Little Rock Marathon- 2016!

Little Rock Marathon- 2016!

It’s been three days since the Little Rock Marathon and I’m still feeling the love.  Thank you so much for all the messages and comments after Sunday’s race!  I really appreciate it.  It’s still very hard to believe this happened.  Ten years ago I had my first experience with the Little Rock Marathon.  I went as a spectator and a very pregnant one at that! I was there to cheer on my husband.  I NEVER imagined one day running in it myself- let alone winning it!  That doesn’t happen to someone like me!

Little Rock Marathon- 2006

The Little Rock Marathon has been on my radar for a long time! Last year I planned to run it but ended up getting sick the week of the race and had to drop out at the last minute.  I hated missing it but  had no choice. Since then I had it in my mind that I wanted to make it to the starting line this year healthy and ready to race.  This is no easy feat when you live in a house with four kids but fortunately this was one of our best winters ever.  Hoping we can keep this streak going as long as possible!  My training officially started around the beginning of the year.  I ran three back to back fall marathons (October, November, and December) so I had a pretty solid mileage base going into LRM.  I also did something  I’ve never done before in a training cycle.  I made it my goal to run every training run outside, regardless of the weather.  The Little Rock Marathon has been known to have all kinds of extreme weather race day and I wanted to be prepared for anything.  I ran in snow, rain, heavy winds and everything in between.  Wouldn’t you know it on race day this year the weather was just about perfect!

Typically I tend to be a runner who avoids hills.  For my Chicago training last fall I chose the flat easy route just about every run.  Not this time.  This training cycle incorporated hill repeats and more challenging long runs.  I wanted to be strong enough and confident enough in my training to tackle whatever hills I had to face.

Race Weekend

The week leading up to LRM happened to be spring break for the kids.  We made a family outing of going to the expo Friday since they were all out of school.  The Little Rock Marathon Expo is one of my favorites.  So many great vendors!!  We spent an hour or two there and then got some lunch down the street from the convention center.

Ran into Marvin Fisher at the expo!

This is it!

Finally had the chance to meet our friends at 73 Threads!! Love this company and their awesome products!

You don’t want to mess with these kids!

Thanks for the awesome shirt 73 Threads!

Pizza time at Iriana’s

Saturday I met my friend Natalie for a short shakeout run in the morning and then I took it easy around the house the rest of the day.  Sunday morning I was up by 4:30 and ate some oatmeal while I got ready. I met my friends Natalie, Kerri and Candice at Kerri’s house at 5:15 and rode to Little Rock with them.

Every time.

It was almost an hour drive to the Convention Center.  We made a couple restroom stops and then it was time to head to the start.  I was pretty nervous.  It’s just so hard to wrap your head around running 26.2 miles!

Photo credit @ Kerri Behel

Photo credit @ Kerri Behel

The Race

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner


I paced the first couple of miles with a fellow Searcy Rush teammate, Kelli.  From the mile 1 marker I knew I was first female in the marathon.  A bike pacer came alongside me with her walkie talkie and every mile reported the mile number and my bib number over her intercom.

Mile 1- 6:42
Mile 2- 6:48
Mile 3- 6:42

Photo credit @ Beverly Smith

Photo credit @ Beverly Smith

Mile 4- 6:39
Mile 5- 6:40
Mile 6- 6:38.  Just after the 6 mile marker was a turnaround.  I tried to notice how much of a lead I had on the second place female marathon runner but it was pretty hard to be certain among the sea of half marathoners.
Mile 7- 6:38
Mile 8- 6:42
Mile 9- 6:34
Mile 10- 6:49.  Saw John and the kids for the first time at the 10 mile marker.  Feeling good.

Photo credit @ my 11 yr-old! 🙂

Mile 11- 6:44
Mile 12- 6:46
Mile 13-6:43
Half Marathon- 1:28:16

As you can see things get a little tough in these middle miles…

Mile 14- 6:55.  The next couple miles have the most incline during the big climb up Kavanaugh.
Mile 15- 6:59.  My sweet sister who lives in Little Rock was cheering for me at this mile.
Mile 16- 6:54. Saw John and the kids on the top of Hillcrest.

Mile 17- 6:40.  Big downhill.  My legs were pretty beat from the hills climbs but I was still feeling like this was doable.  Up until this point watch average was 6:45 pace.
Mile 18- 6:58.  Now for the big out and back section along the Riverfront.
Mile 19- 7:00.
Mile 20- 7:01.  Shortly after the 20 mile marker is the big turnaround.  I knew I would be able to look for the second place female once I turned around so I kept watching when a runner went by in the other direction.  After a couple minutes I spotted a female but I had no idea exactly how much time had passed.  Was it two or three minutes? Did that make my lead 4 or 5 minutes?  Immediately in my head I started trying to do the math of “worst case pace scenario.”  I hate doing math in the last 10k.
Mile 21- 7:04.  Struggling and knew I was hitting the wall.
Mile 22- 7:07.  Right around this mile a runner came up behind me and I immediately recognized him- James Bressette.  James is a very talented local Grand Masters runner and we’ve run together in a few other races.  He seemed to be keeping a good pace and I wished I could stay with him.  My first thought was to let him go.  I was feeling awful and there was no way I could keep up with him.  I still had FOUR MORE MILES which sounded like forever.  Suddenly it hit me- I don’t have to stay with him for four miles.  Why not just try to stay with him one mile?  Surely I could hang with him for just one mile.  This sounded much more doable so I forced myself to stay with James.  He seemed to know everyone we passed going in the opposite direction.  He shouted back and waved his hands to them.  He seemed to have so much energy and I felt dead.  I just reminded myself that I was only staying with him one mile.  At one point I glanced down at my watch and saw I only had a half mile left.  This was so hard!
Mile 23- 7:02.  When we made it to mile 23 I was very tempted to give up and let James go but I challenged myself to see if I could hang with him for one more mile. I just needed him to get me to the last 5k.
Mile 24- 6:58.  When I saw a sub 7 minute pace for mile 24 something changed in me.  I could really do this!  I only had two miles to go.
Mile 25- 7:21.  The Dillard’s hill.  Going up this hill I actually pulled ahead of James but two other guys came up and passed me.  They seemed to have a great kick.  I tried to keep them in my sight.  I knew this mile would be slower because of the last big hill but I had no idea it was this slow.
Mile 26- 6:55.  Pulled the pace back together in the last mile.  In fact, this is my fastest last mile of a marathon to date.  I knew a sub 3 was probably not going to happen but it would be close.

