Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Route 66 Marathon

The best way to describe this race in one sentence would be: the race that didn't go at all as planned. But I'll go ahead and describe it in lots and lots of sentences. Thomas came to our house to ride to the race with us. Mom, dad, Thomas and I all headed out around 7:20 and Ty stayed home to get the kids ready to go out and cheer. On the drive to the race I drank my one scoop of protein powder mixed with water like I have before each of my long runs. I was worried we wouldn't find Jeremy before the start since my whole race plan was to run with him. We arrived in the same parking lot as him so it worked out perfectly. We walked to the start area together and then I stood in line for one more restroom break. Jeremy decided to go ahead and head into our start corral and Thomas waited for me. When Thomas and I headed into the corral we couldn't find Jeremy. I was expecting him to be toward the back of the corral. Dad walked along the outside of the corral and found Jeremy so we were able to catch up with him. I handed mom my sweats over the corral fence and then we were ready for the race to start. The temperature at the race start was 35 degrees but it was supposed to get up to 55 degrees by the time I would finish so I wore shorts. I was assuming I'd be pretty cold at the beginning of the race since it was colder than I'd normally wear shorts but I was fine. I think mostly because the weather was so beautiful, it was very sunny with nearly no wind. Perfect weather for a race!
Walking to the race start.

They did the countdown and then shot off the confetti which is always such an awesome way to start the race! Jeremy took out pretty fast and we immediately had quite a few runners between us. The pace felt a bit fast and I looked down to see we were running 7:30 pace. I slowed down right away and figured once Jeremy's excitement died down, I'd catch up to him and we could run together. I went through the first mile in 8:02 and I still had an eye on Jeremy. I was freaking out a little bit about how fast I ran the first mile. I started to worry that the rest of the race was going to be so painful! I spent most of the second mile in a panic over how fast I'd run the first mile and about how far ahead of me Jeremy was. During the 2nd mile I started to lose sight of Jeremy and I was really worried about him. I was afraid he'd gone out way too fast and was going to have a really rough race. I had slowed down quite a bit during the 2nd mile in an attempt to get more on pace. I went through the 2nd mile in 8:43. I was shocked to already see mom, dad, Ty and the kids. I told them Jeremy had gone through the first mile under 8:00 and they didn't seem as panicked over that as I felt. I threw my gloves to mom and felt a bit more at ease. I finally decided it wasn't that big of a deal that I had run the first mile so fast because there is a lot of downhill during that mile. Mile 3 was 8:38 and mile 4 was 8:37.
Dad and Elise watching for us to come by.
Trying to get over to my family, I'd been on the inside of the turn when I saw them.
Miles 5-7 were 8:48, 8:33, 8:31, and 8:25. I kept searching the packs of runners ahead of me looking for Jeremy. I knew he was wearing the blue half-zip jacket from last year's race but the color of it was really similar to this year's jacket which a lot of people were wearing so it was really hard to distinguish. I'd get excited thinking I saw him only to realize a moment later it wasn't him. I tried to let go of worrying about him and just ease into my own race. It was mentally hard because my race plan had been to stick with him the whole race. I wasn't prepared to run alone. I kept telling myself it was fine, I had run a 22 mile long run completely alone. I could do this race without someone by my side the whole way. I was feeling really good and started to enjoy myself. There were tons of spectators out cheering and lots of kids giving out high fives. I high fived everyone who had their hand out during the race. I also saw some funny signs along the way, such as "You run better than our government," and "If Trump can run, so can you!" I ran past the running store that sponsors my race team and got to high five the head of the race team. I saw my family again at mile 6 and asked my dad how Jeremy was looking. He said Jeremy was looking good but was way ahead of me. Getting the reassurance that Jeremy looked good helped me finally relax. I decided he must just be feeling really good and was going to have an awesome race. I also got the sense from how he went to the corral without me and took off so fast without me at the start that maybe he wanted to go it alone so he could run his own race. At mile 6 I ate a Gu and then when I hit mile 7 I realized that hadn't been my plan. I had planned to eat a Gu at miles 8, 16, and then 22 if I felt like I needed another one. I decided I'd shoot for 6, 13, and 20ish since I ate my first Gu early. I was still cruising along around 8:30 pace for most miles and pleased with how I felt. Each time my mile split would beep I'd get excited thinking, "I'm still popping off 8:30's!"
This is my favorite picture from the race. Days later Elise is still telling me, "I cheer for Uncie J!"
High fives for my loves!
We had a couple flatter miles in this section and I went through miles 8-10 in 8:25, 8:32, and 8:38. There's an out and back section around mile 11 and I saw Jeremy wasn't too far ahead of me. We waved and cheered for each other. I also noticed the 3:40 pace group wasn't that far ahead of me either. I went through mile 11 in 8:17 and finally caught up to Jeremy at mile 12. As I ran up beside him, he told me was going to need to stop off at the bathroom at some point and I once again got the feeling he wanted to go it alone so I decided to go on ahead. After the race he told me he didn't end up stopping but him telling me that was what I needed to go off and run my own race. I saw my family again around in here and pulled my long-sleeved shirt off from under my tank top and threw it to mom. As I was doing so I accidentally ripped both the holes on the right side of my bib. Luckily it wasn't windy so I didn't have any trouble with only having my bib pinned on the left side of the number. As the full marathon turned off and the half marathon continued to the finish, I got excited thinking Thomas was finishing and looked forward to asking my family how his race went the next time I saw them.

