I would say I woke up bright and refreshed, ready for the Little Rock Marathon on Sunday, but that would be a lie. I slept for a solid four hours before
my wonderful boyfriend someone who shall not be named called me at 2:15 central time to report on bachelor party shenanigans. In his defense, he thought I would sleep through my phone vibrating so he would just leave me a funny voicemail and wish me good luck. However, I woke up and then he refused to tell me the story and kept insisting I go back to sleep. Rude. If you are going to wake me up in the middle of the night, at least tell me the good story! Essentially, I was woken up for nothing, but I still think he’s a nice boy.
Sarah and I got ready for the race and discovered we were both wearing Maryland colors – GO TERPS! Fawn took something like 23023459 hours to get ready and we ended up leaving a little later than I had planned on. I don’t like being super early for races, but I also don’t like worrying about missing the start. Fortunately, we made it there in plenty of time and I went to check out the perks tent, which the race directors had kindly given me access to for free since they liked me so much when we met at the Dallas White Rock Marathon expo. What can I say? I’m loveable.
I lined up with the 4:25 pace group, hoping for a PR and figuring I would hang with them for a little while. There were a bunch of other Maniacs in the vicinity, which was exciting. I ran the first couple of miles with the pace group, but perhaps because of the large crowds, their pace was all over the place. They ran a 9:18 second mile when the pace should have been 10:06, and I knew I needed to dial it down since the course was known to be challenging and it would be warm that day. At that point, I came across a big group of Maniacs from Oklahoma! Led by the fearless Patty, they were all trying to PR with a general goal of 4:25-4:30. I immediately clicked with them and started running with the group. Patty and I talked a lot about our favorite races and what we had coming up. She has run close to 40 marathons, and she was a great pacer – very consistent, which was a huge relief.
Around mile 3, I saw Fawn for the first time. She was jumping up and down like a crazy person, bobbing her head from side to side. I honestly need to bring my camera to races so I can take pictures of HER. The early miles were through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock, and the crowd support was AWESOME. I really cannot say enough about it in terms of this race. The community really supports the event and it shows! You could tell that it was not just family and friends of the runners who were out there – the residents really wanted to be a part of the experience, and that was totally different from anything I’ve come across so far.
I think I stuck with the Oklahoma runners for about the first 8 miles. Patty, Edward, Christy and the rest of the gang were funny and strong and we had a great time, but I could tell my heart was having a hard time. I saw Fawn for the second time a bit before mile 8, and she was jumping up and down and doing the ponytail thing again.
Mile 8 was when the race started to get hard for me, but also when the sights along the route started to get really interesting. Shortly after that point, we ran past the Governor’s Mansion and the Governor, Mike Beebe, who stood outside for the whole race and cheered for all the runners. I think that is pretty awesome. You know who I’m confident will not be doing that this coming Saturday at the Columbia Marathon? South Carolina’s Governor. Go ahead, Nikki Haley, prove me wrong.
I slowed my pace a tiny bit while still keeping the Oklahoma group in sight. At mile 11, we passed Central High School, which was honestly a moving experience for me. First of all, it looks like one of those high schools you see on TV or in the movies. The type of high school that Laura Winslow went to on Family Matters. The thing is massive and beautiful and it really took my breath away when I realized what I was looking it.
For history nerds like me, it’s just a huge deal. While I was running by, I was picturing all of the images I had seen from when the first black students were integrated, and I literally felt like I could SEE it happening right in front of me. It was a weird experience and definitely one I will never forget.
I knew that the toughest miles of the course would be from miles 12-16, were there was a huge elevation increase over a very short distance. At this point, I was running by myself and feeling a bit discouraged. My heart was out of whack, I didn’t have my ipod, and I had lost all my fellow Maniacs. Fortunately, I was enjoying the course and really seeing Little Rock. Plus, I knew Fawn and Sarah would be waiting for me at mile 13, near the capitol building. Fawn was so excited to see me that she took a series of action shots that she insisted I put in the blog. You don’t care that much, so I spared you.
Sarah was rocking her sweet 10k medal, which was a great preview of the medal I would be receiving in 13.2 miles. I kept chugging along, knowing that I was reaching the hardest part in the race. At this point, I really had to pee, and I saw a gas station right off the course, which was great since I hadn’t seen any porta potties in awhile. I was ecstatic, so I ran in.
Me: “May I please use your bathroom?”
Cashier: “No bathroom!”
Me: “Please? It’s an emergency.”
Cashier: Silently points to sign that says “No public restroom” and shakes his head.
Case in point, Little Rock is friendly with the exception of gas station owners, who are assholes. I knew that I was about to start needing to walk, which began at mile 14 shortly after the bathroom stop. My heart was racing and I was having trouble getting it down to a normal rate, even when I walked. I started chatting with people around me and ran when I could, walked when I needed to. It went on and on for pretty much the rest of the race. Around mile 16 or 17, I came across a teenager and his father, and the kid was noticeably in pain. I asked him if this was his first marathon, and he said it was. His father was so proud: “Just 16 years old, and he’s running his first marathon! Isn’t he doing great?!” I thought it was adorable, and he was doing well. I told him that it was supposed to hurt, since he’s run 17 miles, so he should just keep going, and he did.
At mile 17.5, I saw Fawn and Sarah again, although this time they were in the car at an intersection. Fawn waved frantically to me and yelled “GO T-REX!” and I had expected to see them at miles 19 and 22, which were on an out and back portion. Except, um, I didn’t. Fawn and I haven’t quite figured out that we really should practice driving to all the spectating spots on the course BEFORE the race, because as it turns out, the road that we thought ended just before mile 19 did in fact end because there was a huge fuck-all mountain in front of it. It was a lonely 5 or 6 miles on the out and back, except that I saw LOTS of other Maniacs! I was pretty sure that I saw John, a friend of Lauren’s and 10 star Maniac, but he was running shirtless, so I didn’t want to awkwardly yell out “Hey, are you John?” I should have though, since I have since confirmed it was him. PS: You are really fast and much tanner than me.
