Sunday, March 10, 2013

Little Rock Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's Little Rock Marathon Report:

The Little Rock Marathon has been on my radar ever since I started this 50 states quest. I heard about the humongous medal and knew that this would be my marathon for Arkansas. Joe Taricani, from The Marathon Show, ran this one last year and did a great job of describing the race. After hearing his show I knew I was in for 2013.

Unfortunately, I have been nursing a Plantar Fasciitis injury since October. I finally went to the doctor in January after the Tinker Bell half. He thought it was a stress fracture, but luckily it ended up being severe PF and an inflamed heel bone. He put me in a boot for a week and gave me a cortisone shot in the heel. This was four weeks before the Little Rock Marathon. I was sure there was no way I could do the race. Thankfully, I have good friends who were going to be at the race and they talked me into going. I did a 5k test run two weeks out and it felt good. We bought our plane tickets and we were going to Little Rock.

With very little training I knew I should switch to the early start that the Little Rock Marathon offers for people who will need more than 6 hours to complete the race. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me since I had done little training since January. I was able to get the early start and attended the mandatory meeting during the expo. The early start begins at 6 am and the regular start begins at 8 am. Early start runners are not allowed to pass the 6 hour pace team until the elites pass the pace team - around mile 14 or 15.

We got into Little Rock Friday night. We were meeting our good friend “Fast” Eddie McCoy. Our other good friend Michael Miller would be coming in Saturday afternoon. We hit The Flying Saucer bar that had a ton of beer choices and we had a great time!

Saturday was the Expo. After our first visit we met Eddie's friend Richard Peete (who lives fairly close to us) and we all went to lunch at Bosco's Brewery. Great food and lots of laughs. Later at the Expo Eddie and Michael both decided to do the early start with me (Richard was already signed up). I couldn’t believe it. They are both well under sub 4 hour marathoners. Eddie has qualified for Boston and a 6 hour marathon for both of them would be a long day. I was happy for the company, but worried they would be so bored with going so slow.

We got up early for the start and headed over to the Perks Tent (an add-on pre and post race VIP area). It was nice to grab some food and drinks before the start. It was cold morning, about 28 degrees or so, and we were freezing. The early start was like a regular start with the National Anthem and a countdown. We started back a bit from the 6 hour group because we didn’t want to be bunched up with everyone. I had decided to do a 2:1 Galloway interval instead of my usual 4:1 to try and save some energy for later in the race due to my lack of training.

The course was nice. It took you by all the sights of Little Rock: The Clinton Library, Governor's Mansion, Capitol, and Central High School (an important site in the civil rights/desegregation of schools movement). Yep that’s pretty much it.

Eddie and Michael were great pacers, but even better company. Michael always kept me laughing and entertained. Eddie would run ahead and take our pictures and take video of us running by. He would text Dave to find out where he was on the course. He was like my own personal running concierge. I never took my camera or phone out of my belt. He should charge for the service. I was having no problem keeping up with the 6 hour group, in fact I was ready to pass them. They were walking a bit too much and it was hard to start back up. Finally the elites passed us around 15 and when we got to the top of the large hill at Mile 16 we left the 6 hour group and hoped they wouldn’t catch us.

The rest of the course was downhill and then a flat out and back section. They even had a 20 mile spectacular! There was a cute little girl who kept making her way around the course. She had a sign that said Official High Five Station. So cute and so energetic all morning!

Around mile 22 I was starting to feel the lack of training and the whining began. Michael and Eddie were both great. They kept saying I was doing great and looked good, even though I knew I didn’t! We had one more big hill and Michael jokingly pushed me up it. We were really having too much fun. I know if they weren’t there I would have stopped running and just walked it in. They were great motivators. I also got my favorite thing on the course, BEER! It was great and Eddie and I did a quick toast.

Soon we were approaching the finish and I couldn’t have been happier. We ran in to big cheers. We were in the thick of the finish since we started with the early start so we were finishing with the 3:45-4 hour group. I have never done that before. Bart Yasso was calling everyone in and I got a big high five from him. Eddie hung back and videoed Michael and I crossing the finish. It was a great finish. 5:50:01. I was surprised I broke 6 hours with the injury. I was thrilled and shocked.

We got our medals. We about broke our necks from the medals! They are HUGE!! They weigh 2.5 lbs! Love it! Great post race snacks and organization.

I highly recommend the Little Rock Marathon to anyone. This is an especially good one if you need more time than most. You can have up to eight hours to finish if you need it. Great organization, nice course, and that medal!

Big thanks to Eddie and Michael for making my day so much easier than it would have been. I had an awesome time with you both and hope to do it again sometime!

Dave couldn't help himself to play around with this picture
Bigger thanks to Dave for getting up so early to move the car so he could drive all around Little Rock and follow our group to cheer us on. He was a great cameraman and also was kind enough to keep taking our disgusting sweaty clothes we were taking off as it got warm. Love you!!!

There are two videos for your enjoyment. First is our typical race video (now with GoPro added into the camera mix) and the second one is Eddie's video. Following these videos are Dave's comments. Enjoy!

Our race video

Eddie's race video

2013 Little Rock Marathon from Eddie McCoy on Vimeo.

Dave's comments

At the expo they said the course wouldn't close until the start of the race. I needed to go through the start area to get to a parking lot that was not surrounded by the course. I made it most of the way, but then met some unmovable barricades. I 3-point turned it to find they barricaded me in from the other way. A volunteer let me out of that trap but I had to get out of the car and free myself a block later. I was a little late making it to the Perks Tent to meet the gang, but I did ok. After the start I hung out in a Courtyard by Marriott near the start line for a half hour. Bathrooms, fireplace, and free decent coffee.

Once I drove away from that general area I was in some of the not-so-fine parts of Little Rock. At least it was Sunday and most folks were still sleeping or in church. I was able to park the car and walk to three spectating areas.

After that I had to get to my next spot fairly quickly. I came close to getting air in the Ford Focus rental car - kinda like what you see in car chases filmed in San Francisco. Mile 13 was near the State Capitol building and I parked in a reserved Senator's spot. No snacks yet. It seems my route would take me mostly through neighborhoods.

At mile 19 I talked to the cop stationed by me and I asked about getting back into downtown. He said "good luck". Once I saw the crew at 19 I bolted for downtown via the highway. I did find a McDonald's along the way and stopped for an ice cream cone. I took the highway right into downtown and had no trouble getting back to our hotel. I dropped off their disgusting sweat clothes and went to the Perks Tent for about 45 minutes to drink some beer, eat pizza, and listen to the band (thanks Eddie). After that, I walked to the finish and watched Holly, Eddie, and Michael cross the line.

Overall a decent spectating day: 9 total spectating points (take that ever-present high-fiver), free decent coffee, relatively easy navigation along the course, and a National Park (Central High School).

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