Thursday, March 7, 2013

Little Rock Race Report: Part 2

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We got up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready for the race.  I took a shower and ate a waffle with peanut butter. We headed to the start/finish line area (only a few blocks apart).  I love the excitement pre-race!  Since it was in the low 30's, we waited until the last minute to take off our outer layers for our gear check bags.  Around 7:45 a.m., we quickly stripped off jackets and warm-up pants, checked our bags, and headed for Corral A. This marathon is a nice size (though there are early starters--they started at 6:00 a.m.--that plan to finish in 6-8 hours that you have to weave around during the race).  We were able to walk right into the corral. We found the 3:10 pacer (a guy named Ryan that we had met yesterday at the expo), and I got to meet a blogger friend, Tia.  Tia ended up finishing in 3:07 today!  She is an amazing runner.

Before the race
Rick and I both had a goal of loosely shooting for the 3:10.  This was our "A+" goal---something that would be amazing if it happened, but we knew we would not be disappointed if it didn't happen today.  I am stubborn and very hard on myself, but I am learning that you will have good races and bad races.  Our ultimate goal is to finish a marathon in all 50 states.  It sure would be nice to hit that 3:10 along the way, though!  This goal seemed like a huge stretch for me based on my training.  We knew we had the weather on our side since it was nice and cool, but we also knew this course had a couple of tough hills in the middle.  It would just depend on how we felt during the race.

The race
Beginning Miles (1-13): Easy running
7:21, 6:58, 14:17 (2 miles), 7:21, 7:04, 7:16, 7:05, 7:10, 7:16, 7:12, 7:12, 7:01
The pacer, Ryan, had told us the day before that he was aiming to hit all miles at 7:15 (not really "banking" a lot of time in the beginning).  I decided to try to stay with him as long as I could.  Our first mile was 7:21. Perfect.  He was setting a good pace.  I didn't have a Garmin, so I relied on him to slow me down in the beginning when my adrenaline gets the best of me.  Mile 2 6:58--a little fast.  I did not see the marker for Mile 3 (some were just actual small street signs and not big flags), but Miles 3 and 4 were 14:17 together.  I had a pace bracelet and checked that periodically.  After a few miles, I separated from the group and stayed just ahead of them and to their right.  I could hear them behind me, but I liked being alone.  This is not new to me, since I run much of my training alone.  But later, when I looked back at the race pictures and also saw how close Rick and I ended up finishing, a part of me wished I had stayed with him.  We could have had great conversation and pushed the other one.  This is when it's hard to be married to a runner with similar time goals.  I stayed separate in part because I didn't want either of us to feel pressure to stay with the other one.  Each race is always our own race (we haven't always done it this way, but we do when we are racing now).  That is why pacing with him at Rocket City was such a fun treat!

Anyway, I headed into the half around 1:34.  Most of the first miles were easy and boring.  They were not a struggle.  I knew the hills were coming around Mile 15.  The pacer had said we'd slow for those by about 20 seconds.


A note about my fueling--I had decided to fuel every 4-5 miles with Gus that I carried.  This is new to me, as I usually do not follow a consistent fueling strategy.  I usually take Gu as it is offered on the course.  If for some reason I miss seeing the Gu, I miss out on fuel.  I feel like this is leaving too much to chance.  The only problem I had was where to stash 5 Gus!  I tried pinning them to my shorts, but I felt like they would rub and bother me there.  So I stashed 1 in my bra and 2 in my arm sleeves by my armpits, one in each side. And I left 2 pinned to my shorts, but I decided to use those first.  I ended up only being bothered by one of the ones in my shorts (it left 2 wounds from where it rubbed---urrg!).  I ended up taking 2 Gus offered on the course somewhere near the end (19 and 22??).  So 7 Gus total!  All of mine had caffeine (and I had some Honey Stinger chews with caffeine before the race).  I really didn't feel all that different in the race though, in terms of energy.  I wish I could say they had a better impact!

I stayed a little ahead of the 3:10 pace group.  Rick is in matching FF uniform just behind the pacer.
Middle Miles (14-20)--A Little Harder
7:24, 7:30, 7:24, 6:50, 7:15, 7:16, 7:32

These miles show a lot about the course!  Mile 15 was indeed a slower mile due to the hill.  But look at how the downhill affected me--6:50 mile!  This was a very fast mile for me in a marathon!  My body was starting to feel tired as I headed into the last 6 miles.  I started telling myself, "Only 6 miles left!" but I was feeling very tired.  A couple of times, the pace group was passing me, and I was thinking, "Wow! Did they just speed up?" because I couldn't feel myself slowing down.  I would surge to bring myself back up to them.

