It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

March 17, 2014

Westport 4 Miler

Sometimes it's hard to write a race report about a race you've done multiple times, so I'll make this short.
Me & Michelle pre-race - clearly super excited!
This weekend I did the 36th Annual Westport St Patrick's Day 4 Miler.  It was my 3rd time doing this event.  It's such a fun race!  There is always a sea of green and people in costumes.  I think it's cool that it's been going on so long.  It's truly a Kansas City tradition.  It draws in about 3,000 people into the cool artsy area of Westport.  There are tons of unique shops and lots of bars and pubs.  Most people usually hang out after the race and fill the bars.  Nothing like drinking at 10:30 or 11:00 on a Sunday morning.  There is also always an "unofficial" aid station at about mile 3.5 that hands out green beer and this year they also had green jello shots.  I did not partake...can't do that while running!

The race didn't start until 10, but Michelle and I still needed to pick up packets and parking can be crazy so we left at 7:30.  We had packets in hand by 8:30 and some time to kill.  We just chilled in the car til about 9:30.  It was a BEAUTIFUL morning.  It was right at 55 degrees and the sun was shining.  It was truly a perfect race day.

I didn't look up my 2013 time before the race...I should have.  If I had known I was so close to my time I might have tried just a little bit harder.  I was 8 seconds slower this year.  However, my paces were a bit more consistent (except mile 3 - though consistent year over year).  I always forget just how hilly this race is.  I guess it's not super hilly, but for 4 miles, which is basically just over a 5K pace it's a tough course.  Just like last year I died in mile 3, but it's a long slow climb.  Again, if I had looked at my time prior to the race I might have been able to at least match my 2013 time, but I don't know.  The race pretty well took it out of me.

For the first time ever you were supposed to get a medal for this race.  Unfortunately, the medals were made overseas and apparently there was a bomb threat.  Now all the medals, among other things are sitting in a warehouse until they have been reviewed and approved for shipment to the US.  So eventually, I'll get one of these. 
My future medal
After the race I found Michelle and we headed home.  She  had to get home right away for another event so we didn't get to hang out for the festivities after.  It ended up working out for me because it was supposed to be my long run day.  So, after a hard run I came home and ran 4 more miles.  I had originally wanted to do 6 but with the 10 am race start it was just getting too late.  It was probably good because that 4 miles was the hardest thing I had done in a long time!  Wow!  It's amazing how hard it is to run after a hard effort.

Are you doing or did you do a St Patty's Day race this weekend?
You also get free race pictures!

On an unrelated note, my 4 weeks on a Ketogenic Diet are up.  I will write another blog post about that in the next day or two.  But I've decided to keep doing it for a little while longer.

March 11, 2014

First Tri of the Season - Lifetime Fitness Indoor Tri

Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon - Sunday, March 9, 2014

I have always wanted to do an indoor triathlon, but they just never seemed to fall at the right time for me.  They are a great way to get you in the "tri" mood when you probably haven't done a tri since the previous summer.  When I saw they were offering one at a gym pretty close to my house (about 35 minutes) and on a date I could actually go, I was excited.  I asked a friend if she'd do it with me and with that we were set.

Flash forward a few weeks.  1)  I didn't realize the event was held on Daylight Saving Time day.  This didn't turn out to be a big deal as our heats were at 9:00 and  9:20.  So I had to get up at 6:45 (5:45 to my mind and body)...but really not that early, especially for a race day.  2)  I didn't know I would have a NASTY head cold.  I started getting a cold last Wed and by Saturday it was a full blown crap fest.  I felt completely miserable. Exhausted and unable to breathe.  I pretty much stayed in bed all day Saturday and never left the house once.  I did do an hour brick Sat (30 min bike and 30 min run) just to see if I would feel better.  I didn't really feel better or worse.  I took the workout pretty easy...then went back to bed.

