“Before I die, I want to…” Little Rock Marathon Weekend, Part 1

When you run a lot of marathons, inevitably there get to be races you are excited about and races you are meh about. I was REALLY excited for the Little Rock Marathon. As a runner, you hear such amazing things about this race – the scenic course, awesome race directors, cool post-race party, fun town, oh and GIANT medal – that it’s virtually impossible not to be excited. I signed up for this race back in November right before it sold out. Four months in advance for Little Rock, Arkansas? Not bad. So the weekend was finally upon us and I was pumped to fly out on Friday knowing that I would see Fawn and Sarah, one of my sorority sisters!

The weekend started off with, well, not a bang. I got to the Charlotte airport about an hour ahead of time (fine with me because I hate waiting)…and then my flight was promptly delayed. I don’t know, they were having life issues. We ended up not leaving until almost an hour later than we were supposed to. Did I only have a one hour layover in Atlanta? Yeah.  So on the plane there are people legit freaking out because their flight is supposed to leave at 7:05 and it is now 6:58 and we aren’t off the plane yet. My flight is supposed to leave at 7:15. The flight attendant asks everyone who is getting on a flight leaving later than 7:15 to please stay in their seats so the other people can make their connections. How many people listen? Approximately 5. So I am on the aisle seat and the 7:05 people are a couple rows behind me. There is a girl on the window seat in my row and I tell her hey, would it be ok to let the 7:05 people go first? She says, literally, “Excuse me? No. My flight leaves at 7:15 and I don’t care whether they make their flight or not, I need to make mine.” Alright, well, awkward jellyfish. My flight left at 7:15 too but I wasn’t all uppity about it.

delta-airlines-boeing-7771-2So I ran down the terminal in Atlanta in the biggest possible cliche, rocking my Marathon Maniacs jacket and running tights while carrying two duffel bags and wearing…flip flops. I didn’t wear my highlighter shoes to the airport because I thought it would be too much with my jacket, but damn, I could have used them. But guess what? My flight to Little Rock was delayed too, natch. Thanks Delta.

When I got on the plane, the guy next to me asked if I was running the marathon. I said that I was, and he asked how many I had run. I told him Little Rock would be my twelfth. That’s when people around me started listening.

“What? You’ve run how many?”

“Little Rock will be number twelve.”

“How many do you run a year?”

“Um, two or three a month.”

“WHAT?!”

So it went on like that for awhile and people all around me were listening and chiming in about their races, how many they had run, everything. It was pretty cool, but a little awkward. People think I’m doing something really amazing, but I’m not so much. I just like to run. I’m not fast. I just run and travel. Anyway, I naturally pimped my blog out, so I hope some of y’all are reading.

We finally landed around 8:30 or so and I was starving, per usual. I met up with Fawn who immediately complained about everything the rental car, which, it turns out, wasn’t a Lexus. Weird! We did our usual routine of grabbing dinner and heading back to the hotel, which, much to Fawn’s ongoing dismay, was a Holiday Inn Express.

Look, Baby’s hotel points only go so far, ok? Was it free? Yes? Ok then.

We woke up ridiculously early the next morning, which seems to be typical. I think Fawn was just excited because it was about to be her FIRST DAY OF MARATHON TRAINING! And by that I mean her second day running ever. Because the first day was in Uggs, in Dallas. For those of you who didn’t know, Fawn’s life dream is to make a movie. She pitched an idea of making a movie about me running marathons all over the place to a film company, but I am too boring, so they will be making a movie about Fawn being inspired by me to run marathons. Or something. I don’t know. Case in point, Fawn is going to allegedly be running the Dallas White Rock Marathon with me in December. Apparently I am doing a repeat.

p1000179-2A special bonus of Fawn making this movie is that I got to film parts of her first training run without her protesting because it’s “for her dream.” And don’t worry, I made sure to mention that every time she complained about me filming her or taking pictures for posterity. She doesn’t run, so I started her off with Couch to 5k, a running plan that literally takes people who sit on the couch and gets them to run a 5k in about 9 weeks. The first day starts with a 5 minute warm up walk, then alternating running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds eight times, then a 5 minute cool down walk. This is literally how I started running.

As it so happened, Fawn and I happened to come upon the Little Rock 5k, which had started at 8am. We had decided to go downtown to run rather than running around the ever-scenic Little Rock Airport, since Fawn had accidentally gotten us lost the night before in an area that looked suspiciously like  a scene from the movie Deliverance. So, naturally, we bandited the 5k.

p1000183-2Of course, we had no intentions of banditing the entire thing and then taking water or a medal we didn’t pay for. We I would never do that. We did however enjoy the company of others for awhile, and I filmed Fawn’s triumphant start to marathon training, in which she did not whine at all was about as positive as Fawn gets about exercise.