LRM capital

Mile 26. Photo credit @ Little Rock Marathon

Mile 26.43.  Sprinting it in.  Just before the final turn I spotted 5-time LRM marathon winner Leah Thorvilson cheering me onto the finish.  I saw the finish line tape and I went for it.  I have no idea what my pace was this last bit.  For the first time in my life I completely forgot to stop my watch.  I guess once I saw the tape my watch was the last thing on my mind!

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

Official Time: 3:00:23. (6:53 avg. pace).  Official Results can be found here.

I was immediately greeted by Joyce Taylor, the Elite Marathon Coordinator and then seconds later John and the kids who had been waiting for me at the finish.  I loved having them right there.  I was able to hug them before all the interviews started.  For the next 15 minutes I was interviewed by various Arkansas television reporters and newspaper journalists.  This is not something I am used to at all!  It felt very surreal.

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

I love this moment captured by the @ Arkansas Democrat Gazette

My sweet J took this pic during the interview madness. I had no idea he took this until I saw it on Facebook after we left the race!

Photo credit @ Joyce Taylor

Little Rock is known for their humongous finisher medals. I have never been crowned with a head wreath after a race! Since this year’s theme was “Game On” the overall winners received giant chess pieces.  Gotta love the Queen!

Once I finished the interviews we decided to wait near the finish area for my good friend Natalie.  She did great and finished in 3:28!

Time to Celebrate!

Sunday night we went over to my in-laws after church and they had a little surprise for me.

Monday I was greeted by signs and banners when I got to my office.

26.2 cupcakes!!

Loved the signs!!

Monday night we went to my parents house and they also had a small party planned too!



Thanks again for all the marathon love! I’m so thankful for the opportunities God has given me and for my husband and family who support me and encourage me to do my very best.  I always want to show my kids that they can do hard things.  It just takes a lot of hard work and practice! The 2016 Little Rock Marathon is one I will never forget.  It will always hold a special place in my heart.



44 thoughts on “Little Rock Marathon- 2016!

  1. Congrats again!!! love this recap. & love that your Grandma (I think) is wearing your crown in the pic at the end. 🙂

  2. Couldn’t wait to read this recap! I can just imagine the happiness you must have felt when breaking that tape… well deserved, so happy for you!
    And I loved what you did during those last miles… One is SO tired by that point that it is pretty much impossible to think straight and keep pushing. Excellent strategy. Will try to keep that in mind during those final miles in Boston 😉

  3. Congratulations!!! Your hard training paid off BIG time! So happy for you – thanks for continuing to inspire me with your posts!! Reading your words really helps me on the tough days when running just isn’t feeling so good on the ol’ body!

  4. Congratulations, Tia! I love reading your race reports, and of course already knew the outcome of this one, but I honestly had a lot of feelings reading the recap!! I loves seeing pictures of your family by your side for this big moment. Keep on enjoying it, lady! You deserve it!

  5. This brought tears to my eyes, Tia! I’m so dang excited for you! I texted Coach right after I finished and asked him how you were doing; at that point, we had no idea where you were in terms of overall females, so it was super exciting to hear that crossed the finish line FIRST! GAH!!! Always inspired by all of your hard work and dedication; congrats again on a super race!!
    Tara @ Running ‘N’ Reading recently posted…Try Not to Breathe by Holly SeddonMy Profile

  6. This made me teary! What a huge inspiration you are, so strong and humble. I am a mother of three battling breast cancer right now. While recovering from chemo rounds I read running blogs to pass the time and inspire me to lace up my shoes and get out there for a week or two before the next round knocks me down again. I just discovered your blog and it is my new favorite. Thank you for the joyful inspiration and best of luck to you, I will be following along!

      1. Thank you for the kind words! I don’t blog or IG but if I get brave and start I will let you know. I am a pretty slow and boring runner though! I can barely eek out 2.5 miles these days (and that’s stopping to walk too!). My oncologist reassures me that it will be much easier to rebuild fitness once chemo and radiation are done. I just do it because it feels so good to be outside getting some fresh air and the mental boost is very helpful. And I swear it makes recovery from chemo faster and easier too.

  7. Hello Tia, I love to go for marathon ever. I have many great experiences for my marathon journey. Thanks for sharing such nice blog. After reading your blog I recall my experiences.

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