Oklahoma City Gym Just for Runners

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*Courtesy of OKGazette.com Photo courtesy of Higher Ground

The Zach Morton logged hundreds of miles of runs while deployed more than 7,000 miles away from home when the idea for a business based on his love for running began.

“I wasn’t going to be good enough to compete, and I didn’t want to sell shoes,” he said. “So me and my buddy just kept saying, ‘What could we do?’”

While in Iraq with the U.S. Navy SEAL team, Morton ran 660 miles over a six-month period and he and his friend developed the concept of a gym just for runners.

For Runners, By Runners

Higher Ground Running, Oklahoma City’s first running gym that caters to beginner runners and serious athletes focused on shaving seconds off their best times, is the fruition of more than a decade of dreaming.

The gym opened in October at 9644 N. May Ave. Morton and his team of fellow running enthusiasts, which includes past winners of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, NCAA athletes and coaches, spent more than a year preparing to open the business. Morton and his family moved here after more than 15 years away specifically to focus on the gym. Morton and his team visited similar running facilities in New York and California. They networked via friends and through social media, offering free introductory classes to get their name and concept out into the running community.

Unlike all-purpose gyms, Higher Ground is built for runners. The facility features an outdoor track, a weight room and Woodway 4Front treadmills, which Morton described as “the Bentley of treadmills.”

“If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right,” Morton said, explaining that the high-end treadmills have flat surfaces that minimize accidents caused by fast-moving belts and closely mimic outdoor trail running.

Much like a spin class helps cyclists train and stay engaged with upbeat music, varying intensities and intervals, Higher Ground’s running group exercise classes are more intense and entertaining than a row of runners robotically jogging on treadmills. Some classes, such as The Hills, offer extreme resistance variations much like a run up and down hills while The Flatlands is less intense. Each participant runs at a pace set by the coaches and based on their level and goals.

Making Goals Happen

“The classes are a lot of fun, but they put the hurt on you,” said Shar El-Assi, who joined the gym when it opened after attending introductory running classes with the group at Bishop McGuinness High School’s track.

“The reason why I chose them is that they show they really care about you and your results. They individualized a plan for me. They motivate you. They actually want you to get better.”

El-Assi, a 45-year-old mental health care worker, ran track at his small high school in western Oklahoma and was part of the cross-country team at Oklahoma State University. In the last two years, he started running again to lose weight.

When he trained on his own, he lost 42 pounds and finished the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes. After taking speed classes at Higher Ground, he shaved 44 minutes off his time. At this year’s marathon in April, he hopes to finish in 3 hours and 40 minutes.

“I think I’ll get there with them,” he said. “I think that anybody who tells you that they love running — they’re lying to you. I don’t like running; I like how I feel when I’m done.”

Other runners at Higher Ground are also improving — two have cut their times down to qualify for The Boston Marathon. Morton said he’s also reaching his goal and helping other runners get better.

The gym offers monthly memberships starting at $100, drop-in classes, personal coaching and marathon and half-marathon training.

How to Get Into America’s Biggest Marathons

You’ve heard of the Chicago, New York City, and Marine Corp Marathons otherwise referred to as the Big Three. They are three of the largest races in the United States located in some of the best cities. They could be considered goal races for many runners since you either have to have a qualifying time, win a lottery drawing, or fund-raise for a specified charity to gain admittance to each race. The scheduled lottery for each of these races is staggered in such a way this year that you could enter in all three in an attempt to gain admittance into one race. For example, if you don’t get into the Chicago Marathon, you can enter into the NYC Marathon lottery shortly after receiving your denial letter from Chicago. Check out the lottery schedule below.


