Little Rock Marathon – 2017

2017 has been all about preparing Aby & Annika to run their first marathon.  I must admit when they said they wanted to run a marathon, I tried to talk them out of it.  Marathons are long.  And hard.  And tough mentally & physically.  The distance will frequently break experienced runners.  The girls are young.  Aby is 15 & Annika just turned 17.  Yet they wanted to run a marathon.  It was really hard to wrap my brain around.  Its not something I would recommend for any teen, let alone those I know & care about!  Initially I wasn’t sure how to react but I put on the “mom hat” and explained to them that an early spring marathon would require them to be running outside, all winter long, in the early a.m. when I was running.  No sleeping in, I wanted them out there with me for every long run so I could monitor their progress, fueling & how they were tolerating the distance.  They would not be deterred.  In fact their first “long run” was the Huff 10 Mile Trail Race which was hilly, hard, snowy, cold, with freezing rain.  Absolutely miserable conditions. 

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I asked them after Huff, do you still want to run a marathon that requires winter training?  Yes.  So we signed up for the Little Rock Marathon.  The 2017 theme was “Runalicious” featuring candy, bright colors and lots of fun.

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An abbreviated training plan & a somewhat mild winter delivered us to Little Rock mostly healthy & ready to run.  The girls were slightly nervous but mostly calm.  I heard them say many times “we trained for this, we can do it”.  But they were notably tired from the travel so we tried to keep things pretty low key & not do much.  The Expo was a great size for a small town race.  There were 2181 marathon & 3699 half marathon finishers on Sunday, plus a 5K & 10K on Saturday.  Lots to do Marathon weekend .  Something for everyone.

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We hit the expo, picked up our bibs, walked around town, found ice cream, took some pics & then had take out for dinner.  I think we were all asleep by 9pm. 

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We woke up to rain.  Heavy but steady rain with a “feels like” temp of 43 as we headed to our corrals.  We were none too early either because I didn’t want the girls out in the cold rain for too long before we started to run.  I was a bit surprised to see how busy the streets were & the back up getting into the corrals.    Pace wasn’t an issue for us but I really wanted to be around the 4:30 pace group because that was the pace where we would start out.  I didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving around people in the early miles.   We were on the “just finish it” plan but we wanted to stay together & I wanted to try to keep a consistent pace.  I knew that I would have to be paying attention in order to keep them slow & steady.  They are XC runners and they just want to GO!

Pre Race:

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In the corral, headed to the start.  What are they thinking?

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And we are off!  Let’s Run!  #Runalicious

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The beginning is crowded.  Normal for most races & a great time to ease into a pace rather than take off and regret it later.  Also a great time for pics.  But apparently my selfie game was OFF cuz I couldn’t get all three of in a pic for anything. 

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The course had changed since I had ran in 2014.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was kinda okay with that.  This was my 39th marathon, 2nd time at Little Rock.  I kinda enjoy just running the course and enjoying it for what it presents.  We headed over to North Little Rock first, looped around.  Ran over a few bridges (steep inclines & declines, yes, please!).

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The girls were calm.  We all agreed that we didn’t feel awesome but we didn’t feel horrible and that’s a pretty sweet spot to be in on marathon day. It curbs expectation but also delivers a bit of hope.  Patience is the name of the game.  You must be patient in the marathon or you’ll have a very bad day. 

The rain continued.  Light but steady.  People were complaining.  We just ran past them & pulled our hats/visors a little lower to block out the rain & wind.  Back over the bridge into downtown Little Rock.  Over the trolley tracks.  I tripped but didn’t fall.  We laughed.  Down Market Street, along the Arkansas River, around the Heifer International campus.  And then back thru town, up a few hills.  Then I recognized a street from last time and knew the Governor’s Mansion was coming up.  Aby had asked me 100 several times by this point if the Governor would be out.  I didn’t know but was hoping so & sure enough, I could see his guards  flanking him from pretty far down the street.  I pointed out who he was (verses the guards) and the girls ran right up to him for a photo.  Thanks for standing out in the rain, Governor Hutchinson, you made their day!

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Then Little Rock Central HS:

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The Capital Building:

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My favorite part of the course – Miles 14-17:  Hillcrest area, Kavanaugh Boulevard, North Lookout Road & Alsopp Park.  Breathtaking area.  Aby & Annika running relaxed & easy between mile 16 & 17.

