Sunday, April 26, 2009

OKC Memorial Half Marathon Race Report.

The day started early, a 0430 wake-up and the normal hunt-for-the-stuff-that-was-laid-out-last-night-but-isn't-anywhere-to-be-found-this-morning began. A quick breakfast cereal and water and then out the door. I have noticed that this city, which has over a million in population metro, is a pretty sparse city at 0515, and the traffic was almost non-existent as I found a place to park pretty close to the memorial.

Before I give the report on the actual race, I should give the organizers and the people of Oklahoma their props. This state gets a bad name and takes a bad rep, but these people are polite, very cordial, and easy as hell to talk to. The race expo was top notch, picked myself up a Fuel Belt, and was well run. The Memorial Marathon portion and Half races were completely sold out, with an estimated 19,000 people taken part in the run, the majority in the Relays. If you've even been in a big race, you understand that the corral's that they place the runner's in was huge, and at 0615, there was still an awful lot of room, but in five minutes time, it became wall-to-wall nuts-to-butts (in Navy vernacular.) And the girl standing next to me thoughtfully took the time to put on make-up and smelled good too.

Most impressive though, was how absolutely dead quiet it was when the announced 168 seconds of silence was observed, one second for each victim. I was impressed and at the same time I realized that the small chair of Kevin "Lee" Gotshall, the toddler grandson of a former co-worker of mine, was one of those seconds. And if that wasn't impressive enough, the sound of almost 19,000 people singing the national anthem was beyond cool.

The race started promptly at 0630, and after almost 2:30, I crossed the line and was out, and about. The difference between a large race venue and a triathlon, is that instead of dodging and weaving, getting punched in various parts of the body, and feeling like your in a blender with the swim, on a road course you pretty much don't have to worry about the physical violence. It pretty much took me the first 3 miles to get into a pace where I wasn't forced to speed up real quickly, or come to a complete stop due to some jackass who decided that his hamstring needed stretched right in the middle of the road. The humidity was also a factor. The start temp was around 70 degrees, and the humidity was probably 95%, and that would be a safe bet judging from the bitch of a storm that we are getting outside as I type this. And the added feature of Oklahoma weather, the always present winds. Today, was no exception, from out of the southeast at roughly 20-25 Mph, with some fairly gnarly gusts coming in irregular intervals. Sucks to run in it, but sucks more to try and get a ride in it.

Anyway, after the first 3 miles, the grand tour through the state capitol complex, a rough part of town, and into a pretty affluent section took up the rest of the race. There were a few hills, none lasting longer than a quarter mile, most around an 1/8 or so, but there were a lot of turns and twists and short-cutting the turns wasn't going to happen with that many people on the course. The water/powerade stations were plentiful, and the volunteers, who are the life blood of any event, were cool, and really nice to look at. I'd have to say the course layout was pretty decent, although the short out and back after the half marathon/marathon split, could have been done without.

Physically, I felt pretty good. The legs were fresh, with no problems with my quads or knees, and everything else sort of clicked along well. This was my longest run of the year so far, but then this race wasn't a for sure until February. My current training plan has my runs geared toward the Edinboro Tri, which is just about a month away, but I was pretty confident that I could do well today. And when I did feel like crap, which was, surprisingly not that often, I would find a suitable target, and made sure I kept contact with her. Face it, I'm a male, and I have always admired the female form. And there was some fine female forms out there today.

What I Learned:

-Stretching is the only way that I will ever be successful. Go a day without, like Saturday, and you'll feel it when you go to bed.

-Self seeding in a marathon is a myth. What makes grandma time think that she will be running a 2:45 marathon. No, I'm not exaggerating.

-I've always loved running, and the simplistic, lack of gear needed activity means you can race anywhere. I will always pick a race or two to run, but triathlons are where my heart is set nowadays.

-This was an I-pod friendly race, and I was going to use it tracking with the Nike +, but I decided to use the headphones too. For training, the music is awesome, but I realized that I could've done without and probably should have. The conversations that I had during this race, and some that I overheard are usually fantastic as it is. They make the time go by faster.

-Fantastic race, would definitely do this again, if I'm scheduled to be here in April for work.

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