Bank of America – Chicago Marathon

Application Opens: Tuesday, November 1st 2016

Application Closes: Tuesday, November 29th 2016

Drawing Date: Tuesday, December 13th 2016

Race Date: Sunday, October 8th 2017

Entry Fee: $195.00


TCS – New York City Marathon

Application Opens: Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Application Closes: Friday, February 17th, 2017

Drawing Date: Thursday, March 2, 2017

Race Date: Sunday, November 5th 2017

Entry Fee: $295.00


Marine Corp Marathon

Application Opens: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Application Closes: Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Drawing Date: Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Race Date: Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Entry Fee: $140.00


lottery balls

How to Register for America’s Top 5 Lottery Marathons

This idea of putting together a list of lottery races started a few weeks ago. I sat down to write out my running and racing goals for 2016. A few local half marathon’s made the list as I’ve already signed up the Go Girl Run and Memorial Half Marathon. So my racing calendar for the early part of the year pretty much set. However, I want to do one BIG race that requires travel. Last year, I had just started getting back into running and Route 66 Half Marathon was my BIG race. This year I want to go even BIGGER/FUTHER. I’ve even been toying with the idea of running a full marathon but I’m not completely sold. I’m uncertain if I’m physically ready for the strain or the time commitment that a full marathon requires. I think the only way I’ll be brave enough to actually sign up and complete one is if I am able to run in a BIG name event.   So that’s where lottery marathons come in.

A lottery marathon is just want it sounds like. You basically put your name in the hat and if your name gets pulled you don’t get a windfall financial reward, but you do get to pay an expensive race registration, travel and hotel expense. Oh,and you also get to race in one of the most prestigious races in the country. Sounds great, right? Well, I sure thought so.

So here’s how, or more importantly when, to register for the lottery of America’s 5 biggest marathons. Some of them are even among the biggest marathons in the world.

I think I may try my luck with Chicago. Which one are you planning to register for? Do you feel lucky?


TCS New York City Marathon

Location: New York City, NY

Race Date: November 6 ,2016

Lottery Registration Dates: January 21st – February 21st 2016


Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Location: Chicago, IL

Race Date: October 9 ,2016

Lottery Registration Dates: March 15th – April 12th 2016


Marine Corps Marathon

Location: Washington, D.C.

Race Date: October 30th, 2016

Lottery Registration Dates: March 24th – March 30th 2016


2017 Grandma’s Marathon

Location: Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota

Race Date: Mid-June 2017

Lottery Registration Dates: October 1st – October 31st, 2016


St. George Marathon

Location: Utah

Race Date: October 1st, 2016

Lottery Registration Dates: April 1st – May 2nd 2016


Runner Like You – Jennifer Hilger

Last month’s blog post that highlighted “Runner LIke You”, Becky Craig was a great success! There are many amazing folks here in Oklahoma that make running and fitness a priority. It’s extremely rewarding to know that others, like me, enjoy learning more about these dedicated runners.  In addition, it’s an honor to highlight a few of those runners and share their stories and contributions to running communities around Oklahoma. I’m ecstatic to introduce you to a runner that makes marathons appear to be a party. Her enthusiasm and flare for the sport make you want to join her on long runs or, at the very least, cheer her along from her Instagram feed. Jen is an Arts education advocate, a member of Red Coyote Racing as well as Oiselle Volée. She is also a Nuunbassador and last but not least, Dopey certified (completing the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon within pacing requirements at runDisney). Jen was nice enough to answer a few questions about how she got started and what her most recent marathon meant to her.

Jen running in the NYC Marathon
Jen running in the NYC Marathon


1. Why did you first start running?

Basically because I couldn’t run! I used to be a band director and as a part of summer band the students ran to help build endurance to perform a 7+ minute marching show. I wouldn’t ever ask a student to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, and my first couple years of teaching I struggled to keep up with ANY of the kids. So, during spring break in 2010, I started the couch-to-5k running program in hopes that I could somewhat keep up with the students during summer band. A friend said I should sign-up for a 5k since I was doing the training. I had no idea what a 5k was or that races were even a thing. I found one to run, and have been hooked ever since!

2. You just finished the NYC Marathon. To gain entry you completed fundraising for Team for Kids. Can you tell us about the timeline for fundraising and your experience for running for a charity?

