On November 20, 2016 I ran my PR in the marathon. I finished the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma in under 4 hours and 30 minutes, with an official time of 4:29:55. I didn’t set out to get a PR; in fact, I had initially thought I would be lucky to finish injury free since this marathon was just 3 weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon. I wasn’t sure if I had totally recovered from that one. But I had a fantastic day and an amazing race, beating my previous time by 12 minutes. I’m so glad that I decided to do it. And I’m kicking myself for waiting like 2 months to write about it. Today we have a preventative “ice day”, meaning it’s supposed to get icy at some point, so they cancelled school, and I have no excuses for not writing today. Here were the major factors in my success:
- I got to just relax and hang out with my family before the race. We stayed at Adam and Laura’s house and my parents came to Tulsa as well. Since this wasn’t a race I had trained for, there was no pressure. I was really rested.
- I had a start line sherpa. Adam drove me downtown, parked us a block from the start, and waited with me in the cold, holding onto all my stuff while I used the potty and waited for the last wave to start. No hours of shuttle riding, standing in line, or waiting around for the start. (Oh, and he also picked up my packet for me at the expo the Friday before the race.) It was nice to have someone to talk to and soak in the ceremony of it all. Route 66 has 4 start waves, each starting a few minutes apart, and they are kind enough to fire a confetti cannon for each wave, even us in wave D. Last to start, first in my heart!
- Wide open spaces! (Cue the Dixie Chicks song.) Man, it was nice not to run shoulder to shoulder with people for 26 miles. I didn’t want to murder anyone. I didn’t even want to curse at anyone on this course. I don’t think I had an ill thought about anyone that day. In fact, after the 13 mile mark where the half marathoners peeled off, it was super-roomy. Making that right turn to go on the full marathon course instead of continuing straight ahead to finish the half marathon was a really neat experience. Only my first full back in Fargo offered a half option. Making that split was really energizing for me. I switched from podcasts to music at that point because I wanted to fully embrace the badassery of the moment. There were only 1500 finishers in the full marathon and I finished 514th . There were only 684 women who finished, and I finished 165 out of 684. And in my new age group (35-39), I finished 24th out of 111. I am not typically a results gal when it comes to races, but I’m extremely proud of this.
- Adorable spectators. Dan, Adam, Laura, and my parents were kind enough to bundle Evan and Otto up and bring them out to the course. They found me over at the University of Tulsa campus, which is somewhere around mile 20. This was the campus where I attended a conference that time I got T-boned at an intersection and totaled my car. I gave a fist pump to a special parking lot and reminisced about Adam bringing me my personal belongings that had survived the wreck and loading them into the rental car. Good times. So I spent some time reflecting on how far I’ve come since getting smashed up. I remember feeling so battered and bruised up and angry and violated the last time I was on that campus. It was nice to let go of that and instead appreciate my family and my health. Not only did they show up, they also made me awesome signs. Seeing them was a great boost and it does make the home stretch a bit easier knowing there will be people who love you at the finish line.
- Motigo messages. My family and friends came through once again and I had over 90 voice messages to listen to along the way. It still floors me that people would take that much time to encourage me. My wonderful co-worker Leslie took her phone around the school and had teachers and students leave me cheers for this race. It was unbelievably nice, and pleasantly distracting. I forgot how hilly Tulsa was, having run the half marathon as my first post-baby race back in 2012. The Motigo cheers helped push me over some of the tough spots.
- It actually felt like a fall marathon. Cooler temperatures probably deserves the number one spot on this list as far as why this race went well for me. Finishing with temps in the 50’s instead of the 80’s makes a huge difference when you’re running for over 4 hours. It was so chilly at the start, in fact, that I had to borrow an old, throw away sweatshirt from Adam and was digging in my car for some gloves. People were not walking and fading and looking like death as we got close to the finish the way they were in Washington, D.C. I ran past a guy around mile 23 who was wearing his ridiculous olive green Marine Corps Marathon 2016 mock turtleneck, and we bonded over doing these suckers back to back. We talked about the weather, the difference in the races, and then I left him in my dust.
- Girl Power! This race was post-election, and my other marathon was pre-election. I’m not going to get into all that. I think maybe I wanted to prove something about Nasty Women and what we can do. I was sad, angry, scared, and still am to some extent. I knew my niece would get to see me finish, and even though she’s probably too young to remember this, at least there will be photographic evidence of the experience. I am strong. I can do difficult things. Maybe 2016 will be remembered the year I ran two marathons instead of the year the country elected an angry megalomaniac covered in Cheeto dust.
Overall it was a really well-run event with plenty of fluids and fuel on the course and just the right amount of spectators. Neighborhoods tried to make it a bit of a block party event, complete with plenty of unofficial aid stations offering everything from bacon and Jolly Ranchers to donuts and beer. Plus there was a spot that passed out thousands of Jell-O shots and one house where a very insistent man smoking a cigar draped me in a Hawaiian lei. Very festive, indeed. The quarter zip jacket I got with my registration fee is probably my new favorite race shirt.
I’m not sure what will be on the 2017 race calendar. I know I want to do the Brew to Brew relay run from Kansas City to Lawrence in April, so I’ll need to figure out the logistics of getting a team together for that. I might finally do Hospital Hill, though just thinking about that June run makes me feel sweaty and miserable. I’ve also decided I’m going to go to Boston to be a spectator at the marathon this year. Woo hoo!