OKC Memorial Marathon Report (Long)

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Wayne Conway, May 7, 2004.

  1. Wayne Conway

    Wayne Conway Guest

    Sorry for the length-just couldn’t find a way to condense
    it. Save some for later if needed.

    There are few more moving scenes than the softly
    lit pre-dawn visage of the Oklahoma City Bombing
    Memorial. For 168 silent seconds almost 1500
    marathoners, and at least that many more relay
    participants, stood at the starting line
    reflecting on the tragedy that was the inspiration
    for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. This
    race, now in it’s fourth year, is already a mature
    event. It has had few “new race” growing pains,
    due largely to the fact that the race was
    organized by runners, for runners. Most early
    problems have been quickly addressed and fixed.
    That being said, this mornings start was not
    without a bump or two. Parking and navigation
    around the downtown start of a big race is always
    interesting. However, the organizers thought to
    reserve a couple of nearby parking garages for the
    use of race participants (only cost a buck). Of
    course, no matter how many port-a-johns there are
    at any race, there will always be the frantic last
    minute tinklers. A popular home grown gospel
    artist fought a sound system that was fine for
    speaking, but less than perfect for singing. No
    matter, the temperature was a comfortable 55
    degrees, with a 10 mph breeze that would provide
    welcome cooling as the morning temperature rose
    into the 70’s. I nervously adjusted my pace
    wristband and checked my stopwatch for the fifth
    time. My Boston qualification hopes had already
    been dashed by a nasty 9 month case of PF, and a
    recent cold. I still wore my “3:35:00” pace band
    though. Realistically , a 3:45:00 this day would
    be considered a success. At 6:25 AM the horn
    sounded for the start of the wheelchair race (only
    one participant this year). The air valve on the
    starting horn jammed and we were all treated to
    about 30 seconds of deafening noise while the can
    emptied itself. They had a spare horn (good
    thinking), and at 6:30AM we were on our way,
    catching one final glimpse of the East wall of the
    Bombing Memorial as we headed down through the
    heart of downtown Oklahoma City. The first half
    mile is a narrow downhill chute between tall
    buildings. The echo of footfalls here is not
    unlike the sound of a stampede. After a left turn,
    the course flattens out and passes through the
    heart of the historic Bricktown area. Got to be
    careful here. Between the starting downhill, the
    scenery, and the excitement, it’s easy to go out
    way too fast. I would later pass many struggling
    folks that didn’t heed this warning. My first mile
    was 8:45, just about right. We turned left at the
    “throwback” Bricktown Ballpark, and headed North
    toward the State Capitol Complex, which is at
    about 5K. Those of us who have run this race every
    year have been able to witness the continuing
    progress on the Capitol dome construction. It’s
    finished now, and an impressive sight. At mile 5
    we enter a two mile stretch through some lovely
    parks and moderately upscale neighborhoods.
    Already, spectator and course support has been
    superb. I would notice later that the race bibs
    had the participants first name printed
    conspicuously above the number. No wonder all the
    spectators seemed to know my name. I wonder how I
    missed that? It was a pleasant personal touch for
    both the runners and spectators. All water stops,
    aid stations, and relay points, were well supplied
    and organized. However, there was the occasional
    confusion as to whether you were being offered Power-
    Aid or water. I saw more than one person, later in
    the race, pour sticky Power-Aid over their head or
    down their shirt thinking it was water. All miles
    were marked, and splits were chip recorded at the
    10K, 15K, Half, 27K, & 32K points. I don’t believe
    the 27K point was accurate. There were some
    squirrelly splits between the half and 32K. Your
    projected finishing time, in addition to elapsed
    time, was called at every mile. This is the only
    race where I have ever seen this. It is an
    incredibly helpful method of pacing yourself. My
    10K split was about an 8:15/Mile pace. Just about
    right, because the course is generally downhill to
    this point. A couple of uphill sections between
    mile 6 and 7, and mile 8 and 10 would quickly
    remind me of the cold that had knocked me back a
    couple of weeks earlier. Also, my lack of mileage
    due to earlier PF problems would also become
    apparent. My split between 10K and 15K would drop
    me to about an 8:40 pace. I could tell that a BQ
    today would not be in the cards. Now, I was
    running for pride. From that point I started
    paying closer attention to my ease of breathing. I
    maintained that 8:40 pace steadily up to the half.
    The course approaching the half is moderately
    cambered towards the curb. In past years, when I
    have had some knee issues, this was a tough
    section to comfortably traverse. I noticed many
    runners weaving around trying to find a flatter
    groove. Today however, nothing hurts, and I am
    able to enjoy the throngs of spectators that
    gather in this stretch. After the half, it’s a
    short uphill over the Hefner Parkway and on to a
    scenic couple of miles along the Lake Hefner
    Trails. Last year, this section reduced many,
    including myself, to walking, as unobstructed
    30mph headwinds buffeted runners as the course
    turned back on itself for the return leg of the
    race. Today however, the wind is not a factor, and
    the section through he trails and park was a nice
    flat place to prepare for the final ten miles. The
    photographers like this section too. Here’s my
    picture if your interested. http://www.partypics.-
    com/raceorders/zoom.wcs?OKC2004~1222678~00014~0029