I didn’t sign-up to be a charity runner until early March, so I had from March until October 1st to raise my commitment of $2,620. Registration to be a charity runner for 2016 is already open so participants could potentially have almost a year to raise the funds. I registered at the same time as another running buddy here in OKC with the commitment that we would help each other with training and fundraising. We were very fortunate to have so many people step in to help us fundraise! One of our running buddies typically brings a crockpot meal for after our Thursday social runs for everyone to enjoy. She hasn’t ever asked for compensation, but people have often tried to give her money since she essentially made their dinner! After we started fundraising, she set up a jar to collect donations towards our efforts!

We also have another friend that hosts do-it-yourself paint parties. She helped us host “Make your own medal hanger” parties to help us with our fundraising. People had a fun night with friends, made something for their race bling, ate a good dinner, and we were able to raise a lot of money thanks to the generosity of our friend only charging for the materials! (Special shout-out to PhotoVille for leading the parties, and Café Icon for donating 10% of food profits to our fundraisers!) I was lucky enough to reach my fundraising goal on my birthday in August thanks to the generosity of everyone that donated! My training took on a whole new meaning . . . people gave their money to an organization on my behalf, I had to get out there and train! (For those times I might have rather stay in bed!)

It’s hard for me to put my experience of running for a charity into words. For big races like the NYC Marathon, there are so many charities to chose from. I knew that Team for Kids was a huge charity with the New York Road Runners and that the “perks” were awesome, but I researched many organizations before committing because I wanted this to be truly meaningful to my heart. (Note: fundraising for ANY charity is incredible! I think to successfully fundraise that you need to find an organization that pulls at YOUR heartstrings. Potential donors want to know your heart is 100% in with the cause.)

Team for Kids spoke to me from the first moment I heard of the organization, and after researching other causes; I knew Team for Kids was the perfect place for me! Even though Team for Kids is based in NYC, money raised goes to school programs all around the country. TFK did host weekly runs in NYC for the locals (or if you were traveling in the area you could stop in!), and they were great about posting accountability posts and weekly emails for those of us that couldn’t join the fun in person.

Jen Hilger and Meb Keflezighi
Jen met with Olympic silver Medalist, Boston Marathon Winner, and Team for Kids ambassador Meb Keflezighi at the 2016 NYC Marathon.

Fast forward to race week . . . the NYC Marathon has a formal opening ceremony on the Friday before the race. It is basically a celebration and a parade of all nations represented. Team for Kids gets to start the parade since they are the biggest charity partner with the race. I was lucky to get a spot in the parade! I got to meet kids that directly benefitted from my fundraising efforts. WOW! (I also got to meet Meb who is a Team for Kids ambassador!) On Saturday morning, TFK hosted a breakfast for all fundraisers. Again, we got to meet more kids and we were able to visit with some of their parents also. By the end of the breakfast, my heart was completely full. I started training with a specific finishing time and was determined to do it, but after the full experience of fundraising, I honestly just felt completely lucky to get to run the NYC Marathon for Team for Kids!


The fundraising experience was so fulfilling that I know that’s my path for future races. If I ever get a qualifying time for certain major races, awesome. . . but I will be running them for charity!

3. You have run over a dozen marathons and about 20 half marathons. Each of these races takes a lot of time for training. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

Wow, this question has so many answers! Sometimes a hot cup of coffee or a cold popsicle waiting at home motivates me to just go get it done. Other times I just remember my goals and how bad a half marathon or marathon will hurt if I don’t properly train. I’m a terrible liar, so knowing my friends can ask me at any time how my training is going also provides motivation. I would be embarrassed if I was constantly lazy during a time of training! My husband is great at keeping me motivated. I have my conscience, but I also have his voice to remind me of my goals, and sometimes our schedules line up for him to run with me! In the spring I am a training coach for Red Coyote Running & Fitness, so I have built-in accountability! I need to always be on my A game to help those in the training program. The participants always inspire me and make running so much fun! (Even in the dark, cold, wind, snow, etc…) As I mentioned earlier, training for NYC took on a whole new meaning for me. All of my training miles had so much value, whether I felt like running or not. I was very focused on achieving my goal, and making Team for Kids proud to have me as one of their runners.

