Chris Lieberman made a race for us. Here’s a chance for us to give back.

Chris Lieberman and his hard-charging Route 66 Marathon crew. Chris ran a marathon in Dallas and decided Tulsa needed a similar race. A few years later, he made it happen, much to the benefit of tens of thousands of people. (Chris Lieberman Updates photo)

I remember my first interaction with a real-life marathon. I learned about it because its starting line was on the street right by my front door.

So on a cool November morning, I went to the top floor of my apartment building at watched as the race started. Music was pumping, crowds were cheering, and with each new flight of runners, a gun was fired to start them off on their 13.1- or 26.2-mile journey through the streets of Tulsa.

I remember thinking, “One day, I want to be down there.”

A couple of years later, I was. My playlist was churning out “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden as my group got started on an icy fall day. The memories of that race are vivid, and I’ve either run the half or full course at the Route 66 Marathon five years straight.

Me finishing up at the Route 66 Marathon’s half marathon last year.

The guy I have to thank for it is Chris Lieberman who, many years before, ran the Dallas Marathon and concluded that Tulsa needed its own 26.2-mile event.

“I was like, ‘Tulsa needs this.’ I thought, ‘This can’t be too hard to do,’” Chris said from his midtown Tulsa home.

Creating the Route 66 Marathon proved to be a challenge, but more than a decade later, the race has become an integral part of Tulsa running community as well as growing into a nationally known event – all things he felt Tulsa needed and deserved.

Filling a need in his hometown has been a pattern in Chris’s life. But now he faces a need of his own, something we can all take part in fulfilling.

In 2016, Chris suffered an injury that left him with a severe case of traumatic brain injury. More than two years later, he’s partially recovered from the worst of the injury. But there is still a long way to go.

“Right now, I can’t work,” he said matter-of-factly. “And I want to work.”

THE INJURY

The accident was something that could have happened to any of us. He was on an extension ladder in his company’s warehouse when the ladder slipped. He fell 10 feet, with the of impact absorbed by his skull. Brain swelling ensued, and physicians had to put him into a medically induced coma to help alleviate the trauma.

When Chris regained consciousness, he was unable to move. “Zero mobility,” as he put it. It would be some time before he could speak.

Since then, Chris has undergone more than a dozen surgeries and spent countless hours at different rehabilitation centers in Oklahoma, Texas, and elsewhere.

The good news is that he’s conversational now. He can walk with assistance. But he’s nowhere near where he wants to be, that is, back to running his company, walking without assistance or fear of falling, and maybe taking a few strides on the marathon course he created years ago. He wants to leave his wheelchair behind.

A NEW OPPORTUNITY

Current rehab facilities have taken Chris about as far as they can. Chris and his longtime partner, Kim Hann, learned of another place called REACT Nuero Rehab, a Dallas-based organization founded by Kendell Hall, who had worked herself out of near paralysis going back to a 2009 car accident that damaged her spine.

In speaking to Hall, both Chris and Kim felt they found the place that could help him make the next step toward full recovery.

“She knew all my questions, and it just seemed like the right place,” Chris said.

In a post on a Facebook page designed to keep people up to date on Chris’ recovery, it was summed up like this:

“Chris is now ready for intensive rehab, he took it upon himself to do some research and found REACT in Dallas. We believe this is exactly what he needs to walk unassisted again! They are well known for helping people in wheelchairs to be able to walk again. We toured the facility and met with the staff at REACT. They believe Chris will be able to leave their program having achieved his goals. That being said, we have been exploring options to get him to React in Dallas. With your support, Chris will attend for a minimum of 3 days a week and will have to commute back and forth between Dallas and Tulsa each week. This is going to be a HUGE undertaking for Kim to travel back and forth and find housing and she will also need your and support during this time!”

The challenge, however, is this: This type of rehab isn’t covered by insurance. So that means the cost is completely out-of-pocket, and as we all know, medical care isn’t cheap. For that reason, Chris, Kim and their family are asking for help.

WHAT WE OWE

I watched a video Chris put out, and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I was looking at a guy who had done so much for the Tulsa running community, and the city in general.

