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Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

The weeks leading up to this race were filled with excitement, anticipation, and nervousness!  On April 4th I ran the Irving Marathon with my friend Liz.  We were both happy with our racing on that day and for some reason I had it set in my mind that at OKC I was going to PR.  However, as the weeks got closer to it I thought that I wanted to make this a memorable race and enjoy the scenery.

The day before we left for Oklahoma I was determined to finish my jurisprudence exam (ethics for the state board of psychologists of Texas) and even though it is open book it is really hard.  I swear those questions are meant to trick you.  Needless to say that I didn’t get anything ready for the trip because of the test. Between the test, dinner, the kids it took me all day, there were 113 questions.   Aside from that, I wanted to make sure I got to bed early (which didn’t happen) so I was pretty stressed out.  I completed my test around 10pm and I started picking up the disorderly mess in the house around that time.  After I packed, cleaned, and showered, I went to bed around 11pm. The plan was to leave at 7am. I woke up around 6am, but I stayed in bed awake until about 7am.  We finally left for OKC around 8:30am.  We were making good time and got there at noon.  Packet pick up was until 6pm and check in at the hotel was at 3pm.  We went to the expo, I got my packet, did a little shopping, and then we got lunch.

Michelle and Cissi were already in OKC as they got there Friday night and we were waiting on Jennifer, Don, and Melissa.     We all met up around 6pm and walked around the memorial before we went to dinner.

chairs

The chairs are a symbol for the victims and they are placed in specific spots where they were when the explosion happened.

fence

The chain linked fence that surrounds the memorial from the outside has items placed there by the people who have visited the memorial.

 

 

 

 

The reflection pool. You can't help but to stare at it, appreciate life, and have respect for those who were taken too soon.

The reflection pool. You can’t help but to stare at it, appreciate life, and have respect for those who were taken too soon.

Dinner was alright.  I suggested we go to an Italian restaurant near the hotel and it took way to long to get us seated (we should have gone to Waffle House that was next to it), the food was mediocre to say the least and huge portions.  During dinner we decided we would leave at 4:30am from the hotel to get to the start of the race and avoid traffic.  The race started at 6:30am.  I slept horribly and didn’t wake up on time.  Luckily I was with a pretty forgiving crew.  We got to the race and I went over to the morning prayer under the survivor tree.  There was praise and worship and a short prayer by the pastor followed by the Lord’s Prayer as we all held hands.  This race was going to be so special I could feel it.

We all went to the corral D (the last corral) and waited.   Then I realized I had to try and pee again before the race but once I saw the lines for the porta potties I decided to wait.  I headed back to my corral and the urge was getting stronger…the lines were getting shorter.  My corral moved up towards the start but I knew I had time so I darted off again.  It was the best decision I made.  I got back to my corral, but I lost my friends as they were already moving forward so I started the race alone and in the back.

For this marathon I wanted to try something different  so rather than focusing on my pace, I wore my heart monitor and decided to run based on my heart rate.  I also decided that because I was in the VERY back I was going to have a slow start and for that reason I just decided to focus on the way my body felt and not a PR.  As we started I was at a slow jog and I vowed not to zig zag around runners and just stay to the side.  I maintained my heart rate at 150-155 to warm up (a slow jog) and after about 2 miles I picked it up to around 161-165.  I decided to maintain there for the first quarter of the race (about 6 miles) .  There were 1/2 and Full marathoners, plus a marathon relay all together and after we started the 5K started.  There were about 25K runners.  It was crowded and  we were rubbing elbows.  There was this tall skinny guy wearing a sky blue and grey jersey that crossed in front of me nearly knocking me over and then zig zagged back, saw me and said, “Sorry I’m trying to get to the front.”  I ignored him but thought “Why are you in the last corral then?”  Oh well I wasn’t going to let it bother me so I kept on.

I was overhearing the runners talk about “Gorilla Hill” and I was concerned, “This is going to be a monstrous hill!” I thought. Between mile 6 and 7 there it was!  A giant blow up gorilla was floating at the top of the hill and spectators were handing out bananas dressed up as bananas themselves!  The hill was not steep or big as the name makes it seem to be, it is just a gorilla in someone’s yard.

I got the picture from the internet.  I heard last year there were tornado warnings and rain and the race got delayed, I think this picture is from last year.

