The adventures of an unlikely pair. Follow us if you dare....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The One Where I’m 13.1 Miles Closer To Saying “I Do” {Little Rock Half Marathon 2013}

Alternate titles considered:
The One Where I’ve had better ideas
The One Where Friends Shouldn’t let you drink and run

Be prepared for lots of pictures and a very wordy race recap – this one will definitely be a good one!

This past weekend my sisters, friends and I went to Little Rock, Arkansas for my bachelorette weekend (more about the whole weekend later). I chose Little Rock because not only did my cousin live there but I also really wanted to run a race for my bachelorette weekend and I’ve had my eye on Little Rock for a while now, seeing as I have family there so this was a perfect combination of the two. It also just so happened that the theme for the Little Rock marathon this year was “Lucky in Little Rock” so we took a play off of that and had my “Lucky in Love in Little Rock” bachelorette weekend!

After a fun night Saturday night my 5am alarm came way too early. Way. Too. Early. But thankfully there was no headache and no hangover involved (despite what my instagram may have said, I was not actually hung over at all; I’m just not used to drinking very much let alone drinking the night before a race). I downed a water bottle of Nunn and then my sisters, Karen and I headed to meet my cousin at her church. Their church is right on the race course so they always pass out oranges to the runners. They also have lots of church members either running the race or involved somehow so they have a 6am “marathon church”. I think that may have actually been one of my favorite parts of the day. Getting up and being able to fellowship and worship before running was great! The singing and short talk lasted about half an hour and then Rachel took Karen and I to the starting line.

The race started at 8 but since we had been up and at church we got to the starting area really early. I was glad because even thought I wasn’t feeling bad from the night before my stomach wasn’t too happy with the alcohol I had drank – I’m pretty sure I used the port-o-potties 3 times that morning, sorry for the TMI! 

Karen and I walked around trying to find the sun and keep warm, it was a chilly morning and even thought I had toss away clothes it was still pretty cold. I should mention that my toss away pants have been with me to about 3 races prior to this race and I’ve somehow never actually tossed them, I was actually kind of becoming attached to them but they are now officially gone! Karen also told me that it they looked great with the cape, like I was a kid in my pajamas and cape, haha.

 Oh the cape – Karen made that for me. It’s kind of a joke that started at Christmas but I love it and I was glad to have it and ran the whole race in it. I’m not sure if she thought I actually would or not but I did. It did get annoying but I think it gave me super powers somewhere along the way!

Karen and I were both in the open corral so we eventually made our way there and waited for the start. It was so nice to have her there with me; at one point she even mentioned that I must get bored when I’m at the starting lines by myself and honestly I don’t really get bored but it’s definitely better with someone else. Once the race started it didn’t take long to move our way up to the start. Karen was planning on walking so I said goodbye and good luck right as we were about to cross the starting line. 

She also snapped this gem of a picture which she said was her favorite for the day. I really love it too because I think it’s a perfect reflection of exactly how I felt at the starting line, calm, comfortable and having fun doing something I absolutely love!

I didn’t have a goal in mind at all for this race, ok that’s a small lie I did have a goal but nothing really concrete. I always like to have a finish time in mind and I wanted to come in somewhere around 2:25 but I wasn’t going to put too much pressure on myself. My first mile was really slow; there were a lot of people and to be completely honest my legs just wouldn’t move. My legs felt like a ton of bricks and I could feel just how dehydrated I was.

Miles 1-3 were really tough, like really, really tough. I don’t really remember much about the course only that we were making our way from the downtown area over to the river. Around mile 2 I do remember seeing a booth set up that looked like a lemonade stand that said “Short Cut maps $1”. It was really cute and I was very tempted to find a dollar!

About mile 3 I was very seriously questioning if I was going to finish this race or not, I have never had a DNF but my legs just felt so tired and heavy and my calves were screaming at me. I did decide last minute to wear my Pure Connects for this race, they are the most minimal shoes I have and I haven’t worn them for anything longer than 6 miles (I wore them for my 10K PR) but I hadn’t had any problems with them and I love them so I figured I’d go for and pay the price if I had to. The thought did cross my mind that my calves hurt from my shoes but I didn’t really think that was the case since I was only at mile 3 and I’ve worn them for more than that before. I did think maybe that wearing heels the night before probably had more to do with it though.

And then at mile 3.5 my feet went numb. Yep, I couldn’t feel my feet. Let me tell you that was the most bizarre feeling ever! I knew that I was running and thank goodness my body knew what it was doing, I was pretty much on autopilot at this point and trying to think of anything other than the fact that my body was not happy but when my feet went numb that was just so weird. I debated stopping and stretching my calf muscles out thinking that might help but I wasn’t really in any pain and I was in a somewhat comfortable rhythm and I really did not want to stop, I knew that if I stopped it would be the end of it. So I trudged on. Like I said, I know how to run, I knew my feet were hitting the ground because I was still moving but I just couldn’t feel it at all, talk about surreal. This went on until mile 7.5. Yep, for 4 miles I couldn’t feel my feet at all!

