Sunday, April 3, 2016

One Day It Started Rainin' - Publix Savannah 1/2 Marathon 2016 Race Report

This was my first out of state half-marathon!!  Whoop whoop!  And boy, what a weekend it was...

My original plan was to take a shower Friday morning, and leave around 10am.  However, I discoverd The Cat™ had expressed her displeasure at a lonely weekend by peeing all over my clothes.  So, I threw them in the washer to wash overnight and I would dry them in the morning.

Well, The Kiddo decided she needed to do laundry (at like midnight), so she took my wet clothes out of the washer and left them in a laundry basket while she did her laundry.  Upon finishing her laundry she neglected to plug the water heater back in (we have one plug in the laundry room, so either the dryer or water heater get power, but not both at the same time). PLUS, she left my clothes in the laundry basket all night!

Unfortunately, I didn't discover she didn't plug the water heater back in until the next morning, AFTER my not-so-hot shower. I trudged to the laundry room, plugged the water heater back in, saw that my laundry was still soaking wet in the laundry basket and was about to go ballistic. Instead, I just threw my laundry in the dryer and attempted to touch up my manicure.

And of course, I smudged half my nails, so I had to start over.  Then, smart me, realized that I couldn't pack with wet nails! Oh, for God's sake, this is NOT a great start to what I was hoping would be a great weekend.

Finally, though, my nails were dry, my laundry was dry, I was dry, so I could finally pack, get our shit together and get out the door.

We hit up a local McDonald's for lunch ($20) so we could eat on the road.  The time on our receipt was about 11:52am.

Large fry, pie, large coffee! Pronto!
Once we were on the road, we put up the Garmin, and it said we should be in Savannah around 3pm. Not bad - this should still give us plenty of time to hit the Expo, unpack and then chill out before deciding on what to do for dinner. 

Traffic was light until we got to Starke, at about 1:45. I've heard locals complain about the traffic in Starke, but I've never experienced it. Well, we got to experience it for the first time when we were already behind schedule... It took FORTY-FIVE minutes to travel about 2 or 3 miles!!! 

After Starke, traffic opened up again, until we got to Baldwin; this is where people travelling on US-301 meet up with Interstate 10.  There is a very long entrance ramp to I-10, which I'm familiar with, so we went a snail's pace in the left lane, while assholes zoomed past us on the right, then tried to shove into the turn lane. (Nope, too bad, so sad - I'm the bitch in the blue car that won't let you in when you do that.)  It took another 30 minutes just to enter the interstate. (Sadly, after sitting in that traffic for a 1/2 hour, right before we turned onto the interstate, I realized I could have bypassed all this crazy traffic by crossing under the interstate and entering it from the other direction... sigh.)

Ironically, traffic in Jacksonville itself was pretty tame!  That was the traffic I was originally most worried about.  We finally made it to the Georgia line around 2:20, and traffic began backing up again!  No idea why, but it would bunch and clear, bunch and clear.  I got so frustrated at one point, we decided to exit and go to the Georgia Rest Area/Welcome Center (long-standing tradition of photos at WCs).  When we got off at that exit however, it was CLOSED!! So we had to get right back on the damn interstate!

Florida Georgia Line
Back on the interstate it was more moving. Not moving. Moving. Not moving. Creeping. Not moving. 

Hey, what's the hold up?!
Whoa, that's a lot of cars back there!
Seriously, what's the slow down?
I like SUBTRACTING time from my Garmin, not adding time!
We've added over AN HOUR to this trip, just because of all this traffic! I'm so ready to be done with this traffic, get me the hell off I-95!! Also, as you can see in the photos, it's beginning to cloud up; it's going to rain soon, and rain hard, I think.

Finally, moving again, we made it to the exit to Interstate 16 which will take us into Savannah.  This road is moving much more smoothly and we arrived on E Jones Street around 5pm (yeah, a total of TWO hours after our original arrival time).

When I was looking for hotels in Savannah, I was astonished (kind of) at the price of hotels. If I wanted cheap, I needed to be by the interstate. If I wanted close, I had to pay out the ass.  Somehow, I discovered, which is a website for owners to rent out vacation homes.  It's kind of like AirBnB,I guess, but I'm not familiar with that.  I found a nice rental that was about 10 blocks away from the start line!!  Total cost for two nights (rental + tax + maid fee) was $305!!  I couldn't get ONE night at the Forsyth for that price.  So after reading reviews, I took a leap of faith and booked it.

We arrived at the house, and had to park about a block away, since this house dind't have a dedicated parking lot or driveway.  Also, each side of the street had restrictions on when you could park there, due to street sweepers (we had to move the car each night). It was just beginning to rain, so we decided to wait until after going to the Expo to unpack the car.

