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Little Rock Marathon- Race Report

Little Rock Marathon- Race Report
Little Rock Marathon- Race Report

Running a marathon changes you.  Last night I went to bed knowing that I would not be the same person after running in this race today.  I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true.  There is something about pushing your body past its natural limit that stretches you physically, mentally and spiritually.  I was much more anxious and nervous about this race than Houston which coincidentally was exactly 7 weeks ago today. I think I was more nervous because I was “pushing the envelope” pace-wise and I will be honest- the Little Rock Marathon course intimidated me.  I have been told for years how hilly it was.  Everyone says the half marathon course is great but the full is hard.  (This is a big reason why I have only ever done the half there and never the full.)  I’ve also been told that it is not a PR course by any means.  I wanted to prove to everyone, including myself that Houston was not the best I had in me. 

Pre-Race
My alarm was set for 5:30 but Ashton woke up at 5 so I fed him.  (Yes, he is still nursing but starting to wean a little.)  Then I just laid in bed for a few minutes praying and thinking positive race thoughts. My biggest race fear is that I will get negative and down on myself during a race.  I got ready and at 6:00 two of my race buddies picked me up.  John planned on coming later, once he dropped Ashton off at his parents house.  (The older 3 spent the night last night and John’s parents planned on taking all four to church.  They are very brave!)

We got to the race about an hour early.  We found the bathrooms and stretched and waited in the nice warm convention center.

Me with my running girls staying warm before the race!

Then we were off to find our corrals.  My friend Leslie was running the half and Tish was pacing her to break 2 hours.  They were in a different corral so I said good-bye and headed off on my own.

The Race
I had such a good experience with the 3:20 pace group in Houston so I thought I would try my luck with the 3:15 group.  (Little Rock also had no 3:20 pace group.  It was either 3:25 or 3:15.)  I wasn’t sure how long I could hang with them but I wanted to give it my best.  I know this might sound weird but I really didn’t want to negative split this race like I did Houston.  I wanted to spread it as evenly as I could but know in the end that there was NOTHING left to give.  This would mean probably positive splitting which is not something I typically do.

Mile 1- 7:27. Perfect.  This pace was a little faster than my first mile in Houston (7:49 there) but that was the goal average so I thought I’d better get used to this pace.
Mile 2- 7:12. A little faster than I would have probably gone out on my own but that’s one of the downsides of running with a pace group.  I felt fine but I was hoping I wouldn’t be kicking myself later in the race for a faster start. This mile also had the first big hill and downhill over one of the bridges.
Mile 3- 7:19. Starting to get in the groove. Running with a pace group totally takes your mind off of your watch.
Mile 4- 7:16.  These splits were sort of reminding me of some of my half marathon splits from the fall….  Somewhere in this mile I had my first GU gel and intended to get water but accidentally grabbed Gatorade.  Oh well!
Mile 5- 7:25
Mile 6- 7:26. Went up and down another bridge.
10K time- 46:14
Mile 7- 7:24. Grabbed some water this time.
Mile 8- 7:22. More water and some Chomp energy bites.
Mile 9- 7:12
Mile 10- 7:17. Some more hills. Nothing horrible but I knew I was about to enter the hilliest section of the course which was coming up in the next few miles.
Mile 11- 7:27. The half marathoners split off during this time and for the first time racing in LR I went with the marathoners.
Mile 12- 7:17.
Mile 13- 7:11. My fastest mile. I also saw John for the first time at the end of this mile. Of course, this made me so incredibly happy!! I gave him five and kept going!

Going up one of the many hills…
SO happy to see John!

Half Marathon time- 1:37:00.  My fastest Little Rock Half Marathon time is 1:36:45 (ran this 2 years ago right before I got pregnant with Ashton).  It was a little mind blowing to think that I ran only 15 seconds slower this time and still had another 13.1 to go….

Somewhere after the Half Marathon split the pace team slowed down for water.  Not really sure what happened but I kept going.  I assumed they would just catch up to me within a few seconds or minutes but I didn’t want to slow down.  I knew that the hilliest section of the marathon course was between miles 14 and 16 and I needed my pace team to help me make it through it.

