Sunday, my husband and I participated in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the first time.
The marathon was started in 2000 in support of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building. Personally, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing on that horrible day. 168 lives were lost that morning and many more were changed forever. The race is known as the "run to remember"
For the past 3 years, I've watched the race on television and thought that I might like to participate in it someday. But on the other hand, the weather in Oklahoma can be so unpredictable this time of year, that I've been reluctant to sign up for it. 2 years ago, they had thunderstorms, sleet, freezing rain, and hail all morning so I've chosen to watch it from the comfort of my warm, dry living room while I was drinking coffee and feeling envious of those who were running.
I wasn't planning to run it this year either. Then Boston happened and I knew that I must run this race. I was planning to sign my husband and I up for the half when I was contacted my some friends who needed a couple more runners for their relay team. We gladly said yes. We came up with the team name of Sole Sistas and a Bro RfB (run for Boston) and registered for the race. I was the team captain and was a little nervous about the coordination of everything.
Saturday, we went to OKC to the expo and it just so happened that we all arrived at almost the same time. We were able to pick up our packet and shirts and disburse them to all team members without any hassle. We then went and checked into our hotel and then set out in search of our pre-race meal. We chose a steak restaurant where we could get a grilled chicken breat with baked potato and green beans. Then we went back to our room to prepare our flat runners and try to get a good nights sleep.
We were in bed early but for some reason, I couldn't sleep well. The alarm went off at 3:45 and we were up, getting ready. The hotel graciously put out breakfast early for the runners which was very helpful. We were also fortunate that there was a shuttle to the starting area from our hotel. We arrived in downtown OKC around 5:15-5:20 and set out in search of bag check. After we checked our bags, we headed back to the start area. We caught part of the service being held at the survivor tree and got in on the Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs photo near the Reflecting Pool/168 chairs area. This was the first time that I had ever been to the Memorial and I was overcome with emotion upon seeing it.
I was running the 3rd leg and hubs was running the 5th/final leg, so we weren't lining up in the starting corral with our friends, which seemed odd. Instead we secured a spot near the start to watch our friends take off. They blew the horn at 6:30 sharp and we watch a steady stream of runners cross the mat for almost 20 minutes. After the crowd thinned out, we headed to the relay shuttle buses. I was concerned that my husband, who isn't that familiar with OKC wouldn't be able to find his relay exchange dropoff but the race directors took any and all confusion out of that. They had separate buses for each exchange that went only to that area to drop off fresh runners and pick up finishers of the previous leg. That worked out very well for the most part.
I got to my exchange about an hour before I would start running. I ate my breakfast, chatted with other bystanders and warmed up. I was tracking my team and getting text message updates as to their progress. Shortly after 8:30, I saw my friend Melissa making her way to me. She was walking and that's all she was allowed to do, as she is still recovering from a slow healing stress fracture. I met her at the exchange, grabbed the chip and took off. I knew I headed out too fast, but I really didn't care. I had 7.5 miles and was determined to do the very best that I could. I did my first mile at about 10 minutes. I knew I needed to slow down a little bit and I struggled to back off my pace, but I just couldn't. I was being propelled by adrenaline, the excitement of the crowds and sheer determination.
I chose the middle leg as it ran through the neighborhood that my aunts live in and that I spent a lot of time in as a child. It was certainly a blast from the past for me. About halfway through my leg, I started talking with a lady who I had been volleying with. She was running 2 mins and walking 45 seconds. Initially, I continued to run through her walk breaks and she would catch up to me on her run, but I was feeling tired. So, we chatted and paced each other through those 3-4 miles. I really don't think I would have made it without her!!
I made it to my relay exchange in 1:18 minutes!! That is record time for me!! My average pace was 10:28/mile which is a full minute faster than my usual race pace. I grabbed some food and headed to the shuttle bus, where my coach/friend Regina was waiting for me. We made it back downtown to the finish area, I retrieved my bag from gear check and got some more food, including a Carl's Jr cheeseburger! I didn't think I would want the cheeseburger but I'm telling you, at that point, it was the most delicious, scrumptious thing I have ever eaten! And I ate it like it was the first and last thing that I had ever eaten!
Regina waited in the reunion area for Monica, our 4th leg runner, who was finished with her 3.1 and on the shuttle bus back to us. I made my way back to the bleachers to wait for my husband. The rules stated that we could run in together as a team. When I saw him coming down the home stretch, I had 3 big guys lift me over the fence and ran it in with him. I was awesome getting to finish that with my husband. Our collective team time was 5:03! We got all the medals for our team. I was super excited to get to see one of my all time heros, Barry Switzer, former coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, handing out medals. He gave me a big hug which made me happy, happy, happy!
We met up with Regina and Monica. Melissa had to head back to Tulsa already. We chatted for a bit and took some photos. They left to go back to Tulsa. We headed to the shuttle stop to go back to our hotel. In order to get to the shuttles, we had to walk through the Memorial and that's where we'll pick up part 2..........