I don't envy people who have to deal with this all the time!
This was not a smart idea.

We grabbed whatever we would need for the time being (purses, file of information, etc) and headed into the house (after getting the key from the upstairs key safe).  I didn't take photos of the inside of the house, but if you go to the link I posted earlier you can see all of them there.

I thought that, for what we paid, for the area it was in, it was a good deal.  Yes, it was small, but WAY bigger than a hotel. I wouldn't want to live there, but staying two nights was plenty doable.

Once inside, Hubby had a seat and I handed him the map I'd printed out of where the Expo was.  When I printed out the map, there was no "N" on it to show where North was. Google Maps always show North as the top of the map, so I didn't think anything of it.  Hubby stared at it for a while, trying to get his bearings, then we all grabbed our umbrellas - rain was coming soon! - and we took off towards the Expo.  He felt no need to bring the map; he was confident in his navigation skills.


We walked about 15 minutes in the wrong direction before he realized we were going the wrong way. Meanwhile I had been behind him, after 5 minutes, saying to the Kiddo that I thought we were going the wrong way (when we passed Kroger, which I knew was the opposite direction from the Expo - and on the map - I began saying so, but he didn't listen). So, we turned back the way we came, past Jones, and on to the hotel.  The race info said we needed the Harris Street Entrance, but there were no signs on the building, and we didn't know what street we were currently on, so Hubby was getting grumpy at this point.  Also, there was a high school prom happening at the same time, in a different ballroom.  We (meaning me) decided to go up to the corner of the street - where street signs are - to see if there was any signage there, and lo and behold, we found the entrance. Finally - I wanted to be here by 2pm at the latest. We rolled in to this expo at 5pm.

We entered into the packet pickup area, which was very pretty, and very empty.

Packet Pickup Area
Where we got the bag and a Bath Bomb (I don't have a bathtub...)

I got my bib and my bag. The bag was instead of a race shirt, which I thought was cool because 1) does anyone wear all their race shirts? and 2) most race shirts don't fit my huge boobs.  Bags fit everyone!

Front of bag, embroidered with race logo
Inside of bag - slip pocket, zip pocket (as deep as a standard pen) and key holder
Looking down at bag - there is a LARGE slip pocket at the top
Once done with packet pickup, we entered a secondary ballroom, which was the Expo. First, we passed a Publix booth that was giving away nicely-sized squeezie water bottles and sweat towels. I guess because they still had so many left, they gave one to each of us, so now I have three sweat towels and three squeezie water bottles!

She was very cheerful!
The towel is probably 4 feet wide! Really nice!
We entered the Expo itself, and I stopped at a booth right at the beginning - a local honey seller. I'm in love with honey recently, so I wanted to eyeball what he had. Well, I ended up getting into a very boring discussion with what seemed to be a very lonely honey seller. It was boring enough for my family to say they needed to go find a bathroom, which left me all alone.

I was able to extricate myself, but felt really bad. He didn't look like he was making any sales.

The majority of the Expo was dedicated to all of the New Balance for Women stuff. 

Spend less on manniquins, NB, and spend more on shirts for big boobs
I wandered through, but there was NO item bigger than an XL in that entire display.  Come on, NB... if you are going to sponsor a race, and gear it towards women, you have to bring in the bigger sizes.  It's not just the thin chicks that run anymore!

Besides, NB and the honey guy, there were only about 10 vendors in the space. There were no samples. No freebies. Nothing that I generally associate with an Expo. It was a really weird expo, and I was not impressed.

In the hallway outside, we discovered there were wagons full of icy cold Coke products, so we each grabbed one of those for the walk back to the apartment.

Outside, we discovered it was raining. Not a little bitty stingin' rain but not a big ol' fat rain either. Just enough of a rain that was enough to soak you and be annoying.  We sat under a covered area and tried to figure out what to do for dinner (of course, if everything had gone to plan, we would have had plenty of time to figure out what to do for dinner...) Our phones weren't picking up anything except what was close, and none of it sounded good to my picky eaters, so we ended up swimming back to the apartment, grabbing the Garmin out of the car and seeing what it said was available.

Rain Rain, Go Away!
We settled on Subway ($24), since it was pretty close (and pretty unoffensive to picky eaters). We hopped in the car and drove. By this time, it had moved on from big ol' fat rain to rain that flew in sideways.  Rain that made driving in unfamiliar areas even more fun!

Subway is on the opposite corner - we have to swim!
Luckily, after circling the block a few times, we found a semi-close parking spot, which I was able to slip into because I'm the Queen of Parallel Parking (thanks Driver's Ed!).

