Saturday, May 11, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon

Race Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Race Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This isn't going to be my normal format for a race recap. This race wasn't about me but rather running in the memory of all those who have been victims of terrorism on U.S. soil as well as getting the husband through his first on road half marathon. I ran this race in honor of all veterans, past and present, as I do all my races. However, this time I also ran for those runners who were unable to complete the Boston Marathon due to the tragic bombing that took the lives 4 individuals who were simply doing their job or out enjoying the marathon. I also dedicated the run to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing which occurred just over 18 years ago as well as to the victims of 9/11. Lastly, I dedicated this run to the victims of the Newtown, CT shootings on behalf of the marathon runners who were unable to run mile 26 which had been dedicated by the race officials to the victims of Newtown.

Dedication bib I wore on my back during the race.

This was my second time participating in the OKC Half Marathon. There was definitely a different vibe at this race compared to last year. There were at least 2 helicopters flying above the downtown area before and just after the race began. There were military members in uniform, sniffer dogs, bomb squad personnel with bulletproof vests on and access to the starting line was limited. While the overall buzz of a race still remained there was a certain restraint in the air. Everywhere you saw reminders of the Boston Marathon bombing...from the Runners United to Remember bibs to red socks (a call went out in the 2 weeks prior to the race for participants to wear red socks in honor of the Boston Red Sox who after the bombing in OKC made a similar gesture for OKC) to green shoelaces (something I read about only after the race).

One highlight of the race was the fact that the husband was running his first road race here. This would be his second of three half marathons required for entry into Half Fanatics. I was worried because prior to this he had only hiked the Bataan Memorial Death March short course (14.2 miles) and his longest run was only 6.5 miles. I had taken him on what was supposed to be a 12 mile long run the week before OKC and he quit at 6.5 miles...I really wasn't sure that he'd finish this race, but I was going to do everything I could to make sure he did even if we had to walk the last half. I won't lie, I was a bit exasperated that he didn't train properly or listen to my recommendations for training...but one way or another he was going to finish this race. I was thinking that we'd be lucky to finish the race in under 4 hours...I was in for a pleasant surprise.

We arrived at the Memorial at about 5:20am so that I could meet up with some other Half Fanatics so that we could take a group picture at around 5:45am. We had originally planned to do the photo at the Survivor Tree but there was a sunrise service happening at the time so we decided on doing the pic in front of the Memorial's chairs for the victims of the bombing 18 years prior.

Free expo pic!
My gear for OKC Memorial HM.
This was an amazing picture taken by an unknown
photographer as we waited for the rest of the group.
Photo courtesy of RNrunnerdiva,
a fellow blogger and Half Fanatic (3rd from the left).
Group pic of the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs.
My husband has been fired until he takes a photography class!
RNrunnerdiva/Theresa has the black Nike cap on and
I'm next to her in the Team Red, White & Blue singlet.
After the pic was taken, we all went into our separate directions and corrals. The hubs and I took our place towards the back of the pack and awaited the start of the race. Now, I must admit that I always get teary eyed when the national anthem is played before a race or any event. This time I went into a full on crying fit. It was the first event...probably since 9/11...that I had heard the majority of the participants and spectators sing along with the anthem. I'm not talking just an under the breath sing along, but rather at full voice with pride and reverence. I seriously lost it when this happened. The anthem was followed by  168 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the OKC bombing plus another 3 seconds for those directly killed in the Boston bombing. I swear those seconds lasted forever...

Waiting for the start.

Finally the race started...the wheelchair athletes took off first at 6:25am with the first runners taking off at 6:30am. It took about 20 minutes for us back of the packers to finally cross the starting line. The hubs and I had driven the course the day before so that he would know what he was getting into. It actually was pretty funny because there were at least 2 other cars doing the same thing...hubs made the comment that we should have all just carpooled! The first obstacle in his (and my way) was the first hill/train overpass coming out of Bricktown. Gorilla Hill, which happens about mid-race, is way more tame that this particular hill. The plan for us was to walk up and run down any hills and that is just what we did. The old man was doing okay during the first 5 or 6 miles of the run but at that halfway point he started fading. I made him use one of his Honey Stinger gels as a pick me up and started pushing him more to keep moving and keep doing intervals versus walking more and more. I had, and always seem to, hit my stride after the first 3-4 miles. I was feeling good and it was taking some restraint not to take off ahead of him and wait until he caught up. There were several times that he looked at me like he wanted to kill me for pushing him and other times that he looked like he just wanted to stop...but I kept pushing and made him keep going.

Probably the one thing I was hoping to see on the course was a couple of girls who last year were handing out bacon and Snickers. Unfortunately, they weren't there this year. Down in a couple of the neighborhoods, they had the houses that that were handing out shots of vodka, Jim Bean and other beverages. This year at Gorilla Hill they had an inflatable gorilla as well...something I don't remember from last year. We kept pushing on with me taking off ahead of the hubs every so often to catch a pic of him doing his first road race. It wasn't until about mile 10 that I started having my usual calf cramping and fell behind him catching up with him during his walking breaks. By the time we hit mile 12 I was feeling alright just having to walk of the cramping early on just enough that I could run for short distances. By this time I was thinking how odd it was that I felt that this race was much feeling much shorter than it did last year! I don't know if it was because I was in a different role and running with the hubs or if I have just become used to doing the distance. As we came into the last 500 yards or so of the finish line, the cramping started up harder and I had to do more of a wog (walk/jog) than a full run because the faster I went the harder the cramping occurred. We made it over the finish line together in 3:11:56...much better than the 4 hours that I had anticipated.

My favorite sign of the race.
Hubs at the base of Gorilla Hill...really it's not that bad.
Hubs posing in the International District.

This is one of two races that I'll be doing annually...the other being the Bataan Memorial Death March. Next year my plan is to do the full marathon. At this point I have no idea what the hubs is planning to do. I think it would be safe to say that this is one of my most favorite races that I've done in my short running career.

Until next year, OKC!! Hopefully under better circumstances...

No comments:

Post a Comment