My first “big race” was the Little Rock Half marathon in 2009. Out of a sense of tradition, I have run this race every year since. One year, I ran the 10k because the half was sold out by the time I signed up. This year, I signed up for the 10k due to the fact that I hadn’t run more than 3 miles since June of 2013. My performance at the One Hour Track Run indicated this would be a good idea. Theoretically, I could have finished the half. In fact, I finished the 2010 half with little training and a back spasm during the race. I was dead fucking last and I was incredibly sore for over a week. I didn’t want to put myself through that again. I signed up for Grand Prix this year. I have five more races to run.
The Little Rock Marathon is known for having a great route with some challenging hills, great support, and the biggest medal in racing. This year the theme was EPIC!
About a week before the race, the weather gurus on the television started murmuring about a “winter storm” and “sleet” that may come through on race day. This sounded almost magical since the temperature was sunny and in the sixties but this is Arkansas and I know better. All the runners sat glued to the TV and social media wondering “should I go?” “What should I wear?” “Is it going to sleet during the race? NO?”
— Jeff Baskin (@JeffBaskinFOX16) March 1, 2014
This seemed to be the prevailing wisdom. Based on my calculations, I was running the 10k. The 10k starts at 8 a.m. I should be done before anything bad. It will be cold. It was cold last year. I can do this. I have gloves, ear warmers, and a trash bag. I am going.
It started raining as I was walking to my car from my apartment. It was cold. It continued to rain as I walked from my parking space to the starting spot. It may have stopped for a little while. I went to the “perks pavillon” and warmed up by one of the heaters. I saw a running friend who was doing the marathon. I saw many of my friends as I walked to my corral. Then it started raining again.
In an effort to control the crowd the race itself started in waves. I didn’t officially start until some 8:40. Standing outside for 45 minutes in that weather was one of the more miserable experiences in my life. I was questioning my sanity. Then I quit questioning my sanity and came to the realization that “yes Melissa, you are indeed crazy.” Then it was time to actually run.
As far as the race itself, I felt good. I had low expectations for my pace and “ran” it via the Galloway method with 1:05 splits. I didn’t feel tired and didn’t seem to be overexerting myself. I warmed up enough after I ran that I almost took off the trash bag. Then the wind started to blow and I was glad I kept it on. Due to the weather, there weren’t nearly as many volunteers and spectators cheering us on but we the runners were cheering each other on. My quads did cry uncle when I attempted to run up the Broadway bridge on the return trip to Little Rock (around mile 5) and so I walked it. Then when it came time to go back down, I started the running again. I slowed down to pick up my lip gloss and I finished. I felt good. I smiled a lot near the end. I was glad to finish and it felt surprisingly uneventful.
I got a printout of my “tentative finish time” and went to get my massage. I always get the “perks” and one of those perks is a massage. The other perk is that I have access to these outdoor heaters. Seriously, if you sign up for the Little Rock Marathon, pay for the perks. The perks are better finisher food, heaters, portapotties, and massages. You want this folks.
It wasn’t until I got home and had time to think that I realized that my pace for this race was a good 2 minutes per mile faster than the One hour track run and 30 seconds faster than anything I had “run” in months. Considering that I hadn’t run more than 3 miles in a long ass time, I think this is one of my better races.
But seriously, that is the limit of the bad weather I am willing to take to win a medal. That was horrible: wet AND cold.
In fact, the weather was so bad that about an hour after I finished, the race directors rerouted the race and cut it short. People were picked up on busses and taken to the finish line. A storm was coming complete with lightning. We ended up having sleet and schools were closed the next day. It was indeed an EPIC experience. Thanks Little Rock marathon for an experience I will never forget.