Yes it is that time of year. The Arkansas Chapter of the Road Runners Clubs of America has launched its Arkansas Grand Prix Race Series with the One Hour Track Run at Danville High School in Danville, Arkansas. The Grand Prix Race Series is a good-natured competition and motivational program that gives runners a year’s worth of races to run and a point system to encourage performance and good sportsmanship. Participants must be a member of a Road Runners Clubs of America Running Club and sign up for Grand Prix as a member of said club. Participants are separated into age groups and gender and points are rewarded for various achievements including finishing the race, winning the race, fastest times per age group, etc. If you live in Arkansas and want more information, check the link right here. It can get rather confusing and the website explains it better than I can.

The one hour track run is a unique race in that it is literally what its name suggests: participants run for an hour around a track and the distance is measured as opposed to time. In order to control crowds, there are two separate races with participants running faster than an 8:30 mile running at a different time than the slower folks.

I did this race last year with a sore calf and managed to squeak out 3. I managed to “fall off the wagon” on my running the second half of last year. My runs were sporadic and none of them were more than two miles. I use the runkeeper app that tracks my runs on my cell phone. I have documentation, folks. As a result, my only goal at the start of the race was to finish faster than I did the previous year. I figured that sore-free legs would ensure a faster time.

I had car trouble and the President of Hot Legs, the running club that has the MOST FUN! in Arkansas and running club of yours truly, picked me up to take me to the “meeting place” where six of us got into a big ole SUV to ride to Danville. It was a complete gabfest on the way.

This year was significantly warmer than last year. Also, this warm weather was an extreme change of pace from the polar vortex chill that we had earlier in the month. In fact, the temperature was significantly warmer than what we were experiencing earlier in the week. Each season has its own challenges when it comes to running and there is always an adjustment period when the seasons change. These wonky temperature changes really mess with me.

The race itself was fine but challenging. I set up my app for one minute intervals alternating running with walking. I managed to complete the entire race with this system. I started out fast and felling great. I ended up running the first mile a good minute and thirty seconds faster than my usual pace. Of course, this caught up with me for the rest of the race with my mouth feeling very dry and my head had a slight dizzy feeling which is consistent with slight dehydration. (oops) I took a walking break for two laps and then got back to the “slow and low that is the tempo” business. The last twenty minutes, I was tired. I finished. According to my app, I completed 3.4 miles.

My official Results
98 Melissa Sawyer 12 973 3.1669 18:56.8

After the race, the Hot Legs had cookies and cupcakes because BIRTHDAY! We posed for pictures. I forgot to actually take any. (oops) Then we piled into the SUV and stopped by Feltner’s Whattaburger for burgers. No, this is not part of the chain. This is a local legend that has been around forEVER! According to urban legend (or what I’ve heard but am too lazy to actually look up), the Whataburger chain attempted to sue the Russellville Arkansas burger joint but realized that the local place was there first. The result was both parties agreed to leave things be. AH America. The last time I ate at Whattaburger was when I was in college on a road trip to the Buffalo River so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the burgers and fries were just a good as I remember them.

Overall, I had a blast. The race itself was a wake up call in terms of my fitness level but it is nothing that I can’t fix. I look forward to the rest of the year.