2009/04/25: Oklahoma City Marathon (race report)

I had two reasons for doing this race: to beat my last marathon time (which was 5:12) and to complete it in honor of my friend Jahna who passed away earlier this month.  The latter was more important.

Jahna on her wedding day, Oct 08

Jahna wedding

I drove here yesterday from San Antonio and went to the expo as my first stop.  The area it was held in was very cramped, and there were fewer booths than the previous 2 I’d been to.  It was very crowded also.  After this, I went to dinner with some RWOL forumites.

It’s a little blurry, but counter-clockwise from the upper left: Paul, Laci, Terri, Mike’s kids and wife, Mike, Patrick, and me.
OKC group

Last night I had a dream that I got to talk to Jahna again and that she told me to just do my best.  I woke up feeling pretty relaxed about the day ahead as a result of this dream.

I parked in a parking garage that charged me a dollar, which isn’t bad, but I had been told that parking garage would be free so I was a bit bothered by the fact that $1 x how ever many cars there’d be in there meant someone was getting a bunch of extra money.

Shortly after 6, there were 168 seconds of silence to honor the 168 people killed in the OKC bombing.

The gun went off at 630 and it took me almost 7 minutes to get to the start line.  A few miles in, judging by my splits, I realized a sub-5 hour marathon was likely not possible, but I was okay with that.  It was warm and very humid.  I also would not have described the course as “flat and fast.”  It wasn’t hilly, but it was not flat.

I hit the halfway point at about 2:35, which is the slowest half I’ve ever done, but I still figured I might be able to beat my previous time.  However, not long after this, when I neared the lake (Lake Hefner I heard someone say), it was significantly flatter, but the wind had really picked up and was in my face.  I still felt like I was running my 11.5ish minute pace, but with the wind, it was actually about a 14 minute pace.  This was frustrating to me.  When I got back to an area where the wind was blocked a *little* bit, I felt very fatigued because of the extra effort I’d used against the wind.

With about 10 miles left, I got a pain in my right side that radiated to my back.  I had a lot of pain every other step.  If this had been a training run, I’m pretty sure I would have cut it off right there.  However, this was a marathon I had trained for and I was doing it for Jahna.

Those last 10 miles were painstakingly slow, but I knew that every step I took was one step closer to the finish line.  I was unable to run more that .1-.25 miles without the pain getting much worse, so I walked a lot.  As time passed, my projected finish had gone from 5 hours to 5:15, then 5:30.  I was really hoping I’d at least finish by 6:00, but at the same time, I just wanted to finish with any time.

I jogged about a third of a mile at the end before needing to sprint.  I waited until the last possible moment to do this, but I did it in my typical finish fashion.  The pain was terrible, but I was so happy to be finishing.  My final time was 5:45, but I had finished.

I contemplated going to the med tent, but I realized there was nothing they could do.  I turned in my chip and grabbed a finisher shirt (they were out of smalls, so I have another nightshirt).

One of my biggest frustrations with this event was that they ran out of finisher medals by the time I finished.  This added insult to injury, literally.  One of the volunteers said to contact the memorial afterward via email or phone and I’d get one mailed to me.  I thanked the volunteer, but this really bothered me.  How could they run out of medals?  I know it will take a while for me to get the medal.  This bugs me because I’m wanted to send this to Jahna’s parents right after the fact, and now I can’t do that.  I am also going to send them the sign I wore on my back:
Jahna sign

After the race, I found my way back to my car and went to my hotel for a 2-hour nap.  It’s a few hours later now, but I’m feeling okay.  I still have a dull pain in my side, but it should go away within the next few days.

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to run this for Jahna, but I’m not putting this marathon on my list of races to do again.  I’m glad this was not my first encounter with the marathon or I might think twice about doing another one.  However, I still want to beat my old time, and getting under 5 hours would be awesome.



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