The original plan was to return to Enid on Saturday morning to make Amina's 11 am soccer game, a 3 pm Enid Symphony rehearsal, play in a concert at the ballpark on Saturday evening, then drive to OKC to spend the night at the Crowne Plaza. As luck would have it, Amina decided to go to a Girl Scout jamboree instead and the rehearsal/concert was rescheduled for June. So instead of heading back to Enid, I stayed in Tulsa for the rest of the conference on Saturday morning then drove straight to OKC with plenty of time to check-in, relax for a bit, then head to the Health & Fitness Expo at the Cox Center for packet pickup.
When I arrived at the Cox Convention center, the line to enter the expo was out the door and way down the hall. Luckily, the line moved quickly. It was about 4:30 and the packet pickup area was extremely congested.
I had time to look around and do some shopping before Deborah got to the conference center. I bought a 2009 memorial marathon cap (black this year) and an official pin; a Brooks shirt on sale; a "13.1" car magnet; and a pair of running sunglasses. I also spotted a new woodworking project for Seth...I definitely need one of these for Mother's Day:
I met up with Deborah who picked up her packet/tshirt and did some shopping. The expo ended at 6 pm so we dropped our stuff off at my car then walked to Bricktown for the pasta party at the Skky lounge above Mickey Mantle's steakhouse. The cost was $12 and I was a little surprised at how many people attended. Unfortunately, the pasta was cold and we decided that next time we would skip the pasta party and go, instead, to a nice restaurant for dinner.
When we returned to the Crowne Plaza, we got ready for the 6:30 am start time and I received a text message from a friend asking if everything was ok. At this point, we weren't even paying attention to the news or the weather so we turned the tv to the news and saw the storm cells moving towards Enid. The county was under a tornado warning so Deborah and I started calling our houses to find out if everyone was safe. Seth said it was raining heavily - Rhys was in bed already. I told him that they were under a tornado warning and needed to move to the safe room. He hadn't heard the tornado sirens going off yet. As the tv news progressed, they started mentioning streets nearby to my house: Purdue, highway 81, Phillips road, and Carrier - all within 5 miles of the house. We then started hearing about a tornado that had touched down near the Expo center. I called Seth back - the power was out at this point but he hadn't moved into the safe room yet - Rhys was still asleep in his room. He woke Rhys up and they moved over to the safe room where they spent most of the night as other storm cells made their way through from Fairview through Lahoma and right into Enid. Only north Enid was affected by the tornado.
I sat glued to the tv news until almost 11 pm but had to get some sleep before the race. Our alarm and wakeup call was set for 4:30 am so we could catch the 5 am shuttle to the race.
When the alarm went off, we quickly got ready for the race. I had already planned on taking 2 endurolytes and 1 anti-fatigue pill about an hour before the race and then again at miles 5 and 10 - I put these in a velcro wrist pouch. I put one packet of Luna Moons and 1 packet of Energy Beans in each pocket of my racing shorts. I was wearing the Brooks shirt that I had bought at the Expo the day before, my racing shorts, new running shoes, 2009 Memorial marathon cap, and my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch. I did decide to take my iPod Touch along as well.
In my clear check-in bag, I put one of those black shopping bags (so nobody could see what was actually in my bag) and added my phone, wallet, GoLean crunchy bar, a banana, 2 bottles of Powerade, my camera, and the race guide. Later, as we were waiting for the shuttle, I came back to the room to get my jacket. It was already 70 degrees but the wind was blowing and it was still cool. At least it wasn't raining.
We went downstairs to the lobby and there were probably about 30 people there already waiting for the shuttle. We got down there just past 5 am. As we waited, more and more people came downstairs and, at one point, there were probably 100 people waiting for the shuttle. 15 minutes came and went quickly - the schedule that the shuttles were supposed to be running on.
As 30 minutes dragged on to 45, people started getting nervous and some decided to drive themselves. Someone called a cab which the rest of us thought was a good idea so the poor hotel front desk started calling multiple cabs. As we waited for a cab, a group of four 1/2 marathoners had room in the front seat of their cab and offered it to us so Deborah and I, with the taxi cab driver's permission, both squeezed into the front seat.
As we were driven downtown, we passed a car accident involving what looked like several race participants just shy of the downtown exits.
The taxi dropped us off near 5th and Hudson and I hurriedly paid the $25 fare + tip ($30 total) as I was practically sitting in the driver's lap anyways. Deborah chipped in $5 but the other 4 passengers only chipped in $10 total but it was already 6:15 am and we had to hurry to get our gear checked and use the bathroom so we didn't quibble about it.