I didn't sleep much on Saturday night.  I just couldn't breathe.  I woke up about 2:30 and was up til about 5:00.  I finally fell back asleep for awhile, and woke up a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 6:45.  So, I wasn't really sure how things would go.  I was tired, but I did wake up feeling a little better.
My transition area - a locker
I picked up my friend and we drove to the gym.  Packet pickup was super simple.  Tell them your name and they gave you a bib and a t-shirt.  Done.  We got to the gym about an hour beforehand so we could check out where we would be swimming, cycling and running.  Before we knew it Michelle's heat was about to start.  Unfortunately she was in the heat ahead of me...even though we had requested to race together..but no biggie we were just 20 minutes apart.  Michelle jumped in and I watched her group swim.  She was clearly the only "swimmer" in her heat.  She was lapping the other ladies by quite a bit. She was a high school and college swimmer and totally rocks the swim!

As a matter of fact, Michelle was so into the swim she missed the call for time.  I think she did an extra 2 laps and was starting on her 3rd before they finally got her to stop.  She got out of the pool behind the rest of her heat...but I knew she would be fine.  I wished her luck with the rest of her race and hopped in the pool to warm up for a few laps.
Michelle in the zone

This event is actually based on time and not distance, which I really liked.  No worries about being the last person (well except that I was in the last heat).  For the race you swam 10 minutes, had a 10 minute transition, biked 30 minutes, had a 5 minute transition and then ran 20 minutes.  They record your distance for each leg and give you a score for each leg, then combine the scores together for your final score/position.  So basically whoever goes the furthest wins. 

I've only been swimming about once per week, but I knew I could do 10 minutes.  They sounded the start and off I went.  I tried to be conservative.  I knew if I went out too fast I would crash at the end.  I did pretty good not starting too fast.  I felt pretty good throughout the swim and before I knew it I was done and ready to move on to the cycle.  I managed to do 425 yards in 10 minutes!  I was thrilled.  The nice thing about having a set transition is that the time didn't count, so I took advantage of it, to change out of my wet things and into dry clothes.

I made it to the cycle room with a couple of minutes to spare so I had time to adjust my bike height, etc to make the ride more comfortable.  I had brought my bike shoes, but my clips didn't I ended up riding in my tennis shoes - the bikes at least had cages.  I sat next to Michelle who had just a few minutes left to go on the bike.  In a few minutes my heat was off.  I wasn't really sure about what tension to use.  I kept adjusting it trying to find something that felt comfortable, but that maximized by mph as much as possible.  I felt pretty good on the bike and really pushed it toward the end.  I did 8.9 miles in 30 minutes.  When I got off the bike I could really feel it...I was afraid I had went a little too hard and would be dead for the run.  I kept telling myself it's only 20 minutes, you can do anything for 20 minutes.

I walked passed Michelle who only had about 2 minutes to go on the run and she was killing it!  I think she was around a 7 min pace.  I got on the treadmill and started to run.  I told myself to take it conservatively and I did.  I started out at a 5 and increased by .1 every minute until I got to a comfortable pace of 5.8 (which I think is about a 10:30 min pace).  I inched it up to a 10 minute pace (6.0) for a few minutes, then I'd go back to 5.8.  I did this a few times.  Finally with 2 minutes left, I went up .1 each 30 seconds and ended up running my last bit at a smoking fast (for me) 9:15 or 9:300 pace.  I was super happy with my run.  I managed 1.89 miles in 20 minutes, so not too bad at all.  Well I thought I did 1.89...they have me down for 1.88.  I think that's wrong.  No biggie.

When the race was over I was happy.  It was only an hour of exercise, so it wasn't super taxing, but I had pushed myself, yet played it smart at the same time.  Considering how I was feeling starting the race I was super happy with my time and effort.
The shirt...actually pretty cute and women's specific cut
After the race we chatted with a couple of the ladies that had been in my heat (this wasn't an all female race, but there were definitely more ladies then men).  This had been their first tri.  I tried to talk them into doing a local all women's sprint tri this summer.  Who knows, maybe they will.  They seemed like they had a good time .

Anyway, that was that.  My first race of the season and it went well!!!

My overall results were GREAT for me.  I was 12th out of 28 people overall and 4th out of 26 females!  That's my highest ranking like ever and puts in in the top 25% (for women).  Now, there weren't alot of serious triathletes here, but it's ok I'll take it.  I was also 2nd out of 16 women in the swim, right behind my friend Michelle!  That is crazy...of course I did 17 swim lengths and she did 27!!  Michelle ended up winning the Women's Tri.  She is awesome!

