I ran my seventh marathon on Sunday in Little Rock! It was my third time running the full 26.2 in this race, and it's always a favorite. Mostly because of these giant medals! I've also run the half-marathon there four times.
This year's race had a 1960s peace and love theme, and there were peace signs, smiley faces, and hearts all over the expo at the Statehouse Convention Center. I arrived there on Saturday afternoon to pick up my bib and race shirt. And I bought a super-cute Sprints veggie cap to wear in the race. I had to grab a selfie in front of the expo's VW van.
After the expo, I went to my friends Sheridan and Drew's house, where I'd be staying for the night. Since my BFF lives in Little Rock, I rarely miss this race! We headed out to have a pre-race beer on the patio at The Pantry. I went with a locally brewed brown ale.
And we split this tasty Hummus Plate. These fried pita chips were just amazing!
Then we browsed a nearby Indian market and found some tasty treasures. When I travel, I pretty much just eat and check out grocery stores. After shopping, we headed back to Sheridan's, and she cooked a pre-race pasta meal with Banza pasta, Beyond meat crumbles, and a veggie-heavy marinara. Sheridan cooks me pre-race pasta every year because she's the best!
The next morning, I woke at 5 a.m. and got ready for the race, and then I headed downtown around 6:15 a.m. to find parking. Luckily, I found a free street parking spot right away, so I jogged to the expo to stay warm. It was 48 degrees that morning, but it would warm up to the mid-70s, so I was only wearing a singlet and shorts.
Once inside, I grabbed a selfie and took a few bathroom breaks. Pre-race nerves!
And then I met up with Natasha for a quick pic. Natasha is from Memphis, and she's at nearly every race in the tri-state area.
The race took off at 8 a.m., and I fell into a nice pace. I had planned to treat this race as a training run for my upcoming 50-miler, so I tried not to push too hard. Within the first mile, there was a beer stop, so of course, I stopped! And in mile 8, there was a Fireball stop, another beer stop, and a champagne stop. I had one of each. These are teensy pours though, y'all — maybe one ounce of each. Just enough for a little mental boost to help break through the boredom. This lady knows what I'm talking about! I don't know her, but I had to snap a pick of her shirt. What a cool lady!
About halfway into the race, I realized I was possibly on pace for a PR. And even though I didn't plan to PR, I figured I should probably try since I was doing well. So I kept up that pace. But it got pretty hilly around mile 15, and that slowed me quite a bit. And it got very hot. The sun was shining, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Oh, and I forgot to wear sunscreen, and I could feel my skin baking.
So needless to say, that last half was a tough one. An aid station with tater tots at mile 16 certainly helped though! But when I crossed the finish line, I was eight seconds short of a PR. I took three mid-race bathroom breaks, so one less break (or maybe one less beer or tot stop!) would have done the trick. But how was I to know? Anyway, I'm still proud of my second-fastest marathon! And this weather was far hotter than in my PR race last December. PR or no, I earned this crazy medal.
At the post-race party, I grabbed some pasta with marinara (Little Rock always has vegan options; another reason I don't miss this race!) and my free beer.
And then I headed back to Sheridan's for a shower. And then I stopped by Blaze Pizza for a vegan pie with Daiya, meat-free chorizo, and all the veggies. Plus, a balsamic and olive oil drizzle. We don't have Blaze Pizza in Memphis, so I was excited to try this, and it did not disappoint.
Another marathon in the books!