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Little Rock Marathon 2017

Little Rock Marathon 2017

Winning the Little Rock Marathon last year was an experience that I’ll never forget.  I spent the next 12 months knowing that I wanted to run it again but it was very intimating. My 2016 race win would be a very tough act to follow but I knew I wanted to try.

Training for LRM started at the beginning of January.  It was a short cycle since I ran the 3 Bridges Marathon mid December and my body needed the end of that month to recover.  I averaged between 60-80 miles per week and tried to add in hills whenever I could to prepare for the climbs. Just like last year, I did all of my training outside.  I wanted to be ready for whatever weather race day threw my way and fortunately it was not a repeat of the 3 Bridges Marathon!

Race Weekend

runalicious

I love a good race expo and the Little Rock Marathon does not disappoint.  When at all possible I try to avoid doing a lot of walking the day before a marathon so John and I went to the expo Friday morning. It was great seeing our friends at 73Threads again this year! Love this company and they really do make the best shirts!


I found out a few days before the marathon that LRM was giving me bib #1 since the male winner from last year wasn’t returning. I was honored but boy did this add some pressure!   I’ve only worn bib #1 once before- and I finished 2nd… (Talk about awkward!) I decided to embrace it because I knew I may never have an opportunity like this again.


Race Plan

My goal for the Little Rock Marathon was very similar to last year- break 3 hours! On this course this is no easy feat.  This meant I needed to average a 6:50 or under which was going to require my very best effort.


I never know exactly who will show up at any given race but it does help knowing I am in control of my pace.   The weather wasn’t ideal but it was very doable. I was just so thankful it was under 60 degrees! John and the kids dropped me off right by the start.  They were going to get breakfast and find see me around mile 4.  I walked over to find a porta-potty and fortunately there were plenty! No wait time at all which is rare at a race these days!  I jogged around a little over a half mile and had some time to focus. This was it!

The Race

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

At the start I looked around at the other female bibs and the ones I saw in the elite corral were all running the half. That was good news for me!  I knew it would be a fast start but my goal was to keep mile 1 around 6:50.

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

Within the first mile a guy ran up along side me and told me he was going to pace with me since he knew I had run it before and had finished right around 3 hours.  Over the next few miles I learned it was his first marathon but he was a 1:17 half marathoner.  I was running my splits (6:40’s) so I figured he would pick up the pace he leave me (which he did by mile 8).  I found out later he finished 3rd overall with a time of 2:53.  Nicely done!

I saw John and the kids around the Clinton Library (mile 4) and threw him my visor.  I knew I was the first female marathoner but I wasn’t sure how much of a lead I had.


John and the kids were also at mile 9. I knew the next time I’d see them it would be at the top of the hills off Kavanaugh.


Mile Splits 1-13: 6:49, 6:44, 6:45, 6:45, 6:35, 6:42, 6:40, 6:45, 6:45, 6:46, 6:46, 6:48, 6:42

Half Marathon Split: 1:28:53. I knew a sub 3 was going to be cutting it close.  The second half of this course is much tougher than the first half.  I had tried to go out conservative so it meant I didn’t have a lot of cushion to slow down the second half.

Miles 13- 16 of Little Rock are pretty challenging.  I watched my overall watch average go up a few seconds but I was optimistic that I could get it down after the hill climb. It helped seeing my sister at mile 15, as well as some running friends along this section.  I also saw John and the kids which motivated me to keep pushing.


Once I made it to the top I tried to coast on the downhill and mentally prepare for the Rebsamen stretch.  This piece of the course is flat but mentally exhausting as it is a long out and back. I really focused on keeping my pace sub 7 but it was getting hard.  I saw John one last time around mile 18 and he yelled that they would see me at the finish.


Miles 14-20: 6:59, 7:03, 6:55, 6:45, 6:57, 6:51, 6:52

The last 10k of any marathon scares me the most and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought and prayed about this part of the course. The day before the marathon a local Little Rock running friend, Tara posted a picture of the mile 22 marker on Instagram with a very sweet message that really struck a chord.


I looked forward to passing this marker as if it were a  friend and when I did I smiled and waved.  I could do this. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I could stay with it. Around mile 23 my friend Hannah and her friends were cheering and told me I was looking strong.  Listen to them I told myself.