March 06, 2014

Maybe That Was a Bad Idea - Race Nutrition

First, apparently this is my 300th post...who knew...thanks Blogger for keeping track.

Now, on to my race day nutrition for the Little Rock Half.  Several people said they'd be interested to know what I was eating now that I am trying a Ketogenic Diet (low carb/high fat).

Switching to a Ketogenic Diet just 13 days prior to a race might not have been the best idea.  Yes, I'm going to go ahead and say it really wasn't a good idea.

I had been trying to aim for around 25 to 30 net carbs per day since starting.  And for the first week or so I was really good about tracking.  I was making sure I was getting in enough fat, the right amount of carbs and a moderate amount of protein - but not too much.  Then of course after just 8 or 9 days I had it down right?

I had read that it takes the average person about 2 to 3 weeks to "keto adapt" and be able to start using fat for fuel.  I figured I would be right on the brink of this for my race.  I knew I might struggle, but was hoping for the best.

I can't tell you how hard it is to travel while trying to eat this way.  I'm sure with more practice it would be easier, but this first trip was tough.  I knew it would be difficult so I brought a lot of food with me.  I even brought a cooler full of some snacks.  I just "assumed" we'd have a microwave and mini fridge in our hotel room....we had neither.  My own fault. I should have checked.  I just travel so much and always have these things, that I've just come to expect them.  So that eliminated a lot of my plans.

It is really difficult to get in fats.  I brought some coconut butter with me to help supplement...but you can't have too much because it does have more carbs than coconut oil.  I had been trying to eat a pretty clean version of low carb, but unfortunately this weekend was more of a "dirty" version.

Friday on the drive to Little Rock, I decided I wanted steak for dinner.  Jim thought that sounded good too.  I thought it would be a good way to get in some fat and some iron before the race.  Jim and I stopped at a chain steak place and I ordered a Rib Eye.  I have NEVER ordered rib eye - ever.  I don't generally like the fat...but thought it would be the best option for me.  I had rib eye and a side salad for dinner.  Still doing ok.  I also had some peanuts, though I quickly remembered they are a bean and not a nut and probably had too many carbs.  I looked them up, yep too many carbs...luckily I didn't have too many.

Saturday morning we just had breakfast at the hotel.  They had a great breakfast buffet.  I was limited to scrambled eggs, bacon, a few berries and coffee with half a half.  I try to stay away from bacon/pork because it seems to have more issues with bacteria, but I didn't have a lot of choice. 

For lunch, I already mentioned this in my past blog, but I had a "chicken" salad at a local bar.  It was AWFUL.  Processed, pressed meat chicken.  It was barely edible.  I also didn't get a lot of fat here.

Dinner was pan fried chicken breast, asparagus and a side salad. 

Throughout the day I snacked on a few nuts and some coconut butter for additional fat. 

I also picked up a Cliff Bar at the expo and had one bite of it on Saturday night before I went to bed.  I decided that maybe I should have a few more carbs than normal....but again I wasn't tracking, but I thought maybe I was closer to 30 or 40 grams.

Race morning - So I wanted to have a "few" more carbs...but not go crazy.  Before we left I went to the grocery store and looked for a moderate carb bar.  I literally just flipped the packages over and looked for something that didn't have 50 carbs in it.  I found a bar - I don't even remember what it was - that had 12 grams of carbs and I bought that.  So I had that bar, a half cup of coffee with half and half and a spoonful of coconut butter.  That was it.

During the race I took with me water and NUUN (a calorie free/carb free electrolyte drink).  I also took the Cliff Bar with me for "emergency use".  During the race I only drank the water or NUUN.  I did not take any Gatorade.  After about mile 6 or 7 I could feel the muscles in my legs burning like never before.  I could tell my body wanted carbs!  So over the course of miles 7-11 I took a few bites of the Cliff Bar, but literally just a few bites.  Over the course of the two days I had over half of it left after the end of the race.  I also took a bite of an orange at some point during the race and had 1 salt tab about an hour into the race.

