THE LITTLE ROCK HALF MARATHON, MARCH 4, 20073>
How forboding! This picture of our departure from the El Paso Airport and the mountain range between El Paso and Las Cruces, was an omen.
Another omen as the plane approached Little Rock. A river that flowed in a pattern identical to the elevation map of the Little Rock Marathon!
The Little Rock skyline
The Peabody was the host hotel for the marathon, within walking distance of the Expo, and with shuttle service to and from the marathon start/finish.
As we arrived at the Peabody on Saturday evening, the red carpet was being rolled out for the hotel's famous ducks to stroll from the fountain to the elevators, and then back to their home on the hotel's roof.
We walked to the beautiful Robinson Auditorium where the Expo was being held.
The marathon volunteers were great, and kept everyone moving along.
Dehan was the techno guru checking our chips at the Expo. He was so friendly, I had to include him in my half marathon story. I ran past Dehan on race day at mile 6 where he was helping out at the relay transition zone. Despite the fact I mispronounced his name as I ran past, he had a big smile on his face and shouted that he would see me at the finish. What a great representative of the race volunteers!
Race morning. The temperature was 34 degrees at the start of The Little Rock Marathon, or "Runapolozza" as the creative race directors have dubbed their marathon, with a windchill below freezing. I decided to wear the same clothes that worked well for me in Chicago under similar weather conditions, and planned to take off my jacket after the first few miles. As it turned out, I needed my jacket for the whole race, and took it off only as I approached the finish line so my race bib could be seen.
The "Coach" bus picked us up at the Peabody and took us to the start/finish area in front of the Capitol building.
Plastic bags never go out of fashion on cold marathon mornings.
The Air Force was well-represented at the race.
The view from the finish line toward the race start.
The race start at Capitol and Cross Streets.
The start area began to get crowded around 7:15 a.m. Unlike other races I have run, in Little Rock the 5K race started at 7:50 a.m., from the same location where the marathon, half marathon, and half marathon relay would start at 8:00 a.m. It was great to have such a diverse group of runners gathered together.
Did I mention it was cold? This woman was a runner, not a spectator.
I found a sunny spot to wait for the race to start.
The woman in the gray shirt and black shorts ran at my pace for most of the half. By mile 11 her legs were beet red.
I wondered if the woman holding this sign actually knew all of those runners, or if she had been hired by family members who couldn't tolerate the freezing temps. I saw her again around mile 6.
Meet Ron. He won my prize for most creative use of a black plastic bag on race morning. Ron was a wonderful man, running his first full marathon. I caught up with him again around mile 11. At that point he was ahead of his pace team and looking great. If you get a chance when you read this Ron, send me a quick e-mail and let me know how you enjoyed your first marathon. I'll be very curious to hear about that mountain at mile 14.
UPDATE 3/12/07 Ron reports his first full marathon was great. He ran the entire course and finished ahead of his pace team. Ron was used to the hill at 14, but the hill at 25 was tough. I can only imagine. Congratulations, Ron!
Spectators lined the start area as 8:00 a.m. approached. The marathon route was not necessarily "lined" with people; however, those who did brave the cold were extremely enthusiastic and supportive.
Unlike the Chicago Marathon where I lined up with the 4:30 pace team, I was a bit more realistic at the start of this race.
The "hills" begin. Mile 1 finished in the middle of the Broadway Bridge crossing into North Little Rock.
Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Coach Bob's excellent training schedule? Thank you! Palm Beach Marathon Training.Com
The view off the Broadway Bridge as runners approach mile 2
Running along the Riverfront
A wonderful gospel group provided inspiration near the start of the race.
Mile 3. The trolley still runs down Main Street in North Little Rock. It was wonderful to be transported back in time.
The beautiful, new Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock will be home to the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team.
These firefighters won my prize for most enthusiastic spectators along the course. Thanks for the support!
Mile 5, following a second trip across the Broadway Bridge - as if one trip wasn't enough!
Approaching the William J. Clinton Presidential Center
I wonder how many marathons can boast a course that has you running this close to a Presidential Library? After experiencing a race that passes so many historic locations, I have added the Marine Corps Marathon to my list of "must runs."
The course took us through Little Rock's Quapaw Quarter which includes more than 200 homes and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Homes from the Antebellum and Victorian eras can be found in the Quapaw Quarter, including the home that was known nationally as the outside of the office of Sugarbaker Designs, the fictional Atlanta-based interior design firm on the sitcom Designing Women.
Mile 7 - yet another "hill."
Approaching Mile 8 and the home of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the oldest continuously published newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The people in front of the building are holding the Torch of Courage, a torch designed by recognized Arkansas Artist, John Deering, as a symbol commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School's desegregation. The Torch of Courage was present at the start of the race, and was carried past Central High during the marathon.
Passing Mile 8. What? Another hill? This view of the Capitol building was a tease of the view we would see at mile 13.
Approaching Mile 10. This is the Governor's Mansion, former home of then Governor Clinton, and another of the buildings featured on Designing Women as the home of Suzanne Sugarbaker.
Between Miles 11 and 12 we ran past Little Rock Central High School, located on Daisy Bates Street, named after the Civil Rights leader. Fifty years ago, in September of 1957, following the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, President Eisenhower ordered 1200 troops from the Army's 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell to escort the Little Rock Nine into Central High, past a crowd of angry people protesting integration of the school.
After Passing Central High, I put my camera back in my pack and tried to concentrate on finishing the race in less than 2 and 1/2 hours. I came close. My official time was 2:33:01.
The finish area is always filled with excited, tired, proud people.
Russ and Steve of SignOutfitters.com were kind enough to let me get a picture of the country's largest marathon medals. Bodacious!
The post-race party was fun. We shared a table with Mark and Bill. Bill placed seventh in the 5K race, with a time of 20:37. Excellent!
The day after the race, we were all invited to The Oval Office - President Clinton's Oval Office on the second floor of his Presidential Library. It was a fitting end to a race through historic Little Rock.