Little Rock Marathon and 10k
March 3-4, 2018
A lot of this report will be from experiences outside the actual marathon, as I had a lot more fun outside of it than actually doing it. Stay tuned to find out why.
Last thing I did was the surf city marathon, it went well (see previous blog), despite not training properly for it because it’s winter and I’m hibernating. February took a turn for the worse, as it usually does out here in Wisconsin, but most of it was heavy snow and some ice, making running outdoors difficult to say the least. So what did I do? Nothing. I played ITG in my basement and worked on the upcoming girlpocalypse tournament. Two weeks prior to the race, I did a 6 hour live stream trying to raise money for the tournament, and it was hard and took a huge toll on my body (I did not refrain from harder songs). So it’s not like I was inactive during this time. I biked a little and swam a little, but really didn’t run.
Off I went, the Thursday before, on my 11.5 hour drive down. Yes, I drove. It saved a lot of money and in the end wasn’t actually that bad…or well, there were some things that weren’t so good.
I took it over two days, saw from friends from Champaign, and on the second day while arriving in Arkansas, some egotistical manic thought because the car beside me in the left lane (going about 85 mph, and myself going 80 mph) wasn’t going fast enough that he took the liberty to use the fading lane from an on-ramp to pass ME on the right! I saw him approach in the rearview mirror and “are you serious?!” eyes wide open freak happened. I mashed down on my brakes, but even though his speed was topping 100+ in his wide/deep tire white American Ford F-250 with antlers on his chrome grill manly MAN, he did not pass me soon enough and ended up going off the road in a pile of gravel (which could have ended VERY badly for all of us), but instead only ended badly for me. The rocks kicked up by his tires hit my windshield in several places (and at this point I had slowed to 55mph or so). I was so mad. No cracks appeared in my windshield until about two days after, when it slowly started creeping horizontally across. Now I have a massive crack that “I” have to pay for now. 😡
Regardless, I continued on to pick up my friend Sarah from the airport. I got to fetch her, and off we went to the expo downtown. Little Rock is not really that big of a city, not even mildly large. It was fairly easy to navigate, but parking was horrible. I didn’t note any parking garages. Heck, even my city of Roanoke has parking garages and lots. We found one lot. But they only took cash which you had to insert into tiny little metal mailbox like slots. This was totally archaic to me.
The expo was decently large, but nothing too exciting. Shoutouts to garmin who replaced my ugly black band on my watch with a nice yellow one! They were the best at the expo in my opinion. I bought some replacement body glide, which I had planned on doing when I got there anyway (I did not forget, I just ran out last month). I was also convinced to get my first sparkle skirt. I still have to wear test it and review it. I’ve always been curious, but don’t see myself getting more. Check in and picking up bibs was easy.
Off to the hotel we went. The only issue there was, we had a smoking room. It didn’t even occur to me that properties allowed smoking inside anymore anywhere. We spent two hours probably working it out so we didn’t have to stay in a room filled with horrible smoke. They were just sold out of other non-smoking rooms for the following night, but would tell us if there was a cancellation. We crossed our fingers. It was a mess, but I’ve had worse happen so I didn’t stress about it.
Sarah and I got to the room, it was quaint, was clean, so I had no real complaints. We laid out our attire and gear for the next morning and went to sleep. The 10k went smoothly. I was happy I got to run with Sarah for the 10k, and she was so patient with me. Sarah is a dedicated run-walker with specific intervals for each. The pace was nice. The 10k course was ok, nothing special, nothing to really “see”. It was pretty interesting to run into a homophobic lady on course though who thought we were “together”, it just never occurs to me that people think about that and care about it. She also kept digging herself deeper and deeper the more she talked trying to be “careful” as not to offend us. It was strange! The weather for the 10k was sunny and a bit chilly. But I would have taken that any day over what we had for the full marathon the next day…
After the 10k, and after realizing I had forgotten to bring more than one sports bra AND socks for after races, we headed to target to pick a few things up. I was having a lot of bad luck haha. I later found out I had only brought one arm warmer for the two of my arms by accident…this also was bad given the forecast for Sunday, but I only found out later that evening. We ate and then headed out for the best part of the trip.