 

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The popular Gorilla Hill

 

At around mile 9 or so I found the 5 hour pace group, I ran past them and stayed just in front of them.  I figured if I stayed with them I can finish in 5 hours or a little less, which was good for me.  My strategy was to stop at each mile marker and water station so about every 1/2 mile or so.  If I stopped at a mile marker I walked about a minute and at the water stations I got my drink (powerade and water double fisting) drank while I walked then tossed it and picked up my run again.  I noticed they filled the cups pretty full and for most of the race I drank a cup of the water and powerade. Not the best idea as I got a little nauseous towards the end of the race.

I stayed in front of the 5 hour group unless I walked as they did not walk at all the aid stations or mile markers.  It didn’t matter because I caught up with them without a struggle.

As I continued running at about mile 13 I ran next to this guy who said, “You came to join the party.”  I said, “Yeah it’s really fun.”  He asked me if I was still in school, which is code word for “How old are you?”  I said, “No I graduated with my Master’s in 2010.”  He said, “2010! I was still in High School!”  (“Thanks buddy so what you’re young and stupid.”)So I said, “Are you in school?”  He said he went to a state school I couldn’t remember but it wasn’t OU or OSU and he was graduating next year with his bachelor’s in Music Therapy.  I thought, “Cool a fellow therapist.”  And we talked shop for a while.  Unfortunately I realized that he was kind of a know-it-all.  Not only in his discipline but also in running.  This was his second marathon and when I said, “I’m going to walk up this hill.”  He said, “I don’t stop I just keep going.”  I said, “Ok I need to conserve my energy since are just barely half way.”  He said, “Does it work?”  I said, “It does for me.”  “Alright I will walk with you then, you say when.”  So we walked up the hill and the whole time he said, “Oh this feels weird, I can’t get used to this…”  We got to mile 14 which was around this beautiful lake and continued running.  I stopped at a water stop and walked it and he ran through it, but then I caught up.  The next water stop I walked and he kept going but I caught up.  So we went like that, like the tortoise and the hare til about mile 15.  He got lost somewhere behind me.  The 5 hour pace group was still behind me too I felt really really good.  At mile 16 they caught up with me and I began talking to them more so I stayed with them.  There was a first time marathoner pacing with them so we chatted.  I mentioned I took ibuprofen and she asked me for some.  The tricks you learn after running multiple marathons.  In December at BCS was the first time I took an ibuprofen DURING a marathon.  It was the best thing I did and from now on it is part of what goes into my spi belt.  Coming up on mile 17 I realized there was another hill and I mentioned I was going to walk it.  She asked the pacer about walking up the hill and he said, “Yeah let’s conserve our energy here.”   We all walked up the hill and began to run down it when we came up to the next water stop I did my usual and caught up again.  We were all together but then I decided that I wanted to slow down until mile 20 so I was behind them.  I was still going to make the 5 hours because I started after them and it goes by chip time and that knowledge helped me relax a little.  I got to mile 20 and picked it up again by this time I was maintaining my heart rate at 173-175 it was perfect “fat burning zone” or so I’ve heard there may be no truth behind that but I’d like to believe it.

I got to mile 21 and became tearful.  All these thoughts were running through my mind, from the devastation on 4/19/1995, to the children that were killed that day, to my clients, to my pending exams, to my family, and to the criticisms of my mother for running….it always goes back to that….I shook it off.  “Mile 22 OMG home stretch!”

The spectators were fantastic.  The neighborhoods were beautiful and people were sitting out side their homes, some with tables and water, others with beer, kids giving high fives, and dogs, my favorite part was seeing the dogs it made my day.  There were fire fighters in full gear walking the marathon.  I thanked as many as I could as I ran past them.  Turns out their gear along with O2 tanks weigh about 46 lbs!  And here I was complaining about having to wear a little ole spi belt.

Some runners pinned names of people they knew or didn’t know on the backs of their shirts, “In honor of…”  I had “In Honor of America’s Kids Daycare 2nd floor” I was dedicating my run to the children who died that day.  Jennifer had “In Honor of 168 can’t just pick one” or something like that.

