I remember my first half marathon. I ran it in 2009 as a challenge to myself to see if I could do it. I didn’t have kids at the time and I don’t know what in the heck I was doing with my free time but I didn’t stick to my training plan or cross training and ended up with multiple injuries. I hobbled my way through that race and loathed the entire experience. I checked it off my bucket list and didn’t really think about running another half marathon until this year.
2015 started with me making a promise to myself to get my physical and emotional health back on track. After two kids and a serious bout of postpartum depression, I still felt like a stranger in my own body. I didn’t recognize the spare tire around my mushy mid section and was riddled with anxiety. In January, I decided to get in shape. Like, really get in shape. So I decided to sign up for the Route 66 Half Marathon. I would give myself plenty of time to train and incorporate strength training and cross training to be sure to prevent injuries this time. Eleven months later, I found myself at the start line of the Route 66 Half Marathon feeling mentally and physically healthy, strong, and injury free.
This was the first time I had ever run the Route 66 Half Marathon and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been warned about the hills and I’m glad I was. I had prepared and trained for them. I repeated my mantra for 90% of the race. “Your quads were made for hills. Your strong legs can handle these hills.” And luckily, the hills made the course more interesting. It was more like an interval run rather than a flat, pounding tempo run. The only time the hills were a problem was at mile 12 when my legs were shredded, my knee was aching, and my feet were cramped up (I think I tied my shoelaces too tight and didn’t know it cause my feet were frozen at the start line).
I had effectively trained for the hills. However, I wasn’t prepared for the ruckus of this particular race. There was crowd support basically the entire course. And I don’t mean just clapping and cowbells. I mean beer flinging, jello-shot having, loud music blaring dance parties along the course. There were live bands at some locations, cheerleaders at others. The city of Tulsa was seemingly completely taken over by this race, its participants, and its supporters.
So I disconnected. I took my earphones out, and put my phone away. I didn’t listen to any music. I didn’t have the voice of the Strava lady telling me my pace and distance. I didn’t need any of that. I wasn’t pushing for a pace. I was running by how I felt and enjoying the fun along the course; talking to other runners, high-fiving supporters. It was exactly what I needed. On that race, I was just running for the fun of it. Celebrating the reasons I signed up for the race in the first place; to be happy and healthy. And I couldn’t believe it. I crossed the finish line and had a new personal record. I had beat my test run half marathon time earlier this year by about 20 seconds.
Because I didn’t have my headphones in, I eaves dropped on many conversations. Some of the conversations were mundane, some sad, some funny, some disgusting (there is no shame about bodily functions for runners). Here are a few of the gems I heard along the course.
“What do you think the dog is doing right now? He’s either sleeping or licking himself.”
I hope the dog was sleeping but as luck would have it he was probably licking himself.
“Hey handsome! You’re cute! Can I run with you for a little while?”
Who knew picking up a date during a race could be so easy.
“Why? Why do I do this to myself. Never again. Never again.”
Okay, this quote was from me at mile 8 and 9. It never fails. Mile 8 is where I break down. It’s my kryptonite.
“You know that porta-potty back there? Somebody pooped all over the floor.”
This guy kept talking but I couldn’t really hear him and I was too busy looking for poop on the bottom of his shoes.
Have you heard any funny, crazy, surprising things on the race course before?
Wow, what a difference from my first half marathon several years ago. I had so much fun at the Route 66 Half Marathon and am ready to sign up for next year. But that’s an entire year away and I’ve got the bug. I’m fully addicted to this half marathon thing. So what’s next? Maybe Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Dallas?