Monday, March 7, 2011

Rocked it in Little Rock

This was a race where my goal was to just finish. My training was off, the hills loomed ahead, and my legs were tired. I fully expected this to be my longest marathon time to date due to those facts. It turned out not to be the case at all.

We arrived in Little Rock a little later than planned, due to an emergency at work. After taking care of that emergency, I got back home and we loaded up. We met Sherry and her family at the Citgo and they followed us to our hotel. Got checked in, met up with Brandon Boger and then took a walk to the expo to pick up our packets. The expo wasn't as big as most expos we've experienced in the past. No biggie I guess. I was hoping to find a "26.2 Little Rock" sticker to add to my collection on the Monster Mazda. Oh well. After that, we went to Pizza Hut, right by the hotel, and carbed up. The service was terrible, the food was all messed up, and we had to get our own refills and silverware. Still had fun though. Got back to the hotel to get settled in for the evening. Amy made a new friend in Sherry's daughter, Summer. They watched Twilight, talked, laughed and just had a great time that night.

Well, race day. It was in the 30s with a slight wind. Of course, making it feel colder out there. We walked from the hotel to the start line. Now there are signs everywhere telling folks not to park their cars on the race route or it will be towed. Guess some ole boy didn't get the hint. His car ended up getting towed from Corral B. We met up with Ethan and Holly, took a few quick photos, stretched as best we could and got into our corrals. Holly and I were in Corral C. Kevin was in there somewhere but, I never saw him. Speedy Barrett and his friend Todd were in Corral B, just a hair outside of Corral A. They might just be in there next year. Ethan, Brandon, Sherry and Donna followed behind in Corral D. Muckas everywhere. :) Glad I got my good luck hugs and kisses from Deb and Amy. I have the best pit crew around. The gun went off and eventually we made it through the start area. I hung with Holly for about the first mile, dodging in and out of various runners. Just before we hit the mile mark, she was gone. Never to be seen again by me. That was the last I saw of any Muckas for the rest of the race.

We looped around and went back through downtown, turning right to cross the Arkansas River. Running into North Little Rock was nice. The Mayor was on the other side of the bridge, cheering us all on. I caught up with the 4 hour pace group on the bridge and hung with them for quite some time. The pacers were awesome. Very motivating group. As we came out of North Little Rock, heading back over the bridge, I saw a man in a wheelchair. This wasn't a hand cycle. This was an actual wheel chair. Not like the hospital kind. This was a racy type but, he was sitting in it, propelling himself with his hands and slowly making it up the incline of the bridge. AMAZING!! On the bridge, I came across a guy named Clem, who was sporting a blue Mohawk. Had to get a picture of that. We had a bit of a conversation for the next couple miles. He was on his 17 marathon and was visiting from Minnesota. Pretty nice guy. He asked me the story behind the picture I was carrying on my back. The picture was of my Mom, holding Amy when she was a baby. It said, "Running for Mom 8/4/42 - 2/13/11". I explained how Mom had passed away last month. He patted me on the back and said, "Every mile for her. Never quit." That motivated me even more to get through this race.

Now, I never thought so many people would ask or comment on the picture. Especially during a race. But, I had several ask me the story, some tell me Mom was proud of me, and more just telling me to keep going for Mom. There were several points on the course where emotions started kicking in a bit but, I sucked it up and kept rolling along. Just past the halfway point, and right before the BIG hills, a woman came by and told me my Mom was proud of me. That's all she said. That was enough. I hit those hills and powered through them with no problems. Not to take away from the hills though. They are not easy. I was just full of adrenaline at the time and I think that really helped. By this point, I was quite a bit ahead of my pace group. I thought to myself, "Keep going as long as you can. You're doing great." I felt strong, and really enjoyed the big downhill that came around mile 17.

I pushed on, not walking at all, to the 21 mile mark. The bad part was the turn around just prior to the 21 mile marker. There was a barrel you had to go around and I feel like I just lost my momentum after making that 180. My quads were feeling all those hills at this point. I slowed down, quite a bit. Walked several times. Then, some of the folks who had motivated me earlier in the race, came by and told me to keep going. Keep going for Mom. That got me going again. I knew I wasn't going to get a PR but, that wasn't even a thought at the beginning of this race. However, I had a chance to come in under four hours. Had to go for it. I came in to the finish line area and didn't even realize Deb and Amy were right there, watching and cheering me on!! Amazing!! I pointed up to Heaven and thanked Mom for pushing me on.

My time?? 3:57:39. I'll take a sub 4 hour run in Little Rock any day. I will be back again in 2012. Great job to all my fellow Muckas who completed the half and got a new PR.

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