4. Because you have run in so many races, what are the top three “little things” you do to prevent injury?

Running more frequently while gradually building miles. (To prevent injury…wait, what?) Running 4-5 times a week has helped my body get used to running frequently, and it’s still possible to do so while gradually building miles. When I first started training for long-distance races I was lucky to get in three runs/week, and I wondered why I hurt so much after long runs. Now, I love running a 100+ mile month with my longest run only being 10 miles! Or 36 mile weeks with my longest run only being 14 miles.
Listen to my body! If something hurts, I try to not ignore it! It can usually be a simple stretching solution, or maybe I slept in a weird way one night. Or maybe it’s new shoe time. . . I mean, isn’t it always new shoe time?!
Sleep! It’s easy to remember that you have to get to bed early the night before a long run, but we can sometimes neglect sleep throughout the week. It’s obviously difficult for most adults to nap on a consistent basis, so getting to bed at a decent time is very important every night of the week for successful training.

5. What’s next, racewise?

Jen and her husband finishing a runDisney event as newlyweds.
Jen and her husband finishing a runDisney event as newlyweds.

My next big race weekend will be the RunDisney Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10k + Half Marathon) + 5k over three days! My husband and I are running these races together as a part of our celebration of our first wedding anniversary!

6. If you could deliver one message to fellow runners like you, what would it be?

Smile! (And sparkle!) My good friend Layla always reminds me before a big race to SMILE! Whether I am running a personal best or personal worst, I am always thankful for the experience. Smiling doesn’t exert extra energy, and makes everyone feel better. I try to take a selfie after every run to remind myself that I did it, and still smiled at the end no matter the quality of the run.

Sparkle! Whether that means literally, like with a sparkle skirt, or just find your own sparkle! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! I think one really unique aspect about running is that it attracts all types of people. There is no reason to fit in a mold in running, so why try? If you want to run races in tutus, do it! If you want to repeat the same races over and over, do it. Running is such a freeing experience, no sense in not being yourself!


Lightning Round:

Compression Socks: Yes or no?

Depends on the situation. I rarely wear them for races anymore, but frequently use them for recovery!

Running Solo or with a group?

NYC Marathon or runDisney?
There is no short answer on this one, ha!! Both are very special to me for different reasons, and I’m not sure I could chose!

HITS Running Festival Recap – OKC

It’s been six long years since my last half marathon. That race was quite a humbling experience filled with IT Band issues and foot injuries. I was new to long distance running and thought the only training I needed to do was to run and still ate whatever I wanted. Since then I have moved to a different state, changed jobs, had four surgeries, and two kids. My biggest take away from my first half marathon and subsequent life changes is that taking good care of myself goes a long way in my training. So over the past few months, in addition to my runs I incorporated clean eating principles and strength training using The 21 Day Fix. The half marathon I ran this weekend was so vastly different than my last. I wasn’t plagued with injuries, I felt strong, and had a bond with the local running community. This was also my first race in my Oiselle singlet. It felt amazing getting to rock that thing, FINALLY! Considering I got a PR, this race gave me loads of confidence to continue training and striving towards my fitness and running goals.

This past weekend I ran in the HITS Running Festival in downtown Oklahoma City. I was hemming and hawing for months about whether or not to sign up. So the day before the scheduled event, I had the brilliant idea that it could serve as a good dress rehearsal for the upcoming Route 66 Half Marathon and decided to go ahead and sign up. Ultimately, I’m so glad I did. I have so many positives comments on this race.

