So it turns out there’s a very good reason more people don’t run marathons so close together.
After the Hogeye, I knew I had something left and I didn’t know when I’d be able to train back up to marathon distance again — so I went with it, and made plans to run in OKC after all. I had visions of better weather and a stronger run — and a (maybe drastically) better time.
As race day approached, the weather was looking grim and I was pretty bummed that I might be running in the rain – again. But we packed up and headed for Oklahoma – keeping our fingers crossed.
Since it was a bit of a last minute decision, I hadn’t pre-registered. Better late than never, right? The biggest issue during registration was having to choose between “first time marathoner” and “veteran marathoner” — uh, “veteran”?? Doesn’t quite seem right.
After a quick lap through the expo, we headed for supper at the Cheesecake Factory. Mmmmm, carbo-loading – my favorite part of marathon training. (For any Big Bang fans out there — this is Colt’s reaction to the news that Penny wouldn’t be our waitress that night.)
Still a bit nervous about the weather, we headed to our hotel and tried to get some sleep. Our 4:30am wake up call would come bright and (way too) early.
See? Too early. That’s the face I make at 5am.
You may remember my friend Amy (below, front row – far left) from past races and various running talk. She and her husband Jake are both runners themselves and have been supportive of my running habit from day one. These are the Marathon Mamas – and they were so sweet to let me tag along with them for this race!
Most of the girls in that photo are about to run either their first half or first full!
And the next one is the 26.2 Mamas. (I’m on the end. Glowing…)
It was during the photo session while we waited outside for the shuttle that I discovered my trusty friend, Mr. Garmin, wasn’t planning to cooperate for the race. I’d charged it all night, but when I turned it on that morning it wouldn’t stay on for more than a second before going dead. I retried about 72 times. No luck. So – no Garmin.
Part of the reason I wanted to do OKC after the Hogeye was because of all the differences. OKC was a BIG race – over 27,000 runners. That meant more energy, but it also meant more hassle — which we learned the hard way on race day. We waited for the “every 20-25 minute shuttle” for over an hour before we started to panic and talk about a contingency plan. Eventually the shuttle came and we all piled on – still ample time to get to the start – but I couldn’t help but remember the situation before the Hogeye two weeks earlier: sleeping in my own bed, eating breakfast in my own kitchen, driving my own car to the start line and walking the familiar route to the familiar race location. Sooooo easy.
So we got there.
The start line was at the OKC Memorial – and we got there just in time to observe 168 seconds of silence in memory of the 168 lives lost in the bombing in 1995.
“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”
There were people EVERYWHERE. Runners, friends, family, spectators, kids, dogs – it was nuts. And I knew it was getting close to 6:30 and start time, so Jeff and I said goodbye and I headed toward the corral. It became clear almost immediately that there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in the front of the corral so runners started scaling the 8-foot fence to get in — otherwise, they’d have to start far in the back and try to make their way back up during the frantic start of the race. I, however, was content to find my way to the back of the pack. I followed the fence for several minutes before I gave up and squeezed in.
I was fiddling with my music when I started hearing my name, and I looked up to see my cousin Kate – right beside me! Seriously, there were THOUSANDS of runners and I could have squeezed into that mob at ANY point — what are the chances I would be standing right next to her?? We both knew the other would be there that weekend, but we were in different hotels and I’d kinda figured we probably wouldn’t run into each other, but there she was! As we made it up to the start line, we got to visit and catch up – it was perfect.
We crossed the start line at 6:43 – 13 minutes after the gun — which meant I had some funky mental math ahead of me for the rest of the day. Without my watch to help me keep track of my pace and time, I had to do it all in my head. There were clocks throughout the course – which was helpful – but there are no nice, round numbers in this deal. I tried to keep ‘minutes per mile’ straight, but then had to factor out the 13 minutes every time I saw a race clock – it was a mess.
I kinda love this photo Jeff took near the start. All you see is blurry motion – and everyone’s reflective running gear. It’s like a frame out of a running dream.
