Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Recap: Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon

Wow! Go figure! I'm actually writing this post the same day as the race!! lol!

Race Day -1

The husband came with me this trip since it was only a 5 hour drive. Woohoo! Another driver!! ;) We left home at 6am and made our way to OKC without incident. We went straight to the expo at the Cox Center to pick up my packet, walk through the expo and listen to some speakers (Dick Beardsley and Bill Rogers were who I was looking forward to). We did manage to hear Bill Rogers do his thing as well as last years winners but by the time Dick Beardsley was to speak we were hungry and headed to go get some lunch instead down in Bricktown. We ended up at Zio's Italian Kitchen to continue my carb loading. After that I decided that I indeed did want to get a tech shirt for the race so we walked back to the expo just so I could get it. Unfortunately they only had long sleeved shirts left, but that's okay with me...that way I could spread my race shirts across the seasons.

Media setup in Thunder Alley (Reno Ave) for the
Dallas Mavericks & OKC Thunder playoff.
Inside the expo.

Me at bib pickup.
Me with Bill Rogers.
We headed to Tinker AFB to again stay in the temporary lodging facility but this time I had brought food to prep for dinner (shrimp in a light butter sauce over whole wheat linguini). Since I had totally forgotten to pack a towel for my post race shower (we wouldn't make it back in time for the late checkout they offered) or post race pants/shorts we stopped at the BX and picked those up plus some Biofreeze since my hip and lower back were hurting. We headed to the registration desk and checked into our apartment. We walked across the street to pick up some food for breakfast and drinks/desert for dinner...we actually ate desert before dinner (Haagen-Daz ice cream pops with chocolate and almonds). I tried to go to sleep at just after 10pm but, as evidenced by my previous post, ended up only getting just barely 2 hours sleep. *yawn*

Race Day - 4/28/12

Race gear
The morning started out after the just barely 2 hours sleep...not race nerves (at least I don't think) just my typical pre-race insomnia. I actually did hit snooze on my alarm  once when it went off at 3am but before it repeated I was up and moving. I had originally tried to plan to get on the road by 5am or 5:15am but between having 2 of us needing to get ready, needing to tape up, pack and check out we didn't get out the door until after 5:15am. In the process of getting ready, I found that I hadn't checked my supply of KT Tape to tape up my feet/ankles/knees so I could only tape my feet...the one place I must tape for sure. Unfortunately, I apparently didn't do a good enough job because I noticed that I still had way too much play in the flexion of my great toe but had no more tape to correct the situation.

By the time we were on the road, I had realized that I forgot to check directions for a back way into downtown OKC since traffic was sure to be congested trying to get into the parking lots (and yes, it was). Due to traffic we missed the opening ceremonies and the 168 seconds of silence...something I had wanted to be there for but since I still have to run the marathon I'll see it one day. We arrived at the Survivor Tree at 6am on the nose and unfortunately didn't find any other Half Fanatics there (was I the only HF running the actual half marathon...I know there were a bunch doing an early start for the full).  So we headed up towards the back of the starting corrals and gear check. After getting my gear bag stashed we waited in the port-a-pot line (I seriously hate those things, but as the saying goes...when you have to go you have to go). It was 6:25am by the time we got our turns and they had already started the wheelchair division. I said a quick goodbye to the old man and got in the what I though was the middle of the last corral...hopefully amongst the slower runners but not quite with the walkers! lol!

You see those lights in the lower middle of the pic?
Yeah, that's the starting line. LOL!
As the race started it took me about 8 minutes again (seems to be my "groove") to get across the finish line. The crowd began an actual jog due to the congestion before finally breaking apart for a more comfortable pace. I had forgotten to turn on my MotoACTV so my watch was running a minute or so late compared to my going over the line. The weather was cooperative so far with more humidity than I am used to, overcast, temps in the mid 60°F range and overcast...but so far no rain or thunder.

Sucky pic, but the best I could get of
the guy in uniform and full pack.
As we ran through downtown towards Reno Ave I saw a vet or active duty guy in  camos carrying a full pack walking the course. We went through Bricktown the local entertainment area then headed over an overpass...the first hill. At this point I had realized that I had forgotten to take my e-cap before the start of the race so I popped one since I knew that even if it was overcast with the humidity I'd be sweating like a dog and losing much needed electrolytes...I really didn't want to have issues with cramps. We headed towards the capitol area with a few more light hills and during this portion there were numerous firefighters in full gear...and I do mean full...walking the course. I also passed more vets/active duty guys (they looked like an organized group) also with full packs. As we wove our way through the capitol and into a medical center type area with several hospitals located there. There were some great signs in that area that I took pics of...hopefully I remember to post them here!  I also so quite a few 5K participants who had missed their turns who had to backtrack to get back on course before (hopefully) hitting the 5K mark on the marathon/half marathon course.