Around mile 5 we start heading back over a bridge we had previously crossed to go back towards the downtown area. I kept thinking just how much I was hurting but yet I was so surprised that I was knocking down fairly decent mile times so I just kept plugging along. I kept expecting to hit a major wall but I also had some major toughness coming out at that point telling me that I needed to just keep going. One thing I have been blessed with is tenacity; I’m not entirely sure where it comes from or how I got it but it’s like a roaring lion in me, especially when it comes to running lately. At this point in a race it’s harder to get me to slow down or stop and it is for me to speed up and push myself, it’s a phenomenon I really try not to question, I just take it for what it’s worth.

About mile 6 I realized that despite the fact that I felt dehydrated and despite the fact my legs were already super tired and despite the fact that I couldn’t feel my feet I was running a very strong race and I was going to PR; but by how much was I going to PR was totally up to me and my body. I decided that I already felt like crap so I might as well just bundle the burden all in one and push the pace. I know this sounds weird but pushing for a PR hurts sometimes, so if I’m already hurting I might as well hurt for something I want. At that point in the race I couldn’t imagine reaching the finish line and NOT having a PR, that would have totally made the pain unbearable. But if I had a PR at the end I could totally deal with the aftermaths. Does that make sense? I know I’m a rare breed of weird and crazy but that’s just how my mind works!

At the 10K I was sitting at about 1:06 and got really excited, I just needed to try to keep the pace as best I could and I’d have a great finish time that I would be very happy with. About mile 6.5 we are making our way through some downtown streets and I found myself mingled in with the 4:40 marathon pace group. At that moment I was so very thankful for that group; I tend to get caught up at times going to fast so I needed the group to help me hold a pace for a little bit. I was ok with the thought of a 2:20 finish and I also really needed to just sit at a pace for a bit. Mentally I needed some distraction as well and the 4:40 pacer was so very entertaining. I stayed with them until about mile 8 and I was so very glad for that pacer. He was hilarious! He kept yelling at the spectators telling them they needed to be cheering and yelling. He would shout out funny signs and was just over all totally entertaining. I was actually a little bit jealous of that group; he was doing such a great job.

At the beginning of mile 8 we started up a HUGE hill straight up to the capitol building. This was about where I passed the 4:40 pace group because mentally I just needed to zone out and get up that hill. The hill lasted about half a mile and it was rough! I was losing steam quickly and I was really looking forward to seeing my family. My sisters and Taylor had told me they would be at mile 11 passing out oranges with their church so I told myself 2.5 more miles and I could see them. I also had forgotten my GU in the car and Rachel had it waiting for me, I definitely needed it but told myself to just hang on.

As it turns out as I turn a corner at about mile 8.75 I look up and there is my cousin’s church and there they are at the corner. It was a great surprise seeing them and I was so very glad. I ripped my gloves off and gave them to Rachel and she gave me my GU, I was so glad for that because I could really feel myself losing steam. I didn’t stop and so she actually ran with me right until about mile 9. She asked me how the course was and I how I was doing. It was a nice distraction to talk with her for a bit. 

She got an awesome action shot of me taking my GU. I also told her that I was hurting but I think I was going to PR. She told me I was running pretty fast and that I looked like I hurt but she was shocked I was doing so well. We parted ways on a downhill and she said they would be at the finish.

I spent most of mile 9 taking my GU; we were heading to the other side of the highway into some neighborhoods and I was just trying to focus on keeping myself moving. At the end of mile 9 there was a hill that we had climbed and that finally did me in; there was a water stop at the top and I really hadn’t wanted to stop at all but I did and grabbed a cup of water and finally took the last of my GU and drank the water and then I was off again. I had only a 5K left.

At this point I could have walked the last 5K and still had a really decent time but I’m so stubborn and I had worked so hard up to that point that there was no way I was going to let myself ruin a race in the last 5K. I knew I probably wasn’t going to break 2:15 like I’ve been wanting to but if I could come in at anything under 2:18 I would have a PR so that was my goal. At mile 11 was the cutoff for the marathoners who went straight while the half marathoners turned right. The marathoners actually just went around a couple of extra blocks because they joined back up with us pretty quickly and only ended up being a little less than a mile ahead of us, I didn’t really understand that. About mile 11.5 I walked again for 1 minute and then I was so glad we had a nice little decline to go down.