Before the Route 66 Marathon was created, we just didn’t do marathons in this city. Now, the race attracts about 15,000 runners for its marathon, half marathon, marathon relay and 5K events. In terms of gear sold, hotel rooms booked, meals eaten and other commerce associated with the race, that’s about a $10 million annual impact that was created from scratch.

The success of the race propelled Tulsa running to another level. Where there used to be no local marathons, now there are several. Running stores now have new customers for their gear, and new clients for training programs. Road and trail races leading up to Route 66 benefit from having more runners using their events as tune-ups for November’s big event. Trail and ultramarathon events benefit from people who use the marathon as a gateway to longer races. Thousands of people – maybe tens of thousands – realize fitness goals never dreamed of before, and personal achievements that build confidence for greater endeavors. Chris likes to call Route 66 “the people’s race,” meaning that he wanted it to be an event for everyone, regardless of speed, athleticism or competitiveness.

That hit home with me, because that’s who I am. I’m a midpack runner who used to never run. Years later, I’ve got a marathon under my belt and six half marathons, three 25Ks and a bunch of shorter races that never would have happened had I not set Route 66 as a target. And I’ve got a running habit that has introduced me to new friends, new experiences and a sustainable form of exercise that will benefit me for years to come.

All of this was made possible by a guy who refused to take a salary from his own event until just a few years ago. I’m grateful for that, and I know a lot of other people are, too.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Chris and Kim hope to raise $20,000 to get this new round of rehab started. It sounds like a lot of money, but I figured there is a way to break it down that makes this very doable.

Like I mentioned earlier, thousands of people have run Route 66. If a thousand of these folks donated $20, that goal is met. Basically, if enough is us forgo the cost of a decent large pizza just this once, we get them there.

Want to help? Here’s some information from Chris’ site that gives you a couple of tax-deductible ways you can literally help Chris get back on his feet for good:

You can donate to Chris’ therapy below. Your donations will go 100% directly to Chris’ recovery fund.

  1. You can click this link to donate online.
  2. You can mail a check to Chris’ REACT Therapy Account.

Make checks payable to REACT.

(In the memo, please write “Chris Lieberman’s Recovery Fund”)

REACT

15046 Beltway Drive

Addison, Texas 75001

Chris at the Route 66 Marathon start line. (Chris Lieberman Updates photo)

LET’S DO THIS

This week, I started my training for what will be my seventh half marathon, and my fifth with Route 66. I’ve got my eyes on some goals for this race.

Chris has some goals, too. To walk unassisted. To get back to working full-time in the hard-charging, energetic manner that has been his hallmark. And maybe starting yet another new endeavor, such as creating a foundation to help others like himself who have suffered similar injuries on the job, at home, or overseas in the military. The need is there (some 19,000 Oklahoma veterans have some form of TBI). And in the same way he saw that Tulsa needed a bigger race, he knows Oklahoma needs what he’s seeking now.

Bob Doucette

Advertisements

Race recap: Fighting through the 2017 Route 66 half marathon

Wrapping up a tough Route 66 half marathon. At least there was enough left to sprint it in.

I walked into the starting corral at the Route 66 Marathon in perfect conditions. It was 38 degrees, with slight breezes and sunny skies. After a good, hard 12 weeks of training, this should have been the best half marathon I ever ran.

But strange things happen.

Instead of relishing the newfound conditioning I’d developed and soaking in another great race, I found myself in a fight. Just a few miles in, my body was saying, “Not today, dude. Not today.”

At the finish, the sprint at the end belied how I really felt, like I’d been beat up and denied what I’d trained so hard for.

But that’s not the whole lesson, and it’s not that one-sided.

THE RUNUP TO ROUTE 66

Over the summer, I’d set a goal time that I wanted to hit for this year’s race. Last year, I had a mellow training program that gave me a better-than-expected time of just over 2:15 (I’m not that fast, folks). I was happy with that, coming in a bit heavy and just four minutes off the best 13.1-mile time I’ve ever run, and five minutes under the previous year’s disappointment.

Surely with a more serious training schedule, I’d crush that PR and maybe get past that two-hour barrier. So I set out to make a more aggressive program that had me running more weekly miles than I’d done since I trained for a marathon back in 2013.

The training schedule. I was religious about following the plan, and if not for unforeseen circumstances, it would have paid off in spades..

