I don’t know how long the “runner’s high” typically lasts, but I’m still feeling the Little Rock Half Marathon experience three days later. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to explain it without babbling on and on in an emotional mess of incoherent nonsense.
Little Rock knows how to host a race. I’ll say that.
Our weekend started with the short road trip from Fayetteville to Little Rock, and eventually on to Arkadelphia for the night.
We easily had less stuff in the car for this trip than any other trip in recent history. Colt is so low maintenance these days I always think I’ve forgotten half his stuff! And I didn’t really need anything but running clothes, so it made for a light load.
The three of us got to Little Rock in time to meet a friend for lunch. I’ve known Devon since sixth grade and we were roommates in college — it’s still incredible to me that we are now taking pictures with our children.
Post-Purple Cow we had to head to the Expo to check in and pick up my race bib.
Not quite sure why he felt the need to call the Hogs during the picture, but who am I to argue? Also – everything everywhere said “marathon” and I felt a bit like a poser as I was running the HALF marathon, but whatever.
After the crazy expo experience in Vegas last December, I was expecting a similar mess with another large event. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! The expo was well organized and fun – I wish we’d had more time to really walk around the vendor booths, but Colt was getting bored and we were ready to get to Arkadelphia for the night.
Back in the car and on to Pop and Ninny’s house. We were pretty pitiful house guests — ate supper then couldn’t wait to get to bed. Sunday morning would come quickly…
Race Day! Race Day!
We’d made the decision to stay with Jeff’s parents in Arkadelphia instead of getting a hotel in Little Rock — and it turned out perfectly. Colt got to sleep in a bit and spend the morning with Pop and Ninny while we headed into the city for the race. No problems with parking (we didn’t even have to pay!) and we found Luke and Jennifer in no time.
The sun was coming up quickly, but it was still a little chilly at the start. I decided to hang on to my jacket and give it to Jeff when we saw them around mile 5. The boys gave us good luck hugs and headed toward a good spot on the bridge where we could see them later — and we got ready for the start!
And we were off!
That crowd is made up of 2400 marathoners, 4200 half marathoners, and 1200 10Kers. See that stop sign near the top of the photo? I’m back there somewhere.
I’d taken it easy on my legs all week in anticipation of this race, and the feeling of “fresh legs” was heavenly. That and adrenaline made the first 4 miles fly by.
By mile 5 or 6, we were crossing back over the bridge from North Little Rock and I gave Jeff my jacket. THAT was a nice boost – by that point I wish I had been able to take off even one more layer! It was getting warm! But beautiful!
After that, we really started to settle in. We had a solid pacing plan and we stuck to it pretty well, and I tried my best to high-five every little kid along the side of the street! The spectators for this race were incredible — signs, cheering — there was so much energy. We saw the boys a few more times and they had a good time snapping photos of some good signs.
They even spotted a running Elvi!
The route wound around town enough that spectators could move along the course and see their runners several times so we started to recognize a few faces. Leading up to race weekend, I’d heard horror stories about the crazy hills on this route. Well – the “hills” are either all in the full marathon course or I guess training in Northwest Arkansas has its advantages because we didn’t really notice any.
Around mile 9 we ran by the Governor’s Mansion and Governor Beebe was standing out front cheering and waving! I have a bit of a crush on him so that put a nice smile on my face.
So I’ve gushed about the weather and the level of organization and the spectators and the Governor and the non-existent hills — but the volunteers! You guys, I read somewhere there were 3200 volunteers distributing 21,000 gallons of Gatorade and 3500 gallons of water to 9000 runners — that is crazy. I haven’t volunteered for a race anywhere yet, but I need to. These people really make the whole thing run smoothly and Little Rock had it DOWN.
Another favorite part of the race was around mile 8 – we ran with this view:
If you read descriptions of the Little Rock course you’ll learn it passes several landmarks — Dickey-Stephens Park (home of the Arkansas Travelers), the Governor’s Mansion, Central High School, Verizon Arena, the state capitol building — and I was looking forward to this “tour” offering some distraction. But I guess I need to get my head up and pay better attention because I missed most of that! Too many high-fives from cute kiddos distracted me, I guess!
Around mile 11, Jennifer and I split and decided to each finish our own race. I cranked my music and focused on the finish line. I saw the boys one last time before the end and it gave me the pep I needed to finish strong.
And the finish line!
Here’s a video clip of the finish — you can hear the announcer say my name around the :13 mark.
Yay! Half Marathon #3!
2:18:20. Not a PR, but I felt great. And check out that placement – 1626 out of 3272 — it doesn’t get much more “middle of the pack” than that! I’m really proud of the strength of my last few miles:
13.33… Do I get bonus points for running an extra quarter mile? Ha! Maybe I should just learn to run in a straighter line…
We got our ridiculously gaudy and enormous medals, and headed for the refreshments. Note: The full marathon medals were TWICE this big. CRAZY. You can’t tell from these photos, but the “0” in 2012 is a spinning disco ball!
Thanks for hangin’ in there, guys! You’re such good sports! Chocolate milk and bananas for everyone!
This race was technically a “training race” for me with the full marathon looming just a few months away, but it was SUCH a good time. For some reason, the idea of 26.2 weighed heavily on me during the last few miles of Little Rock and I think I’m starting to feel a respect for what that distance will really mean. I’m getting excited and I’m more determined than ever to finish out marathon training as consistently as possible. April 29th, I’m coming for you.
Doesn’t that crazy medal look right at home with the others?
Little Rock Marathon 2013 is on the calendar. 3.3.13. I’m thinking full marathon, yeah?