My quest to run a marathon in all 50 states has slowed in recent years due to Ironman races in 2010 and 2012 and a layoff from my job in 2013. However, one of my athletes lives in Little Rock and wanted to do his first half marathon this year. What better excuse than to jump back on the bandwagon and head to Little Rock to add Arkansas to my list of states completed. And besides, who could complain about that jumbo medal?
I began training in the Fall and was doing great. I was hitting all of my workouts and, miraculously, able to get them in all outside. And then Winter hit. I don’t mind cold and I don’t mind wind, but I don’t do well with the two combined. We had several days of 30 degrees and 25 mph winds. To the treadmill I went.
There were a couple of long runs where I struggled – a weird pain in my foot that didn’t allow me to finish the run, just not feeling it, or not having time. I did get in several longer runs, but didn’t feel like anything over 18 was great or productive.
As race day drew near, weather got worse. My athlete sent me a picture of the race course the week before the race – covered in snow. Ugghh. I hoped for better weather on race day. As we got closer, it looked like no snow as the temps would warm to just above freezing, but it did look like rain. I knew it would not be fun and went into the race not expecting a PR, but just wanting to finish, get my medal and be done with Arkansas.
And then we learned that we wouldn’t be getting our medals. There was some strike on the West coast that affected shipments coming in and our medals were stuck on a cargo ship just off the coast. They would not make it in time for race day.
On Friday evening, I headed to the airport. My connecting flight went through Dallas, which had seen an unusual amount of snow and ice during the week. Several flights to or through Dallas before mine had been cancelled and it looked like one after mine had been cancelled, but mine was still ok for now. And then it got delayed. I was concerned about missing the connecting flight in Dallas as it was the last one to Little Rock that night. Luckily, the flight from Dallas to Little Rock was delayed as well. There were several other runners on the flight and we all talked about different races while waiting for the flight.
Finally, we were off. When we landed, it was snowing. Light snow and just small flakes, but it was snowing. I headed off to get settled in and get some sleep.
I slept in Saturday morning, ate breakfast and then headed to the expo to pick up my stuff and see what they had. I bought a visor due to the impending rain. I don’t normally run in one, but if it’s raining I will. I was hoping to find a red one to match my Team RWB shirt, but had no luck. Since I couldn’t find a matching one, I went with one with skulls on it. Might as well have fun, right?
My athlete took me driving around Little Rock to see parts of the course and to see where he does his training and then we headed to the Team RWB dinner meet-up. The meet-up itself was nice, but the restaurant was not prepared. Someone had called ahead and told them a large group was coming. They had the tables set up to accommodate us, but ONE waiter for thirty-something people. Not good. He would take some orders and put them in and then come back for more. Not really a problem except that some people who ordered later got their food before those who ordered first. The whole experience took forever. We were one of the first to arrive and sadly, the last to get our checks and leave. Oh well, like I said before, I wasn’t expecting a PR.
After laying everything out and making sure I had adequate layers, I went to bed. I didn’t sleep really well, but that is usually the case the night before a race.
Since the race didn’t start until 8:00 (most start at 7:00), I did get to sleep in a bit. I ate my pre-race meal and got dressed, layering up as much as possible without over doing it.
We met a few other RWB folks for a quick picture before heading to the start. I checked my gear bag and we walked to the corals. Since it was raining, I had my trash bag over me and planned to run in it as long as I felt like I needed to.
The race started and I was off. I hit the first mile and hit my split button, but due to the fact I was still in my garbage bag, I didn’t really look at the split time. Somehow, I missed mile 2. At mile 3, I noticed that the mileage on my garmin was about .2 ahead of the “official” mile markers. I just hit my splits at the mile marker signs. Somewhere around here, I got warm and decided to ditch the trash bag.
I was doing pretty well at the beginning of the race and felt that if I kept that up, I might actually have a decent time.
Mile 1: 10:30
Miles 2 and 3: 10:48
Mile 4: 9:55
Mile 5: 8:56
Mile 6: 9:09
Mile 7: 9:16
Mile 8: 9:33
Mile 9: 9:34
Up to this point, I had been sticking with my race nutrition of two shot blocks every 3 miles, but started to feel like something wasn’t right with my stomach. I also started to feel like I needed to use the restroom. Sometimes when I get that feeling and keep running, it goes away. Not this time. I managed to make it 3 more miles before telling myself that I really needed to stop.
Mile 10: 9:41
Mile 11: 9:51
Mile 12: 9:49
Mile 13: 12:15
Can you tell where I stopped? Ha!
Out of the porta-potty and back to running. The first mile back wasn’t bad but then it felt like my legs were saying, “Wait a minute, we just stopped. Why are we running again.” I decided to just slow it down a bit and see what happened.
Mile 14: 9:46
Mile 15: 10:51
Mile 16: 10:47
Mile 17: 10:48
Mile 18: 10:58
Not bad, but then I felt like I needed to walk some. And when that happens, it’s not good.
Mile 19: 12:10
Mile 20: 11:53
Mile 21: 12:15
Mile 22: 11:33
Mile 23: 12:44
Mile 24: 13:17
I knew I was getting close to the finish and I was excited to be done with the race. I could tell I have not done a stand-alone marathon in a few years. Plus, it had been raining off and on all race. Not a hard downpour, but a steady drizzle. And it was cold. I don’t know for sure, but it probably never got out of the 30s.
Mile 25: 12:48
Mile 26: 12:51
The last .1: 5:30
And then I was done. Since the real medals had not made it in time, they did have some plastic medals made so that we could actually receive one at the finish line, which was nice. Afterall, it wasn’t their fault that the medals got hung up because of some strike.
I grabbed my gear bag and headed into a warm place to put on some more layers and change shoes. Then it was time to do something I have never done before – shower, change and head back to the airport to head home. Usually, I stay until Monday for an out of town race to give my body time to recover. But now that I am an independent contractor and teach fitness classes, if I don’t teach, I don’t get paid. I needed to get back so I could work Monday.
Flights were delayed heading home as well, but I made it. I got home and went straight to bed.
While it wasn’t my best race ever, I’m glad I did it. They have told us that our medals will be shipped to us in the next month or so, so I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival. And now I have one more state knocked off my list.
Finish time: 4:45:27