Dude. I was religious about it. Aside from skipping one weekend 5K and doing a treadmill speed workout on a day when it was pouring rain, I nailed it every day. The weight peeled off, my cardio returned, and by the time I ran the Tulsa Run 15K eight weeks in, I was hitting mile paces I hadn’t seen in four years. Breaking two hours was probably not in the cards, but that PR seemed in the bag. During the Tulsa Run, my 5K splits were even, I crushed the hills and I had cardio for days. With three weeks of hard training left, it seemed inevitable that I’d smash a half marathon course of which I was intimately familiar.

UH OH…

Fast forward a couple of weeks. I’d just finished running an 11-miler on a warm day, capping off a 34-mile week. Not bad for me. But something felt off that night, and by the next day, when I was scheduled to do an hour-long bike ride (my standard cross-training workout), something was amiss. That night, I was sick as a dog.

The next day, it was worse. And worse again the day after that. Congestion, sore throat, drainage and junk in my chest. It knocked me out for a few days, killing off three runs. Later in the week, I felt good enough to get back to it, and to my surprise, a 3-miler went well. The next day, 12 miles were on tap, the first 6 of which were spirited, but the last 6 very meh. I headed into my taper, hoping the nagging cough and chest gunk would be gone by race day.

Too bad, sucka.

THE RACE

I paced myself fairly well in the first couple of miles, but about three miles in, I knew something was up. My lungs were working too hard, and my legs told me they didn’t want anymore. This was a bad sign, with 10 miles to go, and plenty of hills in front of me before the course flattened out about midway through. I told myself that I could catch my breath then, with the hills of midtown Tulsa behind me, and regroup before things got gnarly again at Mile 8.

I never recovered. Every mile was work. Hitting the mild but long incline at Cincinnati Avenue, the kick wasn’t there. I smashed this hill last year, but suffered this time around. Back down on the flat mile at Riverside Drive, I again hoped to recover just a little before the two big hills leading back into downtown.

And that didn’t happen, either. Facing the big inclines of Miles 11 and 12, the challenge was to not give in and peter out, but instead to run these things hard.

One of the things I made sure to do all season long was to run hills. Route 66 is a hilly course, and if all you run are flat sections, you’re going to suffer. The climbs up Southwest Boulevard, then Seventh Street nail me every time on this race, so I purposely created training routes that finished with long, steep hills. Practice makes perfect, and it sure made a difference at the Tulsa Run. It was a matter of pride to conquer these things.

Thankfully, I did. Not fast, but good enough to keep some sort of pace and not slow to a defeated walk. But there wasn’t much left in the tank after that, now that my legs and lungs had betrayed me.

Heading into the Tulsa Arts District, I plodded slowly until the finish was in sight. Just enough reserve was left to quicken the pace and sprint in.

But being nowhere close to a PR seemed inevitable. I wasn’t even sure I’d be faster than the year before, when I trained in a much more leisurely fashion.

THE RESULTS

Not sure it tastes like victory, but it does taste like getting it done.

Being in the B Corral, and well off the start line, it was hard to gauge my chip time finish. I don’t often run with tech, choosing instead to track my progress on the clocks set up on the course.

Instead of beaming in the post-race sun, I hunched down, deliberated what happened and guzzled a Gatorade. No point in lingering, I headed to the shuttle bus to take me back to the start line area.

While on the bus, I dared to look up the times. Punched in my name, then viewed the results. It popped up on my phone: 2:14:30.

Frankly, I was surprised. I was actually faster than last year. Even though I felt like hell, my body wasn’t cooperating and I ran with no fluidity to speak of, I’d somehow performed, well, better. Suddenly this result was now my new second-best half marathon time.

But it was a small consolation. I worked very hard for a mere 31 seconds. That’s the equivalent of walking through one extra aid station. It was also a good 3 minutes off my 13.1 PR. Oy. No two-hour mark, no PR. But faster than 2016. Call it a personal bronze medal.

THE TAKEAWAY

I could have been bummed by this. In some ways, I am. It’s not what I worked for. But I understand it.

When you have a bunch of gunk in your chest, you won’t have your normal cardio. And with that, there goes your breathing and your legs.

