Yesterday, was the day of my second half-marathon. Last year, I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon just 20 days after my Dad passed away. I had trained hard for it, and I ran it for him :) This year, life was a little more complicated (hard to believe, but true) so I didn't train as faithfully*** This is an important note to remember as you read this post. These are the completely random thoughts that I had as I ran/jogged/walked/limped my 13.1 miles yesterday.
1. I've never been to any other "big" races before so I don't have much to base this on, but the OKC Memorial Marathon is the most moving and amazing race. It truly honors and remembers those who were lost on 4/19/95.
2. Almost 25,000 runners in downtown OKC. If that won't motivate you, nothing will!
3. Everything about this race is amazing: the runners (top-notch!), the spectators (unbelievable), the volunteers (completely selfless, really!) Yes, I'm gushing, but there was not a single bad moment at all in the whole time I was downtown. From the guy who let me park for free because I was a runner to the woman who handed me my finishers medals to the people along the course who were holding signs to cheer on complete strangers, the whole experience was inspiring.
4. I totally believe God had complete control of my playlist. As I got to the bottom of Gorilla Hill, and I was looking at the banner above it wondering if I would make it, "Dear X, You Don't Own Me" by Disciple came on. Not my normal music, but it works great on a running playlist. Just passed mile 9 (the EXACT same place as last year), I heard "God's Not Dead" by Newsboys--exactly what I needed to get me on to those last few miles. And, as I rounded the corner to head to the finish line, "The Final Countdown" by Europe--no lie! It was awesome, and I'm really thankful that I managed to get music before the race, because the little training I did, I didn't have music.
5. There were amazing people along the race course. We honestly didn't go fifteen feet without someone holding a sign and cheering. I LOVE those people who came out on a Sunday morning to cheer us on. No, they weren't running, but they were a HUGE part of helping so many people finish.
6. I don't know the name of the neighborhood, but it is one of the nicest in OKC. There are people who sit out on the sidewalk, offer water bottles, and hold signs for the runners. Of course, they don't have many options: leave the neighborhood before the race starts and the road is closed, or stay and enjoy the festivities. Thank you!
7. The sea of red sox--completely moving!
8. I didn't get to see an old friend because of the mass of people, but he saw me running and cheered for me. There's just something about knowing someone is cheering you on (even if you don't see them) that motivates you to keep going.
9. He was there cheering for his brother, who finished 3rd in the half-marathon just a couple weeks after an amazing finish at Boston.
10. Even though I am a totally slow half-marathoner, the moment that I hear the sirens to tell me to move over because the super-fast marathoners are PASSING me, I am so excited. I do not think, "Oh, running is so easy for them." All I can think is how much blood, sweat, and tears they have put into training, and I cry and cheer them on. (Yes, I cry while running. Don't judge me.)
11. My husband, who does not run, always says that he is going to start running after I finish a big race. That makes me smile to know that even though he sees me hurting or bummed about a slow finish, I have inspired him to do what I love.
12. My husband also takes on the huge task on that Sunday morning of taking our four children, getting them ready, and off to church on time without me. He does it without complaint, and he is always encouraging me along the race course by text. I am so thankful for him and his support!
13. My kids, four of the many reasons why I run, are amazing! They are ALWAYS asking when they can do a race with me, and I love getting to run with them.
14. Back to Gorilla Hill....I know if I can make it to that yellow house on the corner, the rest of the race is downhill (for the most part.) Best water stop ever!
15. This year I did the race completely alone. I had friends that were running it, but we had different paces so we just did our own thing. It was nice, but hard to get pics! However, when I approached a total stranger to take my picture at the finish line, he happily obliged. I'm telling you, EVERYONE was amazingly kind at this race.
16. To the firefighters in full gear, I applaud you. I was so happy to see the people cheering you on, patting your shoulders, and showing you respect.
17. To the officers, in uniform and in plain clothes, thank you for allowing us to feel safer. I tried to thank as many as I could, but there were just too many.
18. To the volunteers, thank you for giving of your time to work at this event. You made it great!
19. To the survivors and family members of the victims, thank you for allowing us to run in memory of your losses.
20. To the runners who finished before me, great job! I have no grand illusions of a first place finish (although those who know my competitive nature might argue), but hopefully next year, I'll be hot on your heels.
21. To the runners who finished behind me, great job! Even if you finish in the very last place, you did more than millions of Americans yesterday morning. Be proud of your accomplishment, and wear your medal with pride.
22. To all my friends and family who offered prayers and encouraging words yesterday, thank you! I received so much more support than I deserve or expected, and you all made me feel so special. I truly have an amazing support system, and you make me want to do the same for others.
23. Since I still can't find anything bad about the race, I will say that the muscles on the ride side of my body from the waist down completely locked up around mile 12. I really had no choice but to keep going, but I'm sure I looked awful to those who were watching. Thankfully, they were numb by the finish line, and I managed to run/hobble across. ***See note above, and remind me of it when I start training next year!
Having said all of that (and it was a lot, but you have a lot of things run through your head when you run that far), I just want to say my finish could have been disappointing. I finished 30 minutes slower than last year, but I can't be disappointed. Someday, I'll run for time, but right now, I just run. So if any of you want to run it with me next year, I'll totally be ready!