Monday, March 4, 2013

Little Rock Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, March 3
Little Rock, AR
Marathon #20
State #10
Weather - Chilly at start, SUNNY, some wind


The Little Rock marathon was pretty much the last "distance" race I signed up for before I realized how bad my IT band injury was. I signed up August 1, opening day, which was a few weeks before my injury hit rock bottom.

I had been dreading it a bit, as I haven't been spending that much time on my feet, and I haven't had that great of a marathon (or even a half for that matter) in ages.

Saturday

There were ZERO direct flights into Little Rock on Saturday. NONE. We opted to fly Southwest, which left us with a connection in St. Louis. For three hours. Turns out, that is just enough time to catch up on social networking, have lunch and get a snack.


We landed a few minutes early in Little Rock (which may be one of the smallest airports in the country) and got our AWESOME GREEN Ford Fiesta rental car without any problems. The expo was TEENY tiny. We got our (pretty lame) unisex shirts and headed out within a few minutes as there were practically no vendors there. But there WERE lots of fake horses.


On our way back to the car we stopped at a free museum. It's been a while since we did something cultural.


We finally managed to get in touch with Ruth and went to a place near her hotel called "Boston's," where we carb loaded. Pasta AND beer. Both were delicious.


L and I headed to our scary hotel and lights were out by about 9:00. The race packet was very vague on race day planning, with the only hint about parking "there will be ample parking available near the start." Uh. Ok.

Sunday

Alarm went off just before 6. Got dressed and headed out. Got to the general vicinity of the race without any issues, but there was a lot of traffic and many of the roads were closed. We VERY luckily were able to get into a parking garage (for only $5) that was just a few blocks away from the start. We sat in the car until about 7:25 as it was pretty chilly out.

View from the parking garage
Heading over to the start area, and we certainly see the start area and the corrals (which we didn't even KNOW there were corrals), but we couldn't find the bathrooms. We finally found them, waaaay down the street, and it took 15-20 minutes to get through. We were forced into the back of the corral since they took up the entire street and we couldn't move up or get in anywhere else. At the pace I've been running, we probably deserved to be back there. National Anthem was sung at 7:50 and the wheelchair race started at 7:55.


Very crowded start!
We were ahead of the 6:00 pacer but behind the 5:25 pacer. My goal, optimistically, was to finish ahead of the 5:25 pacer. Apparently, along with the corrals was a staggered start. We did not cross the line until about 8:18. It had been pretty cold standing around in the shade, but we warmed up pretty quick once we got into the sun.

I knew NOTHING about this course, other than there was a hill somewhere around 14 and another around mile 24.

No idea what is happening here
I was feeling pretty good the first few miles. My calves really started to tighten between miles 5 and 6. If I wouldn't have been running with L, I probably would have stopped to stretch or walk. She was just far enough in front of me that I couldn't really talk to her, so that forced me to keep going. It eventually worked itself out, which was nice.

HILARIOUS
The course was not super interesting but there were a LOT of spectators, which was nice. We got TONS of complements on our awesome outfit (INKnBURN tech shirt and Lululemon pace setter skirt).



We even got our picture taken in front of the Governor's Mansion with Mike Beebe - he was a nice guy (and I'm still amazed at how non-runners are willing to hug gross, sweaty runners).

Camera lens was all sweaty so it's kind of blurry :-/
We split from the half marathoners around mile 10.5. We "merged" with them for a bit around our mile 12. I WAS SO UPSET TO SEE THEY HAD A BEER TABLE ON THEIR SIDE BUT THERE WAS NOT ONE ON OURS :( :( :(

I remember saying to L - wow, this girl's going to have a great memento of texting during the race!
The halfway point of the marathon was right in front of the capitol. I wasn't running with a watch, but I could tell it was the fastest half I have run since my injury (official 1/2 split is 2:27:50). I remember commenting to L that I was a bit sad we had to keep running because for ONCE, I was at mile 13.1 and I was still feeling pretty good.

Not too long after, and we got to "the hill." It lasted for maybe 2 miles, and it was just one long, gradual hill. It wasn't super steep, and again, if L wouldn't have been there, I probably would have walked up at least part of it. We made it up the whole thing without walking. And since I sorta new that was the only hill of the course, we decided no matter what, no more walking. Blarg.

