The Little Rock Marathon Race Report of Epic Proportions
Since this is a long read you might want to get a cup of coffee and settle in before you start reading.
Okay, everyone comfortable?
The tale of the Little Rock Marathon is Epic! Everything about the race weekend was outrageous!
Let’s begin with the flight out. You see it’s fairly rare for 5 people to book flights at different times and be able to get on the same flight but we managed to do it. Since we all were coming from different places and could leave at different times, we decided to just meet at the airport. A pre boarding shot was enjoyed then it was off to Arkansas.
Mike was able to change seats to sit with me, Leah was able to change seats to sit with Argenta and Veronica was upgraded to First Class. Leah and Argenta met some fun folks from Canada who were also running the marathon. It was a nice flight!
Upon arrival we made our way to the taxi stand to get a ride to our hotel. Turns out the taxi drivers at the airport missed the Southern Hospitality briefing. They told us there was a law about 5 people in a cab and the mini van taxi was handicap so it could only accommodate 4. No one offered to call another for us and Argenta was disgusted so there was no way we were going to get into two cabs. After a talk we decided to make it an adventure and take the city bus. On the way to the bus station we saw a hotel van for the Peabody, which was the other marathon host hotel, also connected to the convention center the Expo was held in. Why not! So we hopped on board. I do believe Argenta gave the cabbies a telling smirk as we boarded.
Even though we had our entire luggage with us, we decided to pick up our packets because; hey we were right there. Here is where we found Southern Hospitality! The Expo was medium sized but had enough cool things to make Argenta and I ready to shop. While the plan was to just get our race bibs and shirts, we just had to take a look around. One hour, one bumper sticker (yes, Leah finally found her 50K sticker), 2 outfits (Argenta and I couldn’t pass up this adorable new summer running skirt and matching top), 5 pins (shaped like lips that said, Kiss a marathoner) later we started to make our way to our hotel. Taxi issues being what they were we opted for adventure and walked to find the city buses. It only took one wrong turn but we were on our way.
Every time I travel to a marathon, I learn a valuable lesson. For this trip it was “if you have a chance to book a club floor at your hotel for just a few dollars, DO IT”
When I booked our rooms, I had upgraded us to the club floor. Hey it was only $20 more but it ended up being worth way more.
Our floor was the 5th, which was accessible by room key only. They offered a very nice breakfast and nightly snacks, which ended up being like a light dinner! Well worth the $20!
Veronica’s cousin from Little Rock met us after we settled in. Then it was off to dinner and our one free night in Little Rock. After dinner, drinks in the hotel lobby with Ve’s cousin; we headed back to downtown Little Rock and Market Street, which is home to bars, clubs and restaurants. The rest of the story for that night needs to be told in person (some things should not be in print) but it was a lot of fun.
Saturday stated with a breakfast meeting of most of the YPOM 50 state club. It was all very official, and by official I mean we ate breakfast and did what we always do, talk about running marathons. Mike brought his laptop and took notes making him the honorary secretary. Needing to stretch our legs, we shuttled back to the expo for last minute shopping, and then returned to the hotel for a great lunch. We rested while waiting for the arrival of Argenta’s Dad Charles and his buddy Wes who were coming from Alabama to run the half. It was a great relaxing day. Once our fellas from Alabama arrived we snacked on the club level, then made our way to the hotel restaurant to top off any carbs we may have missed during the day.
At the hotel restaurant we meet the Michelob Ultra Race team. I really enjoyed talking to them. If I ever decided to get fast, being able to join their race team would be why. They were a really friendly group of folks. I learned that there was indeed a beer stop on the race course at mile 15 which made me very happy.
Now I have to share a few funny things just in case you hear phrases that instantly make us crack up on a long run.
1. “I miss my man!” = Veronica’s dinner comment after only being gone for 5 hours that immediately made us all crack up. Did I mention that drinks in first class were free?
2. “Your with Our Dentist, I’m calling Dad” = a not great connection Leah had with her son in Hawaii. She was explaining that she was in our hotel room with Argenta, which must have sounded like Our Dentist. Argenta’s first new nix name of the trip.
3. “North Little Rock” = Argenta’s second new nix name. Apparently North Little Rock was originally called Argenta! Needless to say she had the more shout outs on this race than ever. She also owns her own dry cleaning and drug store that we ran by on the race.
4. “Evil Woman” = this one needs to be explained in person!
Okay back to the report. Saturday we were all in bed by 8p. I think I was asleep by 8:15p. Poor Argenta had a horrible cold that kept her up so sleep for some was hard.
Race morning was finally here! We had been waiting 2 years to run this marathon (this was it’s 10th anniversary) and hoped it would be worth it.