I started pretty solid. I felt good, I had music and I settled into a rhythm pretty quickly. The energy of all the runners was exactly what I needed and I was looking forward to a long, but good day.
The tone of the race was so emotional. In the first few miles I counted four different groups of firemen – in full uniform – walking shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the street. I learned later they walked the entire half marathon course. There were runners everywhere wearing names of those affected by the bombing — in memory of, in honor of. Throughout the day, it was impossible to forget the spirit and the purpose of this race.
Around mile 6, it started to sprinkle. Nothing crazy – and it eventually stopped – but enough to make it incredibly humid. It sprinkled again about an hour later, but it never really rained – and it’s tough to complain about that. My top weather concern about this race had been the possible heat – and I didn’t feel hot once all day. It was crazy humid, and – not surprisingly for Oklahoma – it was windy, but not hot. Thank goodness for that.
I felt great through the halfway mark, but started to really feel the weight of the miles around mile 15. I had been keeping up with the 5:15 pace group until about the halfway mark when I stopped to use the bathroom. I never found them again.
I remember those middle miles being tough during the Hogeye, too, and in some ways there’s probably not much you can do to get around it, but man – miles 15 thru 20… hurt. It hurt more to walk than it did to run, so I tried to talk myself into running, but nothing seemed to work. As I passed mile markers and continued to do the pacing math in my head – I knew I’d be chasing 6 hours at this rate, but I couldn’t make myself move faster.
I knew that Jeff, Becky and Colt would be waiting for me at mile 20. That was our plan. So I quit focusing on 26.2 and just focused on getting to mile 20.
When the mile marker came into view and I saw the little guy waiting on me – I felt like I’d won something. Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!
I stopped for a minute to get some (caffeinated!) GU and Ibuprofen from Jeff, and a kiss and a hug from Colt – and then I was off again, hoping that seeing them and getting some good fuel would mean a solid finish.
I can only guess it was the caffeine/Ibuprofen cocktail, but I felt like a new person for the last 5 miles. I was doing the math and knew I would be cutting it close – but it was still possible to beat my Hogeye time. It was especially frustrating to be without my watch during those miles — I would have loved to know my pace and how close I really was.
Then the finish line came into view and I could see my family –
And you knew he’d have to join in.
All I could think was – man, I hope he remembers this.
He told me, “Mommy, next time I wanna run with you the WHOLE TIME.” Sure Buddy. Sure ya do.
Official time — 5:46:34. Three minutes faster than Hogeye. Not the 30 minutes I’d wanted to shave… but nonetheless faster.
I did a little math after looking at those splits — I ran the last 5 miles as fast as I ran the first 10. (Note to self: MUST figure out how to get that kick at mile 15! Not wait until 20!)
They’re the best Pit Crew I could ask for.
And we just couldn’t leave without THIS picture:
So Marathon #2. Done. I don’t know that I would recommend doing it this way, but I honestly have no complaints. I was sore for a few days, but nothing like after the Hogeye. I suppose I was better prepared mentally for how I’d feel physically – I don’t know. It’s now five days later and I’m planning to go for my first post-marathon run today. Nice, slow – just a few miles. I don’t have immediate plans to run another one, but I don’t think I’m done marathoning.
And on that note, and to avoid making you suffer through another post about running so soon (I’m looking at you, Lynn! You’ve earned yourself a Month of Colt – soon! I promise!), I’ve got some nerdy running news to share. Yours truly is officially a MARATHON MANIAC.
Yes, it’s true. I don’t know how well you can read it, but that’s my official listing in what they call the “Insane Asylum” – CLICK HERE for the website. I became Marathon Maniac #5325 by running 2 marathons within 16 days – criteria for the most basic membership into the ultimate running nerd club. I love it! And now I HAVE to run another marathon – wearing one of THESE:
The marathon isn’t about the race, it’s about commitment. It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about endurance. It’s not about the thrill, it’s about passion. To run a marathon, you need to not only commit to the sport — you need to commit to yourself.