Last 6.2 Miles--Falling Apart!
8:04, 8:00, 8:17, 8:15, 8:38, 8:37, (last .2)1:47

Miles 20-23 or so were a scenic turn-around (turn-around at Mile 20.5 or so?).  So we were headed out to the turn-around and could see the people in front of us already heading back.  It was neat because I got to see some of the front runners like Tia!  I cheered for her as I saw her pass in the opposite direction.  But the course was lonely here (no crowds or music), and I found myself saying, "It's not going to happen today, Katie."  But the good thing was that I felt okay with it!  I really did.  I just wanted to hang in as long as I could.  I knew I had started fast given my training, and I knew I was going to pay for it now!  I tried distracting myself and pushing myself, but I was really struggling.  The pace group caught me and passed me, and no matter how hard I tried I could not keep up.  Rick and I shouted out encouragement briefly to one another as we crossed paths.  The last time I saw him was just after he'd made the turn-around.  We were not far apart at this point, but I knew it was our good-bye.  So I shouted out, "It's okay.  I'm okay where I'm at!"  He was still with the 3:10 pacer and looking strong, so I was encouraged that he may make the 3:10 today!  I knew I would not, but I was hoping for a sub-3:20.  I just needed to DIG to get it.

Digging here (not even looking up to smile!)

A small smile
Miles 24-26 were far off pace.  They were lonely and a hard-fought effort not to walk.  I was doing math in my head, trying to see if I could beat my Chicago time (3:15:33), and I was trying to speed up!  Mile 25 had a little hill, and it was just too much for me to take.  I was exhausted by this point and relieved to see the Mile 26 and then Mile 13 (for the half marathoners).  I knew I had .1 left!  I crossed the finish line in 3:16:11 (official time).

Another Collapse
So as I stopped running, I felt my legs go weak and felt lightheaded.  I am tired of having this happen at the finish line of marathons.  I reached out to a volunteer and said that I needed help standing.  Out of nowhere, a wheelchair emerged and I was plopped down into it and taken to the medical tent.  NOT how I wanted the finish to go.  In the tent, I was told to lie down while my feet were elevated.  If I raised my head, the whole room began to spin.  So I lay still while they took my pulse and BP.  My BP was low, and they said the blood pooled into my legs after I finished, causing my brain to not get enough oxygen.  They had a name for it, but in my fog I do not remember it, but I did find some info here.  I have collapsed like this in a few other marathons, but I had never heard that explanation.  I know I wasn't dehydrated (drank water and Gatorade along the course), and I know it wasn't anything more serious.  The good news is that I was cleared to leave the tent after a few minutes.  I was able to stand and walk out.  While in the tent, I had been given that HUGE medal by a volunteer.  I went out to the Athlete's Village and got a picture in front of the backdrop and gathered some food.  Then I went to get my gear bag and to look for Rick.  When I found him, I expected him to say that he'd gotten the 3:10, but he said that he got a 3:14:15 (still a PR by about 35 seconds for him).  

A note about the medals: These medals are HUGE and weigh over 2 pounds each.  While some may love this sort of thing, I actually found it annoying.  The medal was hard to carry, and I was afraid I'd drop it and break it or hurt myself!  And Rick and I aren't going to be able to hang it with our other marathon medals on our display holder (see here).  But if it makes some people happy to get such a huge medal, then I'm fine with it.  But me, I'd have been happy with the normal size. :)

1 7:21
2 6:58
3,4 14:17
5 7:21
6 7:04
7 7:16
8 7:05
9 7:10
10 7:16
11 7:12
12 7:12
13 7:01
14 7:24
15 7:30
16 7:24
17 6:50 
18 7:15
19 7:16
 20 7:32
21 8:04
22 8:00
23 8:17
24 8:15
25 8:38
26 8:37
.2 1:47
overall 3:16:11 7th female, 69th overall
2nd in age group
**Top 5 females won money at this race.  It got me to thinking---if I could only take 10 minutes off of my marathon time, I could start getting paid to run these things!

Video of the course here
Finish line video seen here

After the race

We headed back to the hotel to shower.  Rick's parents and the kids had had a great morning together.  We found a Newk's (kids eat free all weekend) and ate sandwiches there for lunch.  