I went through mile 13 in 8:25 and then I went through the half a little under 1:52. I realized if I could run a 1:48 second half I could run a PR. My PR going into the race was a 3:40:05 from 9 years ago in my first marathon when I was 22 years old. I didn't know what pace a 1:48 half would be but I knew it was over 8:00 so I went with it. I knew 1:44 was 8:00 pace but anything over that I wasn't so sure about. I looked it up after I got home and realized it was 8:14 pace which is funny because I was shooting for 8:10 pace without even knowing. Had I known for sure that I needed to run 8:14 pace for the rest of the race, I would've been a bit hesitant to believe I could do it. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Without knowing for sure what I was asking of myself, it was much easier to believe it was possible. I think the fact that I believed I could average 8:10 pace or under for the rest of the race shows how good I was feeling at that point. I told myself I might as well go for it. If I crashed and burned I'd still break 4 hours and at least I'd tried for a PR. There were a couple of flatter miles and I felt great so I picked up the pace maybe a little too much at that point. Miles 14-16 were 7:49, 7:52, and 7:52. I was really reeling in the 3:40 pacer and kept telling myself, "One mile at a time, hit them at 8:10." I ate another Gu at mile 13. We ran through a neighborhood where kids were handing out leis to the runners. A little girl was standing in the middle of the road passing them out. She tried to hand one to the guy running in front of me and he didn't take one. She looked disappointed so I took one when I went through. I threw it over my neck and ran with it for the next few miles until I saw Carter and Elise and passed it off to them. When the wind was at our sides it would blow the lei to my side and it rubbed my shoulders but other than that it just bounced along behind me on my back. I kept my eyes forward and trained on the yellow balloons of the 3:40 pacer.
I was laughing that mom got a picture of me taking my long sleeved off which was under my tank top before I put my tank top back on because it reminded me of a picture from the half marathon I ran 32 weeks pregnant with Carter.
Half marathon and marathon, five years apart.

A little after mile 16 I caught up to the 3:40 pacer and ran with him for a little bit. Miles 17-20 were 8:10, 7:55, 8:01, and 8:01. I was pretty pumped about how good I was feeling. I kept wanting to pick up the pace but told myself to wait until the last 10k and see how I felt then. I saw my family again at mile 18 and that was wonderful! They were at perfect places for passing off clothes and I was so excited I got to see them so much during the race. Each time I saw them it was a huge morale boost! I noticed my mile splits were about a tenth of a mile over what the race mile splits were so I added an extra minute when figuring what I needed to average for the last few miles to still run under 3:40. I was passing a lot of runners but wasn't even paying attention to the people around me, I was focusing on staying ahead of 3:40 pace and the pacer. I'd hear people cheering for the pacer after I went past and didn't like how close behind me he was. At mile 20 I was pretty pumped and was thinking about how I could actually train for a marathon, doing speed work and tempos, and run the marathon again next year so I could really have a great race. Miles 20-22 were 8:01, 8:01, and 8:04. I saw my family again at mile 22 and was so excited! In my head, they saw I was ahead of the 3:40 pacer and would know I was running a PR! Right around that time I felt a gush and noticed I was bleeding through my tampon and all over my shorts. I wasn't supposed to start my period until Monday but, unfortunately, started a day early on Saturday which meant marathon day was my heaviest day! I also started feeling a little rough and my mindset switched to, "I'm never running another marathon again!"
Passing off my lei as I ran with the 3:40 pacer.