  • Field Size – The number of runners was drastically lower than events like OKC Memorial or Route 66. So the start line wasn’t crowded. I was able to arrive 30 minutes before the start, get a nearby parking spot, and had plenty of room to warm up. 
  • A Distance for Everyone – They really offered every distance from Marathon to 10K to 1 mile fun runs. I saw a lot of groups and families (mine included) with members each participating in races of various distances. Families could watch and cheer each other on throughout the morning because each race had a staggered star time. For example, the half started at 7am and I was done in time to see my husband start his 5K race at 10am.
  • The Course – Each race followed a flat and fast course along the manicured River Trails of the Oklahoma River. The flat course was appreciated. Also, not having to fight cars and traffic was great as well.
  • Refreshment on the Course – Each water aid table along the course was stocked full of water, gatorade, oranges, bananas, and mini candy bars. A varied and delicious selection.
  • Ballpark – Each race FINISHED inside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. This was sooo much fun. It made it nice for spectators because they could lounge in the stands and watch for friends and family to enter the stadium and cross the finish line. For the runners, you can feel like a super star athlete when seeng yourself on the jumbotron in the stadium and the soft and well manicured track feels so good on tired feet at the end of a long race. 
  • Treats After the Race – Lots and lots of donuts, bananas, oranges, grapes, bagels, coffee, and more. Super good snacks. I had a great time just snacking on treats and hanging in the stadium while waiting for friends and family to race.

Every race has some downsides and this one had only a few.

  • Smell – holy smokes y’all. You may be running on a well manicured path along the river but when you run by the stockyards the smell gets pretty rancid. It was a cool, windy morning and the smell was still pretty bad. And because it’s an out and back loop race you have to hit that smell a second time on your way back. phew!
  • Confusion at Starting Line – When you were finishing your race you basically crossed back over where the starting line to get into the stadium to finish your race. This was confusing for some marathon and half marathon runners finishing their race while the 5K, 10K, and mile racers were starting their races.
  • Not Enough Finisher Medals – They had many runners register last minute (like me) and therefore didn’t have enough finisher medals for everyone. It’s a bummer but it happens. They are ordering more and will be mailing them out to folks though.

In speaking with several other runners from the event, there seemed to be a consensus between our opinion of the race and how it was organized. Ultimately, it was a great race that was executed well. I would run this race again and encourage others to check it out next fall.

becky craig st george marathon

Runner Like You – Becky Craig

Running can be intimidating, especially running long distance races like a marathon or half marathon. But it doesn’t take a super human to accomplish these fetes. Regular people like you and me prove time and again that persistence and dedication can take you pretty far in training and running a race. Becky Craig embodies all of this. She is a mother, works a full time job, creates delicious confectionary treats at Sugar Shenanigans, and still finds time to train and run in some pretty prestigious races like her most recent journey to St. Georges Marathon. Becky is a fellow Oiselle Voilee runners and has graciously agreed to be the first spotlight in the new Runner Like You series. Each month Run Oklahoma highlights runners like you and me that find time to dedicate to this sport that intrigues, mystifies, and at times eludes each of us.

Without further ado, I introduce a Runner Like You, Becky Craig.

RO: When did you start running?becky craig st george marathon

BC: I had tried to run a few 5ks in my early 30s but it wasn’t until I turned 35 and decided to sign up to train for my first sprint tri that I actually started running regularly. Although it took probably a year before I had any kind of consistency.

RO: Do you remember the first moment you felt “like a runner”?

BC: Maybe when I got my first Garmin. It was a Christmas gift after I ran my first half in Tulsa at the Route 66 in 2010. I remember thinking, now I have this new watch, guess that means I have to start running.

RO: You just finished the St. George Marathon. That particular race was included in Runner’s World 10 Most Scenic Marathons and was voted in the Top 20 Marathons in the USA. Can you share about your experience running in this race?

BC: St. George was definitely beautiful, but in my opinion, the course is no joke. Sure they say it’s downhill, but there are some serious uphill spots and downhill isn’t always easy I had a great race for 17 miles, I felt good and like I was on track to run a good race. After that, sharp pain in my leg prevented me from running at all. It was a long 9 miles to the finish line.