Rick's parents left, and we decided to try the post-race BBQ dinner (4-8 p.m.).  It was free with your race entry.  We all ended up having a great time at the dinner.  The food was good (BBQ, potato salad, rolls, beans, brownies, etc.).  Since there was free alcohol, Rick and I each got a couple of beers.  And they had a free photo booth where you could dress in funny western clothes and pose for pictures.

Photo op as you entered the party

But the best part for me was watching the dancing.  They had a floor in the middle of the room, and my kids decided to go out there and provide entertainment.  It was fun getting to watch them have no shame as they danced away.  How are these my kids??? I would have been so nervous dancing in front of all of those people!

Yummy dinner!

The theme for the race was "Lucky in Little Rock."  I thought about this as were were headed home on Monday.  The trip went off without a hitch.  We were able to spend 4 days together as a family, missing 2 days of school/work each.  We all stayed healthy and safe.  We had a good visit with Rick's parents and made good memories with them.  Rick and I were able to finish with good times---a PR for Rick and my 3rd best time (and "lucky" 7th overall female).  I survived a rough finish, even needing medical attention.  But I am healthy and fine.

So did I feel lucky in Little Rock?  No. I felt blessed.


  1. SO MUCH to comment on here!!! I LOVED reading about the Little Rock Marathon from a non-Arkansan's point of view.

    Considering that you just ran Mountain Mist not very long ago you did VERY well on the LRM course. The hills in the beginning are very gradual and you don't realize how much toll they take on your body until much later. The ones in the middle are plain hard and slowing by 20 seconds per mile is a VERY good time estimate. That is how much it slowed me down last year (ran in the 7:40's when I was going for 7:20's) and this year (ran in the 7:20's when I was going for 7:00's).

    It was so encouraging when you called my name out during the out and back. I was dying inside and I thought you sounded so strong. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if you caught up and ran right by me!

    Last year I finished in 3:15 and missed the "money" by a few places too. I didn't realize until AFTER the race that there was a cash prize but at the time I was not running the right time anyway to make top 5. It definitely gave me some good incentive to get my time down this past year!

    You will notice that by just dropping your time a few minutes a few new doors will open. One nice one a free race entry. LRM has tough elite standards and I am not there yet but St. Jude in Memphis has free entry to sub 3:10 and so does the Mississippi River Marathon. Mississippi River also offers prize money (not as much as LRM) so that is a nice bonus.

    I have always spent WAY more on running (shoes, race fees) and I am ok with that since it has been such a positive part of my life in many ways. However, it is nice when I can find some ways to save a little money (on race fees) and earning prize money is a really nice bonus too. And you have run a 3:12 so you are RIGHT THERE! It is all well within your reach!

    I did not realize you had that scary finish line episode! So glad everything worked out and you were able to get some medical attention asap! I love how you wrapped up your entire weekend with so many positives. It puts everything in perspective when we think that way. No "luck" but too many blessings to count! :-)

    And now you state count is at 24? Is that right? Almost halfway there!! Where will number 25 be? (And 40 marathon or ultra distances?!! Amazing!)

    Have a great weekend friend!!

    1. Tia, I always love hearing your comments on here. I had to go back and reread this one all over again since I am finally finding the time to comment back. It was so great to read all that you wrote. And it was great to meet and give you a hug before the race started. One day, I hope to keep up with you in a marathon! I appreciate you saying that I am right there in regards to some free entries (yea!) and other nice prizes. I am going to work hard to break 3:10, but I know it will take more work. You and others who have done it amaze me! You also gave me a good reminder--running is so worth the time and money investment we make in it. But the prizes are so fun and are something pretty new to me. I won the Scottsboro Half a couple of weeks ago, and it had a cash prize. I could not stop grinning when they handed it to me. I could not believe they paid me to run!! Little Rock was State 23, and we have loose plans for 24 and 25 since I now have sitters in IN and TX. I sometimes wonder what times I would be running if I didn't have the 50 State goal, but we enjoy this adventure so much that there's no point in wishing any part of it away! Thanks for sharing your beautiful state with me and my family! It was a great race, so I might have to repeat AR!

  2. Great race and race report, and congrats to Rick on a PR! I am so glad you are ok after that finish! And I'm inspired by your race!!

    1. Thanks for the congrats and for supporting me as always! I think my time was helped along by those great runs we've had on Tu/Ths! I love your company!

  3. More good memories, babe! This was a fun trip and I'm glad that you do such a good job describing and documenting our journey.