But there is something else. A tougher training season made me mentally stronger. There was a lot to fight through in this one, and it was a lengthy battle to keep going at a pace that eventually got me across the finish in a way that did not prove embarrassing. In the last couple of miles, I was wondering if the race might end up being one of my slowest half marathons. So seeing the chip time on my phone during the bus ride downtown showed me that even though I didn’t come close to my goals, I worked hard enough to make progress.

Silver linings, man. You take ‘em where you can.

Bob Doucette

Previewing the 2017 Route 66 Marathon

The start of the 2015 Route 66 Marathon. (Route 66 Marathon photo)

It’s mid-November, and that means we’re in the heart of fall race season. Where I live, it also means the Route 66 Marathon is upon us.

This is one of the biggest races in the state and region, and it’s one I’ve been running every year since 2013. A lot of people in the Tulsa area and beyond are going to be in this one – several thousand, in fact – and the race is shaping up to be a good one.

If you’re running this one, listen up. I’ve got some information about the event you’ll want to see, and a detailed course description for all of you running the full and half marathon races. So, here goes…

First off: the packet pickup and expo. The expo takes place at the Cox Business Center in downtown Tulsa. You can pick up packets for your race from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 17 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 18. At the expo, there are going to be a ton of vendors, speakers and a bloggers’ forum. If you’ve got time, check ’em all out.

Second: Let’s talk about the course. It’s the same as it was when the race changed its format to finish in the Tulsa Arts District downtown, right by Guthrie Green.

The marathon and half marathon follow the same initial loop right up into the 13th mile, when marathoners head out of downtown for their second loop. Here are some things you need to know…

Don’t be fooled by that first mile. It’s mostly downhill, so it’s fast, and the excitement of the race will amp up a lot of people’s paces. Soon after reaching 15th Street, you will meet a really big hill. You’ll climb part of it, then turn off into a neighborhood by Maple Park. Then it’s back east on 21st and a sizable hill. It will be the biggest incline you face until you hit Mile 11.

The hill gives way just before Utica Avenue, but the hilliness of the course won’t stop for a while. Running through the neighborhoods of near Woodward Park is scenic, but there is a lot of up-and-down between Mile 2 and Mile 7. Pace yourself accordingly.

The hills will relent as you go through Brookside, then turn west on 41st Street. Turning north on Riverside will remain flat, but the course ducks back east, then north again on Cincinnati Avenue and into a neighborhood. Mild elevation gains and losses prevail from Mile 8 to Mile 10. After that, it’s a good, flat section of Riverside Drive into Mile 11. And then it gets real.

At Southwest Boulevard, you will begin the climb back into downtown, and it’s not small, lasting the better part of a mile. Just past Mile 12, you’ll turn north at Denver Avenue and start heading north and downhill toward the Tulsa Arts District. Marathoners will turn back east at Second Street to begin their second loop while those doing the half will continue north on the last mile — one more climb, then a mostly flat finish.

For those going the full 26.2, it’s another trip out to midtown, but in different areas. You get to avoid the hills of 15th Street to start, instead eventually making your way south on Peoria between Mile 13 and Mile 15. Here, you’ll turn back east on a familiar road, south past Utica Square, but then farther east into different neighborhoods. I’ve found these areas not as hilly as Maple Ridge, but that will change soon enough. The mellower grades continue from Mile 15 through Mile 18 as you head north toward the University of Tulsa.

You hit one small but steep climb on 21st Street, then a long, gradual uphill slog toward the school between Mile 18 and Mile 20. The uphill continues through the school, then relents a bit as you leave and go back south on Delaware.

And then, my friends, comes the biggest mental test of the full, at least in my estimation. Just before Mile 22 begins, you hit 15th Street (also known as Cherry Street), and its sizable hills. Between Delaware and Peoria, they are big and somewhat steep.

Just when you think another huge hill awaits, you turn north back on Peoria (between Mile 23 and Mile 24) to start the trek back downtown. Fortunately, the hills of Midtown are behind you. If you have any gas left in the tank, you can make some time here. If you don’t, at least gravity won’t be devouring you the entire way there. A slight grade up takes you from Mile 24 to Mile 25, then a gradual downhill on First Street to Denver Avenue lets you coast.

If you want to do the Center of the Universe Detour, it pulls off the course in the middle of the First Street stretch. It’s a party up there, and they give you a commemorative coin for your trouble. Back on the main course, you go downhill fast on Denver Avenue, under a bridge, then one last, short uphill climb to the Tulsa Arts District and the final, mostly flat portion of the course to the finish.

