Sunday, March 2—“EPIC” Race Day
The theme for this year’s Little Rock Marathon was “EPIC”. It truly turned out to be!
After realizing that there was no “free” breakfast at my hotel, I got dressed and went to find the shuttle to go to the race. I had paid $25 for the VIP Perks Pavillion so I was excited to see what I would get!
The Pavillion was pretty big… lots of tables for people to sit at, heaters galore (which proved to be a very important thing), free massages (I didn’t do this and I didn’t get a chance to afterwards), private gear check, private port o potties and snacks/food galore! Here is what I ate before the race:
The one thing that I did think was missing was Gatorade or any sort of electrolyte drink L. They had coffee, water and pop galore, but no Gatorade to be seen 😦. There was also had a medical table with pain killers, stomach pills, Vaseline, and feminine products—I took some pain killers (I knew my knee pain would visit me at some point).
After I ate my breakfast, I stood by a heater with some other racers and waited until about 20 minutes before the beginning of the race before I walked to my corral.
While I waited in my corral, the rain started. It wasn’t heavy, but it was more than a mist so it was just annoying. I was wondering if I had made the wrong decision the day beforehand not purchasing a rain jacket at the expo the day beforehand, but at that point, I just had to go with it.
Finally the race started at 8 am but I didn’t get to start until about 8:25 since each corral was released about 3 minutes apart. By this point it was still raining and my legs were already starting to shake since I was super cold with the rain hitting me. At this point it was about 45 degrees.. not too cold but not too warm either. There was a woman in the corral with me in shorts and a tank top… I don’t know how she did it!
When Bart Yasso (running celebrity) announced my corral to go, I was off! The race started towards the Clinton Library and then looped back into town. After approaching mile 1, I started to see the elite runners coming back towards us on the other side of the road (at this point they were around the 10k portion of the race). It was inspiring to see them running SOO FAST!! The cold and rain was nothing for them as they just were going so fast. Miles 2-4 were done in North Little Rock… it was hilly but this race was nothing like the hills of Jackson Mississippi that I experienced in January at the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon. Aid stations were positioned every 2.5 miles on the course. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the 2.5 for the first aide station so I took a minute walking break after completing 2 miles. Of course, shortly after I started running again, the aide station appeared (it was at 2.6 miles…grr). The rest of the aid stations were fine and I was able to successfully run to each of them without taking a break in-between!
But the temperature was starting to get funky. The temperature was falling, my toes were frozen, my fingers were going numb, and I was getting cold!! Miles 6-8 were pretty much a blur, its usually during this point of the race I’m thinking that I’m halfway done!! At some point, we passed by the Governors Mansion (at first I thought that’s a big nice house before I saw the sign) and also went by the Little Rock Nine High School. Instead of a GU stop during this race, we got an orange slice! I’m not a fan of GUs at all, so this was a welcome change for me! Around mile 11, I broke off from the marathoners. Unfortunately, when I made the turn the mile markings became non-existent for the half marathoners. I understand that there is a marathon course, but what about the 6,000 half marathoners?! Since I knew my run keeper was off, I was a little upset. I would have liked to have seen the mile markers for mile 11 and 12, it may have pushed me a little faster.
My knee finally started to hurt around mile 12. It was a little uncomfortable, but I just had to push thru it. I only had 1 mile to go—I was freezing and I just wanted to be done!
When I was trying to think how far I had run, I finally saw the lipstick stop! Little Rock is famous for the lip stick stop! Its right before the end of the race, so you can put it on and look good for the finish line! At this point, my fingers were absolutely frozen, so there was no way, I’d be putting it on. I took the lipstick but did not wear it L Different day and better weather, it would have been a different story!
I tried to run as hard as I could towards the finish line and finally crossed at 2:24:31. Not my best time, but the best I could do on that day given the conditions.
I got my medal, picture taken, and snacks galore (little Debbie swiss rolls, oatmeal cream pie, pretzels, goldfish, chips, banana, trail mix). Unfortunately, there was only chocolate milk being offered at the finish (no gatorade or water)… and I am not a fan of chocolate milk. They also had solar blankets (I think that’s what they are called), but the line was so long, I decided being cold for a few minutes would be ok. I made my way to the Perks Pavillion to get some food before going back to my hotel. I got a taco and that was it. I was beyond frozen at this point and I just wanted to get on the road as soon as possible. So I took a taco to go (forgot to get one of the many sodas that were present that I saw before the race) and went off to find the shuttle to take me back to my hotel.
Pros of the race:
–The race was very well organized overall—from the race directors, volunteers, expo and beyond… it was great!
–The medal is one of a kind! They are known for the marathon medal, but the half medal was no laughing matter
–Fun city to explore!
Cons of the race and my race experience:
–Aide stations were 2.5 miles apart… I’ve developed a good system of running the whole race and only stopping for 1 minute walk breaks during the water stops. It was difficult for me to run 2.5 miles straight at a good pace and not walk—so I think I slowed down a bit because of that
— The weather just plain sucked. By the end of the race it was down in the 30s. Running thru the cold rain is not fun.
–Non existent mile markers when the half marathoners broke off from the full marathoners… a little unacceptable. I know the race is known for its marathon medal, but when you have almost double the amount of half marathoners, you should have mile markers for them.
–My attitude… it kind of sucked when I found out the weather was going to suck. Believe me, I was totally excited for this race up until the moment I knew it was going to rain. I don’t believe weather forecasts until the day before/day of, so Saturday my attitude took a turn for the worst. Rather than running hard and going all out, I played it a little safe. I mentally told myself that I would be happy with a 2:30 or better—that’s unacceptable. I should go into every race hoping for a PR. I should race as hard as I can and hope for the best race of my life. I was told the hills were worse in Little Rock than they were in Jackson Mississippi… that was totally wrong. There were hills but nothing like Mississippi. So looking back on this race, I’m very disappointed in my performance especially since I was 2.5 minutes slower than Mississippi. I have to remember that it’s still better than my first half and the race conditions were the worst I have ever experienced. This race was also the fastest race I’ve ever recovered from… I felt totally normal by Tuesday… thank goodness!
I’ll share a post over this weekend about my drive home. It was certainly “EPIC”. The race was cancelled about an hour after I finished due to the winter storm that struck, so many marathoners and some half marathoners were unable to finish the race. I’m extremely happy that I was able to fully finish the race, do fairly well (definitely not my best), and cross another state off my list!