It’s going to be a 2 part recap—part 1 here today is all about the expo and sightseeing of Little Rock! Part 2 will be all about the race and the crazy 48 hours afterwards!
Friday, February 28
I was able to leave work around 1 pm and made it to St. Louis by 6 pm (I even stopped for gas and lunch quickly too). The traffic was not too bad, the weather was perfect and it was a very easy drive. Lauren, Justin and I all went out to dinner and for ice cream (I love Ted Drewes custard… nothing beats it!) and I was in bed by 9:30 pm.
Saturday, March 1
The plan was to get up at 5:45 and be on the road by 6 am. I woke up at 3:30 and after tossing and turning for a bit, decided I just wanted to get on the road and go! Lauren tried to talk me out of leaving so early, but I told her I would be safe and I just wanted to go. I had a busy day planned and I wanted to make sure that I was able to do everything I wanted to do!
The traffic was non-existent and I made it to the border in about 3 hours. I stopped for gas, quick snack and was on the road again. Another 3 hours later and I was finally in Little Rock!! It was a super long trip… but I was happy I was there before 10 am, so I would have plenty of time to get everything I wanted to get done for the day!
First stop, the race expo!! I decided to go straight to the race expo than go to my hotel, grab the shuttle (it only left every hour), and mess with all of that—so I just paid the $5 to park at the expo… especially since I had plans after the expo, I needed my car!
I love race expos… so many people and things to buy!! The packet pickup was very easy (a little confusing on where it was at first, but I figured it out). They had it arranged by the race you were registered for and your race number. No one was in line and it was super easy to get the packet. There was timing for this event but it was a little different. The timer was a chip that was on your shoe that you had to register prior to the race (they ran it thru a scanner right after packet pick up) and then you had to return right after the race was done! If you didn’t return the chip, you were responsible for paying them $30.00 for the chip. This must be a cheaper option than getting the chip put right on the bib!
For the packet, I got a technical t-shirt (see below for a picture), my bib (since I didn’t register by December 31, it didn’t have my name on it L… I would have paid a couple of extra dollars for that if they would have let me), flyer for the event and a race poster (different but cute). No snacks or anything else was included. It came in a clear bag that you were suppose to use as your check bag for the race as well.
Then it was time to do some shopping! Like a Disney theme park ride, before you could go into the race expo with all of the other vendors, you had to walk past the race specific merchandise. There were TONS of items with the race name on them! Mugs, shot glasses, t-shirts, technical shirts, hoodies, hats, and more! I had seen the finishers t-shirt the night before and was unimpressed (way too loud, not very good looking at all), but I didn’t see the finisher hoodie until I got there. I decided that I had to have it! Of course, I did not wear it until after I finished the race on Sunday (some people had their finisher hoodie on at the pre race pasta party, but I don’t think that’s right b/c you haven’t finished the race)!
Then it was time to do some shopping! There were dozens and dozens of booths there! I’ve only been to a handful of expos… it wasn’t as big as Rock n Roll expos but it wasn’t as small as the Mississippi Blues expo (that was the size of basically a floor in a medium sized house with 10-15 booths). I picked up a visor (I had read on Just Me and My Running Shoes that visors were good in rain—there was a 100% chance of rain for the run… yikes!) for $20.00 (adjustable headstrap=awesome! And never slipped once!). I also got Lauren, her friend Phu, and I matching Tiffany Blue Sweatybands for our Nike Women’s Half next month in Washington DC—at least we’ll be styling! Since Lauren was so gracious in letting me crash on her couch on Friday evening, I also picked her up a little bag that she can bring with her for gear checks. It’s very small, but fits all of those must bring items (water bottle, headphones, etc) that you need on race days but only have 2 hands to carry! In addition, I also got some KT tape on my bum knee (it stayed on the whole race and my knee didn’t bother me until mile 12!) and I got some information about the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa (that is my Oklahoma race someday—the race representatives were telling me there were cheap flights from Chicago, but since I’m doing Disney in January… no more flight races until that is over!).
My expo experience took about an hour. I could have stayed longer, but then I probably would have spent more money!!
Next stop… lunch at Whole Hog Café! I was so hungry!! I had been up since 3:30 AM and only had a rice krispy treat and a Diet Dr Pepper and it was 11 am now. I put the address into my GPS and I found the restaurant in a strip mall that also contained a Walmart across the way (lots of those down there!). The food was absolutely amazing! Based off of the recommendations of the staff that worked there, I got the beef brisket, baked potatoes, roll and potato salad. The potato salad was absolutely amazing! I’ve never liked potato salad, but they told me if I liked ranch and sour cream, I would love it… and they were right! They had lots of sauces to choose from and it was a good experience. Total meal price was $9.42 which was really good for all the food plus a drink that I got!
After lunch, I went to the Clinton Presidential Library. I have some pictures here which show some different parts of the museum. It was my first presidential library and I really enjoyed it! Admission was $7 and the audio to go with it was $3.00… so extremely reasonable! There were other runners there but it wasn’t too crowded. I’ll be looking for other presidential libraries along the running journey in the future too! I got thru the entire museum in an hour and a half and had a great time!
Finally around 2 pm, I decided it was time to finally go to the hotel. While I was driving on the highway, I approached a sign for the historic site of the Little Rock Nine High School. If you don’t know the story, Wikipedia it. There were a few tour buses there with lots of high school students, so I didn’t stick around too long… especially since I wanted to get to my hotel.
I checked into my hotel around 2:30ish and decided it was time to try and watch the Illini basketball game that was on ESPN that day. Of course, ESPN wasn’t working in my room, but I was able to watch the game from the hotel bar.
At 5 pm, it was time to get on the shuttle and go to the pasta party at the host hotel. The pasta party was scheduled to go from 5pm-7 pm, so I figured I’d have no problem getting there at 5:30. The pasta party was just ok. There was Caesar salad, whole grain pasta, regular pasta noodles, melted butter, alfredo sauce, meat sauce, rolls and butter for them. There were 3 different stations with all of the same food, so there was no wait ever getting any food. Eventually the regular pasta ran out and they brought in some spaghetti (a little cheap in my book… especially for the Marriott!). The dessert was peach cobbler and a berry cobbler… both of which I didn’t eat… I wish there were some more choices because I don’t like cobbler. They had some entertainer (who was just ok.. could have saved some money and just played some music on an ipod) and then the CICs (race directors who call themselves the chicks in charge) talked about the weather and how we all needed to be prepared. At this point, they both looked exhausted already (after the races they looked worse—poor hardworking ladies!). I got back on the shuttle at 6:30 and made it back to the hotel around 7.
I tried to go to the hotel hot tub, but I discovered there was not one, so I just relaxed in my room before going to bed around 9:00 for my early wake up at 5:30 the next day!
That concludes Part 1! Part 2 (race day and beyond) will be coming to you tomorrow!