Photo credit @ Hannah Rogers

I just needed to make it through the last 5k now.  The light rain actually felt good but the wind on this stretch (miles 21-25) was tough.  I wasn’t prepared for a headwind but I just had to keep pushing.  At mile 25 we hit the final challenge of the course… the big Dillards hill on Cantrell.  I knew it was coming and as many times as I visualized this hill in all my hill sprints over the past year I could not pick up my legs any faster.

Photo credit @ Arkansas Outside

I really wanted this mile to be sub or low 7 but when my watch beeped at mile 25 it was a 7:22  (slowest mile of the marathon) and I knew I could not make up that time to go sub 3. Last year I ran a 7:21 for mile 25 so at least I was consistent.  I did my best to pick it up in the last mile.  I knew I was almost done and I’d get to see John and the kids.  I just wanted it to be over.  Once I rounded the final turn I saw the big finish tape and it hit me.  I was really about to win this thing again! It seemed so surreal and it all happened so fast.

Miles 21-26.3: 6:49, 6:59, 7:01, 7:06, 7:22, 7:06, 6:39 avg for last .30.

Photo credit @ Mark Wagner

 

Official Finish Time: 3:00:44 (1st female)

Official Results can be found here.

As soon as I finished I was greeted by the elite coordinator, Joyce Taylor who hugged me and led me to John and the kids who had been watching on the side. It was so good to see them!!

Photo credit @ Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Photo credit @ Mark Magner

Couldn’t do it without my J.


After left the finish area we headed over to the convention center. There was plenty to eat and I had a post race massage. I was also able to meet up with Amy who had just finished and set a 9 minute PR!!


I actually had 3 running clients racing in the Little Rock Marathon race events and they did great!!


While I did not hit that sub 3 goal I am extremely proud of my attitude and effort. I stayed positive and focused.  I am going to keep trying for this goal. I cannot thank everyone enough for all the love and support this past week. I appreciate all the comments and messages.  I couldn’t do any of this without my friends, my running family, my awesome coach, and especially John and the kids. Thank you!! ❤❤

16 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the win for the 2nd year in a row, Tia!

    You did a really great job and I loved reading your recap (I always do). Melissa and I were in MB and saw your pics Friday night and we were like we hope Tia wins the marathon! I love that you were able to keep it together and run such great splits when you were so alone in the race too. I’m obviously not as fast as you but when I don’t have other runners around me I tend to slow down, so it’s awesome that you mastered the skill of being a frontrunner. Plus, it looks like the elevation for the second half is pretty insane with the hills in there. And of course I love all the pics of you and your family, it looks like it was a wonderful day for everyone and you got to share with John and the kids.

    The medals for this race and candy theme are so cool. My friend David (50 stater) ran this half and he said the rain was crazy- but he only said really good things about this race itself. I really don’t know if I’ll ever get into marathons or traveling for races but this would definitely be on my list!

    I hope you’re having a good recovery too, but I’m sure we will see you running another race soon!

  2. Wow, congrats Tia!! Such consistent splits- and that second half looks really tough! You powered through and ran such a strong race. Congrats on 1st place again! I hope you’re recovery well this week and riding the high of that race!

  3. You never cease to amaze. I love reading your recaps – they’re so detailed, and also so realistic…I mean, a huge hill at the end of a race sucks! But you set a good example to me to hang tough in these races.
    I saw your 2 mile PR today – AMAZING – can’t wait to read about that one, too!
    Gracie recently posted…Power Miler Track Club, #2My Profile

    1. Thanks Gracie! I’m hoping the big hill at mile 25 will help me feel better about the Newton hills in Boston. I’m just going to keep trying for a sub 3 in Little Rock. Maybe by the time I’m a Masters runner I’ll get there!
      Tia Stone recently posted…Chase Race and Paws 2017My Profile

  4. Oh wow, I loved this report so much. I particularly liked the part about mile 22. I had no idea that Little Rock was such a tough course. The elevation looks challenging and it seems like you really need a strategy in place. I’m so happy that you earned your title again as the winner. You are amazing and such an inspiration!
    Elizabeth C. recently posted…Faster than I could have dreamed ofMy Profile

  5. Wow, Tia, what a great race! You have this knack of making it look so easy – that looks like a very tough course! Way to stay strong, I don’t know how you do it with that attitude of yours but it is so wonderful to see!!

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