Then on April 11, I found out I was pregnant. Joyous news for our family! Within a few days of that, utter fatigue had set in. I, a girl who literally takes a nap about once a year, was so exhausted that I was napping about every other day and crying on the days when my schedule wouldn't allow it. My usual running routine went from being easy to being a horrendous debacle; if I could even drag myself out there, I could only go a mile and that was with some major self-encouragement! In the last two weeks before the marathon, I ran only three times...a slow two miles with Chanda, and then two one-mile runs on my own, each with the strong belief that I might perish somewhere around the fourth minute. My running goals for yesterday went from "finish in less than half an hour" to "get out of bed, make it to the race, and run/walk your leg in whatever time need be." Melodrama is my middle name.
The race itself was wonderful, as always. There is just something magical about the OKC Memorial Marathon, and I am always so proud to run in a race that day, even a short one. The relay is particularly fun because you have teammates depending on you and likewise for you to cheer for; shuttle buses take you from stop to stop so that you can see various hand-offs and hang out with each other in the meantime. The sideline support is absolutely unbelievable and makes me proud to be an Oklahoman. Supporters range from high-fivers to shouters to holders of signs, both motivational ("You can do it!") and hilarious ("Don't look now, but there's a zombie behind you!", "Shut up, legs!", and "Smile if you're not wearing underwear!" were among our favorites.). BJ's favorite supporter was an older gentleman sitting on his lawn in an historic neighborhood, reclining in a lawn chair near the curb, clad in a suit and fancy hat while smoking a cigar and sipping a martini. I always notice that there are times when I'm running and the support in an area is so overwhelming and loud that I actually forget what I'm doing, which is sweating and grunting my way through a running course with 26,000 other runners.
The runners and supporters alike know that there is an underlying cause for the enthusiasm on the morning of the race. It's impossible to forget that we're running in remembrance of 168 lives lost to the act of terrorists in 1995, including the lives of many children; the target was originally chosen because of the "collateral damage," as McVeigh defined it, namely a daycare center on the second floor that was alongside the street where McVeigh parked the truck. I don't need to remind anyone of the heartbreak; it is still felt among Oklahomans, especially in April and especially on the day of the race. Imagine the meaning that the Boston Marathon will take on for its city next year and the coming years, and you can imagine what this race means to this city. 168 seconds of silence are always observed before the start, and many runners choose a person, whether angel, survivor, or rescue worker, to run for. This year I chose Anthony Cooper, this precious two-year-old who was in the daycare with his mother at the time of the explosion. They both lost their lives. I chose Anthony because I have a two-year-old also, and it really hits home.
This is the first of the three years that I have dedicated my run to an angel, and I didn't consider tying my race bib onto his memorial chair until we had already gotten in the car and left. I have decided to now though, so we'll head back downtown in the next couple of months so that I can find Anthony's chair and leave my bib for him with a note on it, in case that kind of stuff makes it to his father.
After my leg, I took the bus to Chanda's end point, which was Matthew's beginning point, and hung out with Matthew and BJ until Chanda arrived. We were at the mile-20 mark, and I served as sideline support for the marathoners that were running by. Watching them is so very interesting to me. During the period of time that I was at mile 20, we were watching the pacers of 3:50 to roughly 4:15 go by, and those people were hooked. We recognized some of them as neighbors, coworkers, and even the Lt. Governor. I thought then and there, I have to do more sometime. Not next year, since Mowgli will still be young and the exhaustion of newborn times will undoubtedly be seeping into those critical spring training months, but the year after that I am making it official: I'll be joining the ranks of the Half Marathon. I think I can do it. I had at least 10 friends that did it this year, plus many in years past, and I think if they can do it then I can do it too. I really want to, and I feel that same sense of determination coming on that I have felt with every hard thing I have ever done and accomplished: graduate school, breastfeeding on a no-dairy/no soy diet, and pretending to like the horrendous meal "ship on the shingles" for years so as not to hurt my mom's feelings (sorry, Mom).
In memory of the 168. We'll be back next year.