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Thursday, March 6, 2014

#71- The Little Rock Marathon!

Since 2010, the Little Rock Marathon has been on my list of marathons to run, but airfare to Little Rock from Salt Lake City had been really expensive every year I looked. This year when the race opened, I just looked as a fluke and found a Delta flight for under $300. I booked the ticket first and registered for the race shortly after. I was FINALLY going to run the Little Rock Marathon!!

Now, you might ask yourself, "what's so special about the Little Rock Marathon?" Well, lots of things, but the real draw is the medal. The Little Rock Marathon is notorious for giving one of the largest marathon medals in the country. They are HUGE!! The super hero theme was another draw for me. Wonder Woman would be there!

I left for Little Rock on Saturday morning. I was scheduled to arrive around 3:30pm. When I booked my ticket, I didn't realize that the expo closed at 5:00pm on Saturday and I had a short layover in Atlanta (anyone flying out of ATL knows that flights are rarely on time at that darned airport) and that left me with a pretty short window.

My friend Galen was flying on Southwest and he was getting in a little earlier, but not much. He offered to get my packet for me, but another Maniac, Douglas Dahlberg got there on Friday and offered to get it for me just in case Galen got held up too. I was relieved. Thanks Douglas!!

Luckily I made it into Little Rock on time. I picked up my rental car and decided to go straight to the expo to see if I could see any Maniacs as I had the extra reunion Medals to distribute to those who did not get one in Louisiana and would also be in Little Rock. I didn't have much time but it was fun to catch up with my Maniac friends that were there!

Erica, Wonder Woman, Superman, Terri and I at the expo!

My NYC pal Peter and I at the expo!
After the expo Galen and I headed over to Bruno's Little Italy for dinner. They did not take reservations so it was going to be a crap shoot if we would actually get a table. They opened at 5:00pm and I had posted the dinner for 5:30. Thanks to Mellody Hughes for getting there early and securing us a 6 top (which quickly turned into a 10 top) as soon as the doors opened. The food was really good and worth the extra wait it took to get it all to our large party.
After dinner I headed back to the hotel and got ready for race morning.

Flat Wonder Woman!
Of course the weather on Saturday was beautiful, but the forecast for the race was not looking very good. We knew there would be rain, but we were not sure what else to expect.
The race started at 8:00am which was AWESOME! It meant I got to get a decent amount of sleep before the race. There was an early start at 6:00am for runners and walkers who run/walk the marathon over six hours. There was a part of me that wanted to jump into the early start just to get done early, but I heard they were strict about DQing anyone who ran faster than a 5:30, so I stuck with the regular start. Not worth the risk!
I organized a Maniac/Fanatic photo for 7:15am in front of the Songahm Martial Arts Gate next to the Statehouse Convention Center. It has been the traditional photo spot for the last few years. It was so fun to see so many awesome people there!
Maniacs and Fanatics are ready to run!

Kick Ass (Scott Dahl) and Wonder Woman (Me) protected the President (Steven Yee) from evildoers, but not from the weather as he reminded us!

