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Oklahoma City Half Marathon Race Report

Posted Apr 26 2009 10:01pm
I'll start this Oklahoma City Memorial Half marathon race report with the weather conditions: 74 degrees at the start with humidity over 80 percent and 25 to 35 mph winds.

Sigh. Deep breath. Blink.

What was I thinking? A 1:30 half marathon in those conditions? Halfway through, I was just hoping to better my PR of 1:36 (run in temps 30 degrees cooler), and by Mile 12, even that goal had bit the dust.

So, there were no tornadoes or hail, or even rain. Just maddening heat and air so thick you could chew it. (On a positive note: Oklahoma City has a charming downtown and the Oklahoma City Memorial was just breath-taking. The start of the race was just across the street from the place where the 1995 bombing happened. Before the National Anthem, there were 168 seconds of silence for each of the victims who died. Emotional stuff, people. Just emotional.)

Also, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers were amongst the celebrated runners on hand. Samuelson won the women's half in 1:21. Rodgers signed autographs at the expo. And earlier in the week, some guy named Brendan Brustad ran 455 hours on a treadmill in a week, breaking a Guiness Book of World Records record. So, there was a lot of good karma for this race.

My stats
Time: 1:38:23
Pace: 7:31
Overall place: 90 th out of 5,770
Division place: 14 out of 238
Gender place: 80 out of 2,185

This is my first half marathon where I haven't PR'ed. The time is 2:22 slower than my PR, but still my second fastest half ever.

As you can tell, there were a lot of other people out there hurting. So even though I didn't qualify for New York City or break my PR, I managed to hold on through cramps and the heat and the humidity to finish in the Top 2 percent of all half marathon finishers.

The race was a struggle from the first mile to the last. My left shin cramps up from time to time during the beginning of races for reasons I have yet to figure out and today was one of those times. It's pain I've run with before and usually goes away if I stop for about 10 seconds and re-tie my shoe. This time, the pain didn't go away until Mile 5.

When the pain subsided, I was feeling hopeful because I knew I'd kind of gimped my way through the first 5 miles and my time at this point was 35:12, just over a 7-minute-mile pace.

And one more thing. I only ran this race because a friend told me it was flat. I've run hillier courses ( Cowtown Marathon) but I've never run a race with a gradual uphill from mile 9 to 11 against the wind. My first 8 miles were done in just over 56 minutes. (7:04 pace)

Miles 9, 10, and 11 was this gradual uphill climb right into the teeth of the Oklahoma wind (This place is the capital of Tornado Alley you know). Again, I've never run a three-mile hill in a race. I'm not saying it was a major hill. In fact, if it was the only three miles in the race, you would barely notice it. But when it's this late in a half marathon, against the wind, molehills look an awful lot like mountains.

Each of those miles were done slower than an 8-minute-mile. I've never cramped in a race of a half marathon or shorter, but my calves were just melting in this heat. They started spasming by Mile 10 and I had to stop 6 times over the last three miles to stretch. But that wasn't the end of my misery. I was so pooped and cramping so bad that the little hill on Mile 13 just about wiped me out. I had no finishing kick. But I did smile for the cameras and enjoyed a tasty Carl's Jr. Hamburger after the race.

Here are my splits
1 - 7:05
2 - 7:00 - Shin hurting, but I soldier on
3 - 6:56
4 - 6:56
5 - 7:15 - I stop to rub shin. Pain finally goes away.
6 - 7:07
7 - 7:06
8 - 7:06 - The heat and humidity taking its toll. My lungs hate me.
9 - 8:12 - Start of uphill climb against the wind
10 - 8:17 - When will this hill end
11 - 8:26 - My calves hate me
12 - 7:26 - One more shot at glory?
13 - 8:19 - Uh, no.
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