Miles 23 and 24 were 8:08 and 8:11. I calculated that I could run the last 2 miles in 8:30 and still break 3:40. At that point I started to get another wind and started thinking, "I might run another marathon but I think I'll need awhile." I think I can thank that extra perk to the Gu I ate at mile 22. I don't remember which mile it was, but one mile when I went past the course clock I saw I was at 2:23 and told myself Shalane Flanagan would be finishing around then if she were running. I got excited to be in the last 5k of the race and started to try to push the pace a little but my legs were getting tired. I also knew there was a decent hill in the last mile. During the race I got a kick out of how much easier the hills felt running 8:30 for the marathon rather than 7:00 pace for the half. The hills really hadn't bothered me at all during the race. I kept telling myself, "You can slow down but then you'll just be in pain for longer." 
Thomas getting some post-race snuggles from the kids.
When I saw this picture I was so glad I went out of my way to high five all the kids on the course!
Once I hit mile 24 the downhills were starting to get difficult and there were some long ones! I struggled the most during mile 25 and it felt like the longest mile of the race! I went through it in 8:29 and told myself to just keep it under 8:30 for the last mile. One spectator told me the course was flat the rest of the way but I knew we had to go under a bridge and then back uphill with less than a mile to go. I was still irritated he told me that even though I knew he was wrong. I was so excited that unlike last year I was not only holding onto my PR but shaving more time off in the last few miles. I caught up to a woman running with about 3 guys and passed her. Then she passed me back after the uphill. I wasn't trying to go with her but when I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I got excited and took off. I overtook her and the guys she was running with. I went through mile 26 in 8:05 and kicked as hard as I could the last portion which I ran in 7:45 pace. As I passed the sign that said mile 13 for the half marathon I reached down and took a pin out of the right side of my shirt and repinned my bib in the actual bib since the hole was ripped. I didn't want to miss having finishing pictures because my bib was flapping around. You know because that's a priority when you've run 26 miles, haha! As I neared the finish line I saw I was well under 3:40 and got excited pumping my fist as I crossed the finish line. I almost cried during that last stretch to the finish. I felt like it was redemption to not just squeak under my PR but to break it by over a minute after just missing my half-marathon PR by 14 seconds a year ago at this race. It was a pretty powerful feeling to be running under the pace I needed at the end rather than struggling not to lose too much time at the end like I had last year. I felt strong and determined.
These may have been the only race photos I've ever had where I was smiling as I finished.

At first I was disappointed that I didn't run the race with Jeremy as I had hoped. But the more I thought about it, I think it worked out best that way. I was glad Jeremy felt free to run his own race and do what was best for his body. I think if I had been running with him he would have felt pressure to keep running rather than walking when he needed to. No matter what pace he runs, his hip gets sore where he has pins holding his bones in place. I think even if he'd started the race at 9-9:30 pace he would've gotten sore at the end and had to walk some anyway. Long runs are harder for him with the injuries he's recovered from. Jeremy was definitely pleased with how things went. He was excited for me that I had run a PR and was really happy to have finished the race. It was a huge feat for him! He has such a wonderful mindset going into races, making goals based on his workouts and then adjusting throughout the race as needed. He said he originally hoped to be just over 4 hours. Then as the race progressed and he needed to walk some, he decided it would be neat if he finished in 4:20 and was tickled when he thought he'd finished in 4:20:20. He actually finished one second faster than that. If it hadn't been for Jeremy going out faster than expected, there's no way I would have run a PR. Had I taken off and followed my own race plan, I would have started out at 9:00 pace. Those first few miles around 8:30 pace is what helped propel me toward believing I could sustain that pace for the rest of the race. Although, ideally, I wanted to run the whole race with Jeremy, the way the race panned out ended up being pretty perfect. There's nothing like giving up on a season thinking you have no shot to come back and run any PRs or decent races after battling minor injuries, only to unexpectedly come out of the season with a new PR! I can thank Jeremy for that! I never would have been brave enough to chase that PR if he hadn't taken me out too fast for the first mile and then left me chasing him down!

