Another OKC Marathon has come and gone and I have to say this was the most memorable one for several reasons. First off, I only did the Half Marathon. I know, I know. Throw the popcorn, heave the pop cans, and let the raspberry's fly. I really struggled with not doing the full and felt like a complete wimp for not doing so. So, here are my excuses or reasons why:
1) Easier recovery time to come back and maybe do a Half Ironman or other future races. Sounds like a viable plan.
2) I have been concentrating on short races and have not done many longer runs. That was because of my previous race schedule.
3) I have been running good lately and wanted to PR in the half. Why leave the race disappointed in my Full Marathon time when I could do a good half. Plus, it is a lot less painful.
Whether these are good plans or excuses, let me say that I was so glad that I did not do the Full and here is why.
Just imagine yourself sailing on the high seas with Captain Bligh en-route to find Moby Dick. A storm has blown up and the ship is rocking back and forth, the winds are howling, and it looks like the ship may go down. That is kind of how race day felt. When I got up at 4 am to get ready, the weather was perfect. 54 degrees with light winds. I checked the weather map and it looked like the rain may stay to south of us. After letting the dogs out of the hotel room and loading up the kids, we headed for downtown OKC. We parked in our usual spot. This secret spot is not to be revealed on this blog. I would have to hunt everyone down.
I made it to the corner of the OKC Memorial and got in the port-a-potty and guess what, it started raining. My plan at this point was to stay in the blue port-a-potty portal, hope the rain might pass, and maybe catch a nap, but I decided to brave the elements like a good warrior. As soon as I made it out of the funky, blue water holder, it started to pour rain. Lightning started shortly after and the cold front moved in. Mark Twain once said that everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it. At this point I wanted let the people on the weather channel know how I felt about their great forecast. That language would not be suited for this blog.
We made it over to a Catholic church and found an overhang and tried to stay out of the elements at this point. The front had dropped temps at least 10 degrees and the wind chill felt like I was back in Illinois going around a corner of a building.
I waited my time out and hoped I was not committing some kind of offense against the Pope by using the Church grounds as shelter from the storm. I can honestly say that I never considered just loading back up and heading home. Now, all my family considered that, but I did not. I figured it was only a Half Marathon. That shouldn't be bad.
After waiting around for the start, I ventured out in the rain towards the start line and there was nobody lining up. Now either the race had been canceled or the rapture had just taken place. I was wrong on both accounts. They had moved the start back to 7 AM instead of 6:30, so it was back to an overhang to stay dry. I waited as long as I thought possible and started over to the corral at about 10 minutes till 7. As I started shedding layers of clothes to the Mrs. and headed to the "A" corral, they were just getting ready to shut the gate for the corrals. From that point it was like a Bugs Bunny cartoon to get closer. Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, pardon me, until I got fairly close to the front. This was one of the longest 10 minutes I ever waited for the race to start. The cold rain was coming down, the wind was blowing, and I was cold. I was ready at this point to set something on fire. The wheelchair racers took off and 5 minutes later it was time for us to go.
I had chosen to wear a singlet and go with the arm panties, in case it warmed up. I can hear laughter from the readers at that thought. Not happening on this day. I had a hard time settling into a good pace. I don't know if it was the weather or watching this guy next me running without a shirt. I figured they would find him later frozen in mid-stride around mile 9.
I saw a local triathlete guy from Tulsa and settled in behind him and realized that he was pacing the 1:30 half group. I went through the first mile in 6:30 and I knew I needed to pick up the pace. In between mile 1 and 2 there are a few hills and that mile was a little slower than planned. Once I got on a flatter section, I sped up. At this point I was dropping sub 6:20 pacing and was really wondering if I was not overdoing it. My tendency is to go out too hard and hang on for dear life. I felt good at this point and decided to go with it. I managed to go through the 10K at around 39:30 and still felt good. The rain was still pounding us and at various points on the course we had a direct wind or a crosswind. It was so nice after the 10K point to turn to the left and head back downtown. I did not have to experience the loneliness of Lake Hefner, let alone the weather. Going out around Hefner always makes me feel like that I have been transported to a remote island and that I am being chased by the local natives. Definitively a creepy part of the race. Glad I wasn't there!
I hit Classen Blvd. and went through the 15K in 59:48. Sub 60 at the Tulsa run will be a piece of cake this year. I started to feel it a little bit in the last 5K, but I was able to maintain a good, solid pace. I knew I just needed to hang on and bring it in strong.
The last portion of the race has some smaller hills, so I kept my cadence up and finally made the turn onto the straight stretch towards home. There were several of us bunched up at that point and some started to take off to sprint towards the finish. I dug down deep and started picking up the pace. I was able to hit some sub 6 minute miles in this last section and when I got close I saw that I was getting close to breaking 1:25. I picked it up a little bit more and finished in a gun time of 1:25 and chip time of 1:24:55. Good enough for 1st in may age group and 28th overall out of over 7,700 runners.
The OKC Marathon is such a special race and the ambiance around it cannot be matched. The reason we run is to remember those who lost their lives during this evil act of terrorism on innocent men, women, and children. Even with the rain, I was glad I did the race and was proud of being a part of something that transcends all human comprehension. This race is ran with the body, but the Spirit is what really comes alive. God bless all the families that were affected on that tragic day.
May God rest their soul.