After getting subs (with cookies and bottled drinks), we swam back to the apartment to begin the horrible task of unpacking the car in this storm. I was kicking myself for not doing it earlier, but I was in such a rush to get to the Expo since we were running so late, I thought we'd have more time before the rain started...

My original plan was to double park right in front of the apartment and let them grab bags right at the front door, then circle the block (so I wouldn't get a ticket) and repeat until the car was empty.  Hubby suggested we park across the street, where he saw an open spot directly across from where the apartment was, but when I pulled up, I saw it was a handicap spot.  I refuse to park in handicap spots, so I pulled back to the open spot behind it. Hubby argued that it was too far and I should pull up in front of the handicap spot. Well, no, that won't work... it's way too close to the stop sign, and I didn't want to a) get hit by a car or 2) get a ticket for parking too close to a stop sign (GA law says you can't park closer than 30 feet away from a stop sign). He didn't like my original plan (the double-park repeat), so I pulled back into the original spot behind the handicap spot and parked.  As you would expect, we all got soaked, running luggage into the house. As you can also expect, a grumpy husband in the rain equals a grumpier husband in the house, soaked to the hilt.

He tried to be helpful, and told me that the best way to get to the next block was to go in some sort of conviluted circle to avoid one-way streets.  I wasn't quite sure why he thought that, but I was going to do it anyway, so he'd chill out, but in the car, a sign on the next block (where I was going to park) caught my eye, so I pulled forward to read it. It turned out to not apply to our parking situation, so never mind.  I ended up going further down the road, doing a three-point turn and parking, then running back to the house.

As soon as I got back into the damn aparment, he began to give me shit about 'half-assing' the parking situation and not doing it the way he told me. Ugh, whatever.  I don't see where either way was more beneficial to the other, so just be quiet.

Tensions and the stress of the day boiled over and he and I just got into a huge fight. He was pissed about the weather, and said something stupid thta "this never happens at races when you stay home!"  (Uh, okay, so?)  I eventually gave up, because I'd gotten to the point where I would say something truly mean and make it worse.  I used the pent-up anger at him to unpack.

Eventually I sat to eat in the living room (the kitchen has a bar and a table that seats 2) but I wasn't all that hungry (stress and anger zap my appetite).  I think I only ate about 1/2 of it, plus my cookie.  I either stuffed the rest of it in the fridge or gave it to the Kiddo; I can't remember.

I set out all my race stuff and headed to bed, trying to chill out, but I was still mad.  Just because MY WAY doesn't equal HIS WAY doesn't mean my way is wrong. Jesus!

Saturday morning, my alarm woke me up at 5am, though it took me two snoozes to drag my ass out of bed. I was feeling better today; I didn't want to kill anyone after the disaster of last night.

I prepped and dressed in the bathroom, then woke up Hubby and the Kiddo.  I attempted to eat a bagel with cream cheese (it's nice to have an actual kitchen for a race weekend!). Unfortunately, my body didn't want the bagel, so I was only able to eat about half of it.

Because we're terrible planners, we'd not figured out a way for Hubby to track me (since the race only gave splits), so we tried to set up Runtastic, but that was a bust. It didn't do live tracking, which is what Hubby was wanting.  If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, I suppose...

I wanted to leave around 6:15ish, but he thought that was too early, so we ended up leaving around 6:30-6:40. The walk to the park was very easy, it took maybe 10 minutes?  I've been to races where the garage was further away than that! Also, the rain had finally stopped, so no need for a rain jacket or extra layers, which was good.

Our first stop was to view the finish line area, so that the family would know where they need to be.

A very wet finish line, but look at the Fountain!

Yeah, so I'm gonna do this today...
We also got to see the volutneers stuffing post-race goodie bags that were given out (duh) after the race to all the runners.

I'm a sucker for a reusable grocery bag
The start line area was across a large expanse of grass, which also had Bag Check and last-minute packet pickup.  Since it had rained so much yesterday, the grass was a huge muddy sponge.  Luckily, my feet didn't get too wet (nobody needs wet socks before a race!)

Not very busy yet this morning
A nice amount of Gear Check stations
I got my hugs and kisses from the family as I drink my Coke Zero (for the caffeine) and walked back to the 15 minute mile pace corral. The family headed off to the start line.

Start Line
The 5k race started with the half-marathon race, so there were a lot of slower folks in the back with me.

"Never Mess with a Woman Who Runs 3.1 Miles for Fun"
Here I am, way back here
I got all my tech up and running (Garmin, Nike, music) and it was time to take off!  Here we go, my first official Out-of-State race!

