This weekend, my friend and I headed to Little Rock to run the long awaited (we started planning this back in September!) marathon. The number one question I got when I told people where I was going was “Little Rock? WHY?” But the answer was simple: the medal. It’s HUGE! But we’ll get to that later….
The expo was fairly small compared to others I’ve been to, but had enough to be worthwhile. The part that I was most impressed with was the wide selection of race schwag that was available to buy. Seriously, you could get anything! From tank tops, dresses, key chains, shorts, button up shirts, cowbells! They even had BATH ROBES! I ended up getting just a simple magenta long sleeve shirt with the logo on the bottom (which funny enough, when I met up with my friend later, turns out she had bought the same exact one! We’ve got such great taste J) There was also a cute tank top that I was considering, but since I wasn’t so sure how the race would turn out, I decided against it.
The shirt that we got with registration is AWFUL. Plain awful. This is one shirt that will probably end up being a junk shirt that I wear while painting, gardening or tear up to use as a dust rag. It was apparently unisex, which = not flattering for women at all! The color and print were a bit off as well. Such a shame too, given how cute the rest of their marketing stuff was.
After the expo, my friend and I met up with another friend (who I know from way back in DC and is now living in Texas). We headed out for some pizza and beer (not the greatest pre-race fuel, but it did the trick). I think the beer actually helped me a lot. I was having serious stomach issues all day. I think I broke a major rule in marathon preparation – Avoid sushi the week before the race!!! Yes, my smart-self went to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant for lunch on Friday. Brilliant, I know.
I didn’t sleep the greatest, but woke up the next morning feeling pretty well rested. My stomach wasn’t 100%, but was much better than the day before. Unfortunately I had forgotten to pack any pre-race snacks, so I just had one of my Gus before we headed down to the start. Our hotel was just blocks away from the starting line which was nice, since it was quite chilly! We dropped our bags off at the gear check and tried to find our way to the corral entrance. This part was a bit confusing. They had the entrance blocked off so tons of people were trying to jump over the barricade (this always makes me so nervous for people to do right before starting! I guess that’s just because I’m a bit clumsy myself). Once we finally made our way in, we waited about 10 minutes before actually crossing the start line. But then we were off!
All 3 races (the full, half and the 10k) started at the same time. This was a bit annoying. Particularly when you’ve got 26.2 miles ahead of you and you have to spend the first half mile dodging people walking in the middle of the lane, TEXTING!!! This happened to us back in Miami at the ING Half and happened here again. I don’t understand why anyone would be texting right after starting a race. Were they updating their facebook status? If so, couldn’t it wait a few minutes? Or if not, please be considerate and move to the side of the lane. Ok, that’s enough of my rant.
The first few miles felt good. At some point we were running along with these young guys wearing sweatpants! They were clearly enjoying themselves. And then later on in the race we came across Marathon Man. This guy was wearing a full on superman costume (tights and cape and all). He was quite a riot to run with for a bit. He’s also a bit crazy. He’s on a mission to beat the Guinness World Record for number of marathons run in one year. As of the race in Little Rock he had already run 23 races!!! And it was only the beginning of March. Insane, but admirable. We eventually lost him and kept on. Around miles 14-16 (I think!) we hit a pretty serious hill. It felt like it was going on forever! Luckily there was a ton of crowd support (those people in Little Rock sure know how to support the runners).
Around mile 20, my friend’s ankle started acting up. I was surprisingly still feeling pretty good and was being tempted by the possibility of a PR, so I kept going. The last 6 miles were actually pretty boring. It was the last part of an out and back, so at least you could see the other runners passing by (which always keeps me entertained and motivated seeing so many people doing such a great thing!)
So finally came Mile 26. The last push. I felt a great burst of energy and pushed across the finish line with such a big smile on my face. After so much doubt in myself and worry, I finished the race feeling great, and with a new PR! My official finish time was 4:23:47 (about 9 minutes faster than my first marathon in October).
After finishing I went to get the whole reason why we had gone to Little Rock in the first place….the medal. Seriously, it’s HUGE! And heavy. It was hard to wear.
I got a few drinks of water and then headed back to the finish line to watch my friend finish. She also finished with a great big smile on her face! We had done it!!!
Thinking back on the days leading up to the race, I’ve realized several things. First, I need to have more confidence in my ability as a runner. I was so worried about the lack of training that I had done in preparation for this race – my longest training run was only 14 miles back in January and my mileage had dwindled from being in Nigeria for work and then the jet lag afterwards. But I still managed to finish and finish well, and most important, finish without injuries!
Looking forward to the next few (ok MANY) races, my goal is to focus on believing in myself and what I can achieve. I’m excited about the possibilities of what I will be able to achieve if I can stay on track with training and finally get serious about my nutrition.