After a long winter of training, I now can call myself a marathoner!! Yesterday was the Little Rock Marathon, and it was awesome! I am so excited to get to write a race report, I hope you enjoy reading it!
Our journey to the race started a little later than we had originally expected. We went to a birthday party on Saturday and then had to run home and get our things together, and after a few "oh no, I forgot to get something" moments, we were finally on the road. Luckily Kevin's cousin had generously offered to go pick up my packet for me so I didn't have the added stress of trying to make it into Little Rock in time to pick up my packet before the expo closed. That made the trip over nice and relaxing!
We got into Little Rock and drove downtown to check out where we needed to go the following morning. Neither Kevin nor I had ever been to downtown LR before, and we thought it looked pretty cool! It was very easy to find the race area, so I felt pretty comfortable about the next morning. We got some pasta for dinner at a small Italian restaurant (after seeing the HUGE crowd at Olive Garden) and I headed to bed.
Getting to the race the next morning was very uneventful, which I was thankful for. I got there in plenty of time to walk around and check out the starting area, warm up a little bit, and visit the porta potty. It was around 32 degrees, but I knew it was going to warm up so I didn't want to overdress- I definitely had to keep moving to stay warm!
We started right at 8am to the song "Ballroom Blitz"- a pretty good starting song- definitely got me ready to run! I had my iPod but I didn't want to wear it at the start, I wanted to absorb the experience of the crowds cheering and the bands we ran by. I had it mostly as a backup in case I got bored or needed some extra motivation!
When I was planning the race I knew I would try and run with a pace group. I didn't want to go out too fast and since I was all alone I wanted to have someone to chat with and try to keep up with. I just wasn't sure if I should run with the 4:30 or the 4:45 pace group- I ended up going with the 4:45 after deciding that I wanted to run the race a little slower and just enjoy it! I also left my Garmin at home- I didn't want to be constantly looking at my watch or worrying about my time. It was so much more relaxing that way. I found the 4:45 pacers pretty quick. I ended up following a guy named Reid for the first little bit- he was really fun! He was probably yelling for the crowd more than the crowd was yelling for us! He'd say "We run for cheers!" or "We run for Cowbell!" or whatever else he could think of. I knew if I stuck with him I'd enjoy the race!
Miles 1-10 were pretty smooth- we winded through North Little Rock and back into Downtown. I was pretty impressed with downtown Little Rock. There was great crowd support and I felt really good. I talked with random people here and there and was having a great time. The half marathoners and the full marathoners were still together at this point, so there were a lot of people around.
I ended up ahead of my pacer Reid at mile 10 and never got behind him again for the rest of the race. It was nice knowing he was back there though and that I was on track to meet my goal of 4:45.
We got to the split where the half marathoners would head to the finish while the marathoners would keep going at mile 11. This was the part that I had been so nervous about- would I be able to keep going? Luckily when I got there I felt that there was no way I could go to the finish now- I was just getting started! I felt great! So crazy that I used to be so ready to be done by that point!
After we split off we headed to what people called the "hilly" part of the race. I was nervous because I had not even checked out these hills before- I had no clue how big they were! They really weren't that bad though and were offset by a really pretty neighborhood. Miles 13-16 were rolling hills followed by a huge downhill at mile 17. That was actually harder than going uphill! I still felt great though and was excited at mile 17 to know I had only 9 miles left- single digits!
Miles 18-23 were very flat but were challenging because that part of the race was so boring! It was an out and back through a park. The interesting part was seeing the people who were ahead of me- I could see people that were an hour ahead of me. I was inspired by the fact that they were almost finished with the race and I knew that I would soon be where they were.
Around mile 19 I had the first time where I didn't feel good- I started feeling a little dizzy and sick. The sun had come out and I think I just got hot. My legs and my feet were feeling fine, I didn't feel tired, but I got a little worried at that point! It lasted for about a mile and then we hit a turnaround and were greeted with a nice headwind. Normally I'd hate running into the wind but it made me feel so much better!
Before I knew it I was out of the dreaded out and back portion of the race with only 3 miles left to go. At this point I knew I was going to finish strong- and I knew that I was still on target to meet my goal of 4:45 because both of the pacers were behind me! I saw mile 23 and I thought to myself "How many times have I run 3 miles? I can do this!".
During the race I had been walking through the water stops but at about mile 24 I found it just hurt more to walk than it did to run. So I decided I was done with water stops! Around mile 25 there was a huge hill ahead and I was so nervous! I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to run up the hill but I knew walking it would hurt worse! So this lady and I took off up the hill together. We ran the whole way encouraging each other and congratulated each other at the top. It was definitely a highlight of the race!
After the hill it was all downhill to the finish. And nothing can compare to that feeling of running through the finish chute and across the finish line. Little Rock boasts having one of the largest finisher's medals and they weren't kidding! I knew I had to finish just to get that huge medal! A guy put it around my neck and it felt so heavy, but I was so proud! As I walked down the finisher's area I spotted Kevin and Luke and I was so happy to see them. Luke greeted me with a "Hi Mama" and it just melted my heart. Seeing them made it all so worth it!
I had signed up for Marathon Tracks on Facebook and email so my friends could keep up with me during the race. I mostly wanted Kevin to get updates so he'd have a better idea of when to pick me up! I didn't know it was going to post to my facebook a million times that day but that's OK. What was nice about that was shortly after I finished Kevin got an email letting him know I finished and I got my official time: 4:43:12- right under my goal time! I was so excited!
My first marathon experience is something I will never forget! I honestly can't think of one thing I would do differently. I enjoyed every bit of it and I felt great the whole time. I am pretty sore today but not regretting running it at all! I can't wait to do another one.
Aside from finishing, this was the highlight of my day! Sporting my finisher shirt while my little man slept in my arms...he hadn't done this in forever and it was so sweet!