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30 December 2013

1/2 marathon monday: why the little rock half?

Last week I mentioned that I gave in and registered for the Little Rock half coming up on the 2nd of March. I thought I'd go into my reasons for registering - not just for another half but for Little Rock in general - if you're interested in reading about it.

As I stated last week, I've been toying with registering for another half since I completed my first one in October in San Francisco. Yes, I've been bitten by the running bug. I honestly never thought I'd be one to give in to the running kick, but in the last few years I've found that I actually rather enjoy running. It gives me some "me time" and allows me to get lost in my own thoughts for a few miles. And since I hate going to the gym, it provides me with regular exercise, which is something I definitely need.

When I decided I wanted to run another half, there were a number of factors that I took into consideration when choosing my race...

The first factor was cost. As awesome as my San Francisco experience was, it cost me a bomb. The registration was significantly more than most other races [somewhere in the ballpark of $170, if memory serves correctly], and even though I stayed with Miriam and her roommates for 2 nights, those 3 nights in a hotel set me back BIG TIME. Yes, the hotel was majorly convenient, and I literally stepped out the front door and into my starting corral, but it cost a pretty penny. Luckily for me, my father had a ton of Delta Skymiles saved up, so I was able to use those to cover the cost of the flights, but even with that, I still had to contend with the price of food and such, which is significantly more in SF than it is in Memphis.

All that is to say that I knew my next race needed to not cost me an arm and a leg, and Little Rock wins in all categories. To begin with, the registration was $75, less than half of what I paid for the Nike Women's. Little Rock is driving distance from Memphis - about 2.5 hours from my parents' house to downtown LR - and I know of at least one friend from Memphis who is also running, meaning that there could be an option to carpool. I also have numerous friends with whom I can stay all throughout the city, but should I decide to stay in a hotel for the night before the race, it would cost about 1/3 the price of what I paid in SF. Additionally, meals are also significantly cheaper, and on top of that I'm going to try to get myself invited to the Clinton School carbo-load dinner the night before the race.

Another factor was timing. I knew I needed at least 2 months to get myself back in shape for another half marathon, which ruled out the Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga the third week of February. I would love to run a race in Chattanooga - and will likely register for the 4 Bridges Half Marathon held there in October if I'm still in the vicinity - but the 22nd of February is just too close; I knew I'd never be ready by then, and I would hate to spend the time and money for a run I'm not adequately prepared for.

The next factor was scenery. Ultimately it came down to either the Little Rock Half or the Germantown Half Marathon that's happening a few weeks later. We all know that I think LR is a pretty little city, and the course is well known for being scenic, with the crossing of the bridges and running through some nice historic neighbourhoods. I'm not dissing Germantown, but that's not a fair comparison. Also, that major typo on the header [the "twenty-nineth" annual race? come on, you KNOW how I handle things like that. especially on official notices and websites] for the Germantown race was a major turn-off.

And finally - and some might say most importantly - company, camaraderie, & familiarity. I ran the 10k in 2011. I know the first half of the course. I liked it. I liked running by the Clinton Presidential Library and Sturgis. I liked seeing people I knew along the course route. I liked saying hi to all the volunteers at the aid stations. I liked running through historic downtown North Little Rock. I liked having classmates and schoolmates and friends to greet me at the finish line, and in turn, I liked cheering on others to their finish. Oh, and I definitely liked the unlimited chocolate milk.

San Francisco was certainly scenic, and there was a certain element of surprise to it, since I didn't know exactly when the hills were coming. In a way, it's how I made it through the course. But there's something to be said for running a familiar route. I know I can make it through the first half, because I've done it before. There are no surprises through the first 5.5 miles, which helps me prepare mentally. And enough friends have told me it's one of their favourite half marathons to run that it didn't take long to sell me on it.

And speaking of friends. In 2011, I had two friends from the Clinton School running along in the 10k, 6 who ran the half marathon, and 1 brave soul who ran the full marathon. I also had 5 other friends from Memphis who ran the half, and another friend from Little Rock who ran the full. On top of that, there were plenty of others who came out to cheer and yell and provide moral support, which was so great. Having Miriam and Maren come out and support me during my run in SF meant so much, and only after I saw them did I realise how much it means to have someone you know, someone you recognize, out there supporting you through something like this. And that was the main reason I chose Little Rock. I know there will be friends running. I know there will be friends who come out to lend their support. I know it's a big race in what is, in a lot of ways, a small town, and I really liked that feeling last year.

Yes, the medals are nice, but so is the knowledge that I will be accomplishing this alongside friends from all walks of my life. That, along with the added peer pressure from Julie, is what pushed me to finally sign up.

Well, that and the unlimited chocolate milk.

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