Students conquer Little Rock marathon

While most of us were just waking up, six John Brown University students were walking up to a starting line of the Little Rock Marathon.

The 10th annual Little Rock Marathon took place in Little Rock, Ark. on Sunday, March 4, 2012. JBU students, senior Haley Gilbert, junior Emily Schad, junior Lance Brandt, senior Sarah Weeden, senior Chelsey Coffey and senior Kelcie O’Donnell were six of the thousands that participated in the races.

Though there were different motivations, goals, and training routines, the race proved to be a good experience for all involved.

All veterans of marathon events, O’Donnell, Schad, Coffey and Gilbert weighed in on their experience as part of the 2012 Little Rock Marathon.

“I have really gotten into running these past couple of years,” Coffey said. “The race atmosphere is the best and one of the most encouraging displays you will ever see.”

Differences in motivation included, running for fun, running to beat a previous personal record, and running to worship God.

For senior, Kelcie O’Donnell, running is for pleasure. O’Donnell see’s running as a way to worship God, and stated that she doesn’t “just do it because it has become a new fad—that’s silly motivation.”

Training for the race was different for each racer as well. Training schedules ranged from previous training all the way to finding new training styles on Pinterest.

“I sort of followed a training schedule I found on pinterest, actually. My pinteresting turned out to be worthwhile after all,” Gilbert said.

Others followed set schedules starting right after Christmas break all the way up until the weekend before the race.

Along with training, came mental preparation the day of the race. This was very different for each racer as well.

“My favorite moment of the race was at the starting line when I was pretending that everyone was running away from Godzilla,” O’Donnell said. “That kind of put it into perspective for me and made the race really funny.”

Other’s focused more on personal goals, and were inspired by the other runners close by.

“The atmosphere of a race is so inspiring. Before the star, you see all kinds of people you would never expect to run a marathon,” Schad said. “There were very old people, blind runners, husbands pushing disabled wives while they raced, double amputee war veterans, and parents pushing strollers with kids affected by Down Syndrome. That is was pumped me up for the race.”

For Coffey, getting pumped up for the race included listening to music that would get her mind prepared “to do work.”

“I just kept telling myself that it was just another long run day except that I had lots of other people to do it with,” Gilbert said. “I was more nervous that anything else. Its so mental, though. I love to run with other people much more than running by myself, at least for long distances. I had a running buddy and we just kept going and going.”

Knowing that she was not running the duration of the race alone is what motivated Gilbert, and enabled her to finish the race strong.

Whether using a new training schedule or an old one, or even sticking to normal running routines, each of the girls were pleased with their race results.

Schad, Coffey and Gilbert all participated in the Half Marathon, while O’Donnell ran the 10K.

Packed sidelines with bystanders cheering on the runners, the feeling of accomplishments, and medals and food waiting for the racers at the end made approaching the finish line even more enjoyable.

“My goal was to finish the race at two hours and 30 minutes,” Schad said. “I met my goal. My time was about 2:33. Finishing felt fantastic! I picked out several of my friends cheering me on as well. I just couldn’t wait to be done and cross the finish line.”

Coffey, who didn’t set a personal goal for the race, was also pleased with her time, finishing at about two hours and 10 minutes.

“They said my name as I crossed the finish line, so I felt like a champ,” Coffey said.

Gilbert’s personal goal was to finish the race without walking. She accomplished this goal in about two hours and 15 minutes.

O’Donnell, who took on the 10K race with a fun and worshipful attitude, stated that she “Felt silly” crossing the finish line because “running with thousands of other people looks ridiculous. It just doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things,” O’Donnell said.

At the end of the race, the support and encouragement from others was what made the marathon’s end an even better experience.

“I had great friends and strangers encouraging me throughout the race, especially at the finish line. They helped me finish the race out strong,” Gilbert said.