RO: What’s next, racewise?

BC: Well, I have an MRI scheduled for Monday afternoon and I am currently limping around in a boot. I am hoping it’s not a tibial stress fracture, but I will have to wait until next week to find out what’s going on. I have plans to run the half at the Route 66, I have done it every year since 2010, but I will have to see what my doctor says.

RO: What’s the coolest place you’ve ever run?

BC: The coolest race I have ever done is the Ragnar Colorado. Probably the hardest running I have had to do, mostly on account of the whole lack of oxygen, but this was the most fun race I’ve ever done. Driving around in a van with five other runners in the middle of the night is seriously fun.

RO: If you could deliver one message to fellow runners like you, what would it be?

BC: Everyone has bad days, we just have to keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, because sometimes it will take a long time.

Lightning Round:

Running with music: Yes or no?

Music only for races when I know I will be alone. Otherwise I prefer to run with friends and talk. Trust me, I can talk a lot during a six mile run.

• Kara or Shalane?


• NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon?

NYC! I prefer a race that I could actually run some day! Lol.

October 2015 – Oklahoma Area Races

I don’t think God made a more perfect month than October. The cooler temperatures, foliage, and wide variety of race offerings make running outdoors in Oklahoma a delightful experience. Here are a few races that may tickle your October running fancy.

Gotta Have a Beer Run – There is an obligation for runners over the age of 21 to run a beer race in the month of October. If you aren’t of the legal drinking age, at least Red Coyote is providing you with an opportunity to run the Runtoberfest 5K in your lederhosen.

lederhosen costume

Gotta Have Your Own Distance Run – The HITS Running Festival is making its way to Oklahoma City this year and offers a distance for everyone (1 mile all the way to marathon). Each race will FINISH inside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark while traversing the FLAT & FAST course over soaring Skydance Bridge and manicured River Trails along the Oklahoma River.

Gotta Have a Costume Run – On Halloween day, you can dress up in your costume and get out and participate in the Monster Dash at Reeves Park in Norman. It’s  a great way to burn some calories and earn all that candy you’ll be gobbling up later that night.


Run Less Run Faster – Book Review

School is about to start and cooler temperatures are just around the corner. Those anticipated cooler temps make great weather for marathon and half marathon training.

The last half marathon I ran was about six years ago. When I was training for that particular race I suffered a few injuries and was afraid I would never be able to run more than a mile without pain again. Part of the reason for my injury was running too much and running without a plan. I didn’t know anything about tempo runs or interval training. I just ran as long as I could and as often as I could.

Over the past few years I’ve been reading much more about training plans and focusing on different cross training exercises. I’ve personally seen a substantial benefit to my running by building a better cardiovascular base with cross training such as cycling, rowing, and swimming.

RLRF 2012 webHowever, the book that has been the most influential to my running and the one I will be using to train for the Route 66 Half Marathon is Run Less Run Faster from Runner’s World. The initial chapters of the book provide a base knowledge of their recommended 3-run-a-week training program. The rest of the book includes training programs for many distances (5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, and Marathon) as well as a Boston qualifier plan. The book also includes recommended stretches and strength training.

Books about running and training plans themselves will always have supporters and naysayers. It seems that everywhere you turn there is an expert ready to oppose one plan because they have the “best” or “right” training plan. However, as an amateur runner, my humble opinion is that sometimes you have to do the best with what you have. Furthermore, a training plan is just that. A plan. Ultimately, I will listen to my body while training for my next half marathon but will use this book for a guideline to prepare myself for that race.

rlrf2The benefits for me, with regards to this book, are that it’s easy to understand (full disclosure, I didn’t understand interval runs such as “12 x 400 with 400 RI” until I read this book) and even easier to follow. The 3-run-a -week offers plenty of flexibility for me to not overload my demanding work and family schedule.

Are you planning to run a fall marathon or half marathon? Which training plan are you using?

