Our family has been looking forward to this trip for quite sometime. It is young Jim's 6th birthday! So off we went to Little Rock. We arrived a little late on Friday night but after a great dinner on the road in Russellville, we swam at the hotel pool until 9:30. The kids were pooped.
Then in the morning we went to the pacer breakfast. I was lucky enough to get to pace in the marathon. I had done it for the first three Little Rock Marathons and had missed it so I was looking forward to it. The marathon organizers treated us like royalty. It was great. We went and picked up the race packet and then off we went.
Suzanne and I have really wanted to visit Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and the place did NOT disappoint. It was awesome. Too bad we had the kids with us because it was so interesting though Madeline seemed quite interested in what had happened there.
For those who do not know, Little Rock is where nine brave African American students (Little Rock Nine) defied the Governor of Arkansas and became among the first students integrated in the South. Eisenhower had to call in the 101st Airborne to see to it that the students were allowed in the school. Next time you here Southern Conservatives complain about infringements on state's rights, know that this is what that is rooted in.
They faced unbelievable ridicule from the students and others. What courage they had to do what they did! Here is an interesting picture from the museum that shows what many thought of integration.
And here is a picture of the now iconic and still active high school. It looks just as it did in the 1950's when soldiers escorted the students to class. The marathon route ran right by the school by the way.
Back to the pool, then dinner with Chris Montgomery and his family and then the pool again and a good nights rest. I would be pacing Chris in the morning. He was hoping for a 3:10 but it was going to be tough as that is right at the edge of his ability at this point.
So in the morning Chris and I caught a ride to the start. We met so many interesting people. We moved along very well and most in my group stayed tough until about mile 19. At nineteen and twenty, Chris began to fade just a little and then a few miles later, another friend faded but not much. They were hanging strong. So I just stayed right at the 3:10 pace because I wanted to bring others along with me as I went along and sure enough, I think it helped several people.
As I came by they picked up the pace and ran stronger. I carried this great little sign the whole way and then finished right at 3:10.
Chris came in at about 3:20 and though he did not get the 3:10, he ran a great race on a pretty hilly course. He is ready to break 3:15 at his next marathon.
I ran well and it felt pretty good except for the stupid sciatic flare up but other wise a great training run and I think I'm ready to take on some upcoming races. The big question is whether to tackle that Grasslands 50 miler.
What a great weekend. Glad I'm writing it down to be remembered.