We headed to Arkansas and I was excited about the training I had put in over the winter months. I knew I was a little bit faster, but had no idea what could be possible for my next half in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had heard it was a hilly course, and hadn't really been tested on too many hills in a race since my Wisconsin half.
We headed to the expo with some friends who were also doing the race. The expo was pretty big with a huge offering of different vendors. The Little Rock races are known for their huge, over the top medals and warm hospitality, as well as a different theme every year. This year's theme was Pirates... so we kept hearing "Welcome to Aaaarrrrrrkansas!"
Before the race we didn't end up doing a lot to tour Little Rock, but since I did have a goal of setting a new PR I was okay with staying off my legs as much as possible.
Race morning brought much colder weather than originally anticipated. I'm talking like 33 degrees. Just barely above freezing, which was probably good since it was raining/ misting the entire race too! Better rain than snow, for sure. This way at least the roads weren't slick.
We were all bundled up before the race, waiting for the start. Once the race was just a few minutes away I decided to take off my throw-away clothes and got some strange looks for being in a tank top and shorts! You have to remember... I live in Wisconsin! I run in much colder weather about half the year!
I still kept my sleeves and gloves on. Keeping your extremities warm will help keep your entire body warm!
The race took off and I knew I wanted to run sub 1:42. I had trained hard all winter and didn't want it to go to waste! I tried to start a little conservatively and keep my first few miles in the upper 7's, knowing a lot of the hills happened in the second half of the race.
The course zig-zagged through downtown Little Rock quite a bit, so luckily Thayne was able to see me about 5 times in just the first 6 miles!
I kept checking my watch and was really in disbelief about how good I felt. After mile 7 we headed to a different part of town and I knew I wouldn't see Thayne again until the last mile of the race. He told me to keep staying strong, especially going up the hill in mile 9. I kept repeating to myself what he said. "stay strong."
We went through a little bit of a sketchy part of town, but there were a few small bands and local artists who came out to entertain us while on the back stretch of the race.
I tackled the hill and still felt great! I knew we'd go back down that hill around mile 11 as we headed back towards downtown and the finish line. I didn't want to let off the gas and actually pushed harder to use the downhill to my advantage.
I kept going, saw Thayne around mile 12 and knew we had one more short out and back.
This part of the race was a little hard to navigate as the 5k and 10k runners/ walkers were still on the course making it a little more congested than the rest of the race. They stayed a little more towards one side but there were a few times I'd have to tell people I was coming up on their left.
We took two lefts to turn down the next block to come into the finish. I tried my hardest to pick up the pace even more at the finish, but I was already working hard!
I was in total disbelief when I crossed the finish line and saw 1:36!
What!? 1:36?! My official time was 1:35:56. A 9 minute PR! My average pace was 7:19, so 41 seconds per mile than my PR back in November in California! I ended up as the 16th female and 3rd place in my age group.
Needless to say, I was sore and thankful the rest of the weekend. You're not so bad, Aaarrrrkansas.
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