After months of anticipation our marathon relay took place last weekend. My sister and mom have great recaps on their blog with mostly different photos, but here is the story from my perspective.
There are good and bad things about being the final leg in a relay. One upside is getting to wake up slightly later :) We did attempt to see Kari run a portion of her 1st leg of the relay, but got stuck in marathon traffic/parking woes and had to give up and attempt to catch Audra.
Catch was definitely the right word as both Audra & Kari were at our ahead of our projected paces for their portions of the race. When we arrived at 63rd and Classen to wait for Audra Brent went to get coffee as estimates suggested we had more than 20 minutes to wait and cheer. Estimates were off and he missed Audra entirely. We did get coffee, which was nice on a surprisingly overcast, almost chilly day.
We piled back in the van and drove down to where the course turns west onto Britton. We had only maybe 10 minutes to wait before Able arrived. We told E to run and high five him and E took off running south, right past Uncle Able and kept going. The rest of us laughed and got high - fives before encouraging Able on his way!
There was, realistically, quite a while to go before my turn as Able still had nearly 5 miles left to run and then Zach had a 5k portion. However, traffic on race day is crazy, we needed to find a bathroom, and really needed to be at my spot early as everything was ahead of schedule. It took a few tries to get there, but we made it to a great parking spot with lots of grassy areas to play.
So, we might have been too early for the kids' attention span as they got a little crazy while we waited. What happens at hand off points is you hang around trying to stay warm and wait to hear your team's number called over the speakers. When they call your number, in theory your teammate is close by, but not TOO close as about 5 minutes or so pass before they actually arrive so you get to pace and stare down the road for awhile.
Zach arrived about 30 minutes earlier than our plan had predicted meaning everyone before me had really good runs... no pressure, right?
Relay members pass along a velcro ankle bracelet that has the timing chip -- Brent captured our hand off for posterity. Off I went feeling OK, if a bit sluggish. The first 3/4 of a mile were at a fast pace for me, but I'd found someone who I felt I could follow/hang with for awhile and just kept up with here. Then, I made a mistake. I had decided I would walk through 2-3 of the water stops on the course, a plan made when I thought it would be hot, but oh well. I took a sip of water and got my breath while I walked through the stop. When I started, pain started shooting through my right hip that has been tenatative and sore for a week or so. Very much not a good thing with nearly 5 miles to go.
Here I am on Classen (aka the least good part of my race). You can almost see in my pained expression that I'm just holding it together, because really what other choice is there? I do not mention this to the Korenaks and my mom when they stop to cheer me on, but a bit further I whisper it to Brent's ear before stealing a kiss and starting again. Further down Classen, very predictably at the 2.5 mile mark, the arch of my left foot is cramping. This happens at right about this distance every long run I do. It takes 3 short stops to finally get it to release, but there is no way to run when it is cramping so I take the time to sort it out as I know that is the only way it works for me. By now, I'm feeling bad for my team and myself and my hip is still bad. I decide that no matter what I'm not stopping until after the 5 mile mark and then will take a drink of water.
Things improve drastically as we turn in to the neighborhoods. There is a great street atmosphere, lots of families and other runners around, and some sainted person gives me a 1/2 of a twizzler, which is apparently just what I needed. A little extra fuel/sugar was awesome along with the street party vibe. I found a pace I could hang with, that was a bit faster than my normal pace, but not crazy fast. The neighborhood portion weaves back and forth, but is largely shaded with a few rolling hills. It is nice and I keep going. At one point I realize my pace is now way low and reassess getting "too" relaxed, but definitely feel better about the whole situation
At the five mile mark there is a big party house with fun things happening -- I walk with water and text my mom that I am 1.2 miles out. I walk up the last hill and start toward the finish. I was delighted to see 1/2 mile alley ahead and then my team waiting with about .2 miles go go.
We ran in to the finish together. They were all well-rested from portions earlier. I am glad they pushed my pace at the end as I was able to finish under the 1 hour 20 minute mark, which had been my goal, a goal I thought was lost back on the curb on Classen. The crowd was amazing cheering us in 5 hours and 19 minutes after the race began and about 40 minutes earlier than we had predicted. All my fears about running the end of the course with traffic turned out to be irrational (as I bet you all suspected).
For the first time, Brent and the kids were right at the finish line to cheer me in too. I love this photo of the backs of our team shirts as they walked to meet us.
Here we all are reunited with medals to share and show.
This whole endeavor was to honor the memories and lives of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing 20 years ago when we were 12-16. It was emotional, hard, wonderful, exciting, and such an amazing experience. Thanks to OKC for this moment and to the Palfremans and Savory Spice Shop for sponsoring our team's run. I would love to do it again and do plan more 10ks in my future, once my hip is healed. One way or another I plan to participate in the OKC Memorial races as long as I am able and to continue to teach our kids too.
When the race was over and we went our separate ways I was back with this guy waiting for lunch at the Wedge while our kids played nearby. His role in the race team was watching kids, supporting me, and driving us all over to cheer, not to mention listening to all my worries, aches, and training thoughts for months. He took great care of me all through the training months and through race day. I am so glad he is my partner in this and all things. I'm so glad to be part of this marriage, part of this family, part of this remembrance, and part of Oklahoma's unique story.
We are Oklahoma Strong.