Monday, April 29, 2013

Oklahoma City Marathon - Race Report

After 16 years away from it, I am a marathoner again! Yesterday, my daughter and I completed the OKC Memorial Marathon. If you've been following my blog you know that my daughter hates to run but as our training progressed her attitude changed a bit. Our original goal of just finishing turned into an attempt to break 5 hours. 

We got to the race very early thanks to my friend Cara Nance who works the finish line every year and gets VIP parking and she kindly offers a ride. Jim planned to take our car and park it somewhere along the course and then ride his bike along for support. The weather for this race was finally clear and sunny after two years of rain and even hail! I remembered sunscreen for my face thank goodness which helped but my arms and legs took a beating.

My good friend, 3rd son, and former boss/coach buddy, Eric London decided to have fun and join us for part of the race as he was doing the half and not in his prime racing shape. I'm so glad he sacrificed a fast half to have fun with us! He was always inspiring and pushing us for those first 7 miles before he turned off. Chanel Henry, Roxy's cousin had never run 6 miles without stopping so he was very encouraging to her when she told him!

After some pre-race pics at the Landrunner tent we decided it was time to head to our corral. We were going to line up with fellow Landrunner Marlon's 4:45 pace group but could not find him so just got in front of the 5 hour group at 6am. A little later we did see him bringing his group into the corral but decided we'd just stay in between groups. That was the last time we saw them!

The Memorial marathon has a poignant moment before the start where we observe 168 minutes of silence for those lost in the bombing. 168 seconds is a long time for thousands of runners to remain quiet which makes it so powerful. At the end, we added another 3 seconds for the 3 lives lost at the Boston marathon. OKC was also wearing" Red Socks" to honor Boston and it was cool to see so many on the course. Local tv meteorologist and runner/triathlete Emily Sutton of News Channel 4 then did a great job singing the National Anthem!

The gun went off and it took us 13 minutes to get to the start, it was crazy! I had never started so far back before but didn't mind one bit! We had to keep reminding ourselves to SLOW down and go out easy. By about mile 3 I was already feeling some weird twinges in my calves that I did not like but just figured it was due to standing in the corral for 30 minutes and eventually it would all work out. Looking back, I realize that Roxanne and I were not properly hydrated and probably even undernourished. We ate a light breakfast as usual about 5am and brought Shot Blocks to eat a few minutes before gun but I forgot them in my bag so did not have them at the start.  We were also just standing there and maybe should have taken some more sips or walk around but just did not. I did take one (and more during race) Endurolyte but Rox did not. Anyway, I did not mention my calves to anyone, this race was all about Rox and I was not going to spoil anything for her.

Everything was going fine, Rox had some friends at mile 5 and we were all smiles then, even going up the famous Gorilla Hill between miles 6-7 was a piece of cake and we did not walk at all. At our friend Adi and Matt's house at mile 6, we took a quick bathroom break, but Chanel kept going. We enjoyed seeing the signs Matt always places in his yard every Memorial and this year there was even one of Rox! She had dressed as Mikala Maroney, the gymnast with the sour face for Halloween and Matt used it for a poster, it was GREAT! Rox posed next to it for another photo op! I enjoyed a small beer with London and he took a JELLO SHOT and then we said goodbye to him when the half marathoners peel off at 6.5. We were on our own. We caught Chanel a short time later and around mile 9, Rox started having some weird feelings very low in her ankles. I was concerned these were the start of some cramps so I really started trying to push the Powerade and Endurolytes. Unfortunately, Rox was getting very bloated and literally is not a "burper" so she was having trouble getting down the liquids, Gus, bananas and certainly not pretzels which I was grabbing at every stop at this point as my twinges were there but not too bad. I was running enough below my ability I think, that I was able to keep them at bay. What's so ironic about this is that we were both concerned our knees would give us trouble. Roxanne's had really been bothering her and I spent a lot of money on compression sleeves, I was wearing a patella strap and I had my friend Rocky Chen tape my left knee with Kinesio tape at the Expo. I love that stuff! My knees felt better than ever during this race! Roxanne's knees were a slight issue but not really.