We stopped by this little mill, which ironically was in the middle of this posh residential area, you would have just never know it was there! There were flowers and ducks…and green things, things I would not be seeing again for another few months being from Wisconsin. Things were bursting out into spring. It was a fun little stop, but when I headed back to my car, I found that the crack in my windshield was a LOT bigger. We continued on to the next spot, about a 20 minute drive outside of town: Pennacle State Park in the Ozarks! Heard the hike was challenging and fun. Challenging how did not cross my mind until we were faced with it.
On our way on the hike, we encountered a heard of deer sprinting through the forest. The trail was rather short, like 2 miles round trip. When we got to the real climb, we realized why the time it suggested was more than it should be for the distance. It started with large rocky boulders that weren’t as steep, but soon the rocks grew larger and harder to climb and got steeper. Sarah stopped about half way up, just nervous about potential injury. I understood, and continued on for a while, until it became just too much right near the top.
I decided to head back down (which actually ended up being easier than going up). What a thing to do before a marathon xD
We survived though, went out for a nice conversation and starbucks and then headed to dinner at the Olive Garden, which was packed! (Go figure lol) When we got back to the hotel, I looked at the forecast. Sad face all around. I freaked because I really did not have anything to prepare me for the race weather (which had been forecasted to be in the 50s/60s with maybe rain heading into the afternoon, which I had been tracking for a week). Instead we got low 40s and rain. Day of, it said that there wouldn’t be rain until later, and maybe not much. Ugh. I decided to wear my capris combo I brought, which I knew would not be enough for me given the temps, but I had no other choice. None of my clothing was warm enough (although would have been better if I had had the arm warmers).
I had some trouble sleeping the past few nights, and race anxiety never helps. Sleepy me got up and since we signed up for the VIP experience, we got there super early. We got private bathrooms, prerace food and private gear check. It was ok, but I did feel like we were there with too much time.
But time soon ran out too quickly. When we went out and arrived at the starting line, where our corral was, was WAY too crowded, and we literally could NOT get into the starting line gates; too bottlenecked by literally everyone. That part was pretty stressful being crunched into a crowd of people trying to get into the corral, but no one being able to move until the race gun went off. SO the gun went off. The crowd started to slowly move, and we got into the starting gates. It took us 6 minutes to cross the starting line. This day we would not be running together. I had my plan, and she had hers. Let’s mark off Arkansas!
It was cold. I feared a repeat of the Madison Marathon back in November. It was almost just as cold. Starting temps were at 40°F, only 4 degrees warmer than Madison. Madison only warmed up from 36 to 38ish on race day with the overcast forecast there. I’ll spoil it now, Little Rock only went up to about 48°F by the end of the race, I think it only got up to 52°F that day. 10 degrees does make a little difference or I probably would not have completed the race, but I had some close calls…
It was crowded to say the least. Starting pace was above 12 mins/mi. It was ok, I was going by heart rate anyway, just like Surf City – same plan. I don’t think the crowd thinned out for me until about mile 12, where the half marathoners split off (FINALLY). Sharing the course between marathon and half marathon for most of the race is not a good idea in my honest opinion, too crowded and puts unneeded demand on literally everything from volunteers to participants to resources. It started misting at race start, so I kept my phone and iPod concealed in my plastic baggy. It continued to “rain” through mile 12. I really don’t have anything to really comments on as far as the course goes. It was ran downtown and then residential…not very exciting. Miles 3-12, I was having a VERY hard time with keeping my heart rate low, despite my forced walking intervals, and the rain got heavier during mile 8 and I considered dropping because I was so cold. I don’t know why my heart rate fluctuated so much during this time, maybe it was because I couldn’t regulate how I felt. I was not out of breath…so no idea what it was. Whatever is was it was frustrating me because I couldn’t keep with my plan. Didn’t matter how slow or fast I ran, it was always in flux.
I took a gel at mile 7 or so. My second gel was at mile 15, and last one at mile 23. I spaced them out but had one more than at Surf City, and grabbed some on course candy (of which I choked on my own saliva on the flavored tootsie roll) at times. I had my GU gel last, what a regret taking that (it was free from another race and I didn’t want to buy more, honey stinger is really the only way to go for taste). There were a LOT of beer “aid stations” on course, if you drank from them, I don’t know how you’d be sober at the end of the race. There was also a LOT of churches. One was throwing holy water (I assume, I’m not Catholic, and I’m assuming it’s Catholic who do these things), and I was like please no, I really don’t want to be colder and wetter than I am. I appreciate the sentiment, but eeeeeeh. The best church was dancing and handing out gatorade.