OKC Marathon Winner: Getting to Know Scott Downard

scottdownardMany people are intimidated of the thought of running 26 consecutive miles. Even more people may be intimidated of running those 26 miles at a 5:47 average pace. But as I walked into OK Runner in Norman on a rainy afternoon I met a man who is not scared of those numbers and performed in such a way to win the 2015 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

Scott Downard was working at OK Runner the day I happened to stop by and he was eager to help me with a question I had about some running apparel. As I paid closer attention I realized he looked familiar from the television coverage of the recent OKC Marathon, so I had to ask. He shyly admitted the he is THE Scott Downard and HAD recently won the OKC Marathon. Being a running fanatic, I must admit, I was a bit star struck. But really the best part of meeting such a notable athlete and runner was that he was extremely humble about his racing victories and seemed very content to just chat with me about running in general.

After our brief chat, Scott was happy to answer some questions for the readers of Run Oklahoma. I’m sure most of you, like me, are curious about what’s it’s like to be such a fast runner.

Q: How long have you been running? Was it a big part of your growing up?

A:  I’ve been running for half of my life, 16 years. It became a big part of my life in high school. Running is one of those pursuits that for some people can become an obsessive type of pastime. The first season I ran cross country, I wasn’t particularly good and my work ethic wasn’t great either. But I buddied up with another guy that was a lot better than me and he kind of helped instill some of the “OCD” runner behavior. I do get a little frustrated because I see a lot of the kids I coach and know they have every bit the capability I had and they just won’t commit to the training. That is the only thing that allowed me to get better and in a relatively brief period I could contribute to my varsity team. I view this sport as a lifestyle and I think it can be pretty cool to catch fire with a pursuit like this.

Q: What inspires you to run?

A:  I’m inspired to run on a variety of levels, I mean I like being fit and healthy and getting outside and exploring. I like the challenge it can offer, I like pushing boundaries and I like that I can figure a bit about my body and tinker with the variables and possibly refine the outcome of my effort. I like being around people that are into it for these reasons. I don’t necessarily like the competitive aspect, it’s more of an innate challenge for me.

Q: How many marathons have you won prior to this one?

A:  I actually own and set a course record at the Eisenhower Marathon 2 weeks prior to OKC. Full disclosure, there was a slight issue with one of my wins which I will attach an interview I did about that and not leave it to some of the less informed articles that later appeared. http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/dqed-marathon-winner-explains I also own and set the course record at the Lake McMurtry 50k trail run.

Q: What did it mean, to you, to be able to win the OKC Memorial marathon?

A:  I was happy to FINALLY win. I’ve given it a go there a few times and was fortunate to get the W. I never take anything for granted in marathons. People ask me about meaning beyond the victory and I obviously understand the significance of the bombing commemoration but this is also THE Oklahoma race that has started to mean a lot for fitness in our community and state. I think that’s the way I view the event, a great event that I hope continues to evolve and grow, there definitely room for that.

Q: What was your plan of attack for the OKC course?

A:  I planned to race whoever showed up, but potentially run a little more conservatively and ramp the pace down the last 10 miles. I wasn’t really able to pull the speed down but you race to the course and your competition.

Q: It was reported that you had an asthma attack during the race. Is that true? How were you able to cope/recover?

A:  I was having gradually worsening asthma problems the last 6-8 miles. I have dealt with it before in spring races and so I packed my inhaler. I’ve had some previous races derailed and it can make for a demoralizing and lonely last 10k. The inhaler is as much of a psychological tool as physical. I’m learning to try to breath and run a little differently to try to cope as well. I think it made the pace feel more difficult and thus my stomach was a little more unsettled. These things are all linked so I couldn’t fuel as well as could have been hoped and hydrating was not great because I feared a side ache.

Q: Were you able to take a moment during the race to enjoy the hometown crowd?

A:  I enjoyed the support but I was motivated to win and not entirely confident of my chances, so you try to conserve your energy mostly. I threw out lots of smiles, waves, and a few high fives to some buddies.

