I’m sure you spent the weekend wondering about my trip to Little Rock for the Little Rock Half Marathon. Well, wonder no more.
Saturday morning I traveled to Memphis to pick up my half marathon partner, Becky. I was extremely tired from having stayed out late the night before. The Tedeschi Trucks Band played at the Ryman Auditorium. If you’ve never heard of them, I insist that you check them out.
And now, back to half marathon stuff.
Becky and I arrived in Little Rock around 3 p.m. and went directly to the packet pickup and expo. After we received our packets I turned around and there stood the man, the myth, the legend, Sid Busch. Knowing he was registered for the marathon, I had packed my December Runner’s World magazine that included a feature of Sid’s incredible mission to honor fallen soldiers. You can read about him here. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him to sign my magazine.
After shopping the expo, Becky and I asked someone at the information desk where we should park for the race on Sunday and what time we should arrive. She looked at our hotel confirmation and to our delight told us we were staying within walking distance from the start and finish lines. Winning! I’m not a logistics expert, so this was a happy accident…or Divine intervention.
After a lovely dinner Becky and I returned to our room where I crashed early due to the previous late night at the Ryman. I awoke Sunday morning feeling more rested than I’ve felt in weeks. And the sunrise was beautiful!
We got ready and hung out in the room until it was time to walk the half mile to the starting area. We arrived just as the National Anthem was being sung. After standing at attention we walked to our starting corral.
The race began on time and we were off. I had planned to do 2:1 intervals and I had my Gym Boss clipped to my shirt to keep the time. Becky is a walker and after one run interval I decided I wanted to walk with her. It seemed silly to drive all the way to Little Rock with a good friend I only see once a year or so and not be on the course with her.
The full and half marathons share the course until about mile 11.5. The full marathon course is known for its hills, but thankfully those occur after the split. We encountered one hill around Mile 7 and later there was a sustained incline, but Becky and I considered the course to be relatively flat.
The course was well marked and the volunteers were friendly. There were several bands along the way as well as cute signs. The water stop volunteers seemed to have been competing for Best Stop because there were some creative things happening. I took a picture of the first band and a few signs, then decided to keep the phone stowed away.
Sadly, my foot blistered again. I had tucked into my Flipbelt a little medical kit which included needles. I didn’t pull over to take care of the blister and I think that’s a good thing. When we returned to our hotel room I was surprised to see how my foot looked. If I had seen it on the course, it may have psyched me out.
A note about my friend, Becky. This was her second half and the first she’s done in about six years. She trained alone in Memphis while I had the benefit of my weekly running club to break up the monotony. During the training period she suffered a knee injury which set her back, and she took three college tours with her daughter. She lined up at the start line feeling under trained. I told her under trained is better than over trained. She hung in there and did great. When we got to Mile 12 I encouraged her to spend the next mile thinking about what she was about to accomplish. When we turned the final corner and saw the finish line Beck was smiling from ear to ear. I’m so proud of her and I’m glad I was there to witness her finish.
The Little Rock Marathon prides itself in insanely large medals. The medal for the full marathon is off-the-chain huge. But the half marathon medal is large and in charge as well. In fact, it’s the largest and heaviest medal I’ve earned to date. It weighs 14 ounces…that’s almost a pound. I know this because I weighed it on a food scale.
Bottom line: This was a fantastic race in every way except for the blood blister. Would I return? With so many half marathons an hour or less from my home, I would not drive five hours by myself for this one. But if a group of running friends wants to do this race (hint, hint) I would absolutely enjoy a repeat.