I don’t really remember much about mile 12 except for some water stop with people dressed up like birds, that was weird. Mile 12 really hurt. I did have to walk one more time for 1 minute and then it was playing the game of beating the time on the clock. I passed the lip gloss station at 12.5 that the Little Rock marathon is known for but honestly didn’t realize what it was until later, not that I wanted/needed lip gloss, I just wanted to be done. I saw the 26 flag and knew I had 2 tenths left and gave it everything I had. I saw my sisters and cousin and passed by them. I was looking for my other friends but I never saw them, I did hear them though somewhere behind me, I guess I was too focused on finishing to see them. I crossed the finish line in 2:16:56 in complete shock.

I could not believe that I had felt so unbelievable crappy out there all day long and I still came in with a PR; I guess my mindset of if I’m going to hurt I might as well make it worth it really helped. And honestly, I was really proud of myself, it was a mental battle out there and if I could pull that off then I know I’ve really come a long way. Most of this race was run completely on autopilot which felt good in a lot of ways; I hurt because I was tired and dehydrated not because I didn’t know what I was doing.

But it did leave me wondering, if I could do this on a bad day, what will my good days be like? I say that, however, I’m wondering if I don’t do better on tired legs; my last PR was set after running 8 miles and then 3 miles the 2 days prior to that, I was in no way prepared for a PR and yet I set one. Same with this race, it was my 4th race in 3 weeks and my legs were tired! I was sleep deprived and dehydrated yet I ran my best race. I don’t recommend running on tired legs but there may be something to it for me. Or maybe that just proves how much of a mental battle I can fight. Or maybe I just don’t need any pressure and I do well. Who knows!

I was so very glad my sisters, cousins and my friends were there to celebrate with me; it made it all that much sweeter! And didn’t they make some awesome signs??!! I love them!

As for Little Rock, I’m not sure I will run the course again, it wasn’t bad but it definitely wasn’t my favorite course at all. The bling was very nice that’s for sure, but the t-shirts were not good at all. It seemed like a good race but I think I’ve crossed this one off of my list and will look to other races in the future. I will say this though – there were lots of church groups along the way and that was very nice. I know my cousin’s church did a great job with their stop and it was the perfect place to be able to see my family. And it was also nice that my sisters and cousin were able to help volunteer while I was running, that was great!

And a HUGE congrats to Karen for finishing her 10K as well, I was so glad she did it with me.

*This race was also run as part of the 5 by the 5th race series put on by Mommy, Run Fast


Leigh said...

Congratulations on another race and an awesome PR! I can't believe you ran with the cape the entire time awesome!

Suz and Allan said...

Congratulations on your new PR!!! The cape is so cute but I can't imagine running a half wearing one. I know what you mean about feeling terrible and turning that into setting a new PR. It seems like the worse I feel at the start of a race the faster I finish. It makes no sense!

Mommy Run Fast said...

Amazing job!! Learning how to push through that discomfort is key to pr... you definitely have the mental toughness. Love that you had so many supporters there!

Curly Pink Runner said...

Oh my gosh! Girl you just keep gettting better and better! I LOVE reading all your race recaps!! You are one tough cookie and it shows on race day! :)

Kim Turner said...

Your race recaps are great! I think distance running is almost as much mental as it is physical and I think you totally proved it in your race.
Great job on the PR!!! said...

Congratulations on the race! Great pictures too :)

Tyly said...

All the signs were too funny, and I love the cape! You got some fantastic pictures from this race, and you continue to amaze me with your talent!

As for your other post, I think your 40 day challenge is awesome! I've gone back to my pretty strict budget and may need to incorporate something similar into it!

Britsy Neale said...

AWESOME!! I loved all the pics and your descriptions of the race itself...especially about mile 12 :) This is seriously awesome - love it!!
Britsy (

LifeisaRun said...

So fun, Lauren! And way impressed with you doing that! Congrats on the PR!! =)

Tamera said...

Congrats on the PR!! I came across your blog from Amy's @ A Glimpse of the Gouglers! I am now a follower!
I Love It!! I am running my second half this Saturday in Moab, UT! I never thought that running 13.1 miles would be fun. Even though it was hard, I obviously thought it was fun enough to do again!

Amy @ A Glimpse of the Gouglers said...

What a great run and PR! Just so you know, I'm completely on the same page as you with the "if I hurt already, I may as well push harder" thing. When I don't feel like doing a run, I'll just run faster so I get it done quicker too. My husband doesn't get it, but it makes sense to me! Fun idea to run a half your bachelorette weekend! I love it! Congrats on the PR again!

Beka said...

Wow! Way to go! I am pretty sure you would have found me curled up in the backseat of a car sleeping after a pre-race night like that.Congrats on your new PR! And yes - you're right, PR's ALWAYS hurt a little, but it's soooo worth it! :)