Start Line Selfie!
I wasn't planning for any PRs or anything, so I just set my intervals to 1/1.  All I wanted to do (since I still hadn't been training well) was to finish.  And not be last.

And we're running
That little girl doesn't seem all that thrilled
It seemed really quick, but we made it to Mile 1 already!

Hello Mile 1!
We ran around the City Market area, and I spotted the The Lady and Sons sign.  We've got brunch reservations for tomorrow; I can't WAIT!!!

Dude, there's Mac & Cheese down there!
After passing that area (maybe at 1.5 miles or so), a lady came up behind me and told me that she was using me as a pacer.  When I ran, she ran, and as long as she could see me, she knew she was on pace. I was honored!  We talked for a few more minutes, in which I learned she wanted to finish in less than 45 minutes. She took off, and I wondered later if she met her goal. 

I made it to Mile 2 and still feeling pretty good. Now that I'm warmed up, I was skipping some intervals (running instead of walking).

Mile 2
We came up to the split where 5k'rs left the route and all of a sudden it got much quieter here in the back!
Bye, wussies!
I also took some chews at this point (my plan was to alternate goos and chews every twos {two miles}).  
These are easy to eat while running, and taste good, too!
Um, why? 
By Mile 3, my high spirits have deflated. It's mighty lonely back here, I feel like I'm about the only one out. I can see a few people, but it's sparse!

Jeez, only 10 more to go...
The first half-marathon runner passed me at 8:34am.  She was already at mile 11 (she finished in 1:25!)

You Go Girl!
Also, finally, a few spectators. This race was very lacking in that area. Maybe the rain drove them away.

After Mile 3, we turned onto Price Sreet, which would have been beautiful and full of blooming azaleas, if not for the horrible storm last night. It was still a beautiful street, even in the aftermath.

This road would be beautiful in spring!
Mile 4 was on this road too.  I took a hit from Vlad (the Inhaler), then took a Honey Stinger.  I'm feeling deflated still, but okay.  I was pretty sure there were at least a handful of people behind me.

A very blurry Mile 5
Yes, I name my inhaler
The rain had washed away a lot of the road makers, so it was definitely a good thing that there were lots of signs and cones!

We turned into some neighborhoods that I deemed The Space Alien Section because of how it looked on the course map.  It was boring. Not many spectators out, but there were a few.  I passed a house with a beautiful vintage car.  I'm not sure what kind it was, and I can't tell now from the photo.

Baby, can I drive your car?
Mile 5 was the "butt" of the Space Alien, and I'm still nice and alone. There's one girl ahead of me. She seemed friendly, but was trying her damndest to stay in front of me. (Not that I can blame her, I'd do the same thing!)

Mile 5, keep going
She's been just in front of me the whole race
Also, at this point, there was a bit of a turn, so I could see who was behind me (I don't like to physically turn around to see who's behind me, it makes me feel insecure).There was still a handful of people back there!

I caught up to Friendly Gal near Mile 6.  She wanted to chat with me, and since we were going about the same speed, we kind of walked together for a bit.

I caught up with her
I honestly don't recall what we chatted about, but we stuck together for almost a mile. She picked up the speed after a turn-around spot and got in front of me.

Turn Around spot, back into the park
Now, I need to bitch at this point, but also commend the police who were offering security to this race.  As I came around the Turn Around area, there were a handful of women behind me. A handful of them were trying to cut the course. One lady was trying desperately to convince them not to cheat, and she gave them the "Fuck You" hand wave and kept going. Well, as they were in the process of hopping over the cones, a policeman (yeah, I'm that close to the end...) called one of the ladies over. I don't know what the cop said to her (I'd like to think it was "if you cut the course you're a cheater and you don't get a medal" but it was probably "you're awesome, keep it up!"), but they got back on their side of the course and kept going. As for the one lady who refused to cheat?  I have her a HUGE high five as she passed me! She deserved it!

Mile 7 was inside a very pretty park.

Mile 7, headed towards the bottom of the park (park is on the left)
At the top of the park (you can see the layout in the map a few pics down), was a fuel stop, along with water, and I scored two Salted Carmel Gus.  I didn't use them (had my own Honey Stingers), but I tucked them away for later.

Yummy, new flavor I haven't tried!
Also at the top of the park, there was a Girls on the Run tent set up playing music. Unfortunately they were playing Beyonce's "Formation." Fuck that shit, I put my ears back in and picked up the pace. I hate that damn song (and I pretty much dispise that woman with the heat of a thousand suns). 