The minute I crossed the finish line I felt terrible. My legs were so done and every muscle from my hips down started twitching. I decided I might run another marathon, but it would need to be in another 8 years. I hobbled over to the fencing on the outside of the chute and grabbed on for support. I stood there holding on and catching my breath until a volunteer came over to check on me. Then I started walking so I could avoid being dragged off to the med tent like my most recent marathon. That was a horrible experience! I fought the urge to cry partially from excitement at my new PR, partly due to fatigue, and partly due to being in the most pain I've ever been in my life. It took me a long time to make it through the chute and I was in so much pain! I think that may have been in part because I ran such a huge negative split which meant I ran a 1:47:07 second half! I also believe I wasn't quite in as good of shape as I was when I ran my PR 9 years ago but I just ran a smarter race (although not tactically planned) and had absolutely perfect weather with 35-55 degree temps and virtually no wind which is unheard of for Oklahoma! I definitely ran much faster than I'd trained for which probably made it hurt more as well. I trained more for a sub-4 hour marathon with no tempo runs and my last speed workout being 5 weeks out from race day! After the Tulsa Run I was a bit in shock over how much under my 1:10 goal I had run and I rode that runner's high for, I'm not kidding, at least a week! I think going into a race just hoping to run under 4 hours and then running a freaking PR tops that for sure! I'm definitely feeling really good about it!

I finished the race with an official time of 3:38:58 and a new marathon PR after 9 years! I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and saw I had placed 3rd in my age group out of 77 runners. I looked at the half splits and I was running 11th in my age group at that point, moving up to 3rd by the finish! I was 124th out of 1,566 total finishers and 23rd out of 737 females. Since I set my phone up to track me, Jeremy, Thomas, and one of my friends running the marathon it showed all my splits and what pace I ran for that segment of the race. I went through the 10k in 53:45 which was 8:39 pace, then the 10 mile in 1:26:07 which was 8:33 pace, then the half in 1:51:51 which was 8:19 pace for that section, 2:47:19 for the 20 mile which was 8:03 pace for that section, and ran the last 6 miles at 8 minute pace. My Garmin showed I ran 8:17 pace but the official results show 8:22 pace. My Garmin also showed I ran 26.42 miles so either I did a terrible job running the tangets (which I know I did since I ran out of the way to high five, get to my family, and get water at the stops, but not sure I did that bad of a job) or my Garmin is way off with distance. After seeing my mom's pictures I realized how much distance I added running over to high five the kids and see my family as well as on other sections of the course when I went out of the way to high five kids on the course, so it is likely that I did add around 2/10ths of a mile to the distance. Since my goal was to finish and have fun I put more emphasis on enjoying the spectators than on running the tangents and I don't regret that at all. I also know I was checking my Garmin mile splits compared to the course mile splits and they were pretty close for the first few miles but I kept being more and more over the longer the race was and probably the more I ran longer around turns.

The course is decently challenging with about 700 feet of elevation gain, but not too bad. Jeremy finished in 4:20:19 which put him 417th out of 1,566 overall! It's amazing to think he finished faster than over 1,000 people while running with a rod in his femur and pins in his hip! That evening Jeremy was walking much better than I was and I said, "Jeremy's walking better than me because he has the advantage of having a rod in his leg." Everyone got a kick out of it and I think it also reminded Jeremy of how amazing it was that he was able to do what he did. He and dad went up to the NTSICU that afternoon to pass out survivor shirts for the nurses who asked for one and they got to see Jeremy and hear about how he had run a marathon that morning, it was pretty cool! I'm still in awe that Jeremy was able to finish the race, especially considering how much under his projected pace he ran the first half of the race. He really gutted it out in the second half and showed tremendous strength. He continues to inspire me each time he races. Thomas had a really good race in the half as well, finishing in 1:43:32, 202nd out of 4,728 finishers. He'd like to shoot for a sub-1:40 now that he's close to it. I think he could easily do that in the spring at the Aquarium Run since it's such a flat, fast course!