I took the early shuttle with Veronica at 5a. Since the course was really hilly she elected to do the early start so that she could avoid getting injured by over racing. We boarded the shuttle and met some really nice people. It was a fun ride. There was a mom and daughter on the shuttle who were not using the early start. I convinced them to ride the shuttle back with me so that they wouldn’t be waiting 2 hours in the cold. The daughter was running the 10k and mom the full marathon. It seemed to me that the more I rode the shuttle, the more wonderful people I met.
Back at the hotel I met back up with Argenta, Mike, Leah and the Alabama boys. We breakfasted and took the shuttle to the start meeting even more fun people.
The morning was cold and windy but the prediction was for a hot and cloudless day. We waited until the last moment to check our bags and get into our corrals.
Let the race begin!
Argenta wasn’t sure how she was going to run with her cold and I had just run a marathon 2 weeks before so we decided to stay together. What a riot! Per our usual running style we slapped hands whenever the opportunity arose, one time almost missing our water stop completely. The little gal I met on the shuttle came flying by us (note she was running the 10k) but slowed down to say Hi! While running we met Ron, a local who gave us some course highlights (also where we found out that North Little Rock was once Argenta). The Governor was out in front of the mansion waving; I thought that was an invitation for a high five! Being an election year the governor did not disappoint us; I actually think we started a trend. At the capitol Argenta and I couldn’t resist running up the steps, ala Rocky Style, which did not start a trend but sure did get some cheers!
And then the hills came, and came and came. When they said there were hills only a few places on the course what they really meant was there were a few flat parts that connected the hills. Now not being a great hill runner (I prefer to run downhill) Argenta and I parted ways at the beer stop. Yes I walked so that I could better enjoy my Mich Ultra which super charged me to tackle the hills ahead. All along the way I passed folks that I had met on the shuttle bus. It was great, kind of like meeting family, we exchanged hellos, good wishes and of course the biggest of lies late in a race (you know the line “Your looking good!”).
At mile 19 I met a runner who was having some problems. I ran ahead and found a biker to send ahead to the aide station for her. While there was a wonderful and at times blustery breeze it was hot and as advertised, not a cloud in the sky. I’m sure Dona was fine although I never did see her finish. I saw Veronica on the other side of the road. She yelled at me to pick it up, … challenge accepted. I picked up the pace hoping to catch her.
At the turn around, mile 21, the water stop had a giant wall. I was asked to stop and sign it. Yes, Sue from Michigan was there! I had one guy write my name on my arm so that I could get a few shout outs on the course since for some unknown reason, it didn’t get printed on my bib. I saw Leah on the other side of the road. She looked great (no lie this time, she really did) then it was off to catch Veronica.
Got her! At mile 23 I finally caught up with V. She looked great but didn’t want to push it to the end so she sent me ahead. The next few miles were awesome. I saw Mike, who had a big smile and good pace going. It was a great day so far.
Mile 24.5 had a huge camper with Land shark flags flying which meant, you guessed it, another beer stop. Land shark is Jimmy Buffets beer and since Jimmy played a concert on Thursday, I guess we have him to thank.
Mile 25 was a hill, yes another hill! By now I admit, I was a little tired of hills but knew that now I had only 1.2 to go.
Mile 26 was a Lip Stick Stop. No really ladies, L’Oreal sponsored this wonderful stop to make sure you looked marvelous in your finisher picture. Since I’m colored blind I had another gal pick out a pretty pink shade for me. After a quick touch up I was off to grab that finish line and get that awesome medal looking Marvelous!
Let me take a minute to tell you about the medal. While Little Rock was a nice town the whole reason we chose this as our race for Arkansas was the medal. Little Rock is known for having the largest marathon finisher medal in the United States and let me tell you they did not disappoint. The medal is the size of a salad plate and weighs a ton. We were told that those handing out medals could only give hold two at a time because of the weight and that the racks holding the medals had to be fork lifted up and down off trucks!
Crossing the finish line, meeting Argenta and getting that medal was the perfect ending to a totally amazing race! I felt like a million bucks. I was on cloud nine and spent my time waiting for the others by dancing to the DJ, drinking Michelob Ultra and congratulating all the great folks we met over the weekend. It was awesome, totally, totally awesome.
You may ask, with all the fooling around, hand slapping and lipstick applying, how was my time. Well I came in at 4:18:33, which was 20th out of 116 in my age group. Not too bad for running a marathon just two weeks prior! Time this year doesn’t really matter, what does is that I remain healthy, injury free and have a fun time while doing what I really love.
Erin asked me at Hanson night, which marathon so far was the best. The answer is that each hold something special and you can’t really pick just one. It’s sort of like someone asking which is your favorite child, there just isn’t one because you love him or her all the same.
Next on tap for me, the OZ marathon in Olathe Kansas April 21st followed by the Kentucky Derby Marathon April 28th. Here’s to running like Dorthy and wearing big Derby hats.
Sorry this took forever. Hope to see you all soon to tell the tid bits I had to leave out!
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