Monday, March 5, 2012

Little Rock Half Marathon - A great Experience!

Brilliant sunshine and a starting temperature for the race of 45 degrees is just about perfect!  However, I did agonize over what to wear.  Should I wear the cropped pants or the shorts?  Will the while long-sleeve shirt be warm enough or will it be too warm?  When I worried that I might be too cold at the start, I made a quick dash back to the fitness expo to purchase an inexpensive long-sleeve top to serve as a "disposable" jacket. 

In a quandary, I consulted the handy "what should I wear?" tool at the Runners World website.  I like to be a little on the cool side when I run, and that site recommended a short-sleeve top and shorts.  Well, I didn't bring a short-sleeve top so the white long-sleeve top I brought will have to do.  I brought gloves...and I wore them at the start of the race, but really didn't need them and ended up carrying them in my left hand for much of the race.

I walked out of the hotel at 7:35 AM, turned left and headed the three blocks to the start line.  This brought me into the back of the pack - the "open" corral - which is pretty much where I belonged.  Ample banks of porta-potties sat in a small parking lot immediately to the right of the open corral and even though I really didn't need to go, I did anyway.  Standing in a corral, waiting for a race to start always get my heart rate going.  I try to connect with some of the runners near me, making small talk.  This morning I connected with a couple of gals standing behind me, as we listened to Bart Yasso pump the crowd.


The wheelchair competitors started at 7:55 AM and then the countdown began for the start for the rest of us.  Bart Yasso, noted long distance runner and staffer for Runner's World, sent us all off with some great commentary, as he singled out various folks in the crowd - the gals in the tutu's, the back-of-the-pack runners, made comments to pump up the group as we ran across the start mat and under the start-line arch.

The half marathoners, full marathoners, and 10K runners were all lined up together at the start and we all stayed together as we ran straight down Clinton Blvd to the Presidential Libary, then turned right, then right again, and then right again to cross over the bridge spanning the river and into North Little Rock.   At around mile 3 a really terrific Christian Rock combo with male soloist was entertaining us with a beautiful song.  They were set up on the lawn of the North Little Rock Friendship Church of the Nazarene.  They get my vote!

It was warm over here on this side of the river and I was concerned, just 4 miles into the race, that I was overdressed in this heavier weight long sleeved shirt.  I shed the neck kerchief I was wearing, and that helped some.  But actually, once over the river and into the shady downtown and residential areas, it was cooler and I was okay with what I was wearing. 
The Half Marathon Route:
Uphill stretches indicated by red arrows
Downhill stretches indicated by yellow arrows

The bridge itself was an uphill on the approach in each direction, but really, the hills started in earnest after mile 6.  The route zig-zagged us south, then north, then south several times, with each south zig taking us uphill and each north zag taking us downhill.  It seemed sadistic to me, but at least the route was scenic, taking us past the governor's mansion, the performing arts center, nice residential homes and, at one point, a great view of the capitol building as we ran up the hill on Capitol Street. 

Just a few tenths of a mile from the finish line, L'Oreal Cosmetics (one of the corporate race sponsors) had a table set up with volunteers handing the female runners tubes of lipstick.  How unique! 

Bart Yasso was standing down at the finish line high-fiving all the runners as they came in.  Such a nice, personal touch!  He is such a great guy!
 

I was pleased with my time...one of my better times, better than many of my more recent race times.  One of my best continues to be my 2010 Flying Pig Half Marathon time, a surprise since that course has a couple of bridges and one giant 2-mile uphile stretch.

I hurried from the finish line to the hotel, took a quick shower and checked out.  I had a long drive back home.

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