    After a short steep uphill over the Parkway bridge
    at mile 17, we descend into the Nichols Hills
    neighborhood. This area of estate residences,
    country clubs, and sprawling parks, is generally
    flat, and carries you through to mile 20. It is here
    that the signature feature of the Oklahoma City
    Memorial Marathon is most apparent. All along the
    race route are hung large memorial banners, each
    with the name of one of the 168 victims of the
    Alfred P. Murrah building bombing. These banners,
    against the serene backdrop of Nichols Hills and
    Grand Park, offer spine tingling inspiration to
    runners as mile 20 approaches. At mile 20 the
    finishing pace calls have become increasingly
    valuable. My higher math functions have begun to
    deteriorate rapidly. I am now at about an 8:30
    (3:43:00) pace. Not BQ material, but better than I
    had hoped for. We are now back on arterial city
    streets and are entering, what I consider to be, the
    toughest part of the course. With the exception of a
    couple of minor dips, the course from mile 20 to 24
    is a steady uphill grade. The total rise over this 4
    mile stretch is less than 100 feet. However, it is
    constant, and the effect of this steady rise on a
    glycogen starved body is insidious. Last year,
    strong headwinds made this section a death march for
    many. By the time you finally get some grade relief
    at mile 24, you are exhausted. I watched one woman,
    so tired and fixated on her next step, run right up
    the back of a man that had been reduced to walking
    by this section.

    Finally, we turned back into quiet neighborhoods.
    I’m no longer having fun. I can tell my pace has
    fallen off, but I won’t know how much until I get to
    that elusive 25 mile marker. I take advantage of a
    couple of dips, grind my way up a couple of rises,
    and there it is, mile 25. I’m now on pace for about
    a 3:44:00. Remember the woman who ran over the
    walker? I had paced off of her for the past 10
    miles, sometimes swapping positions at water
    stations. We are now running side by side. She pants
    out that she just can’t make it. I panted back that
    she would if I had to drag her. Bold words, but was
    there anything left? We muscled our way through a
    couple more turns, and then, we were on the straight
    to the finish. The final stretch of almost a half
    mile is flat to slightly downhill, with screaming
    spectators covering the last three or four blocks.
    You can see the finish line from a long way off just
    begging for some kind of heroic final kick. As we
    approached the mile 26 marker I hollered “let’s go”!
    All we had left went into that final 400 or so
    yards. Traffic separated us at that point and I
    never saw her again, not even in the finishers corral-
    I assume she made it. Too bad, I wanted to thank her
    for the pace help. I had picked off a couple of
    relay runners down the stretch when I heard the
    announcer loudly proclaim my name. At the finish I
    managed to just inch out a fellow who turned out to
    be in my age group. I’ll bet he was peoed. I stopped
    my watch for a 3:42:45 chip time. My gun time would
    end up a 3:43:03. An worried looking aid worker met
    me at the line saying something about my pale
    appearance. I must have thought it was a compliment,
    because I thanked her for her concern and headed for
    the chip removal bench. We were well taken care of
    in the finishers area. No shortage of food, drink,
    or space blankets. All got a nice heavy finisher
    medal with a relief depicting the “Survivor Tree”
    from the Bombing Memorial. The finisher shirt was a
    deep green and sported the same image. A block from
    the finish was an outdoor expo with music, food,
    merchandise, and massage tables. Went back to the
    car, got some cash, and bought a shirt for the wife
    and boy. I do enjoy this race. It will take more
    than a little PF or a head cold to keep me away.
    Really nice to have a major marathon a couple hours
    from home. Can’t think of any negatives. I would
    recommend it highly to anyone looking for a well run
    spring marathon. Make sure and allow 2-3 hours time
    to go through the Memorial Museum. Visit the memory
    fence on the West side of the Memorial. Leave
    something or just reflect on how blessed we really
    are. You won’t be disappointed.

    Race Date: Sunday April 25, 2004

    --
    Random number generation is too vital a task to be left
    to chance.
     
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  2. Congrats on a good race, Wayne. All things considered you
    did pretty darn well. I'm glad the wind wasn't a factor!
    That and the road camber are the only problems I had with
    that race in 2001. (Oh, and did they ever get porta-johns
    distributed along the course?)

    Thanks for the report! And good luck with the next one.

    --
    Brian P. Baresch Fort Worth, Texas, USA Professional editing
    and proofreading

    If you're going through hell, keep going. --Winston
    Churchill
     
  3. Anthony

    Anthony Guest

    Congrats on the race Wayne.

    Nice detailed report - good solid pacing.

    Hope that you get the BQ at your next attempt.

    Anthony.
     
  4. Wayne Conway

    Wayne Conway Guest

    The port-a johns went in along the course the very next
    year. One of the 1st year organizers admitted to me a bit of
    embarrassment for that oversight.

    Brian Baresch wrote:
    > Congrats on a good race, Wayne. All things considered you
    > did pretty darn well. I'm glad the wind wasn't a factor!
    > That and the road camber are the only problems I had with
    > that race in 2001. (Oh, and did they ever get porta-johns
    > distributed along the course?)
    >
    > Thanks for the report! And good luck with the next one.
    >

    --
    Random number generation is too vital a task to be left
    to chance.
     
  5. >The port-a johns went in along the course the very next
    >year. One of the 1st year organizers admitted to me a bit
    >of embarrassment for that oversight.

    I'm glad to hear that! When I really needed one, around mile
    21-22, there was nary even a tree in sight, seemed like.

    --
    Brian P. Baresch Fort Worth, Texas, USA Professional editing
    and proofreading

    If you're going through hell, keep going. --Winston
    Churchill
     
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