Last few observations…

First, I hope you did some hill training. Though only a few of the hills are big and there are some sizable flat spots, this is not a flat course. At all.

Second, expect good course support. Organizers have lots of aid stations along the way, well-stocked and well-manned.

Third, watch the weather forecasts. So far, it looks good. A cool start in the mid-40s, and a high in the upper 50s. Dress accordingly, and keep watching the forecast. Weather in this state can be fickle.

Last, enjoy it! I’ve run this one a few times, and it stacks up well with any race I’ve done. The course is scenic and challenging, which always makes for a good time.

Bob Doucette

Choosing not to suck, part 3: The Route 66 Marathon half

The start of the 2015 Route 66 Marathon on Sunday. More than 15,800 runners were a part of the 5K, half marathon and full marathon races this year, a record for the event. (Route 66 Marathon photo)

The start of the 2015 Route 66 Marathon on Sunday. More than 15,800 runners were a part of the 5K, half marathon and full marathon races this year, a record for the event. (Route 66 Marathon photo)

Sometime during the summer, I came to a realization. Maybe it was the snug fit of the jeans, or the jowly look of my face. Or perhaps it was my inability to handle hills of any kind when I was out running. My thinking was, “How did I get here?”

Last year about this time, I ran a half marathon with an OK time. Then I ran hard the rest of the week, which is always a swell idea after doing a race. Once that week passed, I let off the gas. For months.

What this means: I kept eating the same amounts I did when I was training hard and put on about 10 pounds, maybe more, and very little of that was good weight.

The result: Not only did I lose what running base I had (running 10 miles a week is not going to keep you in shape for things like half marathons), but I also got pudgy and out of shape.

Late in the summer, I resolved to do something about it, gradually adding miles, hill work and speed work to drag myself out of this morass of sloth, and I signed myself up for three races in the fall: The Fleet Feet Quarter Marathon in September, the Tulsa Run 15K in October, and the Route 66 Marathon half in November. Signing up for races (and the money involved in entry fees) has a way of holding you accountable.

Back in September, I called this “my decision not to suck.” Bear in mind, you do not suck if you don’t do these things. But for me, I had made a quiet decision to suck by wasting the hard-earned fitness I’d achieved going back to 2013.

Running back then became fluid, fast (-ish) and natural. Two years later, it had become laborious and frustrating, and it was my own fault. This crept into other areas of my life, most notably anything I tried to do in the mountains, or missing out on the opportunity to run with friends who had definitely decided not to suck and kept themselves in shape.

My fall race season concluded this past weekend, with some plusses and minuses. On the positive side: I did drop about 5 pounds, and successfully got to a point where I could run and finish another half marathon. On the negative: I sure wish I’d been faster. A 2:20 is not the slowest I’ve run (there are two 2:22 finishes out there), but far from my fastest (2:11) and behind last year’s 2:17. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I came, I saw and I conquered. Let’s just say I got what I trained for and got the job done.

But in this case, not sucking is going to be a choice to keep the gains — meager as they may be — from fading again. I’m not where I was in 2013, or even 2014. But I’m not where I was four months ago. Going forward, it would seem that my nine-month period of sloth can be reversed, and a new foundation laid that can be built upon. I’ve got some goals in mind, though we’ll see about all that.

Two things about this pic. First, the medal and the jacket were pretty sweet swag. Second, I take terrible selfies and really don't like doing it.

Two things about this pic. First, the medal and the jacket were pretty sweet swag. Second, I take terrible selfies and really don’t like doing it.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT RACE?

As for the race itself, it was about what I expected, but with a few twists.

First, the race is top-notch. I know one of the main organizers, Kim Hann, and she and her team always do a great job. This year was no different. Well-stocked and manned aid stations, a great (and challenging) course, and some of the coolest finisher medals around. That’s what you get with the Route 66 Marathon.

The weather was great: About 30 degrees at the start, but sunny with calm winds. Perfect for a long-distance event, and it was in the upper 40s by the time I finished.

But there were some differences between this year and races past. For starters, the size of the race was much larger. Nearly 16,000 people signed up, so the course itself was quite a bit more dense in terms of other runners.

