Sunday, I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for my third straight year. In pure OKC fashion, the weather was my biggest challenge. Again.
Friday afternoon, we headed south to drop all the kids with my parents. Nearly five hours later (after fighting to get through Dallas both directions) we made it back home. Exciting life we lead – we were in bed by 10:00. Saturday morning, we headed out of town after a quick stop for disposable ponchos. The forecast was a little iffy on rain.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at the expo. We made the rounds and I bought a couple of things I found on sale.
After a late lunch at Olive Garden, with unlimited breadsticks we headed to the hotel. I have learned to eat my big meal at lunchtime and have a light, early dinner on race eve.
Race day morning we rose early and after the third discussion about why I didn’t get a hotel near the start/finish we made it to our usual parking lot. There are perks to doing repeat races. We have learned our way around.
The race was scheduled to start at 6:30. I downed my applesauce and moved into the corral, then the first 30 minute delay was announced. There were storms blowing up out on the course with lightning, possible hail. It was typical spring weather for the area. Then the race was delayed until 7:15. We found a shelter to hang out under. A third announcement delayed the race until 8, at which point we headed back to the car.
And watched the clouds roll.
The most frustrating part of the delay was that my iPhone had no connection. I couldn’t get updates on any social media sites, and my husband kept getting kicked off. I began to wonder if we would even have the race. After the last race that wasn’t, I don’t think my mood could’ve survived another cancellation so soon. He told me I would need to go home and run 26 miles around town if they cancelled.
Finally, at 8:00 they announced the race would start in 15 minutes. There was the 168 seconds of silence (one for each victim of the bombing in 1995), the national anthem, and then the wheelchair start. I found the 4:00 pace group, and determined that I would hang with them. The rain had stopped, the temperature was nice and cool, and I was ready.
When we started, the breeze stopped. I hung with the pace group until 15k, but I was sticky and sweaty. It was nice letting someone else guide the pace so I didn’t keep checking my watch, but after several miles I found out that they were banking time to walk the water stops. I carry a handheld so I don’t have to stop at each one. By the 10k mark, we were a minute under. It felt fast to me, and I probably should’ve dropped back after the first few miles. I lost them uphill around 15k, then the sun came out. But it wasn’t just the sun. You can tell from my splits when we turned into the wind. Not just a slight breeze, but a hang on to your hat wind speed. I hit halfway just under 2 hours, so I had a chance to make my four hour goal, but the wind was kicking my tail. Around mile 14, I tossed the time goal and stuck to mostly a 4 min. run/1 min. walk routine. When I hit shady areas or with the wind at my back, I ran longer before walking.
I first saw my husband (on his bike) around mile 5. Then around mile 21-22, when I started feeling defeated from the wind and heat, I saw him again. The way the course was set up, he was able to ride in the next lane almost all the way to the finish. These miles were mostly into the wind, and he told me not to worry about time. Just finish. I continued my run/walk, but every time I walked, it hurt to start running again. My calves were sore, my hips were sore, and I was hot. I went through the 3 Nuun tablets in my 20 oz. handheld before mile 20. I was gulping Powerade and water at every aid station, dumping water over my head and running through the sprinklers. I don’t know the temperature, but there was salt residue on my skin. A wind gust blew a table over at a water stop. Thank goodness, the marathon has frequent aid stations in those last few miles, because I needed every stop. I was so happy to see the finish line stretch.
Crossing the line without the nausea I’ve experienced the past two years was worth the slower time. Such obstacles to overcome – storm delay, humidity, heat, wind – made it that much more of an accomplishment.
I posted 3 goals to my Facebook status that morning:
1. Enjoy the run.
2. Not run the same exact time I ran the last two years. 4:32
3. Actually get one of the Carl’s Jr. hamburgers at the finish.
This was my update:
1. Every finish is a win.
2. I ran a 4:40 instead of 4:32. Respect the sun.
3. I got my burger. (It was great!)
Marathon #8 is done. It wasn’t my slowest, but it sure drained me physically. I’ll be back again next year, no matter the weather. It has such a great purpose and meaning. Here is a recap video from the marathon’s site:
I’m going to take a break from high mileage for a few months. I have some pretty big goals to gear up for the fall/winter. More on that next week!
Toughest race conditions you’ve endured?
Do you choose a race for location, time of year, or meaning? Or all of the above?