Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Race Recap: 13th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (Half)

This was a last minute decision for me to sign up for this Half.  It became the final piece of the my quest to reach Half Fanatic Status.  I talked my husband into coming along with me on a family trip and promised we would take the Little's to the Zoo after.  It was also a big deal, because this would be the first time either of them had seen the Oklahoma City Memorial.  Our seven year old son was aware of what happened but my daughter really had no idea.  It's an important part of Oklahoma history.  It's a testament not only to the devastation that happened there, but it's a testament of hope.  A reminder of grace and resilience.  It's somber and sad and beautiful and awe inspiring all at the same time.

Then the Boston Marathon bombing happened almost two weeks from the day of the race.  I became even more determined that this was a race I needed to run, it became less about my goal and more about the true meaning behind the run, it is and was a "Race to Remember".  Runners from Boston who were not able to complete the marathon were invited out to complete the race free of charge.  Runners attending were encouraged to wear red socks in honor of Boston and green laces in remembrance of the Oklahoma City Bombing victims. 

A couple of things stood out to me the 168 seconds of silence (one second for each of the Oklahoma City Victims) was morphed into 171 seconds adding the three from Boston.  The fact that there are no bib numbers prior to 169.  The first 168 are set up on a wall in remembrance of the victims complete with their names on them.  Add on to that the Boston runners who were at the front of the pack plus the firefighters who went through the race in their complete gear. 

It was just an amazing event to behold from an emotional and personal standpoint.  I don't know that I could actually put in words how extraordinary it was to be at this event. 

As far as the personal recap aspect of it.  I ran with four of my running friends.  We met in Oklahoma City the night before to have dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse and then went back to the hotel for sleep.  We left around 515a for the 630a start. 

I was slightly worried about the IT band/knee issue as the week prior had been a particularly bad week.  But I stuck with it.  I really did not expect to be able to hang with my friends the whole time.  Which would have been fine as I usually run by myself at some point in time.  But we mostly stuck together.  At one point we did get separated but we stayed two by two.  I found out I was grateful to have the company.  I was also impressed by the IT Band that could.  Every time I thought I was going to have to start walking, it got better.  I also totally believe had I been left to my own devices I probably would not have pushed through it as I did.   

I went into hoping for minimum hills and there were several, including one named Gorilla.  You can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard that was coming up.  Oddly enough I conquered the hills  (or at least trudged through them).  The course in spots was crowded.  I got splashed with mud and got pushed from behind in one tighter spot.  But aside from that no major grumps.

I hit my stride around miles 6 to 9 this time and then kind of dwindled down but picked it back up there at the end.  When all was said and doing my friend and I crossed at 2:22:19 which is a little over three minutes faster than my 2nd Half (the Aquarium Run) and a good eighteen and half minutes over my Princess Half time. This was encouraging to me because even though I definitely wasn't a 100% I did better than I had anticipated.  My serious goal for this was to finish,  ideally I just wanted to at least finish at the same time as the Aquarium Run.  So I was quite pleased.

We found our two friends, got a group finisher picture together and made our way through the crowds to find my family by the memorial.

I said good-bye to my friends and walked through the Memorial with my family.  I had heard that runners had been known to put their medals around the chairs that signify the people whose lives were lost during the bombing but to see them hanging there was an entirely different thing.  The Field of Empty Chairs took on a whole new meaning.  The family of one of the victim's run in remembrance of their father.  To see his chair with their medals and bibs just leveled me but it also reminded me that while this race is about remembrance, it's also about the hope that is prevalent.  Even when things look bleak, look devastating, hope is right around the corner.

 The Oklahoma City Memorial Half may have been the end to a short term goal.  But it now will hold a special place in my heart.  This is a race that I will come back to year after year.  A race that I will continue to share with my family.  It truly is a race to remember.