Tuesday, April 04, 2017

2017 race #7 - Little Rock Half Marathon

We had quite a wait for dinner Saturday night at a little Italian place downtown, but we got seated around 7:30 and all had a great dinner with fresh baked bread. Since we all kept ourselves busy after our 10k Saturday morning, we were all ready for an early bedtime Saturday night and planned to leave the hotel at a similar time Sunday morning to make our way down to the start line for the half marathon. The weather on Sunday did a 180 from Saturday, a bit cooler and rainy. Luckily I had packed a lightweight jacket for the race - it's more of a windbreaker than a rain jacket, but since it was in the 40's I figured that would be enough to keep me warm. I actually ended up taking off my jacket for a few miles until the wind kicked up and then I kept it on the rest of the race.

There were a lot of people who were dressed up for the race, some with outfits that matched what they wore the day before, so I recognized some folks. This year's theme for the races was candy, so there were a lot of bright colors and one guy was wearing an ice cream cone on his head (I tried to keep up with him, but he was definitely faster than me!). We took a quick pre-race selfie before heading out to the hills of Little Rock.
Me, Sarah and Jennifer
The beginning of the race followed the same course that the 10k did, so we passed by some of my favorite signs from Saturday a second time and I was able to get some pictures of them the second time around. This group also had a booth at the expo where you could pet a llama and some pigmy goats. They were certainly a very popular group!

The hills in the second half of the race were rough, though I'm sure that may have had something to do with the 24 miles I did the day before, but it was certainly tougher than the first half. I was struggling a bit in the second half, but that's when the spectators stepped up their game!

At mile 10, I was heading up a hill and I could see a Steelers banner at the top, so when I finally reached the top of the hill, I had to ask for a selfie! We spent a few minutes talking about how crazy it is to find Steelers fans truly all over the country, but I thanked him for his support and headed back to finish up my race.

Around mile 12, as we came up a big hill, there were tons of candy decorations lining the street and volunteers were handing out Skittles which were awesome! Though I will have to caution, if you're going to try to eat cold Skittles, be careful, they're a little hard to chew.

At some point on the course, there was the famous lipstick booth where volunteers were handing out tubes of lipstick to all runners. I actually took this picture from the marathon course where the booth was near mile 26. As I was there, a woman who was coming up to the finish stopped to pick out a color and said "I gotta look good for my finish line pictures!" and put some on before heading to finish off her last .2 miles. It's the little things that brighten a runner's day!

After I finished the half marathon, I walked back to my hotel which was actually right along the marathon course, so I got to cheer on some finishers. After I rested for a bit, I headed back out to wander around downtown and there were still marathoners coming in to the finish line - with an 8 hour cutoff, this race is walker-friendly and I have a ton of respect for the people who were out on the course for that long - 26.2 miles is a really long way to go and spending 8+ hours in the rain and wind to cross that finish line absolutely deserves the same respect as those who can finish in under 3.

I won't lie, after seeing the finisher medals for the marathon (easily as big as a dinner plate), I was really jealous of those who completed the full. The bling I got for the 10k, half and challenge were awesome and since this race changes themes every year, I may keep this one on my list to come back to. Each race had its own t-shirt color (green, blue, white and purple) and while I didn't see the 5k medal, the 10k medal (top left medal) was as big as most half marathon medals, the half marathon medal spins (bottom right) and as I mentioned, the full medals are absolutely huge! So, if you run for the bling, this is definitely a race you should check out.

Caveat: the challenge shirts are only available for purchase, so I totally cheated and just took a picture of one at the expo (first picture in this post) - I liked the shirt, but I didn't want to spend $20 for another shirt that was very similar to the other two. 

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