The day started off nice. It was a nice 50 degrees and no rain, but the weather reports had been saying 100% chance of rain all week. One even said freezing rain during the marathon, so I was prepared to run in the rain. I thought about wearing ski pants, but then thought that was a little much. I decided to go with normal sweat pants and a hoodie. I would regret that later, but not at first. I actually had to take the hoodie first for the first 13 or so miles.
I made it past the hills and saw my friend, who started with me, on the other side of the out and back, when I was around mile 19 (she would have been 22ish). I was so glad to see her doing well and that inspired me to pick up the pace a little bit and cross the 20 mile timing mat.
This is all I remember until the Ninja Turtles. My hoodie is a Ninja Turtle costume. I thought it was funny since I'm slow. The ladies at the waterstop on the out and back (probably mile 21? I don't remember) said, "You're the first turtle we've seen! We have turtle heads. I know you're in a hurry, but we can go get them!" I waited and had a photo taken with Raph and Leo. So, at this point not even the volunteers were saying anything was wrong.
It was shortly after the ninja turtles that the race got insane. My Garmin said 24.25 when I saw the first cancellation sign, but I don't think I had really crossed the 24 mile mark. I know I had passed 23 and the 18 mile marker on the other side of the out and back. The following is not my photo, because I was really too confused to even think of a photo. The weather didn't seem too bad, and I wasn't sure what was going on. None of the volunteers seemed to know either (one told me a storm with lightening was headed that way in a few hours, but they weren't sure where we we supposed to seek shelter).
Shortly after that, another cop says, "You need to get off the course and find shelter. There's buses coming to the Wal-Mart at the right." I do not ever recommend completing a race against police advice, but I did. Generally, what the police say is good advice to follow. I didn't follow this rule because of the specifics of the situation. Generally, when they say a course is closed, it's closed. Get off. It puts the volunteers and yourself in danger to keep on going.
However, first of all, I didn't realize there was a Wal-Mart literally right there. I was thinking, "Wal-Mart is miles away. What is going on?" I said, "Wouldn't it be quicker for us to just finish? We're just about 20 minutes away." They, again, said there was severe storms and lightening so we needed to seek shelter. My mom at the finish texted me almost that exact moment to say that the rain was picking up and ask if I was ok. I texted her and said, "I think the race is cancelled. I'm not really sure what is going on. Do you know?" She said, "Cancelled? People are still coming through. The guys at the finish are joking around with them. It's raining and really cold here, but no really bad weather. Are you sure you're ok?" [I guess she thought I was delusional, ha]. Then she texted, "Where are you anyway? How are you going to get back?" Good question. I stood there and thought that we'd be sitting out in the rain waiting for a bus (I didn't even think about going inside Wal-Mart), so I might as well finish.
So, I kept on. It didn't make much sense to stand around and wait for a bus when downtown Little Rock so was close and my car was there anyway.
When I got to the church, a lady (a volunteer I think) said, "They're telling people to get on buses, but you can finish if you want to. There's no course support, but you can continue at your own risk." I was cold and confused at the point, but I kept on going. I know the course, so I know the last part, after that last hill, is easy. I wasn't sure what would be at the finish, but I figured my family was there anyway and I wasn't running into a tornado, which is what I really feared. Surely they would have told the people at the finish if that were the case.
I'm pretty sure mile markers and volunteers were gone, but I was trying to just hurry up and finish. Right before you turn to the finish, there was a nice unofficial stop where they had beer. A lady said, "I really just need water right now." and one of the guys said, "Beer is 95% water." Ha. I love that. The lipstick stop was the next volunteer I saw. She said, "You want some lipstick?" and I said, "Today, this is as good as it gets. I'll just be happy to go inside!"
The finish was still open. Nobody was acting like anything at all was going on there. I was very confused, but I crossed, got a medal and some snacks and headed to find my family (and some warmth) in the River Market. I was colder than I have ever been in my life. But, after I took off the hoodie, I was mostly dry at least.
I really regretted not wearing the ski gear.
I did the 5k and the unofficial Capital Hotel 10k detour walk the day before. Both of those were great weather and great fun. The Capital Detour was a little odd. There were only about 20 of us and they basically handed us a map and said, "Have at it." The bad part is that sent us, potentially out-of-towners, behind Central High and into that area. If you know Little Rock, that's not the safest place to be alone. That being said, it was daytime and we mostly separated into two groups: a fast group and a sightseeing group. I'm not sure anyone was alone. I'm not sure I'd do this again, but I'm glad I was there because I think I was the only local in my group, and I know quite a bit of history of the area. Nobody understood why Central High had a museum, for example. It wasn't bad, but I was glad someone in our group knew how to read a map (the map could have been more detailed).