And for me, since I didn’t sign up until September, that meant being pinned in the D corral.

Here’s the thing about the D: There are two types of runners here — those whose predicted finish times were on the slower end, or those who, like me, who signed up late. The D corral was the biggest of the four, and being packed toward the back of that one meant that the normal dodging and passing of runners at the start was turned up to 11. Lots of love to my fellow D-corral runners (y’all rock!), but the sheer mass of people made for slow going those first couple of miles. I’ve been spoiled by starting in the B corral the previous two years.

Having to stop for a restroom break at Mile 4 didn’t help, either. That’s another minute or more down the drain.

But I kept a fairly even pace throughout, predictably cratered on Mile 11 (the big hill going back into downtown), but gutted out the last mile with a little juice left over.

Lots of friends hit PRs for both the full and the half marathon races. Even more snagged their first-ever 13.1. It’s fun watching social media feeds as race day unfolds, and seeing the pics of tired but happy runners on what has become the biggest day of running in northeastern Oklahoma.

Being a part of that is cool. I guess that’s why I keep signing up. Partly it’s to stay motivated (and trying not to suck), but also reveling in what all of us can do when we push our limits on a bright Sunday morning.

On to the next big day.

Bob Doucette

Checking out the new course for the Route 66 Marathon

About a month ago, I posted something about the new route for the 2014 Tulsa Run. A huge park and road reconstruction project forced race organizers to make a dramatic change to that race’s course.

So what would that mean for the Route 66 Marathon? Both races have a couple things in common: They both start and end in downtown Tulsa, and they both have traditionally utilized Riverside Drive (the road that is going to see a big closure pretty soon) for a significant portion of their respective courses.

The re-routing of the Tulsa Run was significant. But for Route 66? Not nearly as much. Below is a map of the marathon and half marathon courses for Route 66:

rt66

The major change is how the race bypasses the construction area on Riverside. The route goes east a bit to a residential street (Cincinnati Avenue) before going back to Riverside Drive and into downtown. This is the home stretch for the half marathoners, and about 40 percent of the way for the full marathon crew.

The rest of the course is basically the same.

OVERVIEW

So for those of you running the half and the full, here’s an preview:

Expect a fast start. The race begins downtown, which is at the top of a hill overlooking the Arkansas River. So your run from downtown to midtown will be mostly downhill to flat.

The course gets hilly in midtown. Once you hit 21st Street and into those glorious old midtown neighborhoods, you’re going to be going up and down a series of small hills that will zap you if you’re not properly pacing yourself. It flattens out once you hit Peoria and the Brookside area, and remains that way as you make your next turn.

Bank some time on Riverside and Cincinnati. This part of the course is a good place to set a decent pace before heading back into downtown.

There is a hilly climb back into downtown. This is important to remember if you’re running the half. Make sure you’ve got enough gas in the tank to tackle that uphill climb into downtown. Half marathoners will then take a fast downhill on Denver Avenue before one more uphill stretch that takes your into the Brady Arts District and the finish line.

Marathoners will veer back east and start heading out of downtown again, back toward midtown. The hills return on Peoria and keep going on 21st Street and into the neighborhoods on the eastern portion of the course.

The fun begins as you head north toward the University of Tulsa. There’s nothing steep, but it’s a mostly steady uphill grade until you get there. A circle through campus will then take you to what I consider the crux of the full marathon.

So you know, 15th Street is not kind. Just before Mile 22 (right around the time when the wheels have started to fall off for a lot of runners), you hit the biggest hills of the race on 15th Street. Past Mile 23, you turn back north on Peoria and into downtown.

Once you dogleg into downtown, the course mercifully takes a flat to downhill pitch on First Street. On this stretch, you’ll have the option to take the Center of the Universe detour where you can pick up a prize and add a few tenths of a mile to your race. You can also pick up some suds and listen to a band while you’re there. And then you can call your race a baby ultra, right?

The homestretch puts you back on Denver Avenue, with a downhill pitch under some railroad tracks, then a short, steep incline into the Brady District and then the finish line.

Some things I learned…

Every race for the past three years that I’ve lived here have been cool to cold. Last year, it did not get above 28 degrees. Just watch the forecasts and be ready for a cool- to cold-weather run.

