From the word go, I could tell that this year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was going to be a dicey proposition. Severe weather was predicted the morning of the event, and like that family relative who no one likes, it made a timely appearance.
But for me, the race – in which I did the half marathon – was screwed a long time ago not by storms, but my own, shall we say, omissions. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Like I said, a storm clouds formed and a squall line hit downtown Oklahoma City right at race time. It had been scheduled to start at 6:30 a.m., presumably (and wisely) to avoid the warm temperatures that often hit Oklahoma in late April. A comfortable high of 84 is great to most people, but people who run long know that is really hot for a race like this.
High winds, rain and lightning showed up just before 6 a.m., forcing several delays. The race organizers nearly pulled the plug on everything, citing safety concerns, but we got our window to run at 8:15 a.m., much to the relief of 26,000 antsy runners.
At 8 a.m., I jogged to my car, got hailed on, then found my corral. I was ready to go.
I’d almost like to believe that times were a bit slower this year than in the past, mostly because of the weather conditions that prevailed later in the race. But there were still some good showings by this year’s champions.
Jason Cook, of Norman, Okla., won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:42.
For the women, Camille Herron, of Warr Acres, Okla., clocked a 2:51 time to capture the win.
He men’s half marathon event went to Arya Bahreini (1:10), while the women’s title was won by Brianne Robbins (1:28).
How it went
Despite the predictions of severe weather, the storms that came through Oklahoma City were not that bad. It was humid as all get-out, but the temperatures were mild, even a little cool and the winds were pretty tame. That was a huge relief.
The sun peeked out of the clouds sometime after 9:15 or so, and it was about then that the temps started to rise. I began to feel a little warm with around four miles to go, but for those behind me and for the marathoners, rising temps would haunt them badly. Oh, and that south wind kicked up too, just as marathoners would start making the long, uphill trek toward the finish line around mile 17 or so. One friend of mine, who is far faster than me, got bogged down by the heat and wind so bad that he didn’t finish his 26.2 until he’d been out there for six hours.
As for me, I have to say that I earned what I got. Last year, I ran the half in 2:22. This year, 2:22. A repeat performance when I’d been gunning for two hours or less this spring.
This was a disappointment to me. That’s 12 minutes slower than my previous 13.1 PR, and really, I just slogged this one out. I could blame the late start, the lack of sleep the night before, or even the rising temps toward the end. But I’m not going to because those weren’t factors.
The real reason behind this year’s results was I winged it on my training. Plus, I allowed myself to gain about eight pounds from my marathon race weight. So while I was able to get some big runs in this winter and spring (two 25K races, a 13-mile training run and a couple of 10-milers), it was all the other training I did not do that did me in.
My guess is that I rebelled against the rigidity of last fall’s training schedule. Well, there’s a reason people do training programs. They work. Winging it does not. Sticking to a training schedule helped me finish a marathon and set new PRs in the half, 15K and 5K. Winging it got me 2:22.
If I want to just run and have a good time, I could do it like this again. If I want to get faster, I’ll need to buckle down.
This is not to say that there weren’t some awesome things that happened in this race. I had three friends who ran their first half marathons, one of them with her older sister (who just happens to be a marathoning machine). It was great to see their satisfaction of having accomplished such a big goal.
And there is a reason why this race has been named one of 12 in the country that should be on every runner’s bucket list. The atmosphere is incredible, starting off in the shadow of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
The marathon, the Memorial, and the community support surrounding this event are testaments to the city’s resiliency. Oklahoma City has come such a long way since April 19, 1995. In the days after the federal building bombing, people saw what the city and the state were made of, and it is admirable.
In the years since, the city has boomed. A beautiful memorial was built. And a marathon was born. Being a part of that story, even with a less-than-ideal finish, is still an awesome thing.