On Sunday, 4/29, I completed my 6th marathon, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Here is my report.
My official time was 4:36:56. I met my goal of being under 4:45, and I beat my last marathon time by 15 minutes. I finished in the top half overall, and just at the top of the bottom half of both males and my group (males 50-54). This represents incremental improvement overall, and that is the goal I have every time I do one of these. I started with a 4:30 pace group, and held pace comfortably through 20 miles. I lost the 6 minutes over the final 10K. More on that later.
I cannot say enough good things about this marathon. For starters, I’ll just commit right now that I’ll be there next year running again. And I’m going to do all I can to take some people with me. This would be an ideal first marathon. You know who you are…
This was a well-organized, well-run, profoundly meaningful event that was not overly crowded. This marathon is connected to our shared national tragedy and everything is unified around that. From the observation of 168 seconds of silence before the start to the names of all of the people lost displayed on the course during the final 10K to the firemen completing the event in honor of fallen heroes, etc…this is just one moving moment after another. Even reading the program the day before brought me to tears. All of the volunteers working this event were nice and helpful. Most of them thanked me for coming to run in this event.
One thing that really stood out for me was that this race was filled with participants who seemed like really normal people. People who were polite. People were even considerate and polite during the inevitable bumping of elbows and near tripping at the start of the race. It almost felt like everyone was participating in a big team sport. And since the whole event is really structured around a single cause to which everyone can relate, there was a special feeling of camaraderie. I don’t think this was only my imagination.
The communication from the event was superb. The emails leading up to race day and the specific instructions about traffic and parking were great. The whole town was into this thing. The hotel we stayed at offered late checkout (6PM!) as a courtesy to runners. What a blessing and relief that was. Bricktown was a cool place to hang out on Saturday.
The course was really nice. Primarily flat, but with two or three significant incline events. The middle miles run along a lake shore park that is very pretty. The finish is really nice – a long downhill straightaway. You can see the finish for probably the last 4/10ths of a mile. Lots of crowd support.
I got caught up in the excitement at the end, and I forgot to pick up my finisher’s shirt. Monday, I looked on the website and they were prepared for this also – the front page of the website had instructions on getting the shirt through the mail. They thought of everything.
There were plenty of aid stations, and they were well stocked. Plenty of warning as to whether powerade or water were first or on the left or right before you got there. Very well done. There were digital clocks at every mile (and no, not every race has those). There was great police, traffic and crowd support throughout the race.
My Performance and Training
That’s me in the yellow shirt. I was still feeling pretty strong at this point (Mile 20). I had been running with the 4:30 pace group to this point, and we were about 2 minutes ahead of pace. The clock there shows the time according to gun time. We started between 5 and 6 minutes after gun time. At this point in the race, I made a decision I now regret. I had planned to put on some music for inspiration for the last 10K. Unfortunately, when I stopped to do that, my Yurbuds cord was pretty tangled and I had to get my friend Scottie Worrell (who just happened to be sitting on the corner at the 20 Mile marker) untangle it for me. I should have abandoned my music plan at this point, because I ended up wasting about 2 to 3 minutes during this time. During that 2 to 3 minutes, my pace group got ahead of me. I never caught back up.
Regarding music, I think I’ve made the decision to forego music during the marathon. I don’t use it until the end, anyway, and this time it occurred to me that it didn’t particularly help me. I enjoy using music some while training, and I’ll probably keep doing that. Especially my playlist that rocks along at close to 180 BPM – so that I can keep working on a quick enough turnover. But I want to be able to hear and talk and encourage others during that all important final 10K. I enjoyed conversing with my pace leader through the first 20 miles – why stop? Why not just hunker down and keep pace and not focus on drawing inward so much? That is what is going through my mind now.
I really believe that had I simply concentrated on keeping up with my pace team I would have finished at 4:30 or better. I’m disappointed that I slowed down during the final 10K. Part of that was my wrong decision, and part of that was losing the battle with my mind and body. But that is always what it is about, isn’t it?
I cannot look at a picture of myself running any more with analyzing form. In March, I took a great class at RunOn! that concentrated on Good Form Running. We were videotaped running each week and then we worked on transitioning our form. All throughout March and April, I worked on form more than anything else. I adjusted my training to actually run less overall miles, concentrating on form and speed work on shorter runs during the week and long runs on the weekends. I spent the rest of my workout time on core conditioning. I am beginning to see some results there, so I plan to keep this up. In this picture, most of the form elements I worked on are in place, with the exception of leaning more forward, I’m standing up pretty tall here. But my front foot position and stride length are right, and that is a big improvement. I think when this picture was taken, I was just about to try to go as fast as possible for the final 0.2.
Speaking of the picture, I want to thank my daughter Clayre for going with me to this race. She is the crazy person in my life that got me started training for a marathon. I’m sure if she weren’t doing the extremely important job of getting ready to give birth to my second grandchild, she’d be right there with me. She took this picture and then did me the biggest favor in the world by driving me home so I would have to think about how my legs felt! Some day, we will run a marathon together. I can’t wait.
Where do we go from here? Well, I’m going to take 2 or 3 days off for leg rest. I’ll be running again before the weekend. The next marathon is the San Francisco Marathon, July 29. That is just under 3 months away.
The training plan is to continue to work on core conditioning and diet more than anything else. 2 to 3 speed workouts each week, and keep running long at least once per weekend, starting with a half marathon distance and then peaking around 22-ish. I am transitioning shoes to my Altra Instinct zero drop shoes for then next marathon.
Well, that’s the report. I would really love to take a group of friends up there next year to run. There is also a half marathon, a marathon relay and a 5K – so something for everyone. It would be a fun and fairly inexpensive weekend getaway. And it is a really moving and cool event. Loved it.
Onward and Upward.