Little Rock Marathon Weekend

Happy Fat Tuesday! I’m back home in Springfield after a crazy weekend in Little Rock.

But before I start my race recap, let me preface it by saying it was a really great race, and I had a great time! It was amazing to finish my first full marathon! I was so exhausted and so elated at the same time. I’m glad that I pushed through to the end and didn’t let my emotions get in the way. My giant medal was well worth it!

IMG_0468Little Rock Marathon Expo

Nick and I arrived to Little Rock on Saturday afternoon just in time to meet up with my friend Heather and her husband Chris to get checked into our hotel.

IMG_0434The boys and the dogs stayed behind at the hotel to rest, and Heather and I went onto the Statehouse Convention Center to pickup our race packets and browse the expo booths.

IMG_0438 IMG_0437We had to park about 3 blocks away…not too bad, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the extra walking! We got our packets without any problems and took a few photos before heading back to the hotel.

IMG_0442 IMG_0483We were very good and didn’t spend any money at the expo. Win! I kept telling myself that I had already spent enough on this weekend and didn’t need a new pair of socks or glasses to get me through the race. πŸ™‚Β  Also, my race bib says ‘Lindsay’ because she is my girlfriend who couldn’t attend the race, so she transferred her registration to me. But everything didn’t get changed over, obviously!

IMG_0439 IMG_0450We headed back to the hotel to get our boys and get to an early dinner at P.F. Changs. Our lovely gents posed together in front for us. They were absolutely thrilled…

IMG_0451This was our first time to a P.F. Changs, and I was so excited to try it out since I had only receive so many excellent reviews of the place. We started with some egg-drop soup and salt & pepper calamari.

IMG_0454It was delicious, and I was already feeling slightly full by the time our entrees arrived. But that didn’t keep me from digging in! I had the sweet & sour chicken with white rice. The chicken was SO tender and very lightly breaded. Perfection!

IMG_0455Nick had the orange beef which was also amazing. I had to keep snagging a bite here and there – it was too tasty! We all sampled each others dishes before deciding we were too stuffed to eat another bite and headed back to the hotel.

I was getting so nervous by this point in the weekend. I wanted to get all my clothes laid out and ready to go to make our morning a little more smooth. I did all that I could to ‘prepare’ before heading to bed around 9 p.m. Did I sleep much? Nope. But I tried. And I tried. My brain was not in the mood to shut down. I finally got in about 5 hours (I think!) and awoke around 5:30 a.m. feeling groggy and less than rested.

Race Day

Despite my sleepy eyes, I got ready rather quickly and had my normal bagel with grape jelly + lots of Gatorade and water for breakfast. I also had a cup of coffee to keep me going, but I think this might’ve been my downfall of the morning. I had to take a potty break at mile 2! And that never happens! Not that I’m bitter about it or anything…haha. πŸ™‚

Once we were all set to go, we made our way to Downtown Little Rock to get parked and find my corral. It sprinkled lightly on us during the drive over, and all I could do was pray that it would pass and not get any worse. But it didn’t work. The rain was coming down regardless of my pleas, so I zipped up my raincoat in an attempt to keep me dry through this race.

IMG_0458We found my corral, used the lovely porta-potties, and found a little bit of shelter from the rain before I was forced to go take my spot in my corral.

IMG_0462 IMG_0461I was mentally panicking at this point. I can’t do this. 26.2 miles?!Β  I must be crazy! I haven’t trained enough! I am going to dieeeee.

Luckily, Heather’s corral was right by mine so I stayed with her and chatted for as long as possible to keep my mind off of the rain and race ahead of me.

IMG_0486It’s miserable standing in the cold and rain getting ready to run the longest race of your life. Ugh. My corral finally took off at 8:30 a.m. and I struggled to get away from the crowd for the first mile. We were so congested that my first mile was a whole minute slower than where I wanted to be at. Get out of my way, people!

