Looking back on 2011, my running had taken a little bit of a step back time wise. My last several events I had struggled to maintain a steady pace and finished just under 5 hours. I know it's not about the time you get but the time you have, but I had definitely experienced a drop in my marathon fitness related to ineffective training and mental preparation for those events. I was determined to start off 2012 with a different approach and went into this event with the goal of having a negative split. This idea was presented to me by Rob and he even offered me a free Frosty if I could complete the task. I had managed to negative split on two different events, 2010 Rocket City and 2011 Little Rock. I managed to pick up some new Zensa calf sleeves from the expo. They were the perfect size and seemed to provided a good amount of needed compression. When we walked out of the hotel, it was quite foggy and it looked like it might rain on us. The temp was 55 degrees with about 80% humidity. We were attempting to get to the capitol building for the Marathon Maniac picture. We got to the capitol at 6:30 but no one was there. We walked down to the race start and someone told us it was at the old capitol building. Bummer, we missed the photo. We hung out for a few minutes and conversed with the other maniacs as we got ready to gear it up. I was planning on using the timer on my watch and not use my Nike GPS app or my Garmin 310xt. I had a focus of marking my splits at the markers. The markers will well set up, but I did miss a few during the race. While waiting to start I met a maniac from KC by the name of Amy Reed, she was shooting for her 4 star streak and was excited about doing the event. We chatted about pacing strategy, etc. When I hit the first 4 minute mark, one of the local maniacs from Ozark, Chris Revoir asked to run/walk with me. I said sure as I always enjoy company during a run. Chris and I ran and talked about all kinds of things. The first mile split we hit at 10:53. At first I thought that was a little slow, but then I remembered my goal for the day and I thought that it might work out okay. Interestingly enough the 4:40 pacer was right in front of us and I wondered if I would have enough to come in ahead of him. Around mile 4 or so, we caught up to Amy and she started doing a run/walk mix with us. She hung with us for a mile or so but then decided our run pace was a little too quick for her. I started to feel the need to pee, but kept trying to put it off because I didn't want to wait in line at the port a potty. At mile 10, I told Chris to be on the look out for a place I can duck into to go. Pretty soon I spotted a trash dumpster inside an enclosed area. I ducked in there took care of my business and got back out on the road. I caught up to him just past the 11 mile marker. We ran together until we hit the halfway mark (2:17:30) and Chris thanked me and told me to go on without him. I obliged and stepped it up for the next several miles trying to be cognizant of my goal "Negative Split!" I kept an eye on my splits and they were very consistent between 10:15 and 10:25 every mile. Around mile 22, a volunteer said "you're on pace for a 4:32". I thought to myself, we'll see about that. Surprisingly, I continued to feel strong and was envisioning finishing the last mile without a walk segment. This course got tough over the last couple of miles as there were some difficult hills thrown at us. At the mile 24 marker, they were playing James Brown and started dancing for the spectators. I was feeling the energy and knowing that it was going to be a good day. Rob called me right before the 25 mile marker and asked me where I was. I think he was surprised that I was almost done and it encouraged me to hammer it in. At 25 I knew I had some time to play with but was just focused on finishing strong and not fading in the last mile. The last .2 was all uphill into the finish and it was very difficult. Rob was there at the finish line getting some video and I knew that I had accomplished my goal. I got my medal, water and we headed to the food tent as I did my usual "fight off the puking" feeling that I have after almost every marathon. We walked back to the hotel and to get showered before the road trip home. We were both basking in our accomplishments for the day. Rob got another sub 4 hour marathon state and I had negative split. We got loaded up and headed down the road. Saturday events are quite enjoyable as we knew we had a day to recover on Sunday. We saw a beautiful sunset as we traveled through northern Arkansas.