Monday, May 2, 2011
2011 OKC Memorial Marathon
(Picture: Waiting for the start, wearing our brown trash bags)
Marathons tend to be hard enough without driving rain, hail, gusty winds, lightning, and 30-degree temperatures. The 2011 OKC Memorial Marathon was quite the experience...
Picked Marty up at his house, and then we picked up Sam in Denton on the way. Stopped for lunch/breakfast in Ardmore -- I ate the lunch I had brought myself (I refused to change my routine), which kind of freaked out the little girl who waited on us. We got to OKC around 1:30 and went straight to the expo to pick up our packets. The expo was pretty boring, so we didn't spend too much time there and just went to the hotel. It was a beautiful, sunny cool day, and there was an art festival right by packet pickup, so the downtown area was bustling. We decided on rest rather than walking the art festival.
Veronica and Brian were running late, so we just checked in at the hotel and rested. Sam and I shared a room. The bathroom doors were multi-paned French doors, and the toilet was right there -- what the h?
Lied in bed and caught multiple episodes of some super-couponer show -- people who fill their garages and bedrooms with huge amounts of stuff (regardless of whether it will expire or not, or whether they will ever use it or not) because they can get it for free with coupons. One woman said her closet with 200+ bottles of her daughter-in-law's favorite soda made her happy, another women her 3-year supply of toilet paper, a man his 100+ bottles of hand soap. Made me sad, and a little angry. This world wasn't meant for everyone to stock what they don't need and can never use.
Went to dinner -- reservations at 6. Brian and the GPS took us on a long loop around the city until we finally found the Olive Garden. I told him I swore I could see our hotel from the restaurant. It was a beautiful prom night in OKC, and the lines at Olive Garden were out the door and down the sidewalk. It's always nice to be with someone from the corporate HQ (Veronica) because we walked right past them all and into our private nook at the restaurant, had two waiters assigned to our long table, and were warmly greeted by multiple other people and management staff from the restaurant. Veronica and Brian paid for all our dinners. Bill from our training group gave Veronica and I a nice card with a $50 gift card in it -- what a nice guy! Ate dinner with Veronica, Brian, Sam, Marty, Courtney, Alan, Jaulik and husband, Bill and his wife and Courtney's parents. Ate my standard pre-race cheese pizza.
Brian took us back to the hotel, and he and Veronica and I headed over to Walmart. They needed some things, and I wanted a carry bottle of Gatorade to get me through the first few water stops of the race when it is always so crowded. I told Veronica that I couldn't believe that Bill gave us each a $100 gift card; she looked kind of confused and said he had only given her $50. I laughed. When we got back to the hotel, Sam was already snuggled in bed, so before very long it was lights out.
I didn't sleep a wink. I kept checking my alarm clock all night so as not to oversleep. I finally got out of bed at 3:30. The race started at 6:30, so we were meeting in the lobby at 5:15 to drive over. Sam had said not to let him sleep past 4:30. So, I got up and made some coffee, ate a Clif bar, and showered. I swear when the light came on in the bathroom, the whole room lit up with those dad-gum French doors. I'm surprised Sam was able to sleep. We all met in the lobby at 5:15 but kept going back and forth to our rooms because we'd forgotten stuff. As we finally started out the door to the car, it started to sprinkle. Back to the rooms for brown plastic trash bags (for wearing.)
Brian drove us all downtown in Veronica's car, we parked and made our way towards the starting line. We were still early, so we snuck into a really nice old hotel to sit in the lobby and use their restooms. We found a spot to sit, looked out the window, and the deluge began. Lots of lightning. Soon, word came that the race start had been delayed 30 minutes until 7. The rain never let up, but the lightning stopped, so people started making their way towards the starting line about 6:45.
We waited on Veronica for one last restroom stop, the lines were long, and we didn't actually head to the starting line until about 6:55 -- race start at 7, and we were at least 4 blocks away. Marty and Sam had left earlier (we didn't see them again.) So, we hustled over in the driving rain and wind. We weren't sure where we were going, but looked over and could see people running, so we made a left and headed that way. Before we knew it, we were in a huge crowd of 5Kers who were standing and waiting for their race to start -- about 20 minutes after the marathon start. They didn't want to let us squeeze through -- at one point I thought we'd never get through, but we finally did, assuring them we were marathoners and needed to get going. I had forgotten to start my Garmin in all the confusion, so I turned it on, and it finally found a satellite about a minute past the starting line. We were on our way. Heavy driving rain with lots of wind, and super-chilly temps. It wasn't too far before we ran through our first puddles deep enough to completely soak our shoes and feet.
Veronica and I ran together the whole 26.2 miles. We picked up Jaulik (who ran with our group in the spring) at about the half-way point, and she ran with us the rest of the way also. Sam was doing the half-marathon and passed us at about mile 7 -- he and Marty had actually started behind us since we had squeezed our way through the 5Kers to the front of the line. We never saw Bill or Courtney or Alan or Robert. We tried to stay on pace as best as we could -- at every mile marker I gave a report of how many minutes we were off on our 4:30 goal, and gave assurance that we could possibly make up some time at the end (we were using a "modified warm-up" pace band where you start and finish slower.) I tossed my Gatorate bottle at the halfway point, I had only taken a few sips, and was tired of carrying it. The rain stopped for about 3 miles from miles 13-15. I actually took off the soaked $2 sweatshirt I had picked up for Veronica and I at Academy (months ago for the Austin marathon, which was hot, so didn't need them), but I tied it around my waist just in case I might need it later. Veronica never took hers off -- she was frozen the whole way.
