April 28th, 2013
I’m not even sure where to start this blog.
There was much planning into this ‘destination’ half marathon. I’m super happy that we made the decision for my family to make the day trip on Saturday so my wife could see a high school friend. We left Saturday morning to make the short drive to Oklahoma City, only about 3 hours. Took us a little longer thanks to me and the pain in my right butt cheek and leg. I had to stop a few times to walk around. Emily had her own personal concert in the car complete with boyband hand moves and a mic to sing into, ok, it was a sharpie, but it was fun. Chelle and I worked out our meals for the next week and Sydney played games on the phone. It was a nice productive drive overall.
We arrived at the convention center for packet pickup around noon and met Barbara. This is a high school friend of my wife that we’ve not see in 15 years or so. We picked up my packet and walked through the expo and only managed to purchase one t-shirt. Then we headed to Fuzzy’s Tacos for lunch.
Next was the Oklahoma City Memorial. I’ve seen it, I experienced it before there was a memorial, but wow. I wasn’t really prepared for the emotions, the memories or any of that. My oldest sister was in OKC for the day as well and we met her at the Memorial and went through the museum with her. They have done a super nice job with the museum but again, the memories were incredible. We lived in Oklahoma at the time of the bombing so I felt somewhat of a personal connection. There is so much thought in the memorial, but you’ll just have to see it yourself to know what they are. Of course I took pictures, here are a couple.
This is the Survivor Tree. Stunning history as it’s over 100 years old and survived several occasions when it probably shouldn’t have.
As we walked to the car, I got to visit with a Boston marathon runner who was about 1.5 blocks from the finish line and did not get to finish her first marathon in Boston. I learned on CNN.com that she came to OKC to finish what she started. There were actually lots of BAA (Boston Athletic Association) jackets around all weekend, really cool to see.
At the hotel Saturday evening I had Applebees Chicken Penne Pasta (delicious) for dinner, chatted with Nicholas for a while, then crashed out around 9pm. I woke up around 2am and found that Nicholas was nowhere to be found. I panicked a little, he was my ride to the starting line. I made a plan be in my head and tried to get back to sleep. I later found out that he went to his car to listen to a book, and fell asleep. HA…cracks me up that guy!
Alarm went off at 4am and I got a quick shower to wake up and started warming my legs a little bit. I was feeling ok and excited to get the day started. We were out the door headed for the starting line around 4:30am. I stopped at the front desk and asked for a large trash bag that I would fit inside. He looked at me a little crazy, but handed me two bags and said “thank you for coming to run today, we really appreciate that”. Off we go to the Memorial Service at the Survivor Tree. We parked about a mile south of the starting line so the walk was a very nice warmup for me. I was a little taken back by what I experienced at the Memorial in the dark. The chairs were lite up and looked simply fantastic. The light shining off the reflection pool, it was a simply awesome moment! I took the following picture before the service started:
At the survivor tree several hundred runners, survivors, spectators alike all gathered for a quick devotional and worship service. I don’t even know the name of the man who spoke, but one of the things he talked about was a runner and their breathing. Inhale…..exhale. Inhale the GOOD in life…..Exhale the Evil. Inhale all things positive….exhale all things negative. I am doing NO justice to what/how he said it, but it really struck me! I’ve thought about this since that morning. The praise and worship was awesome and very moving for me. This wasn’t just any race I was about to run….this was something special.
I finally got to meet Courtney in person after the service. Courtney has been a friend from SparkPeople for several years, we just hadn’t met in person yet. It was great to get to hug her neck and visit for a few minutes. We took a pic, but it’s dark and didn’t turn out great. 😦 Told Nicholas I would see him at the finish line (he wasn’t running) and I was off to find the starting corrals.
This was a little overwhelming for me. 30,000 runners or so, spectators, volunteers, everywhere, I’ve not done a race quite like this!! I managed to find a porta pot and then lined up between the 9:00 and 9:30min mile groups and started getting my legs going a little bit. The excitement was building by the minute. Shortly there was absolute silence, it was amazing really. The only sound heard was that of the helicopters overhead. They have always had 168 seconds of silence before the start of the race, one second for each person killed on April 19, 1995. This year they added three seconds in memory of the three killed in Boston. Very cool moment! Soon the national anthem was played and we were ready to run….sort of. As with most races it took a little bit to get moving. I was probably ½ mile from the starting line where I lined up. This pic is just before I lined up. Yes I rocked the trash bag again.
I started my run meter just before the start line and my garmin right on the line. I’d never seen so many spectators at a starting line before, even the block before the start line. 10-15 people deep on both sides for blocks. I only run with one ear piece in and I’m glad I that was the case so I could really take in all the sounds that were happening around me. I was really taking in all the cameras’ people waving, cheering, and celebrating the memory of 168 people.
