Thursday, May 07, 2015

15th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon - 26 April 2015 - First Marathon

A year ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of running a full marathon.  Even though it was on my "bucket list", I really couldn't see myself finishing a marathon because of issues with a toe on my left foot that always blistered after around 7 miles of running despite taping and different types of running shoes.  Changing to Brooks seemed to help but it didn't eliminate my toe issue.

I was finally given a suggestion to try Injinji performance toe socks by a fellow running club member, Pam Stein.  While up in Wichita having my Acura serviced in January of 2015, I found a running store that told me where to find these socks and bought a pair of white womens' small original weight no-show Injinji performance toe socks as well as 3 pairs of black light weight no-show socks.

These socks literally changed my life.  For the first time since starting to run, I could go for more than 7 miles without my left toe screaming at me to stop.

It was a combination of new socks and having successfully completed the New Years' Double this year (half marathon on New Year's Eve and half marathon on New Year's Day) in Allen, Texas that I seriously started to consider running my first marathon.

The Enid Running Club's marathon training program started at the end of January and I planned to follow it as closely as I could given my work schedule.  I was able to follow it with just a few adjustments (switching a couple of weekend miles) to accommodate for various work issues and other family commitments.

So I registered for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon's half marathon and after completing about 6 weeks of the club's training program, I was finally confident enough to change my registration over from the half to the full marathon.

For my 20 mile training run, I didn't hydrate properly before my run and took "real food" (peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, protein balls, and dried fruit) with me on my run and not enough electrolytes.  I tried to do three 6 miles laps and only drink/eat at the end of each lap when I came back around to my car.  This didn't work well at all and I had cramping issues most of my 3rd lap and took over 5 hours to do just 20 miles.

I read everything I could get my hands on about proper hydration and intake during a marathon and when my 22 mile training came up, I was prepared with a better plan but it would mean carrying my own water and Gu:

16-24 oz of fluid 2-3h before my run - I drank Powerade
6 oz of fluid every 20 minutes during my run - I switched between water and Powerade.
100 cal carbs (25 g) every hour after the first hour - Gu gels worked well for this

I carried water and powerade with me on a hydration belt and ran the Enid trails going back to my car every hour to refill my bottles.  I took a Gu gel at 1:40, 2:40, 3:40 and 4:40.  I finished 22 miles in 4:45 without a single cramp and gave myself the confidence boost that I needed.  The rest of training went well and aside from a couple of not-so-good runs after weight training in the morning (too many squats!), tapering was scary but so nice.  Everything that I read said that tapering before a big race was very important but I still felt guilty and worried at the same time that my "down time" would adversely affect my race.  I'm glad I didn't fall for that and stuck to the training plan that last week finishing off training with a couple miles the day before the marathon.

I headed down to OKC later that Saturday morning and, after a quick stop to buy the Enid Running Club a new trailer (a whole other story), checked in at the Sheraton downtown.  The line to check in was already long at just a little bit past noon!  Luckily, my room was ready and dropped my stuff off and walked over to the Arts Festival.  It took me a while to find the food booths - all I wanted was a big baked potato - one of my favorite meals that I hardly get to eat.  I ate as I walked over to the last part of the marathon course right before the final right turn onto Broadway and the straight-away to the finish line.  I walked past the finish line and had never noticed the commemorative 26 mile marker before.  I heard a lot of clinking noises and saw the volunteers arranging all 20,000+ finisher medals.

Giant pulled pork baked Potato from the Arts Festival

I walked back to the Sheraton and then across the street to the Cox Convention Center to pick up my race packet.  It wasn't very crowded at all and I walked right up to the marathon packets.  I looked around at the expo for a bit, got my free picture, and did buy myself a new "no-slip" headband as well as an OKCMM 26.2 car sticker before getting my race shirt and walking back to the Sheraton.

I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my race stuff and relaxing.  I had 3 Gu gels, my favorite Nike running bra with a pocket for my iphone, the ERC shirt we had specially made for the OKCMM, my favorite pair of Injinji toe socks, compression tights and compression stockings.  I debated on whether to take my sunglasses with me - I ended up taking it and just wearing it during the whole race on my cap because the sun never really came out.  The weather forecast was looking really good!  Rather than opting for the traditional pasta, I wanted my carbs in the form of what I was familiar with......Chinese, so I went to a place called Chow's and got their noodles with BBQ pork and vegetables.  It was delicious and I had enough leftover to have as a snack the next day.


I went to bed early around 9 pm and was up before my alarm clock went off - just before 4:30 am.  My plan included drinking about 18 oz of powerade while getting dressed and then eating some oatmeal with raisins and banana about an hour before the race which I took with me as I walked to meet the Enid Running Club at the OKC Memorial for a group picture.  