Putting the "droplet" for water at the "tip" of the park? That took balls!
After coming back down the shaft of the park, we were almost immediately turned around again, to exit the park. This park has a nice rubberized trail, so of course I had to run on that! Looking back towards the tip of the penis (yeah, dick jokes don't get old here, folks...), I could see that they already had the Cone Picker-Upper over there, so I was very close to being last. Dammit.

The Cone Picker-Upper is over in those trees... way too close to me
As I pull in behind Friendly Gal again, my iPod battery dies.  I wasted a lot of time walking slowly, trying to plug in my Halo backup battery and get everything back up.

Mile 8, outside of the park
Sadly though, now that my iPod has enough juice to turn back on, my earbuds are freakin' dead!  I think I pulled on them while plugging in the Halo and killed them.

RIP, $5 Big Lots earbuds... you were good to me!
I left them on a barricade so that a lovely volunteer could throw them away for me (rather than trying put them somewhere on me, or throwing them directly on the ground).

I ended up being that asshole I hate at races... I cranked up my iPod so I could still hear my music and interval beeps.  Luckily, since I'm basically alone, there was no one to really annoy with my music!

By Mile 9, I was done with this... I was annoyed with the weather (though it was cool and breezy), I was still annoyed with Hubby, I was annoyed my headphones died, I was annoyed that I was so close to the end, I was annoyed that my first out-of-state race wasn't as awesome as I'd hoped. 

Mile 9 with no one around
I was back in the Space Alien Section, where I hit the 15k mat (seemed to take forever to get here...), then quickly, made it to Mile 10.

Mile 10 - where did Friendly Girl go?
From here, I could actually hear the park, and knowing that I'm so close but still have 3 miles to go is really sucky.

At Mile 11, I passed Clary's Cafe, which is very famous to anyone who's read (or watched) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I read it many years ago before our first trip to Savannah, but I wasn't able to get into it, so I didn't know Clary's was a big deal until I researched food in Savannah for this trip.

A bastion of pancakes
They didn't seem to care that they were Mile 11
The three of us will be coming back here in about 2 hours.I hope they save me some pancakes!  Also, how unfair is it that Clary's is Mile 11?  11 looks like bacon. Are those spectators? Nope, it's just a really long line.  I sure hope that line dissapates before we come back.

Finally, Mile 12
At Mile 12, we passed East Jones again.  My car is less than a block away.  The bed is less than two blocks away. Can I just say "fuck this noise" and go home? No?  Okay. Carrying on.

Please? My apartment is only 2 blocks away!
As I was closing in on the final mile, I was passed by two people from behind me.  And there were fewer now.  Also, I can't remember where it happened, but it was somewhere between the park and here... Friendly Gal and the Cutters (from the park) found a place where there were no cops and cut the course, so they ended up about a mile or so ahead of me.  I've never cut a course, nor actually wanted to because that's cheating, and you aren't giving it your all in a half-marathon if you go 11 miles.  I was so pissed when I saw them cut. So pissed.

But anyway... I made it to Mile 13.

I can see the fountain!  It's so close!
I'm so close (and I got passed by two more folks).  I can see the fountain from here; and it's getting really crowded. Who thought it would be a good idea to open up the race route to tourists before the race was over?  Get your skinny map-reading ass out of my way!

Blue Shirt Lady looks like she's just out for a morning walk
Finally, I'm inside Forsyth Park, so close to the finish line. I'm about to kick some tourists in the ass for just meandering around the fountain!!  As I got closer to the finish line I about shit myself... Did that clock say four TWENTY-ONE???  Oh, it says four OH-ONE.  I'm okay with  that. Well, not really, but I'm a lot better with that than twenty-one!

Move! Get out of my way!!!
Did I run the chute? Hell no. I was so out of fucks to give at this point, I just waltzed my happy ass over that finish line and got my medal.

Thank you Jesus, I finished!

I also got a goodie bag and hugs from my family.  I was able to get my photo in front of the "professional backdrop" without having to use the professional photographer (he very kindly turned his head and pretended not to see me).

Goodie bag included banana, orange, water and blueberry mini-muffins
Professional backdrop photo (hubby doesn't understand to zoom in on these)
I told my hubby that I wanted him to take a photo of me and to get the finish line banner in the shot.  Yeah...

Not the shot I wanted, but oh well
I wanted to have nothing to do with the afterparty - my ankles were feeling "shardy" again, and I just wanted to get back to the apartment and out of my sneakers.

It seemed to take a lot longer to get back to the apartment, but I'm sure it was because I was walking much slower than I did this morning!