Mile 14- 7:31.  Still no sign of the pace team and the hills were brutal.  Did they pass me and I somehow missed them?  No, not possible.  I could turn around but I knew they would catch up soon enough.
Mile 15- 7:42.  Worst mile ever.  The elevation gain on this mile was 125 feet.  I was feeling the burn in my quads and wondering where in the world was my pace group.  It’s not like I was going too fast.  (Apparently during this time they were losing everyone in the pace group.  I found this out after the race.  The hills were no joke.) I had a few more Chomp bites and someone was passing out mini water bottles which was awesome.  I carried it with me over the next mile until I finished it.
Mile 16- 7:18. This mile was much better. Still an elevation gain but not as bad as mile 15.  I think the water and fuel helped a lot.  I also saw John and that helped.  I looked up from stuffing my face with Shot bloks and there he was!

Mile 16- making my way through the hardest section of the course

Mile 17- 7:13. The next two miles had huge downhills.  This sort of made up for the torture of going up them… but not really!  There were several times I looked down to see a 6 something on my watch.  This was my first time during a marathon to see that! I felt SO good during this mile and remember thinking, “I’ve got this! Only 9 more miles?!!” Oh, how quickly things can change…
Mile 18- 7:12. Another good mile with an awesome downhill.  Still feeling really good and still ahead of the 3:15 pace group. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself though. I knew the hardest part of the race was coming up and I hoped I could handle it.
Mile 19- 7:21.  Feeling good but not great. A female passed me which was a little disappointing. I had been the only girl for several miles so when she passed me I tried not to let it get me down. I told myself to stay right behind her. After all, it was a little windy so maybe this would help.
Mile 20- 7:26. I felt my pace starting to slip. I managed to pass the lady who passed me but then another woman came up out of nowhere and ran right along side me.  I started to question if I had a good 10K left in me.  I thought about the 10 K I ran two weeks ago on the track.  I told myself I could do this. 
20 Mile time- 2:28:23
Mile 21- 7:35. Ughhhh. I was losing it.  At the very end of this mile the 3:15 pace group caught up to me  and was so encouraging.  The two pacers told me to stay with them and they’d help me finish strong.
Mile 22- 7:16. Back in the zone- thanks to the best pacers ever! During this mile I realized that I was the only one left from our pace group.  (We had started with 20-30?)  I did not want to let them down.  Every once in a while one of them would turn around and shout something encouraging to whoever was behind us but none of them caught up to us.
Mile 23- 7:18. Still on track thanks to the pacers. They just kept telling me to keep it up and that I had this.  We passed a few runners along the way and they tried to get whoever we passed to run with us but there were no takers.  I wasn’t sure how long I could maintain this pace.  John was somewhere around this mile and he could tell that I was getting tired.

Mile 23- Ready for that last 5K!

Mile 24- 7:31.  I felt the pace guys starting to pull ahead and I just couldn’t keep it up.  I wanted to go with them but my legs weren’t cooperating. I had my last GU gel and at this point I was drinking water or pouring some over my head any time water was available. My pace guys kept telling me that we were a almost done.
Mile 25- 7:45. Somewhere along this mile I looked up and saw two huge hills.  You’ve got to be kidding me!! I was SO tempted to stop and walk but I had to finish this thing.  In my head I started counting down laps around the track.  I do this at the end of races and it helps me get through the final mile or so.  John was at this mile (surprise!) and I tried to signal that I was dying.  I’m pretty sure he already got that message by the expression on my face. He told me I was almost there and to stay with it.

Starting to fall back behind my pacers. I caught up a little thanks to their encouragement.

Mile 26- 7:47.  Another big hill during this last mile. I knew I was going to PR but I was pretty sure I would not be under 3:15.  I just didn’t have anything left to give. My poor pacers.  I felt like they were pulling me on a string and that string was coming apart.

Almost done! A woman tried to catch me but I held my lead and finished just 3 seconds ahead of her!

Mile 26.41- 2:57 (7:11 avg. pace). Yes, my watch was a little off.  I knew I would go over because I always do.  I have to get better at running the tangents.  One of these days.  Anyway, as I ran the last quarter mile Tish and Leslie were just one minute from the finish shouting and cheering for me.  I ran as fast as I could…

Final 10K- 46:55
TOTAL TIME: 3:15:17 (avg. pace- 7:28)
8th overall female (out of 866). 1st place in 30-34 age division.

