2016 Little Rock Marathon Weekend

Racing Running Track Tuesday Training

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

Better late than never, right? Well, that’s what I’m hoping for! It’s been over two weeks now, but the 2016 Little Rock Marathon Weekend took place on Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6, and even though I had a lot of other things on my mind (like starting a new job on Monday, March 7!) I’m really glad that I chose to participate.

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

For one thing, Jonathan decided to run the 10K on Saturday, March 5, and I really wanted to be able to cheer for him. Last year, the 10K participants started alongside the half marathon and marathon runners on Sunday…it was just shy of a complete disaster: the signage was severely lacking; the course, which can already be rather congested in the beginning, was really crowded; people got lost; and lot of racers were frustrated and disappointed. 

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

This year, the race directors took the feedback they received and made some positive changes; the 5K, 10K, and the Little Rockers Kids Marathon were all held on Saturday and seem to have been well organized; the 5K consisted of a loop downtown and the 10K runners simply ran the loop twice. It definitely made it easier to navigate the course and cheer on lots of runners; I had a blast!

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

Afterward, Jonathan and I met up with my Oiselle teammate, Liz, who was in town for the full marathon with some friends from her home state of Kansas; we walked over to Andina Cafe for coffee and I was so happy to spend time with Liz and Laurie! 

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

We tried to assure them that they could handle the course (it is notoriously “challenging”), but I think they may have been cursing us in their hotel room on Sunday afternoon; I told them that was completely acceptable!

Another bonus this year was a return to corrals for the half marathon and marathon participants, but without the looooong wave start that we endured the past couple of years; for a race this size, there is no need to have such a long delay between pace groups. We’ve waited for almost an hour (well, those of us who start in the mid- to back-of-the-pack!) or more in the wind, cold and rain and that is not a fun way to begin a race. 

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

In addition, the course reverted back (sort of) to its glory days and we didn’t have to do as much twisting and turning at the beginning of the race as we did last year; the Broadway Bridge, normally how racers cross the Arkansas River, is under complete renovation, so there have been several iterations of this course over the past couple of years…and many (including myself!) have been disappointed in the changes. While it’s still “challenging,” the course is a little more runner-friendly and I really began to look forward to it. 

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

Bart Yasso never misses this event!

For the first time in about eight years, the weather was really nice on Sunday; it warmed up quite a bit (to about 70 degrees) while many were completing the marathon, which is not ideal, but the weather was good for the half. I had a race plan from my coach and no expectations beyond that.

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

I’d planned to use the first one to two miles to get warmed up (#thisis40), then settle in to a good pace of around 9:00 – 9:15 per mile and allowing for some fluctuations on the hills; the first few miles are deceptively manageable. In fact, I momentarily thought that I might have it in me to make a run for sub-2. The first six miles came in at 9:35, 9:13, 9:10, 9:15, 9:09 and 9:10.

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

Once the incline starts, it just doesn’t ever seem to let up; I was happy to be able to stick with my race plan and leave it at that! I think if I’d had my mind in the right place I might have been able to do more, but I was pleased with the result; the final seven miles came in at 9:10, 9:20, 9:13, 9:14, 9:04 and 9:13.

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

I ran my best recent half marathon on November 7, 2015, in 2:02 flat; I finished this one in 2:01:33, so I’m pleased that I was able to stick with it and have a decent day. I’m looking forward to my next goal race, the Russvegas Half, on April 23, and hoping I can channel some of my inner Courtney (of Eat Pray Run DC, who just CRUSHED her sub-2 goal at the Shamrock Half over the weekend!) and get it done.

2016 Little Rock Half Marathon Weekend

While I’m usually pretty snarky and cynical about this event (after 14 years, we’ve earned our right to share our two cents!), but I have to say that it was a success and I heard lots of great things from runners who traveled to Little Rock to participate. Congrats to those of you who got out there to make it happen, including my friend Tia who powered through to cross the tape (woo hoo!!); you can read her amazing recap here

  • Congrats!! 2:01 is fantastic – especially for a training race! You’re definitely going to crush 2 hrs once you’re rested!

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only one who felt like from miles 6 on were nothing but up up up oh wait, lets keep on going up some more while we’re at it LOL. While I was happy it wasn’t freezing cold and raining, I was wishing for a cloud or 2 near the end 😉 Great job Tara!!!