We carried on toward the halfway point and to Lake Hefner. We had gotten about 5 minutes ahead of Chanel at this point, maybe more. Her friend Lori, was meeting her at the lake to run the rest of the race with her so we felt okay about leaving her behind if that happened. Halfway down the lake Roxanne's cramps started moving up her calves and quads and she was really freaking out. She thought maybe the sleeves were making them tight so she pulled them down around her ankles; that was a good look! She decided if her knees started hurting she would pull them up again! I stopped to pee again (well hydrated?)Rox tried too but said there wasn't much. We continued to walk/jog at this point and Chanel and Lori caught us, Chanel was looking strong at this point even though her ankles were starting to hurt. At this point I told Rox we needed to conserve as much energy as possible and push the Powerade, etc. We would walk the Grand Bridge and any other challenging parts of the course. Jim's parents live at mile 18 and by now I was feeling fantastic so I picked up to a 9:20 or so pace and went ahead to warn them that Rox probably would not stop as she was upset and HURTING! I posed for pics with them, my son Jared and his girlfriend Angela were there and Jim on his bike, we chatted a bit,  but Rox went on, Chanel did not stop either and was again closing on Rox and it was cat and mouse for them on Grand. At this point Rox was getting upset that Chanel would beat her. Not that it mattered, but Rox was better trained and nobody likes to lose even if it to a cousin you love! I told Rox she would have to dig deep and we needed to open up a gap which we did but not much. We got to 20 miles and the Red Coyote Bagels and Beer stop, where I was so looking forward to a beer but they had run out! I guess I will just have to run faster next year if I want a beer! Rox kept plugging on, walk/jogging any time I stopped, I had another Pee stop but Rox kept going and I would just catch her. As I said I was feeling really good and this has me so encouraged about future marathons which I thought I had to give up! On Classen, the cramps really got a lot worse in her legs, literally stopping her and she began to cry. I told her we must get to a medical tent so at mile 22 we stopped. They gave us both a quick rub down with Cramp Relief. Rox is a skeptic and said "does this crap really work?" I gave a quick look and a wink to the trainer and we both said "of course it does"! Chanel passed us at this point but we had her in our sights. She was running a slower pace than us and I told Rox that but we had to catch her and not cramp. We finally caught her at mile 24 and by now Chanel was also crying. It was very moving to see them both so emotional at this point and they both agreed to stay together to the end no matter what!

By now I was feeling it too and was afraid I would cramp so I was glad for the easy pace and relaxed mood, we were all just so happy to be so close. At mile 25 we passed a great group of young men with a beer stop and Chanel and I had a full beer - it was awesome!! A little while later, we saw Gus, Roxanne's boyfriend who gave her a quick kiss for luck and walked with us for a bit before we turned onto Broadway for the finish. I was ready to run again but the girls were not so we waited until a couple hundreds yards out to start running toward that line!

I had really worked to keep my emotions in check the entire race knowing that if I gave in to them, I may not finish the race but my mother had been on my mind the entire time. She would have given anything to see Roxanne do this and been so proud. I began to cry just yards from the finish, my friend Cara was there with a camera and snapped a shot. That picture says it all. 

We are marathoners and we finished the fight.

Before the race, crack of dawn!

Awesome spectator complete with martini and cigar!

A beer and a jello shot - yes, we are crazy!!

Chucks "official water stop" at Matt and Adi's

Goodbye London! Thanks for running with us!

Drums at Stars & Stripes!

Oh no, it's starting to hurt!!

Lori, Chanel & Rox- how far????

Thankfully, our security could relax as the race went off without  incident!

BEER at Mile 25! This young man said "want me to stick my butt out all sexy?" "Heck yea" we said! 

Tastes so good!

American flag skirts and Boston tops!

Power walking but we will finish this!

Rox saying "Talk to the hand", when Gus joked how he finished so LONG ago! He ran the half but waited around to cheer her on!

Roxanne's sharpie made Boston Red Socks, bled just a bit!

Showing off finisher medals with fellow Landrunner and 4 hour Pace leader Mary Mikleson.

Marlon, who led this group and we had hoped to run with!

Signs and balloons in our yard put out by Roxanne's friend Megan.

Prettiest finisher medal yet!

This picture epitomizes the finish of a marathon.


  1. Jen - that's beautiful! I was humbled by this race and it was certainly a learning experience. Once I yielded to my competitive spirit and realized sub four wasn't going to happen, it was liberating and extremely moving to see so many good willed people - spectators, volunteers, other runners. Thank you for sharing x Ruthie

  2. So proud that you and Rox got to do this together. Proud that she stuck it out and that you were able to help pull her along. Congrats on your marathons, ladies! Thanks for sharing your experience!!