So happy to be done! Check out the crazy big medal!
Watch Results

Post-Race
As soon as I finished I thanked the two pacers.  They helped me so much.  I don’t know what I would have done during that last 10K without them.

Me with one of the pacers right after the race.

I found my friends and they helped me get some water and snacks.  Then they helped me find John!

I’m so glad Tish and Leslie were there! Leslie also set her Half PR today!
I couldn’t do it without him!

On our way back to the truck I was moving slow.  Every step hurt.  I found myself starting to cry but it wasn’t from any physical pain.  I was just so happy and relieved to be done.  I was so thankful that God helped me accomplish something that was extremely challenging.

Little Rock is known for its big medals but this year was the 10th Anniversary so they went all out!!

Do I have any regrets? If I could change anything about my racing strategy today would I?
I have no regrets.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  Sure, I would have loved to have finished miles 25 & 26 a little faster but I know that I gave it my all.  I cannot ask my body for more than that. I am thrilled with this new 4 minute PR.  Plus, it was on a much harder course than Houston.  I am starting to learn more about racing this distance.  I know I have not reached my marathon potential yet and the sky’s the limit!! God is SO good!!

Me with my crew after the race. 

35 Comments

  1. Oh Tia…I read every single word….so amazing! I felt like i was there and this was good to read for me since boston is also very hilly. you totally did it! and you did AMAZING Tia!!! You are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO strong!! You must be so proud you were the ONLY one who stayed with those pacers! your determination, training and pure grit paid off! couldn’t be happier for you or more inspired! thank you!!! xx

    1. Thanks Nicole. I will admit I was very intimidated by this course going into it but now that I can say I completed it I feel more confident going into a more challenging marathon. I added in some hill training since Houston and I know that helped. Of course, those pacers helped too! 😉

  2. Great job at a tough race. Sounds like you have definitely made pacers work for you: something I haven’t been able to do. You were able to use them and your natural ability and determination to PR on a very hilly course! That is some incredible planning and smart racing. You’re jut going to get faster!

    1. Thanks Gracie!! I can see how they don’t work for everyone but I love the “team” aspect of it. Even when it’s a very small team! 😉

  3. Tia you did amazing! Thanks for those post partum tips for getting back into running too. I couldn’t imagine being as fast as you are. You seem so confident and sure of yourself, qualities I wish I could have. I don’t mean to take up space on your comments section and I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how do you have such a connection with God? I’m finding those that do have such a postive outlook on life and are truly stronger individuals. I try and connect with him but feel like I’m taking up his time and that my worries/concerns are silly compared to people are really suffering.
    Anyways so to blabber on…you should be so proud of yourself! You truly are an inspiration!

    1. Laura- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You asked a really good question and I will do my best to answer. I have had a relationship with God most of my life but it has not always been a close one. I have always felt comfortable praying to Him but sometimes it is hard to understand His will and why things happen the way they do. A little over a year ago I challenged myself to read through the entire Bible. I had never read it cover to cover but it was something I decided I needed to do. I was tired of making excuses as to why I couldn’t. So in 2011 I read the Bible. It was very life changing. I am now reading it again for the 2nd time. I follow a plan on my iPhone in YouVersion called OwnIt365. 6 days of reading and one day off per week. I love it! I feel MUCH more connected with God than I have before in my life now that I am in His word daily. You are right- there are many others suffering and going through much more difficult times than we are but it doesn’t matter to God. God wants us to come to Him with everything. There is nothing too big or small. : )

  4. So glad you posted this on FB or I wouldn’t have seen it for awhile. Wow, I’m all choked up here. Something about the pacers and the way they encouraged and motivated…pulled you…this makes me emotional. So many metaphors in real life that this brings to mind. So beautiful. I’m incredibly impressed with you Tia…great splits!! I’ve never run with a pace group but I think it could really be something worth trying out if I run a marathon big enough to have them. YOU. INSPIRE. ME!

