There are probably better ways to mentally prepare on race morning than sitting on the concrete floor of a parking garage for two hours amidst thousands of runners, soaked in cold rain, whipped from the wind, and worried about where your family (aka entire universe) is weathering the threatening tornadoes and hail storm. No cell phone. No jacket. Stomach in the pits.
In fact, I have been putting off writing this post for a few weeks because I have (mostly) nothing but negative and whiny excuses to say about my performance. No one wants to read about that, not even my mom (Hi mom!). But, I think it’s important to be honest even when we’re at our worst–it’s what keeps us human and grounded.
Some 26,000 runners showed up that morning to pay tribute to those whose names are included in the Oklahoma City Memorial. That’s a powerful number of people and I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these runners, no matter the cost or miles traveled (through the night) or stress endured. Lucky for us, as soon as the lightning and thunder were a safe distance away, we were allowed to get back in the corrals and we were definitely going to run. Everything I’ve ever heard about Oklahoma weather is true, because that’s the exact moment the sun came out.
After the euphoria of “they’re not canceling the race!” had faded, it was “Hello heat and humidity!” So it wasn’t long before my splits turned into a soul-crushing, kicking rocks, total mental meltdown kind of run. My Garmin battery died and I didn’t even care. Worst finishing time in years and I still didn’t care. I didn’t know where my family was and how to find them, and I started seriously considering that I might be stuck wandering the streets of OKC by myself–fantasy complete with tumbleweeds–FOREVER. Not even my favorite sign of the marathon “Pain is temporary, Internet results are forever” could spur me to do anything more than simply finish, check off the box for Oklahoma, and give myself permission to move on.
I will say that it was a great course–just the right amount of hills/smooth stretches and incredible crowd support. Gorilla hill… that’s the best motivation and spirit I’ve ever received from a crowd.
At the first aid station I observed one male runner plunge his hand into a bowl of pretzels without slowing. Pretzels flew up and over the side of the bowl in a cartoon-like shower for the volunteer. All I can say is that I’d like to meet that guy. Not because I was impressed with his crap running etiquette, but because I’d like to ask him how on earth he can choke down a snack that turns into the consistency of wet concrete when it hits your mouth. Not to mention, this was the main snack (I did see some tootsie rolls… again, what?!?) at every water station on a hot day. Please, please, please–if you’re a RD or aid station organizer–save the pretzels and candies with wrappers for ultra runners and bring us some gummy bears and Coca-cola.
Incidentally, the real highlight of the trip was having one of my two stepdaughters visit with us the entire weekend. The last time she saw the twins they were just starting to crawl. Now, the twins are able to say her name, chase her around, and give her kisses and hugs. Those are the moments you live for as a parent of a blended family. And, that’s the real finisher’s medal–life itself.