Latino Heat (Robert Manon), Endorphin Dude (Tony Nguyen), and Wonder Woman (Me) waiting for the start.
Wonder Woman ready to fight fatigue!
The temperature right before the start was in the 50's. Perfect weather for running! The second we got into the corrals it started to rain. Little Rock spaced the corral starts out pretty good which would have been great if it was warm and sunny out. I was in corral G so it took me over 30 minutes to  cross the timing mat after the gun went off. Standing in the rain getting cold while waiting to get to the timing mat was not fun.
Corral G was way back and there were more corrals behind us!
Getting closer!!
Once I got running, I warmed up pretty fast. Things were really fun!
I ran into my old pal Captain America! ;-)
Hillary 2016! (I am sure she approves this message) ;-)
I ran into the Tick (Dennis Hafford)!
I got a holy water blessing from a priest of one of the many churches that came out to help runners.
Right around the half, things started getting sketchy. The temperature was dropping fast and it started to rain really hard. Not nice summer rain, but freezing cold rain. I had packed a cheap $1 rain poncho and was glad I did it really helped keep a little heat in as I (and everyone else) got really cold fast.
As I past mile 17, I was so miserable and cold (and we had just ran up this huge hill), I wasn't quite sure how I would do the last 9 miles. A guy running next to me encouraged me to keep moving.
As we started running down the hill there was a police car parked on the side of the road. Out of his loud speaker he said that they were going to close the course. WHAT?!! I went over and asked him what was going on. He said that due to weather they were going to shut the course down soon. There were two ladies next to me and this news sent one of them to tears. I thought that this must be her first marathon. I felt so bad for her.
At that moment I wanted answers. I just kept running until someone told me different. When we got to around 18.5 miles officers were directing people to merge in with huge group the half marathoners coming back from the opposite direction. The turn around for the marathon was another 2 miles down the road, then we would be heading back on the same road they wanted us to divert to. Before I turned, I went over and asked the officer if we HAD to turn or could we keep going on the marathon course. He told me (and a few others) that we could continue if we stayed on the side of the road and warned us that there would be no aid stations. If we continued, it was at our own risk, but we were free to to do so.  We only had a little more than 7 miles  left, so we went for it. If the course was closed, at least I would know I earned my 26.2 medal.
At mile 20 I could see the timing mats out and the timer out there encouraging runners. As I crossed the mat, I asked him if they were still timing and he said "yes!" This lit a fire under me. As I got to the turn around and made my way to the 21 mile aid station, I was so happy to see those AMAZING volunteers still out in the freezing cold rain just to help us! They warned that hail was coming and if it hit, we need to find shelter, but so far it was just raining.
As we all made our way down the bike path, there was a police officer driving up and down the street encouraging us from his loud speaker and asked us to raise our hands if we needed to leave the course. Nobody did at that time, but twice later I saw two separate men get into the police car.
The temperature had dropped into the 30's so we were all pretty cold. When I got to the mile 24 aid station, a man at the aid station told me that we should wait to get on a bus to take us to the finish. He said the finish line was closed. I knew that I had to get back to finish area to get my gear bag and that if I stopped, I would freeze to death, so I told the man thanks but I thought I could get back to the finish area before the bus got there to drive me there.
Once I left the bike path I was surprised to see the road still closed off for runners. I thought to myself "if the race was cancelled, why is the road still closed?"
Putting on a smile with less than a mile to go!
I kept plugging along when I came ran under a overpass. There was the lipstick station! Two wonderful volunteers were still out there cheering! They asked me if I wanted a lipstick (which on any other day I would have been all over), but I thanked them and told them that I was too cold and had to keep moving. I was so confused! Why were they still out if the race was cancelled?
As I got to mile 26, I could hear the race announcer still cheering people in! When I came closer I could see the finish line and a few other runners running in. Then I saw the clock and the timing mats. THEY WERE STILL RUNNING!! I ran towards the finish line as people cheered and the announcer yelled "ANGELINE PACE, YOU JUST FINISHED THE MARATHON!!" I hit that mat and broke into tears! I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion!
I was so relieved and happy to have the opportunity to finish the race!
I walked over and got my medal. When they put it around my neck, I almost fell over. It was so heavy (almost 3lbs)!! I picked up some post race snacks (which included Little Debbie Swiss Rolls!!), got my gear bag and started the short walk back to the hotel.
I thought I would get super cold the second I stopped running, but I was still on cloud nine about the finish line being open! For those not in the Marathon Maniacs or 50 State Club, in order for your race to count on stats in these clubs, you must have official result. If the race is called and you don't have official result, the race would not count, which would mean I would have to repeat Arkansas in my 50 State quest. When I saw my result, I was so relieved! My Arkansas race would count!
Official Result!
The EPIC bling! That lightning bolt was fitting!
After I got back to the hotel, I took the longest, hottest shower ever! It was AMAZING! I got dressed, walked over to the Marriott for the post race party!
I walked into the door and you could hear the band going strong! They had open bars at a few places where people were getting their post race drink on with the free booze! There was a buffet  with chicken, rice, salad, rolls and dessert. I sat with my friend Jim Roche and we ate and socialized with all the other Maniacs there. Some with great finish stories and some with stories of disappointment of not getting the chance to finish. I felt really bad for everyone that was not given the same choice that I was given and felt even more grateful that I got to finish.
When the band finished, the DJ took over!
After we ate, the dancing began! It was so much fun to see Maniacs NOT running. We were having a lot of fun just letting loose! After a couple hours of fun Jim, Cade and I hit the photo booth and I decided to head back to the hotel.
Our photo booth picture!
I got back to the hotel, bought an ice cream bar, got in my jammies, made a cup of herbal tea, and settled in to watch the Oscars! It was a tough, but great day!
The next day I woke up and I had a message from my friend Bev Tessin (who came from Utah to run the half with her husband) to tell me that I was in the paper! I went down to the lobby to get my free hot breakfast that the hotel offered and I picked up the paper.
Hey! I am famous in Little Rock! :-)
The headline says it all!
Overnight the weather had turned worse and there was ice everywhere. Many flights were cancelled and people were having problems getting to the airport as there was a 3 hour waiting lists for cabs. I was glad I rented a car! I decided to go to the airport early just to be there in case there was an change in my flight. I was lucky again, all my flights were on time and I made it home without any problems.
I know there was a lot of confusion with this race. Runners were all being told different things and this led to a lot of disappointed runners. The Race Directors came back with a video explaining that the race was never cancelled. This angered a lot of people who spent a lot of money and time run the marathon and did not get to finish. They will need to work on the communication better for next year if they want people to return.
I for one would not want the job of organizing a race of this size. The work that goes into it is huge. I would like to thank the RD's for all the endless work they put into the planning of this race. Things didn't go as planned, but there is only so much one can blame the RD for. They work really hard to put on a fantastic race and I am sure they will learn from what went wrong and improve.
Most of all I must thank the people of Little Rock and the volunteers. Churches were out in the rain in their Sunday best cheering and handing out bottled water, spectators out in freezing temperatures, and the volunteers were just angels! I cannot say enough good things about them. 
Even with all the weather issues this year, I would highly recommend the Little Rock Marathon!
Zoe liked the medal!

1 comment:

Keath said...

Angie, your positive attitude in the face of everything is absolutely awesome. Even with all the issues on Sunday, you were not only level headed enough to ask for clarification during the race and persevere for a full-on official time, but kept perspective in all the post-race griping on the Maniacs FB page and elsewhere. THANK YOU. Glad you had an EPIC race. And thanks for organizing the photo! (I love when I see your name on a race I've signed up for, because I know things will Get Done.) ;-) You truly are the God of War.