IMG_0463 IMG_0465Finally in mile 2, I knew I was going to have to stop to pee. The cold temps + rain + cup of coffee was getting to me, and I wasn’t going to last much longer. I knew there wouldn’t be porta-potties until around mile 4 at the water station, but luckily I saw one (and I mean only 1!) at mile 2 right after we had crossed into North Little Rock. And there was a line. My mind was screaming at me to keep running, but my bladder had different plans. So I veered off the course to hop in line at the lone toilet. I had to wait for around 4 minutes, and they were the longest 4 minutes of my life. But holy cow, did I feel better with an empty bladder!

After my pit stop, I did a major marathon ‘no-no’, and kicked up my pace as fast as possible to make up a little of the lost time at the stop. I knew I should slow down and not worry about it, but I was feeling great and pushed myself anyways. I ran as hard as I could comfortably until we exited North Little Rock at mile 5. As I crossed back over the bridge, I saw Chris , Heather’s husband, and it was amazing how good it felt to see a familiar face along the sidewalk. Now I completely understand how important it is to make sure that I know when and where I’ll be able to see Nick or whatever family members are with me!

I continued on to mile 8 where I saw Nick and Mac for the first (and final) time. I waved big, told Nick I was fine and feeling good, and blew kisses to Mac. It broke my heart when Mac started pulling on his leash in attempts to follow me down the race course. But all the women running around me were ‘oohing & ahhing’ over him so much that I kept it together and started up some convos about our pets.

Awkward sidenote: It’s amazing how emotional I got during this race. I think it was a mix of nerves + the bad weather that really set me off. But I was an emotional wreck everytime I even thought I was going to see Nick and Mac! Geez!

Anyways, I continued on my way and the rain was coming down slow but steady. I kept my rain jacket hood up over my hat until mile 16 or so when the rain slowed for just a bit and I began to get warm. It felt nice to have my head free for a few miles! We were still running with the half-marathoners until mile 11 when we split for about 1 mile, then reunited for about .25 miles, and then they veered off again to reach their finish line. It was hard to see over half the crowd veer off and know that they were less than a mile from their finish. It’s okay, Christine. You are stronger than this race course. Keep going.

I took a Gu at this point with lots of water because I knew the hills were getting ready to hit. And was I right? Big time. OMG. I felt like I was running straight up hill from mile 13.5 to 17. Then the massive downhill at mile 18 just about killed me. Downhill should be easy right? Wrong. Not after killing yourself going up, up, up, for almost 40 minutes! My quads were screaming at me, but I refused to listen. I keep trucking up the hills and kept my head down to avoid actually looking at the rising hill in front of me. If I didn’t have to see it, maybe my legs wouldn’t know how hard it really was. And it worked…for the most part. πŸ™‚Β  I got several shouts from other runners during this part of the race. “Woah, you are killing these hills!” “How are you doing this?!” “You are doing amazing! Keep going!” I had no idea the other runners would become so supportive. But since at this point in the race most of the spectators were few and far between, we had to keep each other encouraged.

Around mile 18.5, we started the long ‘out and back’ portion of the course. It was about 2.5 miles down into a park in Little Rock, and then the same distance back. This is where I was probably the most miserable. The course was dull. I was mostly alone as the runners had become so spread out. And I kept looking for the turnaround, and it was never coming. Did we miss it?! Why are we still running this direction?! Shortly after I hit mile 20, we turned around and a huge wave of relief set over me. I cruised along until right before mile 23. I decided to take some Sports Beans at this point since a water station was coming up, and I could use their Gatorade to wash the sugar down.

As I approached the water station at mile 23, they were holding up black signs and announcing that the race had been cancelled due to the weather. We needed to find shelter. We would be on our own from here. There would be no more water stations or police help with traffic control. WHAT??!!! I knew the rain had been picking up, but are they serious?!