There was, however, a very nice downhill to compensate for the uphill, although it did not last nearly as long. I swear I felt like I was cruising and expected my pace to be faster than what it was. Oh well.

And after that is pretty much when the course got tough for me, somewhere between miles 17 and 19. I stopped to use the bathroom and then I knew we were headed out on a long out and back stretch. It was pretty flat and the roads weren't torn up, but this section didn't have any spectators and the course had really thinned out. We saw Dave just before mile 20. I was pretty pleased to see that our mile 20 split was under 4 hours. The rest of the course seemed to go on FOREVER. I had been looking for our friend Ruth on the out section and never saw her.


There were supposedly aid stations at every mile after 20, but they weren't spaced that way. It was very weird that the first aid station with GU wasn't until well after the half marathon split, but then they were at every single aid station until the end. Seems like there isn't really a point to offering it so late?

Mile 20!!
 

Mile 23 and we are finally heading back into the city. I see the overpass and think that is the big hill at mile 24... turns out the hill is actually just before mile 25. At the mile 25 aid station, there was an older man that had fallen and was bleeding. So close to the end. I sure hope he finished :(

We did NOT walk up the hill, although there was a nice lady at the top handing out gummy bears - and of course I took one. About a half mile down the road and there were FINALLY people with beer. I was so happy when I saw them!!

I think this is my final "push" towards the finish
I really wanted to push it towards the end, and again, it felt like we were running a lot faster than we were. Saw Bart Yasso at the finish line, and we crossed together.

The medal is pretty much the entire reason that we ran this race, and it did NOT disappoint. Stopping my phone from mapping my run and I only had about 3% battery to get a few finisher pictures.


 


Official Time - 5:16:47
Official Pace - 12:06
Overall Place - 1563/2446
Gender Place - 582/1088
Division Place - 114/187
Official 10K - 1:09:18
Official 13.1 - 2:27:50
Official 20M - 3:54:23
Official Last 10K - 1:22:24 (Yep, slowed a LOT)
Mile 1 - 10:48
Mile 2 - 10:28
Mile 3 - 10:41
Mile 4 - 10:28
Mile 5 - 11:09
Mile 6 - 10:53
Mile 7 - 10:51
Mile 8 - 10:55
Mile 9 - 10:29
Mile 10 - 11:00
Mile 11 - 11:27
Mile 12 - 11:21
Mile 13 - 10:38
Mile 14 - 11:10
Mile 15 - 11:47
Mile 16 - 12:14
Mile 17 - 12:15
Mile 18 - 11:00
Mile 19 - 12:42
Mile 20 - 12:35
Mile 21 - 11:57
Mile 22 - 13:23
Mile 23 - 12:30
Mile 24 - 13:03
Mile 25 - 13:30
Mile 26 - 13:14
Mile 27 - 11:49
Mile 27.2 - 10:48

(Above mileage splits are from L's map my run. Mine recorded over 28 miles - clearly I am the worst tangent runner EVER, and no splits were available. Also, there was ZERO walking in this marathon outside of the aid stations. That is a HUGE accomplishment for me. I haven't done that in a marathon since my PR race 15 months ago. A little over 3 minutes faster than AZ, which was a FLAT course. However, I walked a LOT during Arizona, and not at all here. So. There's that.)


The most disappointing thing in the entire world about this race was that there was NO BEER AT THE FINISH LINE. Um WHAT??? NO BEER? I spent the entire race thinking about the two Michelob Ultras that I planned on having at the finish. And yet, NO BEER. :( :( That is, in my opinion, a MAJOR FAIL. Michelob Ultra was one of the sponsors, and "host" of miles 5 and 15. AND NO BEER (ok, rant over. But really. Rude).

We sat in the car with the heat running. Went to Dunkin' Donuts again. Sat in the car with the heat running. Went back to Boston's and shared a tiny buffalo chicken pizza. I also had the world's biggest beer. Yum.

 


Then... off to the airport. Good times.


Flight mostly on time, home by 9:30. Phew.

