I will start out by saying this was the BEST large scale marathon I have done to date. The aid stations were full of volunteers and well stocked with all manner of things. They had enough GU for an army and an army of people to hand it out. I HIGHLY recommend this marathon. Yes, the climate can be tough in Oklahoma City, and the course is kind of hilly, but if you are well prepared for the conditions, you will have a great time!
Now, I will start at the beginning. Of course I didn’t get enough sleep the night before I left for Oklahoma City. I finally went to bed Friday night at about 11 pm after putting my things in the car. I set the alarm for 2:45 am, because I intended to leave by 3am. I live about 450 miles from Oklahoma City. It was part of my plan to leave so early because I was going to take the early start for the marathon (4:30am) on Sunday and since I am not a morning person, getting up early Saturday would force me to be in bed early Saturday night. I was on the road by 3:10 am. I reached Bryan/College Station at around 4:30 am and there was a terrible storm in the area. Cars were in the ditch, and several were stopped, I assume they were waiting for the storm to subside a little. I continued on because I didn’t want to lose any time. I slowed down, of course, and good thing, because water was pooling in places along the road. I made it safely through the storm, thank goodness. The lightening show was impressive.
The expo was not as large as I expected, but well laid out. First, we were directed to the back of the room to pick up the packet and pre-scan the timing chip, then around the other side of the room to pick up the t-shirt and goodie bag. After I collected my things, I went for a look around to see if there was anything I could not live without. The only purchase was a buy 1 - get 1 half price special on Thorlo socks. I listened to a couple minutes of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s pre-race comments, and then went on to the hotel to eat lunch and finish getting my gear ready for the race. I still had to mix my electrolyte drink, and put my food and gels in the right pockets. That all done, I was leaving to go back downtown and Laura Leigh arrived at the hotel. I was glad to see her! We left for the pasta dinner together after she brought her things in to the hotel.
Before dinner, we had a little walk around town and through the memorial. When Laura Leigh explained the significance of the Memorial to me, I was really moved by its simplicity.
As we arrived at the pasta dinner, my cell phone started ringing, and I saw Jean-Maria before I could get my phone out and answer it. Patty, Jean-Maria, Laura Leigh and I had dinner together (pasta, no protein, a nice light sauce, salad, breadstick, and huge chocolate chip cookie ;-) and got to know each other. Good thing Jean-Maria had her camera because I forgot mine as usual. We found someone to take the group photo, and then it was time to go back to our hotels. We were fortunate enough to find the porta potties near the start. It is a great honor to be the first to use one of those things… and these were the deluxe models. There was plenty of paper, and they even had hand sanitizer dispensers.
Once we arrived back at the hotel, there were a few things left to do, and it was difficult to get into bed. Once in bed, I fell asleep immediately, just like I planned. I never even got up to use the restroom. The alarm went off at 3 am, and I was ready to get up. I didn’t expect much hoopla at the early start, but the race director was there to welcome us, getting us pumped up for the race. They played God Bless America and The National Anthem, and it was time to start. After a few pre-race instructions, we were off. They had plenty of protection for the early starters in the form of motorcycle police and course marshals on bicycles. There were even a couple of the water stops open for us. I didn’t expect that at all. The volunteers all along the course were the most enthusiastic I have ever seen at a race. Some were even begging us to take their water, like some must be better than others. One station was set up to look like the Big Top, with large stuffed tigers and such in cages. I have never been cheered on by so many volunteers, every time I thanked someone for volunteering; they thanked me for participating in the race. If I said: “YOU’RE AWESOME,” they said: “NO, YOU’RE AWESOME!” What a race. There were children along the course giving high fives to runners and walkers; I don’t remember one part of the course where there were not spectators present. There were even spectators where the course went along the lake path. There were Indian drummers as we exited the lake path and headed back toward the city. The wind was awfully strong all day, but that didn’t deter the spectators. The closer I got to the finish line, the more spectators were present. I started hearing the cheers of the finish line crowd about a mile away. The announcer was very enthusiastic, he was reading our names and calling them out to the crowd as we finished. 6:49:59; my slowest marathon to date, but this was a training walk.
The post race food was great; they had all sorts of Keebler cookies and Carl’s Junior cheeseburgers. I was feeling pretty crummy; the right knee was hurting pretty badly after the post race stretch. I pretty much limped back to the car for the ride to the hotel. Once there, I iced my knee for about 20 minutes and took 3 Ibuprophen (which I don’t normally do). The knee was still a little tender when we went to dinner to celebrate another marathon completed. We went to a local landmark called Cattleman’s and I had a sirloin (something else I don’t normally do). The steak was really good, so were the buttered baked potato and the huge buttered yeast roll. Did I say butter??? When we got back to the hotel, Laura Leigh had to leave so I was on my own. I thought about going to see Patty and Jean-Maria at their hotel; but we were under a tornado warning. I didn’t want to be stranded at another hotel and not get any sleep, so I just stayed put. Once I went to sleep at about 9pm, I didn’t get up until about 8am the next morning. I loaded up the car and started driving south.
The funniest thing happened. I called Jean-Maria to see how she and Patty were doing, and found out they were only about 5 miles ahead of me and stopping for breakfast. I didn’t tell them I was going to stop, I just found the place they said they stopped and walked in. I wish you all could have seen the look on Patty’s face when I walked in. It was priceless. The rest of the drive home was uneventful, except for more thunderstorms.
Today, I feel better. My knee doesn’t hurt anymore, and I am not over tired. I will be back out there training for Mohican tomorrow.