So there you have it.  That was my race weekend/day nutrition.  I also ate a Quest Protein Bar after the race.  Oh and a bacon cheeseburger for lunch.  I normally treat myself after every race with a big fattening meal, a coke and some kind of sweet dessert.  My reward was a bunless was hard not to go crazy.  The burger was good, but the other cravings were there.

The other thing I did was drink one NUUN each day starting on Friday.  With this diet you lose a ton of water in the first two weeks and therefore also electrolytes so I knew I would probably want to replace them.  I had stopped using NUUN because it contains sorbitol and I wanted to avoid artificial sweeteners...but I made an exception for the weekend.  I actually had some that were sweetened with stevia but I was out of those. 

So traveling made it difficult to eat the way I need to and get in enough fat.  My body wasn't really in fat burning mode yet.  I have now read that while it takes the average person two to three weeks to adapt - that's more for just "living" not extensive exercise.  It actually can take months to really get your body adapted to burning fat for fuel during long/intense exercise. 

I actually felt pretty good during the race and didn't get super tired until the end -but that happens in most races.  I just could feel the muscle burn a lot more. And the race really took it out of me.  I was so sore for 3 days after which was highly unusual and my energy levels have been in the tank.  I woke up this morning with a cold.  I just think I've done a lot at once to my body.  Changed my diet, ran a half marathon, traveling, ice storm, stress at work. 

So, anyway...I'm still giving this thing a try. I've read about doing a "targeted" keto diet where you fuel up prior to exercise of more than 60 minutes.  They suggest you have 25-50 grams of carb.  I'm not sure this will put me into a matter of fact I think it will keep me from getting there.  But, I tried this on Tues before my cycle class and I had so much more energy.  So I don't know what to do.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there.

As far as weight loss.  Before the race I was down a total of 9 pounds.  During the weekend I gained one I'm 2 1/2 weeks in and I've netted about 8 pounds.  The weight loss seems to have stalled at this point, which does make it a bit more difficult to stick to.  It's much easier when you are seeing results and not feeling like crap.

Well that's probably enough for now. 

March 04, 2014

The Little Rock Half Marathon - An Epic Mess

The Little Rock Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K was this past Sunday. Jim and I have done this race a couple of times and always enjoy the city of Little Rock.  We were excited for our race weekend even with the looming forecast.  The race theme this year was  all about super hero's and the race slogan was "Epic".  Unfortunately, for many reasons, the race and weekend turned out to be anything but Epic.

The forecast for the race was looking pretty had been on our minds for days leading up to the race.  Cool temps, wind and rain - never ideal race conditions.  As the race got closer and closer Jim and I monitored the weather like it was our job.  It changed multiple times, but one thing remained constant - we were going to get wet and it was going to be cold.  We hoped for the best, but were planning for the worst.  In really cold weather you can bundle up and stay pretty warm, when it's raining and you are soaked through, no amount of layers can keep your warm.  But more on that later....let's start at the beginning.


Jim and I both did the Little Rock Half marathon in 2012 and stayed at the Peabody hotel - the "host" hotel for the event.  We had such a terrible experience there we vowed we would NEVER stay there again.  When we decided to do Little Rock again this year I was pleased to see that the Peabody wasn't even on their hotel list, and that they had selected a new "host" hotel for the event - the Marriott.  I usually like the Marriott and it was a good rate so we jumped on it.

Imagine our surprise when we rolled into town and got to the hotel, which seemed so familiar....wait - was this the Peabody???? Why yes it had been bought out by the Marriott....but upon check in - clearly nothing had changed.  We were handed a letter at check-in - that stated "due to our hotels sold out status on Sunday we are not allowing ANY late checkouts Sunday.  You may store your luggage and take a shower in our fitness center if necessary.  If you are in your room past noon we will charge you the regular rate of $164 plus tax."  Because everyone wants to get up on race morning, pack all their things, then come back dead tired and stand in line to shower.  With a race start time of 8 am (and for some up to 9am) this is almost impossible if you are doing the marathon.  Even if you are doing the half it is still difficult - I got back to the room about 10 minutes to noon.  This was the exact problem we had at the Peabody two years ago - and apparently from some comments I received after complaining about it on FB - was also the situation last year.  I totally understand that no hotel can guarantee late check out for every guest, and that it is never something that is guaranteed...but when you are the host hotel...there is an expectation that you will be flexible - especially with a marathon in town.  Their no exceptions rule was just ridiculous!  They couldn't possibly have housekeeping staff posted at each door at guess what I bet you could accommodate some late checkouts with proper planning and a desire for customer service.  So the weekend was not starting off on a positive note.