We ended up finishing the run/walk extravaganza at the Capitol building, which is infinitely nicer looking than South Carolina’s capitol building, but what else is new. Of course, Fawn wanted to try and open the doors “in case Bill Clinton was inside!” But um, it’s not the 80s, so he wasn’t.

p1000189-2After we finished, Fawn shared her thoughts on running, marathons, and the possibility of raping Bill Clinton if given the chance (note: obviously unnecessary).

We headed back to the car and passed a wall that said “Before I die, I want to…” and people wrote all different things they want to do. Disturbingly, a lot of them started with “Kill,” “Fuck,” or “Marry,” and then listed a person’s name. Get some new goals, people.

p1000195-2After the run/walk extravaganza, we headed back to the hotel for showers and then on to the EXPO. For some reason I was really excited about it. As you all know, I love expos, but I haven’t been buying that much at them lately because quite frankly, I don’t need any more running stuff. It would have to be really awesome for me to buy it.

p1000200-2p1000201-2There wasn’t anything great clothing wise, but there WAS Bart Yasso! Y’all know I geek out about meeting running legends, and Bart Yasso is one. He’s the former editor of Runner’s World and has been working for my favorite magazine for the past 30 years. AJ says I have to stop picking up new boyfriends all over the place, so Bart Yasso is not my boyfriend. Because of the rule. Fawn and I talked to him for about 20 minutes. She managed to work her movie into the conversation. He gave her his email address and told her to contact him if she needed anything. Guess who didn’t bring up their blog and/or undying dream to be published? Yup. Epic fail.

img950421-1I did, however, talk to him about the Amish. So that’s something. The current score is T-Rex Awkwardness: 1, T-Rex Publishing: 0.

We met up with Sarah, my sorority sister, and some of her friends for lunch a little while later. We went to the River Market, which is kind of like a big food court in Little Rock. It’s pretty cool. Lately I’ve been eating burritos as my power lunch before races, and it has been working pretty well. Then I tried to eat a burrito in Little Rock. It was handmade and the guy literally squirted sour cream and guacamole all over the top of the tortilla, making it possible to eat with my hands. Black beans? No. Some other bean. Cheese? No. Spicy vegetables? Yes. So I don’t know what happened.

After that, we wandered around some shops and ran into some type of street  performer that Sarah wanted to take a picture with. She didn’t have any money, but he said she could take a picture anyway. So then Fawn jumped in. And then they made me take a picture. I was the last one left, and he literally would not let go of me until I paid him. The problem (in addition to the jeri curl)? I didn’t have any money. Not a single dollar. I took out my wallet and showed him as he clung to me. He asked if I had change. I told him I had 14 cents. He literally made me give him my 14 cents.

p1000206-2As we ran walked calmly away, Sarah said “I’m sorry we didn’t have any money! You said we could take the picture!”

His response? “Can I bite you?”

Oh, Little Rock.

I’ve decided that one of the things I will attempt to do in each place I visit for a marathon is go to a local brewery, if there is one nearby. I saw at the restaurant the previous night that Diamond Bear Brewing Company was in Little Rock, so Sarah, Fawn and I decided to check it out. As luck would have it, a tour was starting right as we got there. For $7, you got 3 samples of beer (about 4 ounces, any kind you wanted) and a free pint glass. WIN!

p1000210-2Sarah and I are not terribly knowledgeable about how beer is made, but we are very knowledgeable about how beer is consumed. I figured this tour would be a good way for me to show my interest in beer making, which is one of AJ’s hobbies and something I feel that I should be able to speak somewhat intelligently about. You’ll be pleased to know that mission was not accomplished, but I do now know that flour is explosive.

p1000211-2I don’t really like any type of beer that doesn’t taste exactly like Bud Light, which tragically was not available at the brewery. I did make a point of trying their IPA, since that is AJ’s favorite kind of beer and my least favorite.

2012-03-03_15-31-09_826-2It was actually pretty good. Not nearly as hateful as I expected.  After the brewery tour ended, we hung out at the hotel for awhile before going to dinner. Fawn and I were headed to the race pasta party, while Sarah was going to eat with her friends. As usual, Fawn got a little too into the whole carbo-loading thing and ate more than me.

p1000213-2We ended up sitting a table with a couple of guys and a woman from Dallas, where Fawn lives. While I talked to the guys about running, Fawn and the woman chatted. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I’m told it went something like this:

Fawn: “Oh, so you’re from Dallas? Where do you work?”

Woman: “The Corps of Engineers, haha!”

Fawn: “Really? Me too!! What department?”

Woman: “Um, I work six doors down the hall from you.”

Fawn: “You do? Really?”

Apparently the woman is in the Army so she is always wearing fatigues, which is why Fawn didn’t recognize her, but holy awkward jellyfish. Meanwhile, Homeboy #1 was telling me about marathons, his kids, and his divorce, and then asking for my number. My Maniacs jacket brings all the boys to the yard, I suppose.

After that, it was pretty much off to sleep because I was about to run what I hoped would be THE MOST FUN RACE EVER!

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