing new on race day. Nothing new on race day. I’m usually pretty good about this, and the one other time I did it (BDR NOLA, oddly enough), it worked out just fine. I’ll never really know why I got the blister, and it may have nothing to do with the new socks, but were they worth it? Probably not.

Double check addresses. I had the wrong address for one of the places I wanted to stop at on the way to packet pickup — I spent far too much time on my feet looking in the wrong place. Totally my bad.

These aren’t things I learned, but rather things I knew and this trip just hammered it home for me:

  • I totally prefer to put my vacation before the race. Almost every runner I know is the other way around. You never know how you’re going to feel after a race. If you end up injured (it can happen!), then the rest of your vacation is going to suck. Sure, you can also injure yourself before the race, and that would totally suck, too, but at least you’d still have a vacation.
  • Leave yourself a little wiggle room to get there. We left in one heck of a snowstorm — we really weren’t sure we’d make it out of here (thank goodness we did). We left on a Tuesday and the race was Saturday. If we’d left on Wednesday, as we’d originally planned, I’m not sure we would have made it. We would still have had enough time to get there before the race even so (although our vacation would have suffered). This also gives you time to acclimate to different weather. It was just unfortunate for me that race day weather was quite different from the days leading up to it.
  • The Cool It Towel helps. Worse comes to worse, you can stash it in a pocket. Wear the damn thing if it’s hot!

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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37 thoughts on “Best Damn Race Savannah Half Marathon Race Recap 2/16/19

  1. No race is perfect. But the positive is that you have improved your times so much over the years. And you didn’t get injured.

    60s and cloudy sounds perfect but definitively warmer than up north.

    I usually get blisters but not always. I can’t predict it since I don’t wear new socks or shoes. Go figure. Maybe you need some hills. lol.

    Sounds like you had a great trip to Savannah and a new state. That’s what race-cations are about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some races actually are pretty perfect — but they’re definitely few and far between. 60s is not perfect for me, 50s definitely more so (for racing), even 40s maybe.

      I think I would have been a lot happier with the race if it had actually been more scenic (and the locals also complained about the lack of scenery).

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      1. Lucky for you. I always seem to have weather issues. Good thing you and Lloyd were able to take the time to see and explore the city. I wish I was in Melbourne, FL more than just for the race. It is supposed to be a very scenic town.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on finishing another half marathon! Yikes on the blisters! I rarely get them but when I do, they are definitely painful. I do get lots of calluses on my right foot which I have have to scrape off and sometimes that hurts.

    I’ve been wanting to visit Savannah but logistics suck from Chicago Midway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They actually say you should leave your calluses alone — that they protect your feet?!

      Once I took the sneakers off, and then had to put shoes back on, it was super painful — but thankfully just that day.

      Well, almost nothing is a direct flight from here (and it wasn’t). Not to mention we were delayed going & coming — but we got there & that’s all that really matters! I definitely recommend it.

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      1. Yes that is true about calluses but they really annoy me. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

        Maybe I’ll do a race in Savannah. It has to be a really good one because I would rather go to Atlanta since I can get a direct flight.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve never actually been to Atlanta (outside the airport, that is), so can’t speak to that. In fact, this was my first real visit to GA at all — I’d only ever driven through the state before, and that was when I was a teenager (obviously I wasn’t the one driving).

        Savannah is a small city, btw, and that made it easy to get around without renting a car, which made the vacation just a little more inexpensive. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You were pretty damn close (see what I did there?) to your goal time. Considering that it warmed up, I’d be happy with that! Congrats!!

    I’ve only had one blister ever in all my 25+ years of running and that was at Mercedes. I blamed the socks (who shall remain unnamed). I had worn them before without issues, but I had never raced in them. Haven’t worn them since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do see what you did there. 🙂 The one thing I forgot to mention is that I ran by feel for most of the second half of the race — yes, when I slowed down (as my body likes to do). So I kind of beat myself up for not watching the pace and pushing more but it would only have shaved off a few minutes even if I had, I suspect.

      It’s so weird how something can hurt us one day after being just fine for many runs! It didn’t really bother me that much outside of that afternoon — now I’m just waiting to see if the nail is a goner or not.