On Saturday, Jim and I didn't have anything on the agenda except packet pickup.  We got up fairly early and had breakfast, then hit the expo.  The expo at this race is really pretty nice.  It is a pretty typical expo, with the typical vendors but with a race of about 8000 total participants it's actually pretty big.  With the race theme of super heros this year they had lots of fun blow ups like Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles.  Just the kind of thing Jim and I live for lol.

After packet pickup we wandered around the river area of Little Rock.  The weather was overcast and gray but just about perfect.  It was about 55 degrees and light winds.  The 5K and Kids race were going on Saturday morning and I thought, man they have perfect racing weather - if ONLY our race were today.  In 24 hours the weather would deteriorate quickly!

Around noon we made the mistake of having lunch at The Flying Saucer - which is actually a chain we have in downtown KC too, but we'd only eaten there once.  In an attempt to eat "healthy" we both ordered the chicken salad.  Ordering a salad at a bar is generally never a good idea and it certainly wasn't this time.  It was literally all we could do to eat it.  The lettuce mix itself was actually pretty good but whatever came on it that they were calling "chicken" was....not chicken.  It was some kind of processed, pressed chicken meat and the more and more we ate, the more and more we had trouble eating it.  When you don't eat a lot of processed foods anymore and you get fake can be pretty hard to choke down. 

Jim & I messing with balloons...
After that we headed back to the room to chillax and get off our feet before dinner.  Later we headed to Boscos Restaurant and Brewing Company, a local restaurant in town that we actually ate at the last time we were there for the race.  We had chicken again, this time it was real chicken.  The food was good.  It would be a beautiful place to eat in the summer. They have a nice outdoor area that overlooks the river.

We finally made our way back to the room and began looking at the weather again and trying to decided what on earth we were going to wear.


Race morning finally arrived.  We checked the weather once more...yep still gonna be cold and rainy.  The weather was projected to be about 50 degrees at race start with light rains.  Honestly this isn't horrible, but by 11 am it was supposed to be in the low 40s with 20 mph winds, with increasing rain.  The "feels" like temps were projected to be in the 30s by the end of the race and when you are wet, and you have wind blowing in your face....that is going to be cold!  No way around it.

Pre-race dry and warm
I decided on capris, a long sleeve running shirt, visor, and a rain coat with a hood.  I had actually bought a lighter weight coat the day before at the expo, but it didn't have a hood or pockets.  I decided it wouldn't be enough and went with the one I had brought.  I knew the hood wouldn't stay up during the race, but thought it might help keep me dry prior to the start.  I have never been so happy with a decision!

Jim and I pre-race...coat already wet with rain
For the first time, Little Rock had incorporated a wave start for this race.  None of their race material told you what the wave intervals would be, just that you would be released in pre-determined waves.  If I had known how long it would be I would have waited to go down to the race start.  The wave start was a total DISASTER and I really think in light of the conditions (which were only expected to get far worse throughout the day) they should have eliminated the wave start and let everyone just go.  I am generally a fan of wave starts because they do help aid congestion, but we were already lined up in corrals based on finish time, so it would have been fine...again we are only talking about a race with about 8,000 people.  Jim and I get down to the start and find out corrals around 7:45.  The gun goes off promptly at 8am and the race begins.  I was in corral G.  Much to my dismay I realize they are releasing corrals about every 4 minutes.  At this rate, I wouldn't start the race until around 8:30.  The rain really starts coming down around 8:10 or so.  Everyone is standing around shivering.  I am soaked through despite my rain coat, but know that I am warmer than some of those around me who chose not to wear one.  As we are waiting for what seems like forever to get started, I chatted with a few people around me.  The guy beside me was wearing shorts and a sleeveless rain coat, trash bag nothing.  He was shivering and I felt bad for him. This was his first marathon.  I kept thinking about how glad I was to be doing the half.  He estimated his finish time to be around 4:30 or 5:00 - I'm sure he didn't end of finishing (we'll discuss later).  What a miserable first marathon experience.  All around me I see people shivering.  People were just completely soaked and every now and then a huge wind gust would come through.  It was bad....the wave start was so stupid.  The last wave did not cross the finish line until 8:51 - I'm sure most people got to the race start at least 10 minutes before - so those people at the end were out in the rain and cold for an hour before the race - expending totally unnecessary energy trying to stay warm.  This added hour would also eliminate many of them from finishing the marathon......EPIC Fail Little Rock!