Thoughts on the race:
  • If you are all about the bling, do it. Even the half marathon medal is pretty big and clunky.
  • The shirts were not good. I am so tired of these dumb unisex shirts. I am SMALL. Not a "men's" or a "unisex" small, just a small person that would like to wear a shirt more than once. This is a waste. This race sold out in DECEMBER. That is PLENTY of time to order gender specific shirts.
  • The expo was crowded and small. And closed early - 5 pm. Would love an option to not have to go - the race isn't THAT big.
  • Signage at the start would have been super helpful. The streets were crowded and it was annoying to have to keep asking people where to go. Glad I didn't have to check a bag, never even saw bag drop.
  • Course is ok. Could be a PR course as there are just enough hills to keep your legs interested, but nothing extreme. Not incredibly visually appealing, but people in Little Rock are friendly and the spectators really got into the race. Also, I didn't get any pictures, but this course also has permanent mile markers (like street signs) on the course. I think that is neat.
  • Aid stations were pretty good, but I wish there would have been more notification of when they were. The course was pretty turny, and we didn't know there was an aid station coming until we were already there.
  • Related - all the aid stations had Gatorade and water. The Gatorade was in tiny plastic cups, and I spilled EVERY TIME. the water was in HUGE paper cups and way overfilled. But, they weren't out at any aid stations, so that was good. GU was at a lot of aid stations, but I didn't see any until VERY late (like mile 17 or 19 or something?) and then to have GU at every aid station until the end makes no sense. No one is taking GU at mile 25. They are just pocketing until the next race. Have some available earlier. (Really DID appreciate the variety of flavors - I bet they had at least 6 different kinds). There were also oranges and pretzels at some of the aid stations. Mostly, they were great.
  • Bathrooms at EVERY aid station. A+ - every race should do that.
  • THERE IS NO POINT IN HAVING A BEER SPONSOR IF YOU ARE GOING TO RUN OUT OF BEER :(
  • Every race that has Bart Yasso is a little better for it. Bart makes every finish line happier. Thanks, Bart!!
  • Even with the corrals and staggered start, it was EXTREMELY crowded for the first mile. There was an optional early start (2 hours earlier) for those that planned on finishing slower than 6 hours. So in my opinion there is NO excuse for people walking (leisurely) that early in the race. Although... the 10K started WITH the marathon and half, which probably contributed to the cluster. Started the 10K later might have eased the congestion.
  • This was the 11th year of the marathon and it seemed like there were some logistical issues that should have been worked out. Many travel for this race, and "plenty of parking" without any suggestions as to lots, garages or road closures makes people uneasy.
  • As for me... other than the mile early on with tight calves, I was mostly pain free until the last 8 miles. I started having the same hip pain as I did in Arizona, and my ankles were aching a bit. Not as bad as last time, but I was wearing newer shoes, which probably helped. (Writing this the day after and I'm walking ok. Residual aches are lower back, right hip and inside of right ankle).
Sooooo. With that said. For the most part, I liked the race. However, I would not travel for it again.

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If you are still here... check out my raffle. Guaranteed to be giving away 2 pairs of pro compression socks and still plan on INKnBURN gift cards if donations start coming in!

12 comments:

  1. I did that race in 2009, and there was a good local brew at the finish. So sad that you didn't get anything! That's the worst!

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  2. That bling! That's worth running 26.2 for sure. Weird about the beer! It's not my thing for the end of a race, but I would be bummed if they had a beer sponsor and no beer.

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  3. Awesome bling!!! I did the half last year and it is still my favorite medal. We stayed the Peabody and luckily didn't have to worry about race day logistic. It was one of my best races, but I guess mostly due to the fact I ran with a friend and we had a blast.

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    Replies
    1. We waited too long to book a hotel and everything close was sold out. It ended up not being a big deal but all the information was really vague.

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  4. I love everything about this post, except that there was no beer. WTF is up with that? That medal is almost as big as you are!

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  5. Looks like a pretty course and that bling...is off the hook!

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  6. Congrats B & L. The medal is definitely worth it!

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  7. That's a HUGE medal! Congrats on the race!

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  8. Wow that medal almost makes me want to go to AR! Great race!

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  9. This race is on my future race "to do" list just because of that damn medal.

    It's ridiculous, but I still want a medal the size of my face.

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  10. that bling is insane. honestly, i don't even know where i would put it! kinda a bummer about the beer,logistics, shirt stuff-you would think it would be worked out after 11 years. congrats on another!

    ReplyDelete

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