All along I had a full marathon on my "bucket list" and had always pictured myself at the Disney Marathon as my first but the timing was just off.  In retrospect, I'm glad that I decided to make the OKCMM my first full marathon - the support and friendship from the running club really made this day a special one.  
After taking a group picture, I made my way towards corral D but decided to walk up Robinson instead of Harvey - there was a lot less traffic going north on Robinson but when I got to corral D, I couldn't find a port-a-potty so I had to double back on Harvey to find some.  I waited for about 15 minutes to get to use the potty and finally made my way back to corral D at around 6:25 am.  I knew that there would be a 5:00 hour pace group and was surprised to see that there was also a 5:30 pace group so I went and lined up just behind that group thinking my time was going to be closer to 6 hours.
I never heard the official start of the race - we just kinda started moving slowly towards the start line.  Finally at around 6:40 am, I could see the start line and we crossed it at just about 18 minutes into the race.
Waiting to start
Thanks for their service

Starting to get jittery

Behind the 5:30 "Mullet Men" pacing group

Finally getting to the start line

Now when I finally crossed the starting line, I had intended on running the marathon like I had done my training run - at a slow and easy pace for as long as I could go.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to keep up with the 5:30 pace group but when they reached their first walk interval and slowed down to walk, I dismissed the idea of staying with them and kept on going.  I found them catching up to me over the first mile even though I was just running and they were run/walking 4:2.  At that point, I thought I might as well stick with them and so started following their run/walk approach.  When they slowed down to walk, it was a very brisk walk - not slow at all.  I soon came to realize the advantages of running with the pace group:  (1) they knew the course well and could run a little longer or walk a little shorter to "bank" some time so that we could get some more walking time on the hills; (2) Matthew and Ed were both very entertaining which helped with the monotony of the race - they told jokes, sang, made funny comments about anything that popped into their heads, and so many people commented about their mullets and made the mistaken comment about how off pace we were (we were the 5:30 finish time group, not the 5:30 mpm pace group, lol).  Matthew even took a bit of a detour to get a beer out of someone's cooler that had been left by the side of the road and for a little while, he was playing some really great oldies through a speaker he was carrying on his belt;  (3) the walk interval really did help with some "recovery" during the race.

With the help of the "Mullet Men", we were able to walk a good part of "Gorilla Hill" which is the toughest part of the course.

The race went really really well for quite some time.  I did drink at just about all of the hydration stations alternating between water and powerade and at the water stop right before the part of the course that went through the park by Lake Hefner (about 13 miles or halfway), I did have to stop and use the port-a-potty.  It didn't take me long to catch up to the pace group and it amazed me that neither Matthew nor Ed had to stop and use the bathroom.  

When we reached mile 17-18, Matthew picked up the pace a bit to "catch up" and I struggled a bit to keep up.  It was at this point that we separated from Ed and the rest of the 5:30 pace group.  I found out later that Ed got ill and couldn't finish the race.  Only 2 of us were still with Matthew - a woman named Cara and I.  It was at this point that it felt like we were working harder.  I started to look forward to our walking breaks and at around mile 20, started to feel the familiar throb in my legs and the change in my breathing.  All the way up to this point, I had felt great with no problems with my breathing or leg fatigue.  I remember Matthew asking us how we were doing and I had replied that I was starting to feel it - getting a bit tired.  

We pushed on and still had some time that we needed to "catch up" on.  At mile 24 or so is when I started wondering if I needed to drop back from the 5:30 pace group but it was "only" 2 more miles and I really started to think that I could actually finish in under 5:30.  It seemed like those last 2 miles took forever but once I got to the last street before the last turn, I recognized it and really started to get excited.  We were on pace to reach the finish right on time and Matthew encouraged both of us to take the last corner and then just "take off" to the finish.  I really didn't think I had anything left to speed up with at the end but when you see the finish line and hear the crowds and realize that you're almost done, you naturally just speed up.  With my head and eyes down (I realize that I went right past a lot of people holding their hands out to get a "high five"), I concentrated only on just finishing and crossed the finish line with a time of 5:29:34 - over 30 minutes faster than I had predicted.  I was absolutely ecstatic.  

I so enjoyed those nutter butter cookies, oreos, and Carl's Jr cheeseburgers.  I'm so thankful that my tummy gives me no troubles when I'm running.  After Cara's family took a picture of the 3 of us, I followed Matthew back to the Landrunners' tent and finished my burger and had a bottle of water.  I was hoping Ed would make it by so we could snap a picture but I waited for a bit and met a few Landrunners but he didn't make it by.

So I walked back to the Sheraton - very slowly - and did an ice bath but the tub control was a little off and the bath tub filled with kinda cold water and half of the 16 pound bag of ice I brought with me the day before had melted.  My ice bath was only kinda cold.  Afterwards, I just sat in bed, watched some tv, planned dinner, and Facebooked but my legs were throbbing and hurting so bad that I finally decided to get up and fill that 16 pound ice bag from the hotel ice machine and re-do my ice bath.  The 2nd time was much colder and worked well.

Dinner was at the Red Prime steakhouse that I just walked to from the hotel:   Roasted garlic crusted dry aged ribeye with truffle butter and side of foie gras. Red mojito followed by some moscato d'asti. It was a completely guilt-free dinner!  I could not wait to put the sticker on my car!

Here are my official (and unofficial) results:

Nike+ app results

I feel like I totally lucked out with the weather and everything associated with my first marathon:  the venue, the cause and people we were running for, friends experiencing their own achievements, and making new friends along the way.  Now that my first marathon is in the books (and without injury), I'm looking forward to 2 more marathons already....we've signed up for the Tulsa Route 66 5K/Full Marathon in November as well as the Disneyworld Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon on 4 consecutive days) in January of 2016.  Can't wait!