This weekend was my last marathon for this part of the year, the Little Rock Marathon! It’s my hometown marathon, my first marathon and my first half marathon. I’ve done it every year since I started running (with the exception of one year when I was in Alaska).
It seems like every year I have some story at the Little Rock marathon. Last year, it was a senior who grabbed my shoulder to lean on at the down and back and told me her legs felt too weak to continue, but she would. It was her dream to finish a marathon. We walked to a water station together and she took off (finished ahead of me too).
This year, it was a young lady who was really struggling on the down and back (coincidentally, it’s always the down and back where these stories happen). I was struggling too. This was my worse marathon ever. But, I’d been here before. I could finish, just not as strongly and with as much fun as I normally do (I’m normally trying to cheer people on and having a great time the last 10 miles, I was in pain and it sucked). This lady was feeling the same. She pulled out a card that said believe in yourself and looked at me and said, “We’re going to do this! We can do it, girl.” At that point, I knew I looked rough. Someone was trying to cheer me on!
I said, “There’s only a 10 k left after that timing mat up there! There’s not much belief to it! We already finished the hard part. The rest is cake!” So, we started talking. She said it was her first marathon and she said everything hurt and she’s never running again. I laughed and told her that I felt the same after my first marathon, but this was my 8th. She’d be back. “Once you cross the finish line and look back and see what you did…you just ran a marathon! You’re awesome. So few people can do what you’re doing now. You never know. You might be back.” She said, “I don’t know, girl, we’ll see. I’m not even sure I can finish this one.” I smiled and said, “You’ll finish. This has been a tough race, but anyone can do a 10k. You’re doing awesome. You look way better than I did my first time. You get a medal no matter what time you finish in.” At the last hill, she decided to slow down and I took off ahead of her, but I watched her finish. She did great! [They actually ran out of medals. I didn’t know this at the time, so I didn’t even notice if she got one or not. I saw her cross and cheered for her, and then took off for pizza. I hope she really did get one. I would have probably really quit if I didn’t even get a medal. I would have given her mine if I would have known they ran out!].
Anyway, these stories are why I love marathons and why I don’t mind being in the back. I love how people meet defeat and pull everything they have for that last push to the finish. It’s inspiring.
This was my worst marathon ever. It started out at 26 degrees (I did the early start) and didn’t get much cooler. I was still wearing my jacket at the finish. Because of the cold, I wore two pairs of socks, two shirts, two pants. I think the socks got me. I was doing great (just ahead of the 6 hour pacer, and you can’t be ahead or you’ll get disqualified if you early start) up until about the half, thinking I was killing it because the pace was easy. My plan was to keep up with the six hour guys until the elites passed and then take off. Then, my feet started to get tender. I could feel a blister forming. By the big Kavanaugh hill, they were awful. I could barely go downhill at any speed at all. Ouch. I was in pain and limping a little and my walk breaks were getting longer and longer.
Not to self: never wear something on race day you haven’t trained in. How many times have I said that to others? I never get blisters. Not even once. Today, because of the blister, my hip hurts, my knee hurts, my food hurts. The blister changed my stride and threw everything else off. Two days later, I am still feeling it. I’m normally bouncing around again the evening after. Crazy.
Anyway, after the downhill, I decided to walk the rest of the way, time be damned. I just wanted to finish. I did. That’s all that matters.
|You can kind of see the last hill here.|
Everyone in Little Rock jokes about the hills. It has an elevation gain of 727 feet according to my Garmin. I think the reason Fort Worth seemed more hilly is that it has one big hill. Little Rock’s hill (Kavanaugh) is less steep, but longer. Around mile 13, runners go up a long hill that continues a few miles and goes back down (from 300 feet in elevation to about 500 feet in elevation). That hill is bad, but what is worse is the hill that appears around mile 24. It’s like, “What? ANOTHER HILL. F-you marathon!” But, you know that the finish is right around the corner, so the hill isn’t that bad.
Aside from the hills, the course is awesome. It goes through all of the major sites of Little Rock and downtown North Little Rock: you run through the Quapaw Quarter, see the Arkansas State Capitol, the Clinton Presidential Center, the Governor’s Mansion, MacArthur Military Museum, Historic Little Rock Central High School and end and start in the Little Rock River Market District. It really is a great way to see the city.
The Theme & Crowd
Little Rock is a fun marathon. Everything is themed. This year, they had a western theme. The expo was full of horses and hay stacks. A few years back they had a circus theme. They had performers and clowns. The medals always match the theme and, for the past few years, have been ridiculously large. You can tell they have a great time putting the event on, and I really love how much dedication they have to the theme every year.
It’s also got great crowd support. I love everything about this marathon. The shortcut map sign was just in someone’s yard. Love it!
It’s huge, ’nuff said.
Even though this year sucked, I still love the Little Rock Marathon. I think every bling lover in the world should come and check it out. You can’t beat the bling or the people you’ll meet.