At the apartment, I took a somewhat hot bath in a sad little bathtub. After that, I chilled in bed in my towels while I chilled out with Twitter a nutty bar and some Slim Jims.

Eventually, I felt up to getting dressed.  I was starving!

We walked to Clary's and it wasn't as busy as it was before - there were only 1-2 groups ahead of us.  We sat on the bench outside and waited for them to call our name.

Once inside, we perused the menu. I'd read a lot of reviews of this place and knew that breakfast would be the way to go. Plus, I love breakfast, so it's really a no-brainer. The menu had a nice selection and variety, though. One side was all breakfast, while the opposite side was lunch.

View of Clary's from our table in the 2nd half of the restaurant
Breakfast Menu
Lunch/Dessert/Kid's Menu
Clary's has an amazing list of breakfast items, but one of their "Famous House Specials" (which hubby suggested, in jest) was the winner for me, The Oglethorpe:  Two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs any style, bacon, sausage or pit ham - $10.99.  That's a great price! Oh, but wait - it also comes with grits or breakfast potatoes, toast or buttermilk biscuit.  Oh yeah, I want that!

Description of The Oglethorpe
Hubby and the Kiddo each got a cheeseburger and fries (wow, so adventurous to try new food in a new city!)

At least it's a good-lookin' burger and fries
My Oglethorpe consisted of pancakes, over-easy eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast. Seriously, only $10.99! And it came out on two plates!!!

Over easy eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and toast
Two pancakes
The Gluttony - what did I get myself into?
First up, how are the eggs? I very rarely get over-easy eggs at a restaurant, because it's over-easy to screw them up. These were perfect. Nice runny yolks, crispy around the edges, perfect for dunking my toast into!

Next, I buttered and syruped the pancakes and dug in... oh those are heavenly.  Light, fluffy, not too thick or heavy.  Amazing!

The potatoes were spectacular and the bacon, oh the bacon... it was that perfect crispy but still chewy texture that I adore!

It was so damn tasty that I was making sexual yummy noises and rolling my eyes with every bite that I took!  Was it really that good, or was I just hungry? Could be both, but I'm pretty sure it JUST THAT GOOD. Seriosly, I would bathe in that bacon.

I was only able to get through one and some of the pancakes and 1 egg, but I ate all the bacon and most of the potatoes.  I felt bad that I wasn't able to eat all of it! If any of it saved well, I would have brought it home, but we were going to walk around town anyway, so I threw in the napkin. 

The aftermath
The pig's trough that is The Oglethorpe, plus the other two meals, with their sodas was only $35!!  Oh,, yeah, this is high on the "Must Go Back To" list for the next time we're here.

After rolling myself out of Clary's, we walked a few blocks to a DOT Stop - this is a great service that Savannah provides! Fare-free transportation to 20 stops in the Historic District.  While walking, we passed a beautiful wedding, just finishing in one of the local squares.

I wonder what a Lafayette Square Wedding costs?
We also passed my favorite church and a few other touristy spots.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Beautiful fountain in Lafayette Square
Andrew Lowe House
Though I was expecting an actual bus or trolley-kind of deal, a transport van pulled up!  I asked if this was the DOT, and - as you could imagine - the driver seemed very tired of the question, but confirmed it was, and we all hopped on.

Apparently, this is a well-used service, as there were not three seats together (or even close).  Hubby and I squeezed into the No Leg Room Row at the very front, and the Kiddo sat way in the back.  She enjoyed the family-free time, I'm sure.

She's back there... somewhere
We took the DOT down to River Street, so that we could get our tourist on.

Way back, probably 15 years ago, Hubby and I had a Kid-Free vacation in Savannah, which was quite nice!  While walking along River Street, we checked out all the various candy and fudge shops and discovered Savannah Sweets - they were the ONLY shop I'd ever seen that made nutless Maple Fudge. You can find maple fudge just about everywhere, but it always has some sort of nut in it (usually pecan).  Well, I don't like nuts in my fudge, so I was ecstatic to find this. He and I split a quarter-pound of fudge while sitting on the sidewalk near that hotel that the street goes under (it was cooler under there, in the Georgia heat!) and I just fell in love with this fudge.  We were too broke to go back and get more fudge, though, so it became this delicasy always connected to the town.  Any time we returned to Savannah, we got fudge.

We got off the DOT near the middle of River Street and very carefully made our way down one of the ramps (stairs were NOT an option for me today!). We walked down one way of River Street, then made our way back.
SS Savannah Statue/Fountain with my medal
There was not much there that we really wanted to see. I stopped in a few of the souvenir stores, as I wanted some sort of shirt from the weekend, but nothing looked good (I wanted something really campy and tacky).  And sadly, Savannah Sweets was no longer in business on River Street!  I was heartbroken - where was my fudge!?!

