Heather and I have been training together for the last 8 weeks or so for the OKC Memorial 1/2 Marathon. Today, all our hard work paid off when we ran the entire 13.1 miles and crossed the finish line! It was such an awesome experience! I am so thankful Heather decided to run with me. She has encouraged and supported me throughout our training and I couldn't have done it without her!
Chris and I left yesterday morning to drive to OKC. Ian and Lia went with us and Ali stayed with Ma and Pa. Once we got to the city, we had to go by the Cox Convention Center to pick up my race packet. It was so crazy downtown and it took us awhile to find a parking place. We were in and out of the convention center pretty quickly and then we went to Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch. Erin, my cousin's wife who also ran the race, came by with her daughter Anna to say hello. I am so happy we got to see them yesterday, because we were not able to hook up today, before or after the race.
Spaghetti Warehouse is only a couple blocks away from Bass Pro Shops. So naturally, that was our next stop. We met up with Heather and her husband, TJ, at Bass Pro. Afterwards, we went to our hotel so I could rest a little and so the kids could swim. Unfortunately, the pool was closed because someone had puked in the pool. We ate dinner with TJ and Heather and then went to bed early so I would be ready for my 4am wake up call.
The race began at 6:30 am and there were around 21,000 runners total for all the events. We left our hotel at 5am so we would have plenty of time to find the starting point, stretch, use the restroom and find our spot in the runners corralling area. We were packed in like sardines when the race began. It took us about 7 minutes to even cross the starting line because there were so many runners and we were so far back. We thought once the race got started everyone would spread out a bit, but that was not the case. We were running close to people the entire race. It was definitely a completely different experience than our other races.
There were lots of supporters along the way. People had set up music, and had balloons, drinks and pretzels at various places throughout the race. There were a ton of encouraging signs in peoples yards and everyone was clapping and cheering us on. For the most part, I was in my running zone and didn't focus too closely on the observers. But I knew they were there and it helped tremendously to have their support.
Between miles 9 and 10, I hit a wall and was slowing down so Heather broke away and went on ahead. I got my second wind when I hit 11 miles and was able to speed back up just a bit. Those last few miles were tough though. I was exhausted and didn't have anyone to talk to. I just kept telling myself, "just keep going, don't walk", over and over again. It worked. :)
The finish line was in view and I heard Chris and TJ calling my name from the sidelines. It felt great to cross the finish line! Heather came in at 2:11 and I finished in 2:19. I am worn out and plan to take the next week off, but I can't wait to run another one!