I truly thought this race was one of my favorites that I’ve run thus far. It was hands down my slowest race by far. I really enjoyed the course, fellow runners, course support and overall race. What an experience. I am very glad I’m ending my full marathon career thus far with this race, because it was so much fun and something that I really enjoyed.
The race started off a bit chilly, but warmed up quickly, and it never got TOO hot, the wind was a little brutal at end, but hey, when you’re out there for as long as we are, we deserve to battle some elements! :)
There was a lot of fanfare at the beginning of the race, their theme this year was Celebrate! because it was their 10th year anniversary and everything was themed well. There were disco balls, and disco dancers and lots of fun things happening. They had lots of music and hype as you crossed the starting line. As I crossed the starting line, I didn’t know what I would be in for. With being a bit injured, I didn’t know how long I would be able to run for, but I did know I would be able to finish. It might take me all day, but I knew I would cross the finish line.
Tara and I ran the whole race together. It was really a nice start, we headed out to the Clinton Library and around the downtown area and over the river on a bridge. It was really a nice day. One thing I noticed, and it might be my job critique coming out in me was that there was throwaway clothes ALL THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE COURSE. Like everywhere, I haven’t ever seen so many throwaways at mile 6. It didn’t make sense to me. But that was interesting and I know it must stink for them cleaning that all up. We checked off the miles, drank our water every mile and at mile 6, I ate my first sandwich square. There were so many people out along the course, so much spectator participation, which I loved. I love it when people take part in the race and make it special for the runners and the Little Rock community really made a huge impact along the course. There were so many stations out there that communities had set up their on their own with a huge array of snacks, drinks, and just people out cheering and enjoying the race. I will never forget how many people were out there and EXCITED to be out there. That made a huge difference.
The miles kept ticking away and we entered into a neighborhood area and it was beautiful. The houses were my favorite kind! Big porches, all so unique and different, I loved the area. It was a lovely day out and with the spectators cheering us on, made for a special race experience. The big issue, which I knew would happen was that right after mile 3, my hip started to give me the dull pain and that’s when I knew I was in for a long day.
Mile 7, 8, 9, still full of tons of spectators, great on course support and my hip was still hurting. I remember so many churches out there supporting, singing, doing so many things encouraging. It was really, really cool. We saw Little Rock High School, which was beautiful and huge. We ran by the Capital Building and I was really hurting at mile 13. We started run walking around mile 11 and I really was hurting at mile 13 and at mile 13, there was a HUGE hill, that seemed to go on forever!
I, for some reason, thought that the course was flat, and boy it wasn’t! The hill was really long and we ran by the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind, both beautiful. Tara and I both really wanted to get to mile 16 and another lady on the course told us that at mile 16 there was a big downhill. Mile 16 also meant that we only had ten mile to go. We literally were walking along. My hip was hurting so bad and I knew I would have to dig deep to finish. It was all just mental for me after mile 13. I knew we would get there, but it would mean I would have to will myself along the entire way.
We were still overwhelmed by all the course support and all the kind people out there and the volunteers. I can’t emphasis that enough. Everyone was SO sweet. Mile 16 also meant we found BEER! We enjoyed that Beer and candy and snacks. :)
It was great to talk and catch up and walk along, even if we were going slow, we were still having fun and I’m so glad that Tara stuck with me, even if I was in pain and whiny.
We continued through another small ‘main street’ type town, and then it was downhill! We went through a wooded ‘foresty’ area and it was quite different and pretty in the back part of the course.
I really wish I would have taken more photos throughout the course, but sadly I didn’t. It was a great day, the volunteers/spectators were great and everything was really fun, and I was REALLY SLOW. Around mile 20 my leg was really hurting and we were just overall hurting from how long we had gone thus far. This area was the only bummer on the course as it was along a golf course and it was just allllllll the way out and allllll the way back in. We were traveling along, cheering for other runners and hurting.
Finally we hit mile 21. Then it was mile 22 and my IT band was SO tight that my left foot wanted to drag. It was terrible. I was really, really hurting at this point and T just kept encouraging me and reminded me of the medal at the end. We hit mile 23, slow and steady, mile 24. Gah, I was HURTING. Everyone was still out and supporting the runners with great snacks, water, everything. We finally hit mile 25 and I tried to run as much as I could. There were two pretty steep hills at mile 25 but it was nice to have a different type of terrain to walk up and down. While I was attempting to stretch my leg a medic came by and asked if I was okay. Man, I must have really looked bad! We trudged on and T then told me we had 9 minutes to run .7 of a mile. Goodness I was a hot mess! Without her encouragement I seriously doubt I would have continued on to finish the race.
We finally crossed the finish line and WOW. That took me so long. I remember crossing the finish line and they cut my chip off my shoe and I was wandering around like a zombie asking for my medal. It was amazing to get that placed on my neck. The volunteer reached over and put it over my visor and my neck was immediately weighed down with this beautiful piece of work!
Literally, it’s the size of my face. And I’m in love with this medal. Yes, I still have cupcake on my face from the post race ‘food’ area.
Maritza tried to buy us beer… annnnnnd you can’t buy beer in Arkansas on a Sunday. ONE FAIL!
So back we walked to our hotel, our necks weighed down with the weight of the beautiful medal. I took an ice bath and really worked hard to stretch out my leg. My poor IT band. :/
AND the best part of Arkansas Marathon is pretty much the POST RACE PARTY! Boom! Awesome way to end the day with all you can eat BBQ! We showered up and arrived nice and early. Hit up the free bar, ate enough BBQ to fulfill our empty stomachs… and enjoyed the band.
THAT POTATO SALAD. Oh man life changing. SO good. So had bacon in it. Yum. The post race BBQ was also sponsored by Whole Hog, which was amazing and I wish we had some whole hog here!
And this beautiful thing made it all worth it. What a great day, with a great course, so many supporters and so many great volunteers. I truly believe that this marathon has one of the biggest hearts and am so, so glad that I got to experience this race with one of my best friends.
I know I talked about the course support/spectators a lot, but I also know how hard it is to get a community involved in a race in a positive way, and the fact that it seemed that everyone was excited to have the race there was so different than what I’ve personally experienced before. It is such a special memory I know I will remember forever. It was such a great experience, a beautiful course and a really well put together event, and how can you NOT want the best medal around? Thank you Little Rock.