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    1. The vest doesn’t bother me at all — I really like it! Of course I didn’t train with it at all since it’s been so cold. That was another thing, I probably didn’t drink as much water as I should have — I know in NJ I really didn’t so I thought I was doing good, until I took the bladder out.

      They’re very lightweight even when the bladder is full. Mine is from https://ultraspire.com/, but I got it from Active Gearup at a discounted price. I’ve tried a few brands but I really love this vest (I actually have 2 because the first one was really too large for my shoulders & I had to tie it with a shoelace! They fixed that in the second version). Nothing is perfect, of course, but I’ve tried just about every way to carry water, and this is what I prefer (even though I’ll relay on water bottles in my pockets for shorter distances).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve learned my lesson about walking around prior to a half marathon. Every time I spend too much time on my feet prior to a half I end up having a sucky half. Humidity isn’t something we can control and the south usually likes to drop it on us at the last minute. Glad that you had a good race overall and sorry you were affected by the heat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m usually pretty good, and I didn’t have a sucky half at all, but I could definitely feel it. Also probably because I only had one “rest” day before the race, which was the day of walking around too much. 🙂

      I usually like to take a couple of rest days, but I decided to do my last runs in Savannah to acclimate. Too bad it didn’t work for me this time!

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  5. ooh I have not had a blood blister that sounds painful. I have gotten a few blisters from rainy runs before.Sometimes there is no figuring out why things happen. I can wear a skirt many times and then out of nowhere get chafing. Congrats on your half! You do look happy in your photos

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had the same experience with clothes suddenly chafing when they never have before. So frustrating!

      If I see the photographer, I always look happy — most of the photos came from fairly early in the race.

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  6. I have only ever had two blood blisters, both on my left bunion (which isn’t really a “bunion”) and these both happened during my first two marathons. No idea if it was the socks, shoes, the distance run…but they haven’t happened since. They looked far worse than they felt LOL Although you didn’t make your goal time…gosh, you were SOOO close!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The blister really hurt that day, after I took my shoes off (and especially when I had to cram my feet back into shoes), but thankfully that was it. I really don’t know what caused it, but the new socks seem a likely suspect to me and hopefully I won’t repeat that again!

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      1. Usually it just works out if we’re going before the race, there’s not a lot of time for after the race, generally due to the price of the plane tx. It’s different when we drive, but we’ve done most of the states within fairly easy driving distance. DE, maybe VA — I think that’s all that’s left, and depending on where in VA, it can be a REALLY long drive (we had a trip to VA Beach a few years ago . . . really long drive!).

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  7. Heh. Mom and I were saying a few years back we’ve tapped out all girls’ weekend locations within drive distance — and then we went and drove to Florida (overnight in Florence, SC). Probably about the same as VA Beach for you. Crazy town, but ownderful
    OK, I need to explore those tops except I hate tanks. Hmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was a kid we moved my grandmother down to Miami. We did take the auto train to DC, though. That was the only other time I’d ever been in GA, but that was just driving through and staying one night so I didn’t count it.

      I don’t mind going back to the same place when it’s not for a race. I love Ocean City, NJ, for instance & would definitely go back there but even that is a somewhat long drive for us.

      I used to drive between MD and Poughkeepsie frequently in my first job. I even drove my cats from MD to VT (staying overnight at my parents to break it up). Poor cats!

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      1. We did Savannah and Charleston a couple of years ago, but we flew. Was just easier with the time constraints we had vs. losing a whole day driving in each direction. I do Fort Lauderdale all the time, so it’s not a racecation for me, but a home away from home.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats on another half – in the books! I am now very sorry that my stop in Savannah couldn’t coincide with this race. It sounds really nice. Any race that serves donut holes and pizza afterward is my kind of race. I do drink beer, so I probably would have partaken in that too.

    You Skirt Sports girls always look so cute at your races. I usually look like a hot mess!

    IWhen I am doing a racecation I like to get the race out of the way fairly early in the stay. Too bad this race didn’t really showcase Savannah. It was a beautiful city. I need to go back and spend some more time there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hmm, if I traveled for a race, I’d want the race to showcase the locale. The Denver Half I did sort of did that with the route through the Zoo … I think the Army 10 Miler checks IDs at packet pick up, but that’s the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

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