So, after deciding to NOT run the marathon from finish to start all through the night on a gimpy ankle, I boarded a bus in Joplin, Missouri, and rode to Commerce, Oklahoma the the start line. We were treated to an awesome sunrise and temperatures chilly enough to make a jacket or long sleeve tee sound good, but not cold enough to warrant carrying one along for the race. Sunglasses were a needed item, and moi, who seldom wears cool shades, was styling in my Oakley wanna-bees aka Target 16.99 specials. But in the pic below, I was on the operating end of my Olympus. An army of friends from RunnersWorld made the trip northward to run in the inaugural running of the Mother Road Marathon, an event that topped out at over 200 runners between the three offered distances (5K, half, and full marathon.) Bobby focuses on the task at hand, while Linda and Sloan smile for the paparazzi. A sad day for me--Sloan announced that this was going to be her last marathon, as she was gonna only run half's from now on. I guess I won't get to run a full with her now. :-(
This time, I was running with my friend Susan, who was running her first marathon. She was nervous about getting it done, having missed her last couple of long runs. I assured her I could get her to the finish line (and helping her would help me, since I had figured I would be recuperating from the Arkansas Traveller from last weekend. Of course, my 100 miler stopped after 17 miles, but that's last week's story.
There were lots of inspirational signs along the way, and some with nerdy trivia such as the one above.
I imagine Bonnie and Clyde traveled many many times on Route 66, as did Elvis, Madonna, Mickey Roarke, and Steve Urkel. _____________________________________________________ Each mile was marked with these tall markers, which could be seen from a half mile away. It helped a lot to see them, and to me, made the miles seem to go by faster. Nice to get mile one out of the way. It usually takes me a mile or two--sometimes 4 or 5--to get into a groove. This time, I felt pretty good from the start, but Susan was a bundle of nerves. I talked to her and assured her we would get to the finish--to just enjoy the moment and move the left foot and then the right foot. First marathon jitters---yup, she had that. Lotsa nifty signs. I forgot to take pix of all of them. No biggie, right? I know people who would love to swipe this sign!
The sun was kind in the early miles, but turned on us later in the race. We played leap frog with Dena and Linda early on in the race. Quapaw, the last Oklahoma town we'd run through. Quapaw will be the first Oklahoma town we run through in the Mother Road 100 next month. I was impressed with all the crowd support along the way. Not huge crowds, but in every little town we ran through, there were folks out sitting in their yards or in lawn chairs on the town sidewalks cheering us on. They seemed genuine too. Of course, I heard we were almost there long before the halfway point. Out of one state, and into another. How cool to just run from state to state. It was good to see this sign. Susan was doing great--in good spirits. We were moving steadily--not fast, but we employed the RFM concept (Relentless Forward Motion) and I kept a careful eye on our pace. All was well. The nice thing about running through these little towns was that the quickie stores were convenient aid stops. I hit one up for Fritos and Advil. Another for Red Bull and a huge cup of ice. The best call of the day was this stop at McDonald's. Each time I made a pit stop, I had Susan keep moving, and I ran hard to catch her. This worked well, and kept us on pace for our finish. Best tree of the day goes to this one in Baxter Springs, Kansas.
Here, we are approaching Galena, Kansas. It was really heating up--I am guessing into the low 80s at this point. We had just endured a mile long hill. It was a little too much to run, and we power-walked it. It seemed like the course was all either flat or uphill. I really don't remember many downhill stretches at all. The original Wrecker Tater, from the movie "Cars." I have not seen this animated flick, but maybe I should.
Susan was waning a little during the next few miles. She stopped to stretch, and I have to say it did her some good. Each time after a minute or two of stretching, she would pick up her pace and we were staying just ahead of the pace we needed to finish in the time limit. After Galena, we got onto a some of the OLD Highway. It was two-laned, and had not been resurfaced in many many years. (It was, however, in better condition than most of the streets in Tulsa.) This section seemed surreal--I'm not sure why. maybe it was because the road was old, there were no modern signs, no houses to be seen, the vegetation looked old and dry, the sky was a little grayer. I liked it. Somewhere along the stretch of the old road, we passed into Missouri. There was not a "Welcome to Missouri" sign, but soon after getting into a more populated area, I saw this road sign. From here, Susan was fading fast. I knew she wanted badly to finish, but she had really hit the wall. I had given her electrolytes, she had taken several Gu's, ate Fritos, drank a smoothie, had some ice water, Gatorade, and despite being only three miles away, was thinking of tossing in the towel. The continual hills were taking a toll, and any hint of a breeze was gone. It had clouded over a little, but the humidity seemed to soar. Then, she had a dizzy spell, and became a little nauseated. I had some sea salt, and I wish I had given here a dose of it earlier. I had her take a couple of pinches, and at her urging, I ran on to the finish line. I made her PROMISE to NOT STOP, and to NOT TAKE A RIDE to the finish. I ran as fast as I could to make the cut-off. I had my reasons. The cut-off was seven hours. I knew I could make it in by then, and I intended to claim my finishers medal and give it to Susan if they did not count her finish as official and not give her a metal. As soon as I crossed the line and they dechipped my shoe, I ran back out to meet her and run her in. The last half a mile was a gradual downhill, and by the time I made it to the top of the hill and turned westward, I saw her jogging up the hill. WOW! She had came back to life, and dug deep to get her marathon done. As we turned the corner, several of our friends came out to run us in. Celebration was in the air!! She had finished, and only 3 or 4 minutes over the time limit. The folks at the finish line hung a medal around her neck, and it was a great moment for her and all her friends.
And an ankle report--all went well. I did not tape it or wear my brace. I seem to be on the mend, but I am still reluctant to go out on the trails, but of course that won't last long. Prognosis for the Mother Road 100 looks good.