Monday, April 28, 2014

"A Run to Remember" Oklahoma Memorial Marathon 2014

Marathon #8, Total time, 4:40:48 

Why another marathon?
In early December 2013 my plans were to pace my 4:10 marathon group through the DRC Spring Training, maybe run a half or two and at the most, and if I was needed, pace the Big D Marathon, which at the time I thought would be the target race of the club.  I didn't plan on running more than one or two full marathons in 2014.  My how things change.  After the Dallas Marathon cancelled, that caused most of the DFW running community to set sight on the Cowtown Marathon.  I had done Cowtown in 2013, and thought of only running the half marathon, then upgraded to the full marathon, but found myself clicking on the "ultra" button when I registered.  I then volunteered to pace a slot in the Big D Full Marathon which was in late April. The OKC Marathon was a thought, but I wasn't terribly interested until after I finished Cowtown and noticed that if I ran OKC that it would fall within a 90 day period.  Really?  This would probably be my one and only opportunity to qualify for Marathon Maniacs.  I really don't see myself running this many full marathons within that span of time within the near future.  But I have said never about a lot of things that I'm finding myself doing. After training for and running Cowtown, I was already in marathon shape, all I had to do was maintain.  I can't say that I worked all that hard on staying maintained, but I made it through uninjured, so that was a win.

Extreme Weather?
Very conveniently, our training director Vish had hookups for hotel and transportation to the event, so this made it very easy.  I had no really huge goal for this race.  My personal record is STILL 4:13:15 which is my first marathon.  Going in I had heard either horror stories from people who had run the race (usually speaking of the weather) or that it was one of the best race experiences ever from others.  There was no "oh it was alright" from anyone.  Either yea or nay.  I was a little worried about the weather, as I know weather is dicey in OK in mid spring.  I know they say everything is bigger in Texas, but I think they've got us on that weather-wise.
DRC Party Bus
 A week out I started following the weather forecast, and one part was always consistent and would never change, warm, humid, windy.  At one point it was reported that there would be a widespread outbreak of tornadoes throughout the whole region stretching from San Antonio to Kansas.  My OKC friend and Marathon Maniac Jen whom I met through dailymile messaged me and assured me that the weather wouldn't be as severe as hyped and that everything would be great.

Road Trip via the DRC 'Party Bus'
The angels who saved our race
Packet pickup/carb load dinner in Norman, OK
Saturday morning before the race the DRC crew who had chosen to take the chartered bus to OKC met up at the clubhouse to be transported.  Due to complications of the bus company, the bus showed up late and we left 3 1/2 hours later than scheduled.  Luckly, we had DRC members who were already in OKC and they picked up all 30 packets before the race expo closed.  That was a bummer, because I was really looking forward to wandering around Bricktown (the equivalent to the West End here in Dallas) and checking out the Memorial Museum and even maybe running into Jen.  Oh well, maybe next time.  We ended up stopping in Norman to carb load around 7:30 pm because most every restaurant in OKC had already been booked up.  Thanks again to the same angels who picked up our packets, they also set up the reservation in Norman for Carino's Italian restaurant and brought the packets with them.  We finally got to our hotel around 10pm-ish and there was little time to do anything but unpack race items and do inventory check then get to sleep.  

Race Morning
I slept like a baby, and I didn't really think about it until my hotel roommate Mark asked me if I still get pre-race jitters, he seemed to notice that I slept well.  Marathon number 8, I guess I'm done with the jitters, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  No time for breakfast, forgot to buy my traditional pre-race meal (a Snicker's bar), but I had eaten so much the day before and the carb up meal happened so late into the evening, I figured I would be OK.  I had plenty of race time fuel.  I made sure to bring plenty Endurolyte pills, which have saved me from severe leg cramps ever since Cowtown.  When I checked the weather radar at 5am, there was no precip to be found except in the far southwest corner of the state.  On the trip from the hotel from start line, frunner Jorge showed me an updated radar with two lines of storms headed our way.  Oh boy.
Scary looking cumulonimbus
So we made it down to the start line, dropped off our drop bags at the bag drop and waited for the start.  Glancing at the sky, I really thought it was no biggie.  Especially since just three weeks earlier, I paced the Big D Marathon with thunder and lightning at the start.  I guess it was no concern to that event crew as they counted down to the start with lightning strikes coming down everywhere.  This crew had a little more concern for safety and made the wise decision to delay the start from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.  Storms intensified and that got bumped to 7:30 a.m.  Then to 8:00 a.m.  My crew was familiar with that as we had already went through some bumping of time the day before with our chartered bus scheduled to leave Dallas at 11:00 am which changed to 12:30, to 1:00 and was bumped several more times.  We were all patient.  
Patiently waiting for the delays to end.
 No complaining.  That's what runners don't do.
As we were all taking shelter from the pelting rain and lightning in parking garages near the start line, the race crew had to make the decision to either have the race go on at 8 or cancel it altogether.  Thankfully the rain and lightning subsided right around 8 and by the time everyone lined up and the national anthem was sung, it was right about 8:30.

