So this morning I participated in my first ever half marathon, and in a lot of ways, it feels like this race was a long time coming. I’m about to explain how that happened, but apart from divulging my running history, today was not about me so much as it was about the community of OKC, and that’s why I’ve always appreciated this race. And driving home today from OKC I began to reminisce about the past year, the training, the sacrifice, and also since I hadn’t posted anything on here in awhile, I wanted to share it with those who will read it (luck you, right??). So here we go.
I have always wanted to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. But I was never in shape to train, and let’s face it, life happens quick. For me, once I left high school and cross country behind, I had college, got married, had a kid, started a career, had another kid, and that’s where I began my half marathon journey. Let me say that a lot of things have changed with running since I was in school. Technology has obviously progressed, along with sports science, and I was oblivious to a lot of this. It was this time a year ago that I decided that I was going to run the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. To be honest I really had no clue in Hell what I was doing, because I could barely run 2 miles without having to walk, so completing a half marathon seemed like the furthest thing from reality. I had barely been able to complete a 5K the summer before so my confidence wasn’t exactly at an all time high.
I decided that if I was going to run the half, I needed to run a 5K in under 30 minutes for starters, so I completed two of them last summer, attaining my goal, and felt comfortable about pursuing the half. My addiction had begun. Training began on New Years Day, so instead of being consumed by bowl games and the National Championship, I focused on training. Training was not easy. Especially in January. Especially before I went to work. I think at some point I wore 3 or 4 layers of clothes just so I wouldn’t freeze my butt off in the cold Oklahoma weather. I kept telling myself that the January workouts would pay off in April, and all I could do was believe I was heading in the right direction. I gradually got faster, but as any runner can attest, this was slower rather than faster. February rolled around and I got hurt. I didn’t run much that month as I injured my left calf, and then at the end of February I had a high ankle sprain in my left foot that I confused for a gout flare up. I was thankful it wasn’t gout. Training resumed in March, and that was the month I learned about dehydration first-hand. I never drank enough water and always felt sick. Note to self. As I could see April creeping around the corner I thought I could finish this race, but there was one more lesson that I had to learn.
I had never paid attention to my breathing pattern in high school or at any other time for that matter, and it took a $20 book from Runner’s World to change all that. I read Running On Air in about 5 days, and in it I learned that when I run, my breathing and footsteps were not moving in rhythm, and I wasn’t breathing from my belly like I should have, but from my lungs, which is a no-no. At any rate, I started to figure out the breathing rhythm when I also realized, I shouldn’t listen to music and run. That sounds sacrilegious to a lot of runners, but in not being distracted by music, I was allowed to listen to my body and how it felt during a run. Made sense.
I won’t bore with details from the race, but just some small observations. First, there were a LOT of people running this race. The staging area I was in was packed like sardines. When the horn went off to start, my group waited at least another 7 to 8 minutes to get rolling. The first few miles were full of people running too fast (probably myself included if I’m being honest, although I wasn’t going fast), seeing lots of support and enjoying the beautiful weather. The race got tough for me at mile 8 when I hit Classen Boulevard and hit the wall. I hauled it in to get done in my original goal, under 2 hours and 15 minutes, but I was tired of running. I was glad for the race to be over. My favorite moment in the race though was seeing this elderly gentlemen wearing a Tommy Bahama inspired outfit drinking a Martini and smoking a cigar. I was envious of this guy and wanted to be in his shoes and I wasn’t even tired.
I have no idea what I’m going to do next racing wise. I’m taking the next two weeks easy, forming a plan to lose another 25-30 lbs., and hope to come up with a gameplan. I’m sure I’ll run this half again, it may be next year, it may not be. I think it’s safe to say though that I’m not running another half this year. Maybe a 5K or a 10K. And training.