At 8:30 I was finally off and running.  It felt good to be moving.  My body was so cold and I just wanted to warm up.  In spite of the cold weather and delayed start the race day excitement takes over and I of course find myself running way to fast and finishing my first two miles in the 10s (too fast for me and my current training).  Finally at mile 3 I settled in to a more comfortable pace of around 11:30.  After a few miles, I'm warmed up.  I feel like I am appropriately dressed and I'm having fun.  I'm not too hot, not too cold and I feel pretty good.  I am actually surprised by the amount of spectators and volunteers on such a crummy day.  I totally expected the volunteer tables to be half staffed, but they weren't.  Those volunteers were out there encouraging us and doing their thing!  They were AMAZING!!!  I made an extra effort to thank them as I went through every aid station that day.

The first five or six miles flew by and I felt pretty good.  At about mile six though, you could definitely feel the weather changing.  The winds were picking up and the temps were dropping.  I was also getting tired and fatigued.  I wasn't sure what to expect with my new diet and basically having no pre-race carbs...and I was starting to "feel" the race (I will do another blog about my diet pre-race and how I felt during the race).  My muscles were aching - I think begging for carbs, but I don't could have been the weather, lack of outdoor training, or a number of things, but I was definitely "feeling" the race.

I kept trudging along, but my paces kept dropping.  By mile 9, I was really getting cold and tired and started counting down the miles.  The temps were dropping fast, and it seemed like no matter what direction you turned you were heading straight into the wind.  At mile 11 we break off from the marathoners and I can't tell you how happy I was to be going right instead of left.  I was so happy to know that I would only have to endure this for about another 25 minutes and not another 2.5 hours. 

I had intentionally ran the entire race without gloves.  I had a pair stashed in my coat in a plastic bag.  I knew my hands would get cold, and I thought a nice warm, dry pair of gloves would feel magical.  Wet gloves in the late stages of the race would be pointless.  My hands were completely numb, so I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out those gloves...ahhhh.....what relief....for at least 10 minutes I felt warm again.  LOL. 

I was really freezing and literally couldn't feel my legs anymore.  I could tell it was getting colder because as I ran by people their hats and gloves were frosted.  I passed one guy and asked "hey, can you look and tell me if my legs are still here?  I can't seem to feel them anymore".  He laughed and just said, "well you still appear to be moving forward so I think you are ok". 

At mile 11 I decided I didn't care how bad my legs were aching, I wanted to be done.  So I picked my pace up and finished those last miles strong...well at least back into the 11s again...miles 9-11 had been in the 12s.  My legs ached like never before in a race but I tried to push out the pain and coldness and just get done.  I finally see the finish line in sight!  I run to the finish and smile, so glad to be done!  My Garmin read 13.38 miles, over as usual.  My Garmin pace had been 11:37 which I was pretty happy with, but my official pace would be 11:51.  I finished in 2:35 - not my best or worst time.  As a matter of fact, I did 10 half marathons in 2013 and only broke 2:35 in 3 races.  So all in all considering the conditions, my diet, and my lack of training outside due to weather, I was very much ok with my time.

