Savannah: Skidaway Island Marathon, State #18
Skidaway Island is near Savannah, Georgia, and is a short drive away from Charleston, South Carolina, so we decided to visit both in one extra long weekend. This particular trip was special because my mom and my boyfriend Jeff came along to support me (and perhaps to eat pralines (pronounced PRAH-leens….)).
Jeff lives in Illinois, so my mom and I drove from Michigan and met him in Columbus, Ohio. Knowing we still had a long drive ahead of us, we stopped for breakfast at the Northstar Cafe, a quaint place known for fresh, quality organic ingredients. I ordered a Big Breakfast Burrito, complete with sweet potatoes, and it was by far my favorite meal of the trip. My mom ordered the banana ricotta pancakes and Jeff got the Farmer’s Breakfast. We all left happy.
We reached Charleston late that night, and spent the next day exploring the historic district. I was enamored with the charm of the great mansions and cobblestone streets. This mansion was owned by Calhoun, a senator and vice president to Andrew Jackson.
I’d read that Charleston was voted the “most friendly city in the Nation” and I can easily understand why. Everyone we talked to was polite, accommodating, friendly and in love with their city. Even the parking meter patrol woman let us put more money in the meter instead of giving us a ticket. She had a 15 minute conversation with my mom and then walked away. Unheard of in Detroit!
We visited Rainbow Row, The Commons and City Hall where a chatty attendant told us the history of the building, it’s famous paintings (including one of George Washington, circa 1790), and her encounter with Bill Murray.
Our last stop downtown was at Charleston City Market, where we browsed local artists’ wares as we munched on roasted praline pecans.
Packet pickup for the inaugural marathon was held on Thursday (instead of on Good Friday) in an old converted train depot in Savannah, Georgia. This was the most beautiful building that I’ve ever seen used for an Expo.
I collected my bib and bought a unique marathon sticker sold by a friendly couple from Florida. You can click on this link to buy their custom made running stickers.
After locating the hotel, we went to dinner at Sweet Potatoes. Serendipity led us to this restaurant that “Man vs. Food” voted to have the best banana pudding on the planet. It was phenomenal. The restaurant was very busy and they had run out of a lot of menu selections by the time we arrived. Our waiter offered to compensate us by giving us free dessert (banana pudding AND peach cobbler)!!!! Did I mention that Savannah was rated second on the list of most friendly cities? The sweet tea was made in house and there is a different sweet potato side on the menu everyday. We all loved our food and left very full.
Since everyone else has top rated lists, I would rate Savannah as #1 on my list of most picturesque cities. The historic area has 22 public squares, most of which are named for a famous person. If I had to chose my favorite, I’d pick Lafayette Square, primarily because it located next to the Cathedral of John the Baptist.
No visit to Savannah would be complete without a walk down Jones street, named the most beautiful street in North America by Southern Living.
Broughton Street is lined with cute shops, including The Paris Market, Savannah Bee Company and Coffee Fox, a coffee/craft brew bar.
The race took place on Saturday morning on nearby Skidaway Island. There were about 150 marathon racers, 450 half marathoners and one hand cyclist. It was a warm, humid morning, and I was feeling the effects of yesterday’s craft beers. As I struggled through mile 2, I talked with two other runners who inspired me. The first, Austyn, was a 20 year old college student. The second was Lisa, a mother of two young children. Both women were running their second marathon, and I was overwhelmingly in awe of the commitment level and training of these two busy women (They both finished over 40 minutes faster than I did. Great job ladies!!!).
Jeff and mom first met me at mile 7 and they gave me candies and pickle juice to replenish my sugar and salt levels. I perked up and was able to enjoy the scenic course. The route meandered through a gated community, under canopies of Spanish moss, passed natural marshes and manicured golf courses. There were many types of birds along the way. I even think I spotted a bald eagle (it’s possible I was having race induced hallucinations).
Mom and Jeff met me on several spots throughout the race. Their encouragement, positivity, hugs and snacks are what got me through the race. At mile 23, Jeff left my mom and joined me. He stayed by my side until we reached the finish line, where my mom was waiting for us. 🙂 Gosh, I love them! 🙂
We also did a recovery walk through City Market, a charming pedestrian street full of praline shops, restaurants and bars. Savannah allows alcohol to be carried in public in 16 ounce plastic cups, making for a lively setting on a Friday night. Street performers and twinkly lights added to the ambiance as our race weekend came to an end.
Running Advice: Fly. Let me repeat that. FLY. I often tell people that the REAL marathon is driving to the race and back. I underestimated the amount of time it would take us and we spent 17 hours driving back on Sunday. Since three of us were traveling together and we wanted the mobility and freedom of having a car, we chose the budget option of driving. If you are planning a fairly distant marathon, take my advice and purchase a flight to your destination. Your muscles and mind will thank you. Compression socks help, too.