The rain let up at about mile 13, where I got to see the Capitol building. It’s a shame the half marathoners wouldn’t see this. I took some pictures and got my phone out for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to do with my plan, as my heart rate had been higher than I wanted the first half of the race and I didn’t know how much reserve I had. So I took off at mile 14. This is where the real hills began and the course veered off from downtown. Again, strange looks, running up a hill…pffff. I had a lot of energy. With the lack of rain, I almost felt ok, and was drying off a bit.
The hills between miles 15 and 20 were really fun and I did enjoy that part of the course, which didn’t have as many buildings or houses; more trees! It was really funny, when I got to the steep downhill at mile 16 or so, there was another girl in front of me who opened up her arms to the sky and began letting herself just fly down the hill and I heard a very audible “YES”. You go girl. I of course joined her in this, although I ended up passing her, it was nice to know someone else wanted to also trash their quads on the downhills.
Trashing quads….didn’t actually happen for me. Yay strong legs. The course started coming back downtown but along this bike path, you know I love me some bike paths. I was keeping a nice pace, and did not stop at every aid station, a first for me. I avoided all electrolytes too (they had gatorade endurance formula known for making me sick). No cramps, no bad things? No problem! I starting to think I really don’t need to supplement with salts, I think my diet which is normally high in salt (I am a salty girl, not a sweet girl rofl), I really don’t need it on race day at least for this distance. The turn around point at mile 21 turned the course into the headwind, boo. It was chilly.
I then arrived at my favorite aid station at mile 22. They had coke. SOLD. Had some coke. Beautiful. They probably were the most hype station too. At this point, I was passing another girl who was wearing Inknburn, the Brave singlet. She said, “nice Ink!”, I said, “Same to you, except I’m freezing!” She said, “Wait really?”
As I passed her, I shouted back, “The joke is, I’m from Wisconsin!”
Then I heard her say, “Oh I’m from Minnesota!” Hahaha I am so exposed. I had goosebumps the whole race. I thought I was cold, but oh no, let’s prove me REALLY WRONG.
Mile 23: is that hail?
It started POURING rain, it was hard and it hurt a lot. Each drop was like a unique sting. This lasted only about 7-9 minutes or so, but it sucked real bad. Shoes were soaked, ground was already saturated, so puddles were deep and everywhere. I was grateful for my Altra hat, it stayed strong. I ran faster trying to warm myself up. This really did not work, but I got some speed out of it. I decided at mile 25 I was going to run as fast as I could. I broke into the 9 min/mi pace range, pretty impressed with myself. Then I think the sun was trying to peek out, but nah. As I reached the finish line area, there were people handing out Lipstick (maybe it was maybelline?) and party bead necklaces. Ok. Well I finished in 4:47, Surf City was 4:52, so with no real extra effort and putting off really taking off for an extra mile half way, I was faster (reminder this is a hillier course by quite a bit), and felt a lot stronger.
As I am typing this, I can say I feel very recovered and I did a 13 mile run yesterday too. Things are starting to come together for the Zion races coming up April 20th, which is now my A race ironically. I have a 50k coming up on my birthday to celebrate turning 31 by running 31 miles!
Post finish, I got my medals, and my chocolate milk (yus!). I headed to the VIP area, where they had a lot of food, that I didn’t take part of because my appetite is extremely poor post race, and for the post race massage. We paid $25 extra dollars for the VIP area, and this is where it became worth it to me. I can tell you I had no less than 40 minutes on that massage table. It was amazing.
So overall, the race experience was meh, and the course wasn’t very desirable or something to write home about, but the VIP post race experience was nice. I also noticed they didn’t have many photographers on course if that matters to people. I was glad to have a cool race experience also with Sarah. We both had a successful race weekend.
Ultra training is going well though! No injuries to speak of and not feeling weak. Looking forward to the rest of the year! Oh yeah, the medals were huge as advertised.