We ended up having quite the trek back to the car after the race and all the walking definitely helped my legs. By the time we made it home I was thinking I may run the marathon again next year but don't quote me on that! Outside of the first half hour after the race my recovery has been pretty spot on to what I remembered from my 3 marathons back in 2008 and 2009. It has been hard to get up and down stairs but other than that I'm back to walking pretty close to normally today. I'm not sure why I was in so much pain right after the finish, but holy moly it was rough! I had a hard time walking and couldn't sit or stand still. I had to keep moving. I sat to watch Jeremy finish and was near a family with 2 small kids. The boy kept asking me questions which I was fine with answering but his grandma kept telling him, "Leave her alone, she just wants to rest after her race!" I told her I have a 4 year old and 2 year old at home so I'm used to getting done with a long run and immediately being inundated with questions! After sitting for a while and not being able to stand it anymore I decided to walk back over to the grassy area of Guthrie Green and that's where dad found me. He had my sweats and made sure I put them on which helped. Then he rubbed my calves for me which were still twitching and that made a huge difference for me. We walked back over to the finishing area when I was ready and waited for Jeremy with mom. I saw one of my running buddies and found out she had broken 4 hours after telling me her goal was to run around 4:30! She looked great. Then we saw Jeremy and he looked so happy. I was worried he'd be limping or looking run-down but he looked fabulous! We all enjoyed chatting as we made the long trek back to our cars and Jeremy saved us by remembering exactly where the parking lot was! Overall the race was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed almost every moment of the race and the "marathon legs" these past few days have been so worth it. Now I'm looking forward to getting my age group award mailed to me because if they are similar to last year's awards, it will have my new marathon PR printed on it! Read about last year's Route 66 Half-Marathon here, 2015's race here, and the run-down of all our races at Route 66 up to 2016 here.
Walking back to the car.


  1. I have so many comments!
    1) I understand the freak out about the fast first mile but clearly it didn't hurt you, considering your last mile was practically the same. This may mean you are a natural marathoner!
    2) When I saw that third picture all I could think was, "She's running away from the tangent!" Haha! I'm sure you did pick up a lot of extra distance, but that just means you'll PR by default if you don't run out of your way next time, right?
    3) "Without knowing for sure what I was asking of myself, it was much easier to believe it was possible." -- Love this and completely agree. My Garmin got off distance in the other direction when I ran Phoenix (at the end it read 26.10), so when it was beeping mile splits of 6:30 I was really hitting 6:28s, and for some reason I felt like I could run 6:30s but anything under that would not be possible.
    4) Hometown marathons are great with being able to see your family so much!
    5) I am really impressed you were cognizant enough to think to re-pin your bib number at the end! I barely know my own name at the end, haha!
    6) I didn't realize that course had 700 ft elevation gain -- that's more than Bass Pro and in general I think Tulsa is much flatter than Springfield...I think they just picked a tough route!
    7) I'm so impressed with Jeremy. He has come so far and to complete a marathon is amazing! I hope he inspires others.
    8) I already told you twice, but I loved your beautiful negative split! I can't wait to hear about your plans for your next marathon. :-)

    1. 1) I don't think I'm a natural marathoner but the way I ran this one with a negative split made me feel more like a marathoner!
      2) Very true, I just wanted to make sure it would be easier to PR in the future. ;)
      3) It's amazing what we can do when we don't put mental limitations on our bodies for sure!
      4) It was so amazing! They did a great job of getting around to see us so many times! It definitely helped that Ty and my dad had both run the half before so they were really familiar with the race.
      5) It's that hilarious that I thought of that? At that point the wind was coming from my right side so it was blowing my bib off toward the left. I laughed remembering that I did that. I was really out of it at the end. I was just standing with my hands raised in the air after the race and didn't remember that at all, the only way I knew was seeing the race pictures!
      6) Tulsa is definitely WAY flatter in general. It's almost like they picked the hilliest area of Tulsa to run the race. Downtown is where we have the most hills and the course runs mostly downtown. They used to run most of the race on Riverside which is completely flat but moved it to "show off what's awesome about Tulsa". It's a fun course but not necessarily flat or good for PRs. Thankfully the first half is hillier than the 2nd half. The first half has about 400 feet of elevation gain and the 2nd half has about 300. That definitely helps!
      7) I am still so proud of him and he's still walking and recovering better than me!
      8) I'm really leaning toward running the marathon here again next year. I'm pumped to go for a PR half in the spring and then maybe a PR marathon in the fall! It has been an awesome past couple years of running and I'm excited to build on that! Thanks for the compliment, I was pretty proud of that negative split and that's definitely the way to go for a marathon. It does seem daunting going into the race though. There's no way I would have gone into the race planning to run around 8:10 pace for the 2nd half, that would've scared me!

    2. I agree completely about the negative split being very daunting when considered ahead of time! I think you have many PRs ahead of you in the half and full, for sure.