Q: How did you celebrate after the win?

A:  I was somewhat dehydrated afterward which upsets my stomach and a lot of the post race options provided don’t do it for me. I finally got my miracle cure, beer, far too much later and things started to improve from there. My family and girlfriend know that I sometimes am in a rough state after and so when we go out if I say that I need to lay down or am feeling nauseous, they know I’m serious, but usually it can pass fairly quickly once I absorb some fluids, but too much sugary sports drink or plain water usually exacerbate the problem. I basically ended up throwing up what I initially tried to get down, laying on the couch at Mcnellies until they finally brought me a beer.

I didn’t do any massive celebrating but I did chat with friends and my buddy, and last years winner, Jason Cook and I usually go get a celebratory drink or 2. I also have to point out that my high school English teacher and her family happened by us and she bought me a pint(so far my most substantive reward, as OKC offers zero prizes for winners) and said she had seen the tv coverage of the race. I’ve also received a ton of congrats from old friends, family, acquaintances, random Facebook friend requests, etc. We also had a get together this past weekend with my coworkers including Scott Smith, who won the 1/2 to celebrate everyone’s OKC experience.

Q: What’s your dream race that you’d want to run?

A: I would like to run a couple of the marathon majors(Berlin, Tokyo), some really cool destination events( Big Sur, Avenue of the Giants,etc), and a few of the big trail ultras. I’m still attempting to get faster and attempt some longer events, I’m 32, but I also like to travel and make the most of my races. I still think it’s important to mix up your race schedule at times and prepare specifically for goal events a few times a year.

Q: What’s the next big race on your calendar?

A: I’m trying to get in some faster 5/10k type training this summer and then be fired up about training for a fast fall marathon(maybe 2) like Chicago, Philly or Cal international marathons. I had interest in competing at the US 50mile(an as yet unattempted distance for me)champs which are taking place in northern Wisconsin, where my girlfriend is from, but the high school coaching season won’t be conducive to that feat.

Many of us dream about just finishing top three in our gender or our age group in a race, and can’t even fathom winning  the whole shebang. Scott has managed to take the title in many races and still has his sites set on further achievements. Good luck to Scott in his future efforts as I’m sure the Run Oklahoma Community will be following and cheering along.

April 2015 – Oklahoma City Area Races

April is just around the corner and as many of you are aware April is the busiest running month in the Oklahoma City area. The Memorial Marathon and Redbud Classic are two HUGE racing events that can really over shadow some of the smaller, local events. So Run Oklahoma has decided to spot light some of the lesser known races happening around this state in the month of April. Check out a more expansive list on our Find a Race page.

Lowest Registration FeeThe Chickasaw Nation Rabbit Run 5K will be held on Saturday, April 11th at 8:30 AM CDT in Purcell, Oklahoma. This race will be timed. But best of all, registration is FREE!  Paying $25 here and $30 there to race in 5K runs throughout the year can really start to take a toll on your wallet. So take advantage of the lowest registration we could find! Also, you can snag a FREE race t-shirt with online registration prior to Friday, March 27. That’s tomorrow, so act fast. Free fitness and clothes! What more could you ask for?

Most Overlooked– Stillwater is a great, small town with plenty of family entertainment to offer. However, it is a bit of a jaunt from the Oklahoma City area. So it’s no surprise that a 5K and 10K race through the Oklahoma State University campus may be overlooked with the many other events going on this month. If you’re looking for a middle distance run with smaller crowds and beautiful scenery than the Remember the Ten is the one for you.

Family Friendliest – If you have kids, you may find it difficult to get them excited about coming along with you on yet another race. Well the Super Heroes Foster Run at Stars and Stripes Park has you both covered. Everyone is encouraged to dress in super hero inspired costumes and there will be inflatable bouncy houses, face painting, and food trucks to keep the whole family happy.

Get out this month and enjoy some local races and the beautiful spring weather!