Saturday, November 29, 2014

(Part 2) The Williams Route 66 Half Marathon--State #19, OK

Route 66 Race Day
Sunday, November 23, 2014
View from the starting corral.
I woke up early, slightly before Andrew and headed down to the hotel lobby to microwave the coffee I purchased the night before (neurotic planning). I like to get up a bit early so I can take my time going about my rituals including coffee, hygiene and dress, breakfast, and stretching while still leaving enough time to get to the starting line. Today went well, except that we didn’t really leave extra time to hit the porta potties prior  to getting in our corral. Oh well...I figured if I had to, I’d just find one along the route. Usually I never stop mid-race for a pit stop, but I really wanted to start on time, so I took the risk. 
Me wearing my wind-proof garbage bag at the start of the race.
The start of the Route 66 race was terrific! They shot off confetti canons which gave a special feeling of celebration to the race, and of course, my old friend Bart Yasso was at the start giving high fives along with other race officials. I made sure to hit his hand on my way out for good luck. The race started quickly and the running crowd wasn’t too dense thanks to the staggered corral starts. We snaked through the city and out in to the outlying residential areas rather quickly. I started at a good pace...somewhere in the 8 minute range, but I pretty much figured I wouldn’t maintain that for the entire route. 
Confetti flying at the starting line.
In my head I had decided that I would kick back and enjoy this race. I have been fighting off fatigue and injury lately, and as luck would have it, my period decided that this was the perfect morning to show up. Awesome. Also, for some reason, I had two really lousy nights of sleep at the hotel prior to this race. I took off at a decent pace and hoped for the best. The video below is courtesy of the Route 66 Marathon Facebook page. I run by the camera at about the :26 mark right after high-fiving Bart Yasso!

Post by Route 66 Marathon.

(Here's a video of the race start. You can see me run by at about 26 seconds, right after high-fiving Bart Yasso.)

As much as we noticed that the downtown areas of Tulsa were virtually deserted while we were there, the residential areas were gorgeous and well populated with spectators!  No wonder the area residents don't hang out downtown much. They have incredible neighborhoods to retreat to. If I lived there, I’d probably do the same. The houses were a combination of tudor style, bungalow, craftsman, some colonial and some fancier, maybe Georgian? The architecture was varied, and it was just lovely to run through. Some time later, the smaller homes morphed in to more grand estates. I guessed that these were likely a result of the oil industry in the area. It was beautiful to run through here as well. 

I felt fairly good through the first half of the race. The weather was warm, high 50’s at the start and warming through the race. I did well with my water stops, and the Rock Tape I bought at the expo was amazingly helpful on my (usually) aching hamstring. My only complaint was that my toes in my left shoe were numbing. This happens sometimes when I run, but my last few runs it has been more pronounced. I think it may be due to the new shoes I’m breaking in. I tried my best to wiggle my toes around and keep them awake. 

Once we came out of the residential area, we ran through a rather commercial strip somewhere in Tulsa. There were plenty of stores and restaurants here and spectators, too. The runners along the way were in good spirits. Surprisingly, there were many more hills than I expected on the course, but they were not killer hills like in Oregon. But as you can imagine, hills are tiring, so whenever one pops up, things slow down. I pushed on as best I could, but I could feel myself slowing down. Always my goal is to finish in under 2 hours, which I still knew was within reach. 

We came out to a road that ran along the river, and at this point I knew we were heading back in to the city toward the finish area. The river road was less picturesque than I expected, but it was exciting to be at this point in the race and to know that the end was approaching. We ran across half of a bridge and did a u-turn toward a Route 66 overpass.  Just beyond was the last big hill of the race, conveniently located near the medical center. 

We ran past our hotel (such a tease) and around a couple of more corners and in to the finish area. I could hear the announcers at the finish before I got there, and once the finish line was in sight, I gave my best kick to get there. I know it wasn’t pretty, but I sprinted the best I could. (I’m sure the professional race photographs from this stretch of the race will be the ugliest ever!) Case in point...see photo below that I found on the Route 66 Marathon Facebook page. Hey, at least I can say I was giving it my all!

Andrew and I after the race with our medals.

Just as I approached the finish line, I saw Bart Yasso again and gave him a victorious finger point. He acknowledged my effort, and I crossed the line with a great smile of relief. Another state in the books. My official time was under 2 hours, 1:58:34, enough to make me happy on this one. Andrew finished well before me and was at our designated meeting spot ready to greet me. We traded our race tales, took photos and stretched, then walked back to the hotel to shower and get ready to head to the airport.

The Tulsa Route 66 Marathon/Half Marathon was a terrific, well-organized race. I read later in the day on their Facebook page that the race directors and officials stay at the finish line until the very last person crosses the line to cheer them on. Now that’s class. Well done, Tulsa. My legs are ready for a rest for a few months after this hectic year of running. Oh yeah, and the medal for this race, it is the Cadillac of medals! Dedicated to William Wollenberg and Charles Labutis, our grandfathers.

The trip back home was filled with delays and rerouting of flights, but as luck would have it, I ran in to a friend from home while waiting for my flight to take off from the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Thanks to Katy Santanella for keeping me company and for helping the time pass in a fun way! What a great way to end a the trip. 

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