At mile 23 I decided to take a walk break, regroup and pick up the pace.  My heart rate got up to about 178 the sun was also peaking through the clouds and it had gotten warmer.  I ran longer and there were volunteers handing out wet cold sponges! I grabbed one and rubbed it on my neck and shoulders as I ran.  I wiped my face which was a good thing since I am a salty sweater and end up with white crusties all over my face when I finish running like that.  I stopped at the water station got my last drink and orange and headed out to the finish…mile 25 I saw the 5 hour pacers!  The group had dwindled off and they were the only ones left so I said, “I’m back!”  They were so excited and then I ran ahead of them.  They said for me to pull  THEM to the finish.  I was like yeah right you guys just slowed down when there was no one left to pace!  I heard the announcer calling out names and as I got closer and saw the finish I just kept this steady pace that was swift and quick.  I felt soooo confident and soooo awesome that when he was ready to call my name I turned so he could read my bib.  “RUN IDA RUN!”  I saw the photographers on ladders just past the strip and I put my hands up like “YEAH!”

finisher video OKC  My husband was able to capture footage of my finish.  Right click on the link and it will take you to the facebook post.  :-)

This was the first marathon where I felt slight discomfort but not that awful exhaustion and fatigue nearly like a wall but not quite.  Usually around mile 18-21 I get that way and mile 22 I get a second wind.  I felt great and disoriented.  I had to find Erik and the boys, I had to go to a porta potty, I had to get my medal, and my finisher shirt, I had to get my snacks, I had to do all these things and there were so many people and I just wanted to find my family.  Then I heard, “Idalie!!!”  ‘Oh yes, a familiar voice’…I saw Erik and the boys. Justin gave me a hi five, Erik kissed, me and  Isaac said, “We saw you” Through the chain linked fence that separated us.  I felt like a rat in a maze I wanted to get over!  I wanted my snacks! I wanted my MEDAL!  And finally I saw, MEDALS!

I thought, “Different colors…oh snap!”  “I need a marathon medal!”  “I hope I get the right one!!!”  “Whew! Ok green yes that’s my medal.”

My mind was racing, “Erik and the boys where are they?”  “Oh there they are…oooh fruit cups, uh no I think I’m going to throw up.”  WHERE ARE THE SHIRTS?  Then I saw a lady, she looked like she knew, “Excuse me, where did you get your finisher shirt?”  “We don’t get finisher shirts we ran the relay.”  OOPS my bad.  I went over to a volunteer that clearly had volunteer marked on her blue vest and lime green shirt and asked her.  She pointed me in the right direction and I got my shirt.  I got a burger from the Carl’s Jr. booth and since I’m a vegetarian I offered it to the boys, Justin gladly ate it.  I handed my stuff to Isaac who brought his little cinch bag and Justin wore my medal while he happily ate his burger and I looked for porta potties WITH toilet paper…there weren’t any.  All of them, and I’m not exaggerating were out of toilet paper.  I left my friends went to the hotel showered and we checked out.  We headed to the OKC memorial museum where I got free admission with my race bib and for 2 hours I listened to recorded footage of the news from that morning in 1995, looked at preserved pieces of the Murrah building that were damaged in the rubble, read the different text that was printed on the walls with information about the destruction, the search and rescue, some of the surviors’ stories, and about the investigation, arrest, and verdict that followed.

It was truly fascinating and the impact it had on me was something else.  I remember the stories from 1995.   I was a junior in high school but it didn’t impact me because as a teenager living in Maryland at the time ahd it was an event that wasn’t close enough to “home” demographically to have a direct impact.  This time it was different I had a lump in my throat walking through the memorial, during the expo, during the prayer service, and at the museum.  Staring into the reflection pool out in the memorial just helped me appreciate life and put it into perspective.  It is truly a race I will always remember.

Before Pre-Marathon picture. Michelle, Me, Don, Jennifer, Cissi, and Melissa (Baby Spice, Sporty Spice, Manager, Posh Spice, Ginger Spice, and Scary Spice)! hahaha

Pre-Marathon picture. Michelle, Me, Don, Jennifer, Cissi, and Melissa aka Baby Spice, Sporty Spice, The Manager, Posh Spice, Ginger Spice, and Scary Spice! hahaha

My favorite medal. "Run To Remember"

My favorite medal. “Run To Remember”

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