After I got done with the Little Rock Half Marathon, collected some snacks, got my checked bag, I decided it was time to get back to my hotel. I was staying at a host hotel about 7 miles from the downtown area and they provided a shuttle from the race to the hotel—so I didn’t have to worry about parking my car.
Once I got back to my hotel, it was 11:51 when I got back into my room. Checkout time was at12 pm. I knew the weather was getting worse and I could take a shower when I made it to St Louis. My mom was texting me to stay in Little Rock because there was ice all around me. At this point, it was 36 degrees—so not ice weather. I told my mom that I was going to get out of the city and I’d stop before it got bad. I was secretly hoping I could make it to St. Louis… but mother nature would have other plans for me.
As I was driving, it was raining hard but the temperature was staying between 36-34 degrees for the first hour or so of driving. I told myself that I’d keep driving until it got to 32 degrees and then when it started to ice I’d figure out what to do. Once I got off the expressway, the next stretch of the journey was a two lane highway which goes all the way to Missouri. It was here that I started to see cars coming from the opposite direction covered in sleet/ice/snow. At this point, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it to St Louis and I better start remembering a “biggish” town that I had seen so I could stop for the evening. It was at Walnut Ridge that the ice/sleet/snow caught up with me.
I knew that Walnut Ridge Arkansas was a pretty small town (4,900 people) and I thought the next town was a bit larger, so I thought it should have a hotel where I could stay the night. I immediately checked my phone (thank god for smartphones) and discovered that there was a Days Inn in Pocahontas Arkansas and I was about 10 miles away. Those 10 miles took about 30 minutes as the roads were starting to get really bad. Luckily the hotel was right on the highway, so it was an easy turn into the hotel from the highway. My luck continued when I got there and discovered that there was one room left!
I had a very spacious room with a king sized bed, coach, and a jacuzzi tub and a tv to watch the Academy Awards! Dinner was pretty entertaining since the restaurant next door was closed and Pizza Hut was the only thing open but they were unwilling to deliver to the hotel. So I took matters into my own hands and walked the .5 miles to the Pizza Hut! Remember, I ran 13.1 miles that morning, only ate a taco, all the junk food that I got at the end of the race in my hotel room and that was it! Besides an extra mile for the day wasn’t going to kill me (my knee was throbbing in pain but my hunger was worse!!). 3 people including a police officer stopped me on my walk to the Pizza Hut to see if they could help me… but I didn’t accept any rides (stranger danger!) and made it there and back all on my own!
The whole night the ice hit my window and the snow continued to fall. Plows would go thru the streets, but no salt was put down as they do not have it in Arkansas. By morning, the ice stopped and the snow was done. My mom wanted me to leave in the afternoon, but I knew it wasn’t going to get any better. So at 7:30 AM, I decided to start my car. Of course, I left my scrapper at home and I didn’t put up my windshield wipers, so my car was a frozen mess. Luckily some hotel guests helped me and I was on my way around 8 am. I even got stuck coming out of the hotel and they had to push me out of the snow. The next 4 hours were some of the scariest of my life. It was a 2 lane highway which I mostly had to drive down the middle of the road and move to the side/slow down when other cars came by. It was very nerve racking. It was only when I got about 60 miles outside of St Louis that the roads really cleared up.
The rest of the drive to St Louis, then to Bloomington and finally home went great and was no issue!
Crazy EPIC journey home from Little Rock will make this one half marathon that I never forget!