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After we left Alsopp Park, reality hit as we entered an out and back loop along Riverfront Drive.  The out & back covers miles 18-23.  I knew if something were going to go wrong, it would be in this section.  Not only is it boring but very windy because its along the river & a little daunting because you can see the runners in front of you coming back while you have seemingly “forever” until the turnaround.  This section is mentally exhausting but the girls looked strong.  Aby was starting to get antsy.  The 4:30 pacer crept up on us and we ran with her for awhile.  Aby was not happy.  She wanted to be IN FRONT of the 4:30 pacer.  Annika said, “who cares!”.  LOL!  But Aby really did not want to let her pass.  The pacer was only running with one other person so we ran with her for a while.  It was entertaining because everyone had something to say as she passed them.  Many, like Aby, were not happy.  “Oh no!”  was the common remark as she passed.  I told her it was like running with the Angel of Death.  Nobody was happy to see her that late in the game.  I asked if she was on pace, and she was ahead of pace.  She was planning to stop & walk at mile 20 to get back on track.  We stayed in her vicinity until she walked.  I didn’t want to stop at mile 20 but rather push on to mile 22 for our last “pit stop”.  Then I knew that we would be pushing to the finish. 

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After 22, it was heads down.  The pace was getting progressively faster but I knew there was a hill at mile 24 that was super ugly & would probably slow us down.  So I just let it go.  They looked good, hadn’t blown up, were well fueled, looking to run faster & well, I figured I had done my job at that point.  If something happened in the last 4 miles, we’d just deal with it.  And I’m happy to report, no blow ups.  They killed it!!!  The Lipstick Station at mile 26 was on the opposite side of the road this time, so I almost missed it.  I went back to grab lipstick for us, sending the girls on and it was a sprint to the finish for them.  Great job, ladies.  1 & 2 in their age group (15-19). 

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Awesome race.  Lots of crowd support.  Volunteers, police & everyone seemed happy that we were there.  Sometimes when a marathon rolls into a town, the residents aren’t happy because it’s a huge inconvenience for them.  I genuinely feel welcome each time I go to Little Rock. If you are looking for a smaller race that feels like home, this is a great one.  Elevation is much greater on the 2nd half, so save something for the bigger hills.  There were 3 hills that were bad enough that we walked part of them but otherwise, we ran the entire race other than potty stops (2) and the photos we took.  It was a great day in Little Rock & I’d be happy to go back.

SWAG was a unisex race shirt & lipstick (if you grabbed it at mile 26) and a medal that’s heavy and bigger than your head.  For those of you who ran 2014, I’ve added the two medals together for comparison.  They are both over 2#s and I can’t hang them with my other medals for fear of pulling down the rack/rod.

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Details on the 2014 Little Rock Marathon HERE.

** Hope Your Run was Runalicious ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Little Rock Marathon Race Review

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The 2014 theme for the Little Rock Marathon was “epic” with a comic type Super Hero flavor that was pushed hard all the way until and thru race day.  I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered a race that delivered a better PR campaign.  And I’ve certainly never ran a race that delivered above and beyond what the PR campaign promised, until I ran Little Rock.  I was impressed with so many aspects of the race starting the moment I found the race website and how it was designed to fit the theme.  I loved the race booklet they sent prior to the event to create hype leading up to the big day.

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I loved how the booklet fit right in with the theme and was formatted in comic book style giving us a glimpse of what to expect.  I particularly liked getting a heads-up to look for the lipstick “aid” station in the 25th mile before the finish.

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Little Rock is a 9 hour drive from my home (south of Chicago) and to be honest, I had NO IDEA what to expect from the town itself.  No, Little Rock was never on my “to be seen” list of places I wanted to travel.  No, I didn’t really know anything at all about Arkansas.  I made the trip because of the race, because of the good things I had heard about it from other runners, because of the large number (270+) of Marathon Maniacs who were attending and because of that wonderful PR campaign that really drew me to the race and the town itself.  And I must admit, Little Rock was a  pleasant surprise with a beautiful River Walking Trail, lighted bridges, lots of restaurants and bars in the River Market District, President Clinton EVERYTHING (parks, library, museum, bridge), beautiful homes, historic landmarks & monuments, and an old Street Car Electric Trolley, which was one of our favorite things about the town. Street car on the left.  Julie M & Judy F inside the street car on the right.

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We had a lot fun before the race even started and that was an unexpected treat.  The expo was a great size with lots of vendors, keynote speakers and plenty of time to pick up packets prior to the race.  The event also offered multiple race distance options for the entire family.