A very large medal for a half marathon!
I proceeded through the finish area to get my awesome medal and a little recovery food and almost immediately headed back to the hotel.  I had the hotel key and expected to be back well before Jim, but with the 30 minute delay in my start I actually figured we'd be done at almost the exact same time, and honestly thought he would be done ahead of me.  I was cold anyway, so I power walked back to the did that hurt, but I just wanted to get inside, get warm and get a shower.

I managed to beat Jim back to the room and the second I sat down for a second I just started shivering uncontrollably.  I was so cold and wet.  I began stripping my clothes and turning the shower on to its hottest setting (which wasn't particularly hot).  A shower has never felt so good!!!  When Jim didn't show up shortly behind me, I figured he must not have had a great race.  I knew he wouldn't be's bad enough to face the elements, but worse when your race doesn't go as planned.  But it was certainly not a PR or even good race kind of day.  As a matter of fact, I had heard the same person who won the marathon in 2013 also won in I was curious about the time difference.  He won race in 2013 with a 2:19 - in 2014 a 2:25.  That's 6 minutes for an elite runner!!  That is huge.  I think that tells the story right there.  It was tough racing conditions for everyone.


Jim and I got our things together and got out of town as quickly as possible, trying to beat both the hotel checkout time and the weather.  Temps were continuing to drop and an ice storm was rolling in.  We knew we had snow/sleet and ice in Kansas City and pretty much all along our path home.  We began our drive out of Little Rock in pouring rain.  We were thinking - oh those poor people still on the course.  About that time, I was checking FB and started seeing lots of comments about the event being canceled.  People were livid about the wave start and how it had probably cost them a finish.  Apparently there was a ton of confusion about the even been canceled vs "re-routed"...which means they cut off several miles of the course and bused people to the finish.  But volunteers were shown with signs that clearly said "Event Canceled" and from all the comments from the 500 or so people that it affected it sounds like volunteers and police clearly thought the event was canceled.  The Little Rock race officials are claiming it was simply a miscommunication and that it was just re-routed....either way, many people did not get to run 26.2 miles that day whether they received a finishers medal or not.  And to hear some of the stories from the participants were awful.  To be pulled off the course at mile 18 - told to walk/run about 3 miles to a Wal-Mart and wait up to an hour and a half soaked and cold for a bus.  If they had a plan, it wasn't well executed or communicated. the event is not cancelled???
Jim and I tried to make the 6 hour drive home, but after about 5 hours of very, very dangerous icy conditions and only making it about 2 hours from Little Rock, we finally decided to call it a night and get a hotel.  Conditions were just as bad the next morning and it took us about 6 hours to get home.  It was a long, long trip after a race.  But we made it safely to KC yesterday around 4 pm.


So here's my take on the Little Rock marathon.  It is a fun event.  They are known for the huge marathon medal, and very large half marathon medal.  It has usually seemed well organized, except for the hotel issue, but this year was a mess.  Yes, I know there is absolutely nothing they can do about the weather.  But communication and a better contingency plan are key.  The weather wasn't a surprise and was expected all week.  It was supposed to only get worse and worse through out the day.  If they were going to go ahead and try to have the event, they should have moved people across that start line as soon as possible.  Would some people still not have been able to finish - yes, probably so, but far more would have.  Neither Jim or I were affected by the cancelation, but as runners we can feel their pain. I know it would be very difficult to be in the Race Directors shoes, and I don't envy them at all.  They did what they had to do for the safety of the participants and I get that and I respect that.  But, have a better plan.  Communicate that plan better and eliminate a wave start when you know the weather sucks.  And then DON'T get hung up on semantics like "the race was never canceled"....well maybe you didn't tear down the finish line and evacuate...but the event was canceled early...let's call a spade a spade.  Just own up to the situation.

In the end, Little Rock is a great city.  Jim and I still had a good time in spite of everything, but we certainly won't be doing this event again any time soon.  I hope they regroup after this and get some things figured out.

Lastly, I can't believe how SORE I am after this race.  I didn't run it fast but I am so SORE.  Still 2 days later and I feel close to how I do after a full marathon.  Not sure if it was the tenseness due to the weather, the long tense drive home, the diet or a combination of things...but man that one hurt!