More importantly, though - when did River Street become overrun by hobos and drunkards?  I'm all for people imbibing responsibly, but the amount of public drunkenness noticed at 4pm on a Saturday was disgusting. We ended up walking on the river-side of the street and only crossing over if a store caught my eye. Which, many of them did not.  It was a sad outing; no fudge, no shirts, no cool souvenirs and a ruined nostalgia for River Street.  So we left.

Normal people on the left; drunks on the right
We headed back to a DOT stop to catch a ride back to the apartment, but it was taking forever for it to show up, so we decided to just walk back.  Savannah is immensely walkable, so I was okay with it.  I was slow, and I was tired, but I knew it was beneficial, so I was okay with it. I can't remember if we decided to go to Leopold's Ice Cream on Abercorn & Broughton, before gettin there, or if we just fell in line when we passed it, but either way... we got us some ice cream!

It's apparently very popular... the line was not just out the door but it was practically around the block.

There's ice cream up there somewhere (and a Subway!)
While in line, employees passed out ice water, and as we got closer, we were also given laminated menus, to ensure the ordering process would move quicker. (I think that was very smart - the menu is gigantic!)

Dessert Menu Top
Dessert Menu Bottom
Food Menu Top
Food Menu Bottom
All in all, the wait was about a half-hour, from when we got in line to when we got our treats.

Inside, close to ice cream coolers, looking towards register
Sugar cone with Peppermint Ice Cream
I went with a Peppermint scoop in a sugar cone, which I got in a cup to keep drips away from my fingers.  Hubby and the kiddo both got milkshakes, though I don't recall what flavors.  Our total for all of it was $15 - not horribly bad for Tourist Ice Cream. We ate our way back to the apartment and eventually I called it a night.

On Sunday, sadly, we had to vacate the apartment.  Since this wasn't a hotel, 'check out' consisted of taking out the trash, putting any laundry (like towels) in the dryer, putting the key back in the key safe and texting the owner that we have left. It was all very simple, and without a doubt, when we return to Savannah we will definitely check out this VRBO property again.

Exterior of the apartment (we were at the bottom)
Once we left the apartment, we headed towards Congress Street. The original plan was to park somewhere, walk around and then head to brunch.  Well, I wasn't counting on so many parking meters and limited time limits!  I found a great spot, just a few blocks from the restaurant, but after parking, I noticed it was a 10-minute space!  So, we pulled out and went cruising for somewhere else to park.  We found a spot about 1/2 a mile away, and I was fine with it. There were no time limits to worry about, either.

I began plugging in nickels and dimes and was about two dollars in when a lovely old man, out walking his dog, called out to me...

"Parking is free on the weekends, honey!"*

Seriously? Was he being a dick? Was he right?  I went ahead and threw in some more change, just in case he was being a dick, and we headed over to Congress Street.

The most expensive free parking in Savannah
By this point, we'd driven around so much looking for a parking spot (*that did turn out to be free, by the way), that it was almost time for our brunch reservation at The Lady and Sons restaurant. I was so glad to learn they'd begun taking reservations - other times we'd been here, there would be lines around the block because they didn't take reservations.

We were a little early, so we were given one of those buzzy pager things and invited to wait in the Gift Shop Lounge area.

Check In Podium, 1st Floor Buffet in the background
At the podium, looking towards the 1st floor dining room
Hubby and the Kiddo stayed in the waiting area, but I perused the gift shop.

Not. Creepy. At. All.
I love the hell out of this shirt!
I really wanted this
But I wanted this more... I should have gotten it.
I was able to wander for about 10 minutes before our buzzer went off and we were sent in a beautiful elevator to the 3rd floor of the restaurant.

This was our 3rd or 4th time here - never eaten on any other floor!
Once off the elevator, we were greeted by a secondary hostess, then led to our table.

At our table, looking towards the buffet area
Duck Face Selfies (yeah, I voluntarily share this)
Our waiter stopped by and gave us the choice of biscuits or hoecakes (we all went with biscuits), and also took our drink orders. Kiddo got Sprite. Hubby and I got lemonade - the best lemonade in the universe!

Paula Deen Biscuits
The Kiddo and her Sprite
Once he got our order, we were free to go to the buffet.  Hubby and I went first, since I was starving!

They aren't the best photos, but I tried to take a picture of everything available on the Brunch Buffet.