  • Kids Marathon – Finishing last mile on SAT – 1900 participant cap (sold out)
  • 5K Run/Walk – SAT – 1400 participant cap
  • 10K – SUN – 2000 participant cap
  • Half Marathon – SUN – 6200 participant cap
  • Marathon – SUN – 3500 participant cap (sold out)

The theme continued with a tricked out start line in comic book style.

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The race directors even dressed up like super heroes and stood on top of start (by the right flag) and started each of the corrals the morning of the race.  In the pouring rain.  At 3-4 minute intervals.  It took us 22ish minutes to get across the start line and begin our journey thru town.  The first mile was crowded as always but the road soon opened up and we were on our way!  Temps at the start were in the 50s with rain so we were pretty tight from shivering in the rain while we waited to get started; however, after 4 miles or so we were loose, warmed up, the rain gave us a short reprieve and we were READY TO RUN!  We wove thru town,  ran across the big bridge and saw Capitol Building.

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By mile 6, we had already tacked a few hills, I was feeling good and starting to get antsy.

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The real test of the marathon is patience. I’m not a fan of waiting.  In fact, I really can’t stand to wait.  This is the reason why marathons and I don’t really get a long.  BUT in Little Rock I was with friends and the goal was to have fun.  I had zero expectations and I’m not really sure they did either, if they did they were quiet about it.  We knew the weather was going to be an issue. We knew there would be hills but we had no idea what to REALLY expect.  So we were patient.  We didn’t dawdle but didn’t run fast, just kept eating up the pavement, stopped for a potty (or two) and just kept moving.  When I noticed a hill, I just put my head down and ran up without looking beyond the pavement in front of me so that it didn’t drain me mentally.  Then the rain came faster and harder.  Then the wind came. Temps started dropping A LOT (all the way down to 30 degrees by the  finish).  We passed the Governor’s Mansion and Julie excitedly waived to the man in a blue raincoat who she SWEARS was the Governor, himself.  We ran down streets with lots of history and amazing houses.  We passed a priest who stood in the rain, blessing runners with Holy Water and we made a B Line over to him so that we could be blessed because it seemed stupid to pass that up.  And then it got cold.  Like really cold.  Around mile 10 or 11 the wind really picked up and the rain had us soaked to the bone.  Our hands were red and we could hardly move our fingers.  We made a consorted effort to wiggle our fingers, shake our arms and get the blood flowing cuz we knew how fast things could go “south”.  Some of our marathon friends took the turn off for the half because they were so cold that they were starting to go hypothermic but we just kept our heads down, eating up the pavement as much with our eyes as our steps.  We couldn’t see much thru the rain anyhow.  I tried to take a few pictures but they all looked like this photo of the historic Central High School.  Cloudy and foggy thru the rain.

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So we kept moving.  Not quickly but not dawdling either.  We didn’t walk thru water stops, just slowed til everyone could get in fluid and fuel.  We had to help each other a bit with our fuel cuz our fingers were so frozen we couldn’t get into our belts.  Or open the packages for the gels/chews.  Our pace seemed solid though and our spirits were high.  We loved the course.  We loved the houses.  We loved seeing so many Marathon Maniacs and yelling support to as many as possible.  It was fun.  We were honestly having fun.  There was a decent amount of entertainment.  The course was diverse and interesting.  Aid stations were well stocked with water & Gatorade.  There were food stations with pretzels, bananas, oranges, jolly ranchers, & GU.  There were surprisingly a lot of spectators considering the weather conditions (wind, rain, thunderstorms, and a promise of hail and freezing rain to come).  It was all good until mile 20 when we saw the first sign that said that the race was canceled and we needed to get off the course. 