Miles 1 through 13
I started the race with a mild headache, was not sure where it came from as I don't really get that many headaches.  I figured as I ran it would fade away.  I was concerned that I was standing around all morning waiting on the start and that my legs would tire out faster.  I lined up in my assigned corral, but waited right before the start line for the 4:15 pace group to appoach.  My plan was to run with them for about 80 percent of the run, then if I was feeling pretty good, take off from there to get my P.R.  Well... as we started, it was feeling just like Dallas Marathon 2012.  So humid that you would have to take a shower to dry off.  I knew I would have to hydrate like hell.  My two pacers, I forget the name of one, but I know the others' name was Pascal I believe, had a plan and for the first few miles were pretty much on point with their splits.  They had a little bit of time in the bank, maybe 30-40 seconds.  They were very entertaining, had good jokes.  Always a good thing to have when you pace a group.  I was told by a few that the course was hilly, and by some that it was not that hilly.  My take on marathons is that every one of them are hilly to some extent.  I haven't found a flat one yet.  The hills in the beginning were gradual, some long but nothing that I haven't handled before.
 They surely weren't Tulsa hills.  Right off the bat I noticed the overwhelming support of the community.  This course was not short of waterstops.  They may have even had too many, well no not really.  You can never have too much hydration stops.  There was no excuse for anyone being dehydrated.  The only thing that bugged me was the congestion from the half marathoner's course being concurrent with the full marathoner's course for the first 7.5 miles.  I was constantly running around folks trying to keep with the pacers.  As a matter of fact I was amazed on how few people signed up for the full marathon.  Earlier, when me and frunner/Marathon Maniac Jessica were waiting to drop our drop bags off, one of the volunteers shouted that the line for the full marathoners was where we were standing.  Everyone standing in the line Jessica and I were in left the line as they discovered the were in the wrong one.  I had to wonder if the full marathon was as bad as some say it would be.

Miles 14 through 20
At this point I knew that if I got my P.R. it would be close.  I wasn't feeling like myself, I knew it was the weather.  I had to work to hard to get to mile 14 and running at a 9:35 min/mile pace, that was usually my confy pace.  I probably should have dropped it even a little slower than that and built up to the 9:35 later.  I wasn't terribly concerned, I knew I had just paced a 4:15 full marathon with no issues at all, but the weather was much more favorable.  I decided to re-assess at around mile 18 and then make a decision from there to pick it up, or just stay with the pacers.  Well, that would change.  Lost pacer number one around mile 15.  Pacer number two kept with the rhythm, looked strong to that point.  Pacer number one eventually caught back up with us at the part of the course which contoured Lake Hefner, which is about the size of half of White Rock Lake, but has twice the wind blowing across it.  The wind was so strong that it broke the pacers' pace stick.  Somewhere around mile 19 we lost pacer number two.  I kept my my Garmin at 9:35 and doing so pulled away from the cluster which was now running with pacer one, so obviously the pace slowed down.  I was feeling so-so.  Endurolytes were working just fine, no cramping, no hint of cramping. However my stomach was giving me issues.  I wasn't sure if it was from all the extra Powerade I was drinking or if it was the GU packets.  I'm thinking it was the Powerade as GU has never given me issues. 

Miles 20 to finish
Somewhere around mile 21, my right calf started hurting like hell and hindering me.  It didn't cramp but felt like it had hit a wall.  Everything else on my body was doing just fine.  As a matter of fact as I am typing this blog the next day, it is the only part of my body which is sore.  I did notice the crowd support getting stronger.  I loved the wet sponges, wet towels, people standing in their front yards spraying runners with hoses.  I was way out ahead of the 4:15 pace group, not because I was running faster, but because they had fallen way off.  Then came Classen Blvd. Damn you Classen Blvd!  Every hill up to this point was not steep, they were just long.  There was some downgrades and one long downgrade somewhere past mile 20.  However... there was one hill on Classen that I swear had to be at least a mile or two long.  It would not stop.  That was the killer.  The good thing is that there was probably 2-3 waterstops on that hill.  That pretty much did me in, slowed my pace and killed any thoughts of getting a PR.  But I really wasn't there for that, I was there to qualify for Marathon Maniacs.  That I would not be denied unless a twister dropped out of the sky and threw me back to the start line.  Slim chance of that happening as the sky was clear with a beaming sun above.  I chose to have as much fun with the crowd for the last couple miles and for everyone who told me "You are almost there" I would reply back "No I'm not, but thanks!"  Finally I got to the last corner, and believe me about 5 people told me that when I turn the corner, that I would see the finish line.  They were correct, but it looked as if it were still a mile away.  I had to put my glasses on to see it.  So I did something that I meant to do at Cowtown but forgot.  I pulled out my phone and videoed the last 100 or so feet of my run to the finish line.  Marathon number 8 in there, Marathon Maniac accomplished.

Would I do this race again?
Missions accomplised, back on the bus home to Dallas.
You know what, yes indeed.  A lot of the races I have done which have kicked my ass, I have made it in my mind to go back and run them again and do better.  Sigh, yes you too Tulsa Route 66.  Maybe not immediately, but at some point I will return to OKC and tackle those again with a different race strategy and I know that the weather could possibly be exactly the same for both.  Hopefully the next time I can visit a little bit more of the city too.  The experience was good enough to bring me back.  Overall it was a fun weekend with good buddies.  Road race trips rock.

Video Finish


  1. Great recap, Clay! I have heard great things about the OKC marathon, debating whether I want to do it next year. The weather is what keeps scaring me off!

    1. Yeah you have to go up there knowing that the weather is going to be jacked up LOL! Love the people of OKC though