Yes, this is the entire hot buffet - it's worth it though!
BBQ Pulled Pork
Fried Chicken
Corn Souffle, Fried Fish, Rice and Mashed Potatoes
Mac n Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Black Eye Peas, Greens and some other beans in the back
Salad Bar
My first plate included fried chicken, fried fish, mashed potatoes, oxtail, pulled pork, and homemade croutons from the salad bar.

Biscuit, Fried Chicken, Fried Fish, Mac, Rice, Mashed, Oxtail, Pulled Pork, Croutons
I've never had oxtail before, but anytime I'm somewhere new, I like to try new things. Since this is a buffet, there is no charge to try it! It tasted like pot roast. I wasn't super impressed with it though, so I didn't finish it. I can see the appeal, I guess.

Close-up of oxtail
Gratuitious Medal Shot with Food
Hubby eating the food
Hubby loving the food
Hubby and the Kiddo, amazingly photogenic today
Hubby took a lot of time taking this pic - I have no idea why...
Medal shot!
After returning to the buffet two more times (yes, it's that damn good), I was almost too stuffed to jump, but you have to get dessert when you're here!  You are given the choice of peach cobbler, banana pudding or gooey butter cake. I believe all of us got gooey butter cake.

Gooey Butter Cake and Lemonade
I could only finish a few bites, but we took it home and the Kiddo was able to enjoy it later that night.

Our waiter Tony V was amazing, and I felt the need to share his photo on the internet for everyone to appreciate!  He kept all the drinks full, all the plates cleared and had a great attitude, enjoying himself with all his tables.

Tony V taking a group pic with the table next to us
Tony shot with us
With tax and tip, this meal was $70.  Expensive? Yeah, a little (although Golden Corral on a weekend would run you only a few bucks less than this $16 buffet would). Worth it? Oh, fuck yeah. Would I eat there every day? Nah - I'd weigh 400 pounds!

I have that same lemon juicer, and it's AWESOME!
Thanks for a great meal, TL&S!  Be back soon!
After the failed fudge expedition to River Street yesterday, we pulled up the internet at the apartment and discovered that the Oglethorpe Mall still had a Savannah Sweets store, so after we wandered back to the car, we headed over there.

It's not a big mall, but we did visit Savannah Sweets, Barnes & Noble, Game Stop, JCPenney, and a cool candy store called Rocket Fizz (EDIT: it's since closed).

"And here we see two Gamerus Nerdicus in their natural habitat"
Rocket Fizz was a cool store that had a LOT of different types of candy and sodas. They had an entire wall of taffy and individually wrapped candies, which you could fill a bag for $7.99.  Okay, challenge accepted!  I love taffy, hubby loves taffy, the kiddo...not so much, but she found other treats to shove in the bag.

Once we'd filled our bag to the top, I happened to make the comment that "shoving to make more room is probably frowned upon" to which the cashier said we could shove as much as we wanted!  Okay!  So, I squished the hell out of the taffy to make room for more candy! (When we got home, I weighed it, and it was close to FOUR POUNDS of candy! Well worth $8!)

More taffy!
Our shoved-to-the-brim bag of candy
At Savannah Sweets, we got a full pound of the delicious, nutless, maple fudge, two pralines for my mother (who we'd be visiting next week) and a Reece's Pieces-covered Oreo for the Kiddo.  All in all, that cost around $20.

Reece's Pieces-covered Oreo
They even pack up the fudge nicely
One pound - banana for scale
Nicely packaged pralines
Naked Caramel Praline and Chocolate Caramel Praline
My fudge (on top) and my share of taffy (bottom)
Lastly, we hit up a local convenience store called Enmarket (we don't have these in our town) for some drinks and snacks. I was not impressed with the specifc one we went to, but maybe others were better? At least they have big styrofoam cups!  Those keep drinks nice and cold for long car rides. Though, luckily, this car ride was much quicker going home than it was coming here!

It stayed cold all the way home! The drink, not the medal
All in all, it was one hell of an eventful weekend, and even though I really want to be positive about the weekend, all the bullshit left a nasty taste in my mouth. Would I run it again?  I really don't know.  Probably not in the near future.

Location: Savannah, GA – Historic District & Forsyth Park
Host: (Who put on the race) - Publix
Race Fee: - $55 (+ $3.75 Transaction Fee) (Saved $10 with a Promo Code)
Packet Pickup: At Hilton Savannah DeSoto, entrance was hard to find coming from the direction we came from; school having prom at the same time
Parking: We stayed local, so no parking worries!
Support: (on-course) practically NONEXISTENT!  A few water stops, but they all looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but here, some with little kids more interested in playing around than helping out runners. Only a handful of spectators. Signage was great, though.
After Party: N/A... We didn’t even walk over to check it out.