Each year for the past eleven years Oklahoma City honors those who lost their lives in the Murrah Building on April 19, 1995, by holding a Memorial Marathon. The event is absolutely enormous, attracting thousands upon thousands of runners in events like the marathon (duh), half-marathon, marathon-relay, 5K, the Kids Marathon (which sounds awfully cool), a wheelchair marathon, etc. The race starts and ends at the beautiful and respectful memorial site, winds its way through Bricktown, past the state capitol and up the Paseo District to Lake Hefner before turning and winding its way back down. This year, members of my family and I decided to run the marathon relay, although throughout the training process we lost both of my siblings to injury and substituted them with friends instead. In the end, it was my mom, BJ, and I, along with our friends Taylor and Jorgy, that took to the roads.
Let me begin by talking about the weather. Boy, oh boy, was it harsh. The temperature during the run itself was a frigid 49 degrees, a stark contrast to the weeks before. Accompanying this temperature were blustering winds from the north (which, incidentally, was the direction that my leg of the race was mostly headed) and rain. And hail (that part hurt). But mostly rain. It rained EVERY step of my leg of the race, which was the first leg with a distance of 10K. Then it rained every step of my mom's 5K leg, and nearly all of BJ's 12K leg before it began absolutely pouring on Taylor's 5K leg and then hailing during Jorgy's 10K homestretch. Right on.
The experience was quite awesome. I set a goal that I only told two people about, which was 80 minutes for my entire leg. Unlike the Turkey Trot 5K that I ran on Thanksgiving Day, in which I forced myself to not walk a single step of the race, this one I didn't care how much I walked, as long as I made that time. I was kind of hoping to be able to run four miles of the six-mile distance, and in the end I figure that I actually ended up running about five of the six miles, for a finishing time of 78 minutes. At the point that I hit mile five, my watch read 65 minutes, so I knew that I was certainly going to hit my mark if I just kept running...and I did. Yay! I was so proud of all of my team members too. My mom kicked some 5K butt, and then BJ proceeded to shock us all by running his entire leg of 7.3 miles without actually walking a single step of it.
After my leg I rode shuttles around to the endpoints of my mom's leg and BJ's leg, cheering them on and picking them up along the way. It was freezing and we were absolutely soaked. By the time I hit the third mile of my race I could actually hear the 'squish squish' of the water inside of shoes with every step. It's hard to complain about a day like today though, when I not only accomplished previously-unmatched feats for myself but also was able to honor the victims of the blast, along with brave rescue workers the likes of my own dad. At the risk of losing my camera to water, I didn't take any pictures today to post. It's too bad too, because there were lots of unique and uplifting experiences throughout the day.
Now I feel like I'm 87 and I'm ready for bed. My knees hurt and I'm tired. I still feel a little chilled too, even all these hours later. Even this cup of hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream didn't help too much.
Perhaps I should have followed the advice of a fellow shuttle rider who loudly announced, "I've never needed a beer so badly in my life as I do right now."
In memory of the 168.