Bricktown by the Johnny Bench Stadium.
The first of several groups of firefighters
in full gear walking the half.
Here comes the rain!
As we moved through a more residential area I passed a guy in shorts carrying a full pack...I'm guessing he was a vet since he wasn't in uniform. I asked him how much his pack weighed and he replied, "Fifty pounds and with the rain a little more." We had gotten some drizzle by this point but nothing significant. I, myself, could not imagine doing 13.1 miles in full firefighter gear or military gear...but then I am a wuss when it comes to being like a pack mule! lol! The course brought us past a Sonic which had a cheer squad outside (not affiliated with Sonic as far as I could tell) and at which I wished I had brought some money...something I intended to do but forgot...I could sure use a small Real Fruit Lemon Slush!! I told you I was addicted. As we went in through some older neighborhoods and past some parks with intermittent rolling hills including one hill that the neighborhood had dubbed "Gorilla Hill." There was a house, near a park, where the occupant was offering cups of vodka to runners, another house that was offering...bacon and Snickers (yes, I did grab some bacon)! Somewhere in this area there was also a crew from Cruzan Rum offering some of their product to runners...I just had to stop and take a picture of that! lol! I think it was at about 6 or 7 miles the rain started. Nothing drastic, but a light, steady, welcome rain. Just having the cool liquid fall on me felt so good. Good enough that whenever they had lawn sprinklers or overhead sprinkling systems set up for runners I took full advantage of them even though it was raining!! :)

I need a lemon slush!
I didn't think this was the worst of the hills!!

For some reason most of the hills didn't bother me so far and even, surprisingly, running up most of them by this point. Maybe it was because I was just running to run rather than trying to beat a time...but then that's what I've been doing anyway in my past several races! As we came out of the residential district we moved into the International District (at least I think that's what they call it). There is no specific Chinatown in OKC but they use Chinese style gates and markers to indicate an area of high international flavor. As we were in about the middle of this area there was a fender bender, yes...traffic was restricted, in full presence of no less than 4 police officers at that intersection facing the accident! Oh my! ;) At about mile 9 the first marathoner went past with a full escort. After than a slow stream of marathons seemed to pass off and on and seemed to mostly from two Oklahoma running clubs, but I just don't remember seeing any of the female marathoners go by although I when I asked a volunteer course marshal at about mile 10 he said that 1-2 had indeed already passed by. With this race I didn't hit my usual wall at mile 9 although I did slow down just a little.

We went into an older mix of residential and business area past some schools and yes, more hills. After that we were headed back towards the memorial. I remember in a residential area at mile 11 there was a volunteer saying "Only 2 more miles to go!" I was kind of surprised that we were already that far because I was feeling pretty good. As we passed into mile 12 volunteers were yelling "1.1 more miles, you can do it! It's almost all downhill from here!" Even though I was hoping for about a 2:40 - 2:45 finish I was a bit slower but I didn't mind. I was feeling the best during a race than I had in a few weeks. I increased my running intervals again (hadn't really followed a set interval since about 7-8 miles) and crossed the finish at 2:50:20 and I'm good with that since my ultimate goal is to try not to go over 3 hours at any race.

I'm very happy with the finishing medal, it's not the biggest but there's a lot of meaning behind it. The marathoners have a slightly bigger medal and I believe a blue printed ribbon in comparison to the half marathon and relay medal. I've got to say that the food/fluid set up is one of the best I've been at so far with the drinks (water and sports drinks) being nice and cold, bagels, bananas, Dole fruit cups, Carl's Jr. burgers (fresh), chocolate milk, etc. I was full by the time I got through and I hadn't even hit my own normal post race snacks! Unfortunately there was a delay in the timing reporting so I just headed over to gear pick up where I was to meet the husband. When he didn't show I called and he didn't know where I was because the tracking and the results are linked. I told him to just stay at the church (where they were serving free pancakes and sausage) while I walked to the YMCA just a block away to take a shower. Unfortunately, they were closed...and I think they were just administrative offices I'd have to wait and drive back to the base for my shower.

The first marathoner passing me at around mile 9

We made it back to the base right about 11am and I got my shower at the gym...ahhhh! We headed over to the BX for a meal at Popeye's which for me turned out to be larger than normal. Typically I have a 3 piece with 1 side, biscuit and a med drink. Today it was 4 pieces, 2 sides, 1 side and 3 large drinks! After that the trip home began. I started out as the driver but just as with previous trips when I try to drive the day of the race I was tired within an hour of the drive starting so we switched off just outside of OKC...yay for having a 2nd driver!! I must have immediately crashed out because it was about 2 hours later that I woke up and we were not too far from the Gray County rest area in Texas where I chatted briefly with a man who ran the full marathon (yay for people wearing the race t-shirt on the trip home!).

Troy at Cadillac Ranch
As I drove we decided that we'd stop at Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo. Even though we've lived in the region for 20 years we had never made it there. It really was pretty cool. I don't know exactly why, but I always thought that it was built to resemble the formation of Stonehenge, but it doesn''s just a row of 10 end up Caddy's. If you're not familiar with it just click on the link above. After that short stop (about 25 minutes) during which I took pictures of the "monument" and of people/kids spray painting the Cadillacs we were on to finish the slightly longer than 1.5 hour trip home...with a side trip to Sonic. I really need to have a second driver with me on my long trips! ;)

What I liked about this race - I thought it was a really nice course. Excellent support and cheer squads...I saw multiple super heros, multiple canines (the most I've ever seen during a race), and just great energy. Location...only a 5 hour drive from home, yet a great race. Close to a lodging.

You don't see a lot of Irish Wolfhounds around,
 but this one was watching the race with his female human!
What I didn't like about his race - Really...nothing. Other than the results being delayed I thought it was organized great! Well, maybe more port-a-pots at the start? Oh, and the traffic for parking...but hey, it is what it is!

Would I do this race again? Resoundingly, YES!! I'd be sure to make it to the opening ceremony and 168 seconds of silence too!

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