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We were in disbelief but kept running.  Then slightly past mile 20 there was a very nice older man who was very aggressive about getting us off course.  He was able to redirect some runners, while a few of us stopped to discuss the situation with him, then stepped off course to check the radar on our phones and decided to keep on running.  By this time, it was pretty bad honestly.  And not many people were running, most were moving at a slow walk, frozen with tight muscles. Spouses and half runners were coming back for the marathoners and bringing them warm clothes and rain gear.  We were instructed MANY, MANY times that the race was canceled, that buses were in route for us, that aid stations would be closing, that roads were opening, that traffic control was shutting down, that we should take shelter due to approaching storms.  But there wasn’t anywhere to go.  We were on a path (see the photo above with the lady holding the sign), on the riverfront without any buildings in sight.   No buses in sight to “pick us up”.  It was just us and the weather and we needed to keep moving for our own safety.  So we ran!  It was finally at mile 24 when a police officer with a bullhorn was shouting at us that if we continued it would be at our own risk.  We had the option of staying on the riverfront and heading to the finish or crossing over the road, walking thru the trees, and heading toward a Walmart {which was not visible} where buses were supposedly waiting to pick us up.  At that point, we headed toward the finish.  There wasn’t any lightening. Yes, it was still raining and the wind was really blowing hard.  Yes, we were frozen to the bone.  Yes, our muscles were cold and cramping.  However, we were determined to finish and to be honest, we couldn’t see the buses and we didn’t necessarily believe they were there waiting on us.  It was too damn cold and wet to go with the unknown.  I’d like to think that it was an educated decision on our part to go with what we knew and we knew that our hotel and car was at the finish.  We knew our drop bags with warm clothes were at the finish.  We knew that big ass medal was at the finish.  What we didn’t know was that we had two massive hills to conquer in order to get there!  But we made it.  And the lipstick station was still open in the 25th mile, even if those poor ladies were frozen and shivering!  Thanks, L’Oreal for the lipstick stain! 

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And it was an official finish.  And we got that big ass medal.  Done, baby!!!  WhooooHooooo!

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I can’t say that I’ve ever been so happy to finish a race!  LOL!  It was an amazing day.  It was a great race.  I’d definitely go back and not because of the medal but because of the event, the people, the town, the course, the fun.  If you haven’t yet ran the Little Rock Marathon, I’d strongly suggest putting it on your list!  So much fun!!  And thanks to Julie & Judy for going with me because friends make any event so much better! 

** Running For Fun, Cuz That’s What It’s All About ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Winter Workouts + CrossFit Day 50 & 51

Just like you, these cold wintery days are taking their toll on my good humor.  I’m not sure why because I do most of my workouts inside since hubby changed jobs in August of 2013.  Yes, it’s been a long ass 6 months, in case you were wondering.  My outside runs are few and far between and yes, I may have just signed up for another marathon so that I’m guaranteed at least 1 outdoor run within the next six weeks.   So if you are heading to the Little Rock Marathon on March 2nd, LOOK FOR ME!!!!

Last week brought back “real” workouts for me.  A couple short runs on the treadmill and the return to CrossFit.  This week, I’ve been at both the TUE & THUR CrossFit sessions PLUS I ran 7 miles on the treadmill Monday night AND I hit the StairMaster on Tuesday night.  Yes, I’m feeling like a total stud for making the most out of my indoor workouts.  Plus I love the StairMaster and it’s nice to have an excuse to use it rather than just pounding out miles on the treadmill.  Say HELLO to me in my dining room home gym as I stair away.

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On to the week’s CrossFit workouts. 

CrossFit Day #50  – Back Squats – 6 x4 – 73#

WOD  for time – 200 Single jump ropes, 75 Kettlebell Swings (26# – and DANG was this hard), 50 – 10# medicine ball “side to side” sit-ups, 25 handstand push-ups.

The side to side sit-ups might be new.  I don’t remember doing them before but I envision them to be very beneficial to my spongy core.  Assume the sit-up position.  Come up to crunch position but only lift the feet slightly off the floor.  Then move the medicine ball from side to side, touching it on the floor each time before pivoting to the opposite side of your body. 

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CrossFit Day #51 – WOD “Jackie”

  • 1000 meter row – Apparently I was rowing incorrectly and even though it was explained to me, as well as demonstrated, in SLOW MOTION, apparently it was too much for my brain to absorb at 5am.  Sorry, J.  Anyhow, I limped thru it in about 5ish minutes.  Not sure it counts if I was doing something wrong but I was moving.  Smile
  • 50 Thrusters – 33#
  • 30 Pull-Ups – assisted with 2 bands and I still struggled.
  • Extra Credit cuz we had extra time – 10 Pull-ups w/ bands, 50 abmat sit-ups, 50 superman’s, 50 side to side sit-ups, 50 ring rows.

Bam!  Another awesome week of workouts and I still have a couple days to go!  What are you up to this week?

Unrelated side note – When I woke up this morning, I found this by my purse.  Aby made it for an Art Club project and I am IN LOVE!  Great job, “baby” girl!

Keep Calm and Run Faster

You’ll find this sign on one of my kitchen cabinet doors for the next year or so.  #KeepingItClassy

**  Keep Calm and RUN FASTER ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **