"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Friday, March 28, 2014

EPIC! Little Rock Marathon 2014

Oh, it was EPIC alright! One of the more memorable marathon weekends to date took place earlier this month in Little Rock, Arkansas. In fact, the "EPIC-ness" was so great, that to fully do this race report justice, it can only be summarized by the following EPIC-ategories.

EPIC #1  Rewind to spring of 2013. I was on the phone with a lifelong best friend, the one and only king of sports memorabilia and WSOP master, Jon "Stadt" Stadtmueller, when the discussion turned to running. The conversation went something like this:

     Jon: You should run the Little Rock marathon and stay with us.
     David: I will someday, but right now my plan is for a few years out.
     Jon:  I'm thinking I could try and walk / run the half marathon.
     David:  I tell you what, you commit to running the half and I'll do LR next year.
     Jon: Done!
     David:  Really?
     Jon:  Yes, it's a deal.
     David:  Well then, it's a deal.

Yes, he did - Congrats Stadt
There you have it. Mr. Stadtmueller, perhaps more accustomed to marathon games of Texas Hold'em than that of physically moving forward over an extended period of time, would take the next 9 months to train and prepare. And train, he did. So, it was really a pretty EPIC feeling to actually meet up with Jon as the half marathon runners merged in with the marathon route, just 3/4 miles from the finish. I'm not sure if a second half marathon is on the horizon, but Jon definitely set this goal and made it happen.

EPIC #2  The weather. Due to the season when most marathons run, the weather is always a potential issue. The perfect temperature is a pretty tight range, so unseasonably warm weather can strike just as often as bitter cold. Throw in the chance for precipitation, wind conditions, snow, ice .... you get the picture. But a truly EPIC day is one that results in the race being stopped due to threat of thunder sleet, hail, snow and heavy rain!

Let it rain .. or snow ... or sleet ... or
What started the moment my flight touched down in Little Rock as light rain, concluded with one of the worst weather days in Arkansas history. Actually, the Monday following the race set a record for the lowest temperature ever recorded on March 3rd. Fortunately, the race itself wasn't all that bad, considering what it could have been. The oddity was that it began in the upper 40's around 8 am, and by the time we crossed the finish line it was in the low 20's. It's not very often that you carry gloves to use on the second half of the race.

As mentioned, for those runners that would have finished after 4 hours and 30 minutes, the race was shortened. The weather conditions were getting bad and the forecast was not good at all. By the time we finished, made our way to the car--all of 15 minutes given that we did not want to stand around outside--and back to the Stadtmuellers, an icy snow was falling and would not stop for the next 12 hours or so.  Good times.

EPIC #3  Honestly, I had no right to run as well as I did. Accounting for the course stoppage around mile 22 that created some chaos until they let us continue, along with the few steps that Jon and I used to catch our breath after meeting up in the final mile, I came away with a time just over 4 hours. Not exactly PR material, but having not trained much since the 'Breakdown in Baton Rouge' (see How Not to Run a Marathon), and battling the elements somewhat, I would consider it an EPIC time. Maybe it was the compression shorts that I wore for the first time in a race, maybe the desire to outrun the thunder sleet, or maybe just the smarter pace, but the run felt really good, and the post-race days felt even better.

EPIC #4  The LRM is well known for their large medals, but really, this is EPIC bling!

Four of them could replace my hubcaps!

EPIC #5  Finally, LR was marathon state number 10. An initial goal that I had set for myself when I began this quest back in 2011. In the world of 50 Staters, #10 allows for membership into the club. A non-finisher member of the 50 state club. For a guy with only one bucket list item, completion of the 50 state challenge, crossing the finish line was EPIC indeed. The membership materials have arrived and it appears that I am member #3,362. The next goal is 25 states by 2020. 

Heading for home
Overall, the Little Rock Marathon was a blast. A little hog BBQ on Friday, a wonderful pasta dinner with the Stadtmuellers and friends on Saturday (including another high school friend last seen back in 1983), a challenging course (especially that uphill stretch from miles 14-17) and a weekend of board games, guitar and round the clock weather channel viewing. You guessed it .... EPIC!
A great weekend (the AU shirt is always appropriate in Razorback-land)

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