We jogged to gear check following a couple of guys who were also running late, then headed to the porta potty, waited in line for about 5 minutes listening to the National Anthem being sung, then made our way to the start corral. We couldn't even get into the corral - it was already packed full of people. When the gun went off, it was over 7 minutes later that we actually crossed the start line.
The weather prediction was for a high in the 70's but the wind was predicted to be 20-30 mph. It was humid but not overtly hot and the wind actually helped during the race cooling us off and being at our backs as the race got started. After we crossed the start line, we moved with the mass of people at a slow 11+ minute/mile pace: marathoners, half-marathoners, relay people, and people walking the 1/2 marathon. We made good time after the first mile or so and slowly made our way forward eventually catching up and passing the 2:30 pacer.
I skipped drinking at the first station - it had only been just over a mile. I did grab some powerade at the next 2 water stations then started having a mixture of water and powerade at all of the next water stations. By mile 5, we were slowing down at the water stations and, perhaps, in too much of a rush to get going, were still wearing about as much water as getting to drink it. I took my next 2 endurolytes and 1 anti-fatigue pill at the water station after mile 5 and started to eat some Luna Moons - sharing some with Deborah. The Luna Moons were softer than what I was expecting - maybe after being warmed up in my pocket for the past 5 miles. At one point, Deborah turned to me to ask if we had gone 3 miles yet...I replied that we were at 5.7 and asked where she had been this whole time. LOL.
The next few miles went smoothly but I could definitely feel some fatigue in my legs around mile 7. We had been keeping a 9:30-10:30 min/mile pace for most of the race so far except right at the start. Almost exactly at mile 10, the cramping started in my right calf. I went on for about 1/2 a mile then dropped back suddenly when it hit my left calf. I signalled for Deborah to keep going and not wait for me. From that point on through about mile 12.5, the cramping moved from calf to calf, down to the my left foot, up to my quads, and eventually to both hamstrings. When I stopped to stretch one muscle, another would start cramping. It was really frustrating because I had the energy and stamina to keep going but my legs were just not cooperating. I realized how much time I was losing when the 2:30 pacer went by. I did a combination of walking, brief stretches, and slow jogs for over 2 miles hoping at some point that the water, powerade, and electrolytes I had been taking would start to "kick in". Even through the last 1/2 mile of the course, some muscle in my leg was cramping. I finally decided that I was going to give the last 1/2 mile my all and increased my pace to under 9 min/mi determined to finish in under 2:30. At just before the finish line, my Garmin recorded a 6:51 min/mi pace. My final time was 2:27.11 with an overall pace of 11:15/mile. Deborah ran a great race with a final time of 2:18.37 with a pace of 10:35/mile.
After the race, we checked out the massage tent but the lines were long. We then visited the OKC Memorial before catching the shuttle back to the hotel.
Overall, I'm happy with my time for a first 1/2 marathon. I think without the cramping issues, my time would have been much closer to 2:15. I need to analyze my run some more and figure out a better strategy to minimize cramping. I have several theories at this point. I'm going to try and cut back on the Powerade and go with more straight water. I think I'm also going to try to increase my potassium and magnesium intake during a long run. I definitely could have eaten more the night before and probably should have increased my sodium consumption at least 1-2 days beforehand. I'm not a big fan of salty food and maybe that had something to do with it. I need to sit down sometime and add up how much electrolytes I think I got in before/during the race. I guess it's possible that I was a little overhydrated but I just don't think that's what it was. It's going to take some trial and error to figure this one out.
I was really disappointed at the shuttle service to the race. We had heard from other racers on our way back to the hotel via shuttle that the number of racers this year probably overwhelmed the shuttles which were supposed to run a circuit between each hotel. I'm guessing that the shuttles filled quickly "upstream" so they never made it to the Crowne Plaza. In the future, I hope they have just one bus per hotel to accomodate for so many out-of-town racers staying in the hotels. I also LOVE the Brooks shirt that I got the day before. By the time we finished, my shirt was almost completely dry despite sweating and inadvertantly (and on purpose, of course) dumping water and powerade all over it. I have to get online and order more of these shirts.
I'm looking forward to 2010 and considering trying the Disney Coast-to-Coast Challenge which would be either the Disneyworld 1/2 marathon in January or the Princess 1/2 marathon in March AND the Disneyland 1/2 marathon in September. For the remainder of 2009, I'm looking forward to the Enid Great Land Run 5k in September and a trip to Disneyworld at the end of September for the Expedition Everest Challenge at Animal Kingdom where Rhys and Seth will be a team and Amina and I will be a team - the kids' first 5k race.