Expect excellent course support. Water/sports drink stops are frequent. Personally, I’d skip bringing your own water.

The course will challenge you. It’s not like you’re climbing giant hills. There are just a lot of them. Be sure you’re training on hills, even a little on your weekend long runs. If you don’t, well, you’ll find out.

While challenging, it’s also pretty awesome. You get two trips into downtown, long stretches through scenic neighborhoods, and a finish in the hippest, coolest place in Tulsa. The finish line party is worth the pain.

We’re less than two months away. Personally, I can’t wait for this one. Route 66 is a special race.

Bob Doucette

The Weekly Stoke: Dan’s inspiring words about his first half marathon

There are a lot of great stories that come out of big races. People take up running, struggling to make it a half-mile without having to stop. Months later, they’re crossing the finish line with a bunch of mile behind their backs, a finish line under their feet and then a medal around their neck.

A friend of mine named Dan is one of those guys. He is a classic story of a guy who was a committed non-runner who made a total about-face.

Usually this space on Fridays is reserved for the Weekly Stoke, but we’ll do a different version of that now. The following is taken from a Facebook post he made Friday, five days after pounding out 13.1 miles at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. His words speak for themselves, so I’ll let Dan do the talking now.

***

Dan (left) and his brother-in-law Corey after finishing the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

Dan (left) and his brother-in-law Corey after finishing the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

We have all seen them, those obnoxious little white ovals stuck to the back of other people’s cars proudly displaying their accomplishments…13.1, 26.2, 5k,10k or whatever. Until Sunday I looked at those stickers as a symbol of signs of a superiority complex or as an outright plea for affirmation and frankly I saw them as just that…until Sunday.

As I was plodding along on my own 13.1 mile journey I had time for some self-evaluation (what else can you do when running?) I thought about the events that had brought me to that place, to mile number 8 of 13.1 and I realized that the 13.1 on that sticker was WAY more than a just an arrogant advertisement of accomplishment, sure it is all about bragging rights but it is also about so much more.

For me it is about the day in August that I decided that I needed to get off the couch and it is about the fact that I had to walk for the first few days because I was too out of shape to run. It is about getting up at 5:30 in the morning to run one block and walk two, telling myself “just do more today than you did yesterday, even if it is only running one block further.” It is about the 150 or so miles that I ran before I decided that I might be in good enough shape to train for a half marathon, and for sure it is about the 280ish miles that I ran during training.

For me that stupid little sticker represents me basically running from Wichita, KS to Dallas, TX in this process (not all at once), and forcing myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when I did not want to, but it also represents something else. It represents the support I had from friends and family, Craig my running buddy who got up and went with me even though he did not run in the race. Corey and Eliya Bolgrin my brother-in-law and sister, even though we did not get to run together as much as we wanted to it was still fun when we did and you are both great encouragers (and Corey it was fun to get to run the race with you, thanks man!) Bob Doucette, always encouraging me to get out and run in spite of the cynicism that I had toward running for so long. 

So will I have one of those stickers on my car, maybe but only because I now understand how much work goes into earning that sticker. Even if you have always been a long distance runner all of your life, you don’t just wake up one day and run that far (I’m sure there are a few who do, but EVERYONE hates them…right?) And to my friends who are just now getting into running or are thinking about getting into running I just have this to say…I was the guy who “ran only when being chased, and that was negotiable” and now it doesn’t totally suck and it is even kind of enjoyable (some days still suck) but stick with it. You don’t have to run like the wind or run from here to the moon in the first month, just keep putting one foot in front of the other at whatever pace you find yourself at and keep telling yourself to do more today than you did yesterday and who knows, we may pass each other in a race one day.

***

Well said, Dan.

Bob Doucette

Race recap: The 2014 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

A stormy start to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. (Dave Morris photo)

A stormy start to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. (Dave Morris photo)

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.

The race

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.

The winners

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).

At the finish line. I'm the guy in black waving to the crowd.

At the finish line. I’m the guy in black waving to the crowd.

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.

Lesson learned.

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.

At the National Memorial, post race. I didn't get the time I wanted, but being a part of this race is always pretty special.

At the National Memorial, post race. I didn’t get the time I wanted, but being a part of this race is always pretty special.

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.

Bob Doucette