    • Wow! I’m so relieved to hear you say this – hahaha! You’re such a strong runner, so it’s great to know that the last half was a challenge for you, as well. I was sort of reviewing the course with another runner (we ran our very first half together in 2005) and we realized that the final 4 miles are quite different on the course we ran this year…as in quite uphill – ha! Who knows what will happen next year? This race is always a surprise. Thanks so much, Heather!

  • Jenn

    Love this Tara, you are amazing!!

    • Aww, thank you SO MUCH, sweet friend! Your support and encouragement is just out of this world; I appreciate you!

  • Cathy Mores

    Awesome race, T! You’ve been working SO hard — and to PR a training race?! Rock on! Those hills looked serious! And how fun to support J in the 10k…he’s rocking that run streak! Love it! Cheers!!

    • Thank you so much, Cathy! I’m looking forward to the next one…I think – ha! I’m so proud of Jonathan; he has really stuck with his training this winter and I think he’s considering a (gasp!) half marathon this fall!

  • Congrats on a great race!

  • Lesley

    I’m so happy they listened to the feedback and split up the races. Congested roads are never fun.

    • They really aren’t, Lesley! The same folks have been directing this race since the beginning; they seem to make an effort to take feedback (from post-race surveys, etc.) seriously, which is nice. Thanks so much!

  • Tricia Barber Vaughn

    Great recap Tara! This race is so on my radar I just have not been able to make it happen just yet! That was such an awesome pace too and I have not doubt with how your training has been you’ll get the sub 2 in Russvegas.

    • Thank you, Tricia! I try to tell people that it’s not quite as bad as I make it out to be…but it probably is – hahaha! You should definitely come do it, though, one of these days; lots of great crowd support.

  • Courtney

    great race – sub 2 next month seems like it’s a given! You’ve got this, friend!!! Loved reading this 🙂

    • Thank you, Courtney; hopeful that I can make it happen! You’ve definitely given me the inspiration to stick with it!!

  • Congrats on such a strong, consistent race with those hills! You and Courtney are so inspiring. (I’m hoping for a sub-2 in 2016.) I can’t wait to see how your next half goes!

    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth! I’ve been following Courtney’s journey for a couple of years and it’s been so exciting to see her progress, due to all of her hard work; thanks so much for the encouragement. I know you can do it!! Do you have a race in mind already?

      • I’m running a small half here in Ohio (ORRRC Half) on April 10. If that doesn’t go well my favorite race is in October called the Loveland Half. I’ve PR’d there the last two years, but I don’t know if I can wait ’til October. 😉 We’ll see how April goes!

        • Ooooh, it’s coming up soon, Elizabeth; that’s SO EXCITING!! You’re going to do great!

  • RunJenny

    Way to go! Haha better late than never is right… I still have some recaps from the fall to post 🙂 You got the sub-2 my friend – good luck next month. You’ve worked hard!

    • I’m so glad you can relate, Jenny – hahaha! Thanks so much, my friend, and thank you for sharing the post! Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Congrats on such a good race! It’s been a few years since I ran LR Marathon (maybe 2011?) but I remember really liking the course. I do tend to forget the tough courses though, so maybe I was cursing it after the race too! I love reading your recaps, you’re always so positive! Have a wonderful week, lady! Can’t wait to hear more from you!

    • Sarah, I always say that, if the race goes well, I have a really tough time remember the negatives about it – ha! If I don’t have a great race, no matter the course, I just assume it’s horrible – hahaha! Isn’t that interesting? It really is a fun race; I think, sometimes, I just have a narrow view since I live here; I always wonder what the people who live in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, etc., think about their respective marathons while everyone else is raving about them.

  • Congratulations on a great race! I am so glad you had a nice weekend. You will be SOOOOOO ready to crush 2 hours in April!

    • Thanks so much for the vote of confidence, Marilyn; you’re the best!! I’m excited about your race, as well; you’ve been doing great!

  • Amanda McNeil

    Yikes, that hill! I understand the pain of being so close to a sub-whatever time goal and not quite making it but you should still be proud! Keeping to pace on that hill seems like it must’ve been a challenge (it certainly would have been to me).