We kept running because, frankly, there was nothing else we could do at that point. They weren’t coming to pick us up. We were only 3 miles from the finish. And the thunderstorm was slowly rolling in behind us. My mind was filled with questions. Should I keep running? Should I call Nick to come get me? Where am I even at? Will I even get an official time? I should probably walk because I doubt I’m even getting timed anymore!! I better at least get my stinkin’ medal!

And after that mile 23 announcement, I was a complete mess. I wanted to cry and give up. I was frustrated. I thought I was going to have a DNF (did not finish) for my very first marathon. But the adrenaline was pumping and I kept my legs moving for as long as possible. I stopped my Runkeeper app on my phone at mile 24 to conserve battery. And I called Nick to see if he knew anything else about the race status. My phone was acting weird though due to the rain and cold I had been putting it through. So I couldn’t hear him very well. I basically told him (in my desperate and miserable state), “I’m at mile 24 – they cancelled the race – I’m not sure if you should come get me – I’m going to keep running – and I think my phone is broken, I can’t hear you.”

I hung up the phone and kept running alongside a veteran runner that told me this was her 20th marathon. She said to me, “Sweetheart, if you can get through this race as your very first marathon, you can finish any marathon. This is the worst race I’ve been through ever!” That raised my spirits a little and at mile 25 I decided I was okay and should keep pushing as fast as possible. Until I saw Nick….running towards me on the race course with Mac…with a frantic look in his eyes.

The end of the race was filled with drama to say the least. Nick was waiting for me at the finish line when I called him around mile 24. He thought I had said, “My ankle is broken” when in reality I said ” My phone is broken”. Whoops. 😦  So this little encounter at mile 25 caused my last walk break as we quickly chatted and he went dashing back to the finish line to see me finish. I felt awful for freaking him out, but I was SO elated to see that finish line. I was soaking wet and frozen, but I had done it! AHHHH, I DID IT!!!!

I wanted to cry as I crossed the finish line, but held back the tears long enough to get my medal, get some snacks, and get my photo taken. I immediately bypassed the large finishers area to find Nick and Mac. I didn’t see them right away, so I camped out in a small restaurant with lots of other runners until Nick came to get me. I wanted to soak up the moment of glory, but at the same time I was mentally and physically drained. All I could think about was getting into my dry car and driving back to the hotel for a hot shower.

Nick found me after a few minutes, and we immediately headed for the car. He and Mac were completely soaked and tired as well. We all looked a little worn down at this point in the day!

IMG_0467I showered with Mac as soon as we got back. That poor little guy had been through a lot and was soaking wet dirty. While Nick showered, I stretched, put on my compression socks, and gave Mac a good blow out with the hair dryer. He was a content little guy after that – just a little sleepy. πŸ™‚

IMG_0477Overall, I can say it was a great race up until mile 23 despite the weather and dropping temps. And after mile 23, it was an okay race and, more importantly, a great experience for me to have. Like that other runner said, if I can make it through that race, I can make it through any marathon!

My official time was 4:14:27. I wanted to do better, and I was on track to do better before the ‘cancellation’, but I’m still very happy with my time. And as a sidenote, the Little Rock Marathon was never cancelled/called-off due to the weather. We were just in high alert due to extreme weather conditions. And some of the volunteers and water stations along the route received the wrong information. That’s why I was told that the event was cancelled. “Little Rock Marathon Race Officials have rerouted the 12th annual Little Rock Marathon and Half Marathon after extreme weather conditions threatened the safety of participants and spectators on Sunday.”…from the Little Rock press release.

I was lucky enough to not be rerouted since I was already so far along the course, but I believe many runners and walkers were rerouted to finish the course faster and get to safety. Confusing? Yes. Very. But it was a great learning experience for me, and I definitely feel more confident now going into future races like this one.

Well that’s enough for now. My little brain just wanted to get out that recap before I sleep again tonight! Have a great evening.

Yay for having my first 26.2 under my belt! Woo!

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3 thoughts on “Little Rock Marathon Weekend

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