The best part of all was I saw Dave and Louie running around like, well, Maniacs! They were running back and forth across the grass dividing the “out” and the “back” and taking pictures with every single Maniac!
At this point, I was struggling pretty bad. My heart rate was hitting 200 and I was running verrrrryyyy slowly on flat ground. Even when I walked, I could not get it to come back down. I was truly enjoying the race, just frustrated with how I felt. All of a sudden, Edward caught up to me and said “How the hell did you get way back here with me?” Rather than being offended, I laughed, because we had both fallen so far off of our original pace. Fortunately, Edward is possibly my musical soul mate, because he had all the good jams blaring out of his ipod. Lots of Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and…Old Crow Medicine Show? That’s right.
Edward and I make quite the epic duet team. Just call us Sonny and Cher, without the thongs. We alternated lines, we sang at the top of our lungs, and we generally annoyed all the people around us who were way too tired to sing. I think our best was Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me,” sung while Edward was trying to encourage a first time marathoner to keep running along with him. This probably would have been more effective if we hadn’t been singing. Too bad so sad.
Edward: “But she wears short skirts”
Me: “I wear t-shirts”
Edward: “She’s cheer captain”
Me: “And I’m on the bleachers!”
Both: “Dreaming ’bout the day when you wake up and find that what you’re looking for HAS BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME!”
You’re welcome, Little Rock.
I was running a little more than Edward at this point, so I would run ahead for a little bit and then he would catch me when I started walking and he started running. Around mile 21, the race committee had hung a giant canvas sign that said “THE WALL” and had bricks drawn on it. They had supplied markers so that runners could write on “The Wall” if they wanted to. Figuring I was going slow anyway, I signed the wall. It says “Marathon Maniac #4674. Boomsauce.” You’re welcome, Little Rock.
This part of the course had very few spectators, but I made sure to call out “Way to go, Maniac!” to every single one that I passed. Other people? No. I don’t care about you. (I kid). It was starting to get very hot, and I could feel my albino T-Rex skin burning. Importantly, I did not heap marathon hate onto anyone during this time, despite the fact that my heart was out of control and I was very hot. I am trying to get better, much like Snooki now that she is pregnant and engaged and whatnot (that’s a different blog for a different day).
I made it up the last few hills without too much fanfare but ready for the race to be over. Much to my surprise, I saw Fawn at mile 25.5! I tried to convince her to run in with me, but she wasn’t having it. However, we did come across the “lipstick stop” on the course! Yes, the race directors place a lipstick/chapstick stop right before the finish line so you can make sure you look your best for your finish line photo, since obviously the only thing separating me from Victoria’s Secret Models at that point is lipstick.
Interesting fact: that is the first time in my life I’ve ever worn lipstick. I’m just not a lipstick kind of girl. So Fawn snapped some photos and I headed off towards the finish line, ambling along so as not to make my heart too angry.
Look at me posing like I’ve run some type of fantastic time! I’m funny. In reality, I finished in 4:54. Great? Nope. Awful? Not considering how much I walked and how bad I felt. It is what it is. In reality, I had a great time and met some amazing people. Plus, they gave all the women flowers at the end to go with our totally obnoxious, delightfully tacky medal. I gave my flowers to one of the little girls who was volunteering. Not because I’m nice, just because I couldn’t take them with me on the flight home. Don’t worry. I’m not getting soft.
I headed over to the Perks Tent to call my mom and wait for Fawn. I didn’t want any of the actual “perks” besides a chair, because that is the greatest perk of all. My heart was still not settling so I just wanted to sit for a bit. Despite the fact that you needed to have either a ticket or a sticker on your bib to enter the perks tent, Fawn marched right past the people guarding the entrance and promptly went to the food line and got me some food. I don’t eat right after marathons, so she ate it instead.
On the walk back to the car, Fawn kept marveling over how much better I was doing than after the race in Dallas. Well, duh! At least in this one I finished the race with the ability to feel my extremities! We quickly realized that we were going to run out of time on our late checkout by the time we both showered, so we hightailed it back to the Holiday Inn. The cleaning lady came in the room and gave us a death stare at precisely 2:01, indicating that it was time to leave. Fawn asked for a few more minutes. Then the manager called. Then the housekeeper called again. We were out the door by 2:30 by the skin of our teeth. At that point, we headed over to grab some food before heading to the airport. In the restaurant, I met another Maniac who had also run the Mercedes Marathon and was looking for advice on a good race in South Carolina. I recommended Kiawah, since I had much less of a hate spiral at that one than Myrtle Beach. All I did was tell him my Maniac number when we introduced ourselves, not even my name, but by the next morning, I had an email in my inbox offering me a place to stay if I’m ever in Vegas for a race. AJ was displeased.
On one of the flights home, I sat next to two awesome Maniacs, one of whom was Shen. We talked for the entire flight home and planned out some races. She runs all over the place and does a ton of half marathons as well. She actually walks the majority of the races, which I think is amazing because you are on your feet for so long. She is debating heading out to Hatfield-McCoy in June, which would be awesome! The three of us had a great time talking about all things Maniac, including our secret shame that we are Maniac “babies” and have “only” run 12-14 marathons each so far. It’s so nice to talk to
other crazy people your own kind sometimes.
So, was Little Rock everything I hoped it would be? Yeah, minus the PR. I had a great time. I loved the course, the city, the people, the other runners, and obviously the medal. By the way, the disco ball that makes up the “0” in 2012? It spins. Suck on that.