Although I wasn't able to attend very many of the actual clinic workshops for the Women Run Arkansas, I still managed to make it to the "graduation" race in Conway, Arkansas. It actually worked out well and Quentin was able to meet me there on Friday night and we were able to spend some time together....a rare opportunity!
Friday night kicked off the race with packet pick up and a pasta party with guest speaker, Erin Henderson (who happens to be my coach!). The food was wonderful and the Erin was inspiring. One of the things she said that really stood out to me was that it's supposed to be hard...and that we should embrace the hard. Also, just hearing her story of how far she's come in her running and fitness and that it really is ok to carve out time just for you.
After dinner, I laid out my race gear for the next day. Still loving my Brooks Ravenna's and I just recently found these tank tops at Wal-Mart that I'm absolutely loving! They're dry-fit and have a loose fit with a drawstring at the bottom. When you're on the heavier side, a loose fit tank is a rare find. I've bought 4 of them...trying to snag one of every color they have! LOL
A couple of my fave things in my race goody bag...Nerd gum balls! Seriously?! LOVE! AND....nail polish! Score! I also really love the tech tee..even if mine might be a little snug (incentive!)
Quentin and I stayed in Morrilton, which was about 20 miles away, so I had to get up a little earlier. I drank a little water to stay hydrated, but I still can't eat before a race. My stomach just will not tolerate it. We headed out about 7:00am so I could get to the race site and get warmed up.
The energy was amazing! I quickly found the group from Jonesboro and met some new people.
Group photo of the Jonesboro Clinic
It's always nice to have a friendly face in the crowd :) Marleena has been a huge source of encouragement and inspiration for me and often reminds me to hang in there and not to start too fast (one day I'll actually remember to do that!)
I met a new friend, Ashlyn, who actually was a leader for the Jonesboro Walkers Group, but decided to run/walk this race. We stayed together and I pushed her to run a little further. She shaved about 5 minutes off of her mock run time and ran for 8 minutes without a walk break...her longest ever! It may have been my longest run also.
The Starting Line: There were a little over 1,000 women racing today and they had pace markers. I knew that I could do a 14' mile, so I lined up with Ashlyn, Marleena, & Teresa in this group. I was hoping that I could do a little better than that, but knew that would be a comfortable pace for me. The energy at the starting line with so many women was absolutely amazing.
Mile 1: This was a really good mile for me. It started with a nice down hill stretch and I was able to use that to my advantage and run for 8 minutes before taking my first walk break. This mile took a little less than 14 minutes, so I knew I was on task.
Mile 2: The atmosphere was incredible with people cheering all along the course. There were leaders at every turn, shouting words of encouragement and handing out water and warning of any hazardous road conditions (like potholes or uneven pavement). I went to a 3/2 run/walk ratio and was staying with the pace group. I actually finished this mile at 26 minutes and thought I might have a chance at finishing in under 40 minutes.
Mile 3: I tried to push through this mile, but ran out of steam in the last half mile. I swear, if I could run a 2 miler, I might rock it! We turned a corner and someone said "you can see the finish line!" All I could see was people and kept wondering where the heck that line was!? I finally seen it and Ashlyn and I ran all the way across, side-by-side.
Official Finish Time: 44:39
Avg Pace 14:24/mile
812 out of 1040
Check out these Finishers Medals! These were pretty sweet!!
After crossing the finish line, I found the food tent and got an orange and some water before settling in for the awards. In addition to the age group awards, they also gave some pretty incredible door prizes away...I'm guessing probably about 10 pairs of shoes were given away. I didn't win, but I did score some one-on-one conversation time with Erin!
Me & my coach, Erin.
I absolutely love her! So down to earth and a perfect fit for me. We were able to just connect and I was able to get some new tips....like packing a backpack with the snacks you prefer to fuel you after the run. (why haven't I thought of that before) She reminded me to start slow and finish strong...really, I will get this some day. She's going to give me a plan for my next 5K to hopefully get my time down to 40 minutes. I loved hearing about her family and her crazy story about just getting to Arkansas from Wyoming to attend this event.
This was by far, my absolute favorite race I've run. Something about racing with all women...the camaraderie, excitement, and honest encouragement....it was all so very inspiring! I will definitely be doing this again :)