At mile 15 it clouded up, and the rain started again. This time it was heavier, windier, colder, and at two different points contained hail. Lots of lightning. I put my wet sweatshirt back on. We kept moving forward -- it was so cold and windy, there was no stopping, we had to keep moving to stay warm and keep the hypothermia away. Veronica was fighting like a champ to keep going. At mile 22, I looked over and made eye contact with her, and the tears were flowing, so I decided I couldn't make eye contact any more, or we'd never finish. So, we just kept going. We did finish -- Veronica, Jaulik and I side-by-side! Ran the entire way! 4:46:50 was our finish time, which was respectable given the circumstances.
Near the end, Veronica said she was so cold that she felt like she was going to pass out when we stopped at the finish line. She was not looking well. We finished together, stood for a moment as they draped our medals around our neck, and headed down the chute. Almost right away was the medical tent -- we snuck in the back door. There was a blowing heater in there! We stood for a few minutes trying to get warm, and then someone stood up from one of the chairs, so Veronica was able to sit down. Finally, I thought I was warmer, and I said I was going to go find Brian and bring him back. Don't move from right here, I said. I walked outside in the driving cold rain, walked further down the chute and didn't see anyone I knew, and began to get bone-chilled again, so I headed back to the tent. Veronica was huddled in the corner, shaking all over. She said she was not getting warmed up and was going to need some medical help.
I went over and flagged someone down and said we needed some help, so they cleared a table, and I walked Veronica over to the table, and they laid her down, took off her shoes and socks, made a tent so she could discreetly change into one of their medic dry shirts, and then they wrapped her up like a mummy in a couple of blankets. Her vitals signs were good; she was just super-chilled. She started to come back around before too long and kept telling me to go back over where the heater was because I was shivering, too, and to look for Brian. I'd walk to the edge of the tent, look out at the driving rain, and thought there is no way I was going back out there again. I prayed for Brian to walk in, instead. Every few minutes I'd go back and check on her and let her know I hadn't found Brian, yet. I wasn't for sure how to get to the car from where we were (Veronica had the key!), where anybody else was, or how in the world we were going to get out of this place. The rain kept pounding.
Finally, I overheard someone mention something about somebody shuttling people to their cars -- 5 at a time in a mini-van. I commandeered a ride for us on the first one, and we shuffled out into the rain and into the warm mini-van. By the time we finally got to the car, we were starting to thaw a little and cheer up a bit. But, we got in Veronica's car and started it up, and it was freezing in there, so we started to shiver and shake again. She started dialing people to see where they were. Next thing we knew, Marty was walking up to the car. He had been in the building across the street and saw us. Sam and Brian were at the Starbucks up the street -- they said stay right there, and they'd come to us.
In all the excitement, we had given up on getting a finisher's shirt, but once we were all in the car, Sam said if we'd drive over near the finish line, he'd jump out and go get our shirts, so we did, and Sam got our shirts. We finally got back to the hotel around 2, and got chilled again getting from the parking lot into the hotel. After I took a hot shower, made a cup of coffee, and put on all the layers of clean dry clothes I had left, I finally started to warm up.
On our way back home, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for a hot lunch, which took forever, got a little chilled again, and then headed for home. There was lots of construction on I35 coming home, at one point, coming to a complete stop, and the rain and storms were wild from before Ardmore all the way to Denton, but we finally made it back to Sam's truck in Denton to drop him off, to Marty's near White Rock Lake to drop him off, and home by 7:45. During the trip home, I finally had to tone down the heat in the car -- we finally got thawed out.
Takeaways from this year's OKC. Next year, pay a little more to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the starting line. Go to Walmart and stock up on 88 cent clear plastic parkas with hoodies (that you can probably wear the entire race and the photographers can see your number through it -- with our sweatshirts covering our numbers, our pictures of the experience will be buried in the lost and found pictures.) Figure out something besides Clif bars and Clif Shot Bloks to eat during the races -- all that sweet starts to get nauseating afterwhile -- I'm thinking maybe those peanut butter-filled pretzels. Will have to try some training runs with those.
OKC was quite the experience, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Can't wait for the next marathon.
Next Up: Nov. 19 Wild Hare 50-Mile Endurance Trail Run
50 while I'm still 50 -- turn 51 on Nov. 20
Overall: Miles: 26.65; Time: 4:47:12; Pace: 10:47
Laps: 41 degrees/1-10:19, 2-10:59, 42 degrees/3-10:48, 4-10:26, 5-10:37, 39 degrees/6-10:33, 7-10:34, 8-10:27, 38 degrees/9-10:37, 10-10:52, 11-11:19, 37 degrees/12-10:57, 39 degrees/13-10:54, 14-10:42, 38 degrees/15-10:20, 16-10:17, 37 degrees/17-10:27, 18-10:25 19-10:27, 36 degrees/20-10:19, 21-10:24, 37 degrees/22-10:41, 23-10:54, 24-11:15, 25-11:47, 36 degrees/26-12:06, .6-12:05