The marathon is over and I have survived. Survive may be the key word for the day. The morning started off nice and early before the Sun rose into the sky. I met up the Brenda and Melissa shortly before the race began. Brenda would be running the 1/2 marathon and Melissa would be running her first marathon. This would be my 4th marathon. The gun sounded and here’s a few videos of the start.
The course this year was quite different compared to last year. Many of those dreaded hills at the tail end of the run last year would be addressed early in the race this year. Many people mentioned that the course would not be near as hilly. I do somewhat agree with not as many hills but I have a realization that my normal training route around Norman does not challenge me with a plethora of landforms. This will have to be something for me to work on. Perhaps find different routes that allow me to practice going up and down hills.
I started off running the first 4 miles with Melissa as we wound through downtown Tulsa. Finally, I waved goodbye and sped off to go finish my marathon PR (sarcasm). It was around mile 15. Reality hit me right between the eyes or actually on the right side of my neck. The 4:15 pace group passed me and then I see Willie http://www.seewillierun.blogspot.com . It’s a pretty big deal for Willie to pass me because I had no business whatsoever being ahead of him. He’s a faster runner. Which means? I was going too fast. I had failed to run a smart first half of the race. I had not kept within my limits.
Right at mile 15, just as the pace group and Willie were leaving me in my dust, my right side of my neck began to cramp, badly. This is not an uncommon experience for me. It signals that I am too dehydrated and lost too much salt. So, I bolted into the next water station. I began chugging any gatorade cup in sight. As I was leaving I felt my forehead and I could feel a thick layer of salt covering my entire frontal lobe. Even scarier, I had stopped sweating.
I continued logging miles but going through periods of pain. Most of the last half of the race, I could not look down or to the side without running the risk of another horrible cramp. To top it off, I started cramping around my stomach area. This was the first time that I did not know if I would finish the marathon. Really was hurting that bad.
My solution was stop at every medic tent and eat Pretzels, Gu, Jellybeans, and Gatorade. I even ran with a 32 oz. gatorade bottle part of the way. As I ran through mile 23, I had to start picking objects down the road and force myself to run to that spot and then repeat as necessary. I was attempting to run the last 11 miles under severe cramping conditions.
Finally, I turned the corner and mile 26. Only had .2 miles left. I had no speed left and my neck cramp was still acting up. Even still, I got choked up as I saw the finish line. This was not the hardest marathon course that I have run but this was the first time that I had to overcome such physical ailments. I had never been so close the brink. My moxy was tested to the “nth” degree and I made it. My time was way off but I didn’t care. I had survived. I had beaten the course! I have plenty of running memories but this one ranks way up there. At this moment of writing, I am more proud of this slow marathon time than any of the other three marathons.
Brenda had a great 1/2 marathon run. Melissa wasn’t too far behind me. She made it. Her first marathon. She battled the same elements as I and survived. I am super proud of both friends/runners. I am truly blessed.
I have asked them to document their Route 66 experience and will post that on the blog really soon. I will also post more pictures and videos as they become available. For now, I leave you with a random Asian Santa Pic below.