    1. Thanks Amanda! I would definitely recommend trying a pace team of you are in a race that offers them. Lots of advantages to having the support and encouragement right there. I’ve always been intimidated by them until I actually gave them a try. I kind of think I might like to be a pacer myself one of these days…. Anyway, I’m so excited to track you and Boston! One more month!!

    1. My favorite data field setting is the one with 3 fields. The top displays total time. The bottom left displays my current average pace (not overall average). The bottom right displays mileage. I have tried using the overall average but personally I don’t like it. I want to know my at the moment pace. : )

  5. Wow! Just WOW!! Thank you for posting this…it is very inspirational, plus I felt like I was there. I too have never wanted to do the LR marathon b/c of the hills…they intimidate me! So glad you overcame each and every one of them! I have cried at every marathon I’ve run. It’s the same for me too. Such a mental and spiritual time while running. The physical is hard but the mental and spiritual get you through it! I have had many an outloud cry to God while making those last few miles! So proud to know you and get to hear all these good things! I believe you when you say that you still have your best marathon in you! CONGRATS!!

    1. Thank you Barbara! I’d love to hear about one of your races sometime… I’m sure your last one in FL would have been an interesting tale! 🙂 You should definitely give the LR full a try sometime. It is challenging but doable. I’m so glad I talked myself into it. It meant a lot to me since this is my home state and it is so close by. It was a relatively cheap race experience since it did not involve any hotel/ travel expenses either. I am definitely going to do it again although I may not “race” the full the year I am planning on racing Boston. We’ll see… 🙂

  6. love the last picture of your “crew!!” you have a beautiful family Tia!

    I was thinking about you yesterday & I knew you were going to do it! your training was right on & you tapered perfectly! I’m taking notes! 🙂 I loved reading every single word you wrote. I felt like I was running beside you. not only did you crush your PR you did it on a hard course!! the last few miles of the marathon are always humbling. our hearts & determination get us across that finish line (sometimes in tears!). I’m so excited to see what lies in front of you. Your right… “the sky’s the limit and god is soo good!!” you ran another perfect race! Congrats on first place in your division AND a nice BIG medal! (biggest medal I’ve ever seen!!) 🙂

    Tia, I’d love to chat with you more aside from DM & your blog. With LA marathon in less than 2 weeks I’m trying to assess a goal, pace, strategy w/o being overly ambitious. I’m running a half this weekend & I feel it’ll be a good indicator to see what I can do in LA. my e-mail is pamula2000@aol.com thank you!! CONGRATS to you again!! xo

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Pam! I am so excited for you and your big race! I know EXACTLY what you are going through with trying to determine the right pacing strategy. Your half this weekend will give you a really good idea of where you’re at and what you can expect. I will email you.

  7. Tia, I loved reading this and listening to all the ways you tried to stay positive! It can be so hard to do that! Congrats on the AMAZING time! Cheesy, but you are inspiring 🙂

  8. Oh my goodness! You are awesome, lady. What a finish. Congrats on breaking top 10 women and an AG win!! So glad the pace group worked out for you. I LOVED mine in my last marathon. May do it again in May with the 3:35 group if they have one.

    Great job and love that medal!

  9. Wow wow wow, Tia! What an awesome race– congrats to you! I was wrapped up in your report, wondering what the outcome would be! Such a great run, you obviously gave it all you had, and you can’t ask for anything more!

  10. Wow wow wow! Having run the Little Rock marathon, I am definitely amazed by your acheivement Tia:) You are one tough competitor and I love that! Way to push hard and reach your goals….definitely an inspiration to me:)

    1. Thanks Kortni. Yes, I am definitely taking it easy the next few days. I am NOT one of those people who immediately jumps back into training without a small break. My body needs a rest!! ; )

  11. I loved reading this entire recap! Every single mile, I felt like I was there with you. CONGRATULATIONS!! What an amazing AMAZING race you ran! Your grit and determination to stick it out at the end is so inspiring! Congrats on the huge PR, and the age group win!! You are such a strong runner.

  12. Tia, you are so inspiring. What a fantastic race!

    This was a wonderful race report filled with all the details that matter to those who want to race the race of their life. I am encouraged by how your faith guides you and how you give such a great witness to anyone reading your blog. Wishing you many happy races to come:)

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