Miles 1-3 took us down Harvey to the south end of downtown. I was somewhere around the Botanical Garden area when I caught up to a company of fire fighters. These men were walking 13.1, in full gear. Helmets, oxygen bottles, everything! As the runners passed them, we were saying things like thank you, way to go, we appreciate you and giving the pats on the back. WOW – what a cool moment. My pace for these miles was 9:47, 9:29 and 9:05. There wasn’t much room these first few miles but honestly, I didn’t care. I was really focused on what was happening around me. Like the guy with the beard and funky lil mustache running while carrying the American Flag or the guy with a camera on a pole. Really cool stuff. Inhale the good……exhale the evil
Miles 4-6 took us past the Capital building which was nice. There were people all along the entire course cheering, giving out snacks, even if they weren’t an official stop, it was cool. This part of the course was nothing special outside of one hill. This one hill was fairly steep. Lots of people to help push to the top was nice. I looked to my left and there was a wheel chair racer, seriously struggling to get to the top of the hill. The fans were cheering and encouraging him to make it. I rounded the corner and started downhill. Before long I heard people behind me yelling, wheel chair coming through, get out of the way. People were just yelling it. That dude was probably going 30mph down that hill with people flying to get out of his way. It was awesome. Some guy and I looked at each other and just started laughing in disbelief at what we just saw. As we got to the bottom of that hill, I passed the wheel chair again, I tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘great job buddy’! About this time I see the Jim Beam truck wide open for service. This guy has his trailer wide open making drinks for anybody who wanted one, and it was only about 7:30ish by that time. Somewhere in here there was a water stop with people dressed as bananas and of course one gorilla. Too fun! MY pace for these miles were 9:03, 8:51, 9:00. I was running at a comfortable pace and feeling pretty good. Inhale….Exhale in long slow breathes.
Miles 7-9 took us around a park and was mostly residential areas. Up until mile 8, this was a race with many turns. Mile 8-9 where a long straightaway, but they were several stops to break up that part of the race. I remember one stop had hundreds of people it seemed with a radio station with music blasting. Perfect timing for an energy boost. They were also passing out GU on this stretch of the run, which I didn’t take, I’m not a GU fan. I was fueling with my Gel Shots and Island Boost. I’ve also started using SaltSticks and find these to help a lot. My pace was 9:06, 8:46, 9:17 for this stretch of the race and was ready to head back to the finish line. Inhale the energy the crowd was giving me…..Exhale the bad
Mile 10 found me still running on the forever long straight run of Classen Blvd and eventually turning into what appeared to be an older neighborhood. Very nice older neighborhood is how I would explain it. By mile 11 I could tell we were getting closer to down town, at least I hoped we were. I really don’t remember anything special happening during this stretch of the race, except that I started cramping up. Probably around mile 11 I starting feeling some cramps in my right calf. It wasn’t too horrible but I felt a few cramps that caused my leg to spaz for a moment. I remember thinking about my breath, inhale the positive….exhale the negative and just keep pushing Jerome, you are almost there. The closer we got the more people starting saying how close we were, the crowds were getting bigger and I could really feel the energy. I remember turning the last corner and seeing the finish line. According to my garmin, I was at mile 13 already. I thought that to a lot further than .1 of a mile to that finish line. My leg was cramping and I was repeating to myself, “all heart, all heart”. I said that over and over to myself as I pushed to the finish. Just like the start, there were thousands of people, I’d never seen this before, it was amazing. My pace for this section was 9:04, 9:22, 9:03, 9:12 and for the last quarter mile on my garmin was 8:00.
After crossing the finish line they kept the runners moving along very well. I got my medal and just kept moving with the crowd. There were medical people and a huge medical tent. Then there was a ‘blister crew” doing nothing but treating blisters and a tent that only put ice packs on people who needed them. Then we hit the water and I took two bottles. Keep following the crowd and we hit the fruit and ‘stuff’. Oranges, bananas, cookies of every kind, pretzels, chocolate milk and then ANOTHER tent to help injured runners. Finally we came to the exit point of the finisher chute. Carl’s Jr hamburgers for everybody. I didn’t take one yet, I needed to just get out and walk. I always take a self pic post race, just like pre race.
There were thousands of people at the finish with a great band playing, vendors, children’s play area, and it was literally a small village in downtown Oklahoma City. I took my time and then got a text from Nicholas. We met at the finish line and waited for others to finish that he knew. There were so many people that text messages weren’t being sent or received very well either. While we waited we got to see our SparkFriend Mandy. I’ve met her before and this was the second time in a month to see her at a race.
Remember I mentioned the firefighters, well I had to have a picture taken when one of them when I saw them finish.
We hung around the finish line until about noon having a good time. We eventually got Carl’s jr hamburgers, more water, cookies, and just had fun. We even found one of Nicholas’ friends in the medical tent for a sore toe. Nicholas cracked me up when he said “get off that table, there is somebody outside who really needs that table.” It was funny, but probably a lo-cal joke.
I had a really strong run in Oklahoma City. I wanted under 2 hours and missed that by 75 seconds, OH WELL! My family got to see the memorial and experience all that had to offer. We go to visit with an old friend and I go to experience so much more than a half marathon. This was truly an experience that I can’t wait to take on next year.
Here are my final results from the run.
Here is the 3D fly by for the run:
And my final picture before leaving the area. Love this race and I look forward to 26.2 in Oklahoma City next April.