Thankfully, my pre-race sleep was much better than the previous night, and I woke after a pretty solid 7 hours of rest. My morning routine moved along nicely with coffee, stretching, dressing, packing, breakfast…the usual. I realized about ten minutes before I planned to leave that I needed to call the front desk to have my rental car taken out of the valet lot (the hotel was valet parking only). Of course, I couldn’t find the valet ticket with my claim number on it! Grrrr! Now I was worried I’d leave late and miss the start of the race. Thankfully, they were able to sort it out for me, but it was a little bit of a challenge due to the fact that there was another car that looked just like mine. The parking attendant asked me what year mine was (like I knew that! Or if mine was a newer model…again no clue.) Luckily he figured it out in the end and I was on my way.
Skidaway Island is about 15 miles or so from downtown Savannah, but the drive takes a little over a half an hour. Leaving just past 6 am, that would put me at the race location by 6:30 with a start time of 7:00 am. The drive was easy, but as I got within a mile of the parking, traffic was backed up, and the minutes were ticking away. Having eaten my breakfast on the road, I also was feeling the uncomfortable effects of that along with the three cups of coffee I’d had back at the hotel. Let’s just say that I needed to park my car and get to the porta potty fast!
It seemed to take forever to get in to the parking lot, but I finally did. I grabbed my stuff and jogged over to the bank of johns. Not a moment too soon, either. Grateful that I averted that crisis, I headed to the starting corral.
|Starting line view.|
The line up for the Skidaway Island Optim Orthopedics Half Marathon was pretty informal. Group 1 was the “fast marathoners” who stepped off at 7:00 am sharp, followed by my group the “fast half marathoners"—2:15 and under who went off two minutes later. Just before we started, the race director, a lovely young fellow named Dan, read a runner’s prayer and also sang the National Anthem. He did a great job, too! Off we started.
It was pretty dark out right up to the start of the race, and then dawn started to show up just enough to help us see where we were going.The first three miles of the race were along the main road we drove in along, which was pretty desolate but was lined with forest on both sides. The trees smelled delicious. I’m not sure if they were pines or cedars or both, but the air was so lovely. The temperatures were cool in the low 50’s, and the woods were just awakening with the sounds of birds. It was magical. Add to that a canopy of trees heavy with the quinticential swamp moss and a sprinkle of palm trees and you can just imagine the beauty I was experiencing.
|Mossy tree near race area.|
At about mile 3 we took a left turn in to The Landings property. This is a huge residential gated community. The surroundings were similar, almost making me think of a nature preserve, but with a paved walking/running path that ran through the property. Large, beautiful ranch and plantation style homes lined the streets in the community, but because the trees were so large and established and lush, it felt like a magical and enchanted land.
The running path snaked along and eventually left its parallel of the main street to instead run along a creek that lined the back yards of many homes. It was serene and beautiful (and completely flat!) all along this way, and the creek led us to a golf course that was equally beautiful. We carried along in this way until about mile 5.
Mile 5 brought us out to the water and a combination of dirt/paved path. The views here were stunning. We popped out of the golf course at the edge of a large marshy expanse that led to the water and on the horizon an amazing pink sunrise was just starting to show. We were still running along a path that led along several homes. What a lucky view they have every morning! It was an extreme pleasure to run this stretch.
Mile 6 took us away from the water and back into the neighborhood area, largely on streets for this bit. The homes were lovely and were varied in style, making it interesting to view all along the way. Somewhere around mile 8-9 we got back on to the snaking paved path and golf course area. I read after the race that there are 5 golf courses in The Landing! I have no idea if this was the same course we saw on the way in or not, but it was still so beautiful. By mile 10 we were heading out of the The Landing and turning right on to the main road back the way we came.
I was feeling pretty good, as I hadn’t seen the 2 hour pacing group pass me by yet. Hoping for the best, I tried to keep my stride short, my steps quick, my breathing rhythmic, and my shoulders tall and back straight. Paying attention in this way, I cruised to the finish line to see 1:55 on the finishing clock. Yahoo!
Just in the last little stretch before the finish line, a woman came sprinting past me. I yelled to her to kick it (she already was). I pushed a little harder at the end, too, and was just thrilled to be sub-2. Safely sub-2. I got my medal (super nice one) and progressed through the finisher’s chute. The other great finish line goody was a towel that converts in to a car seat cover. It was the perfect thing to wrap up in to stay warm in the cool temps. I did a bit of walking then had to hit the porta potties again—crazy day for pooping!
|Waterfront views near finish area.|
I stretched a bit after that and then did a bit of walking around the finish line area. We were staged in the marine biology research area. I walked down to the water where a dock and some boats were located. It was a beautiful vista, and all along the way were the trees laden with the spanish moss. It was such a lovely surrounding.
I checked the race results a bit after that and found that I finished 4th in my age group. I had just missed a third place prize…only to find out that the woman who sprinted past me was the one who beat me out! Well, good for her and better luck for me next time.
|Finish line selfie.|
I stopped to let the race director know that it was a first for me to see the race director sing the National Anthem. He laughed saying that it was an easy way to save money! Too funny! I congratulated him on a fantastic race, and it was. What a beautiful area Savannah is. When I eventually arrived back home, I remarked to my husband that I could easily retire there. Yup. Could.
|Pano shot of finish area waterfront.|
One last bit of note on this trip…I arrived at the airport and returned my rental car, and as I was leaving the parking garage, walking toward the terminal, I spied a familiar face. Cute as a button, I smiled and walked up to this fellow and said, “Are you Vern?” He answered, “Yes,” and girl geeking out, I managed to to tell him how much I have enjoyed his work on HGTV over the years. Vern Yip. Outside the Savannah airport terminal. Just standing there. Adorable Vern. He was probably a little freaked out by my babbling, but I’m just glad I had the courage to say a few words to him. What a fun way to end the trip!
Georgia/Savannah was such a great place to visit. I’d definitely travel here again to take more time to soak up the downtown area and historical information. The Skidaway Island half marathon is a fantastic way to get your GA mark in for the 50 states club. Fast, flat, scenic as can be! Highly recommended! Thank you, Savannah, and I will be back!
|Official race results.|
|Towel, number & finisher's medal.|