On Sunday November 20 I ran the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (We also ran the 5k the day before.)
The race started at 8am, so my dad and I started walked from our hotel around 6:45. We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to attend the Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs VIP meet up and not feel rushed getting to the corrals. It was only a 10 minute walk to the start area.
The VIP meet up area was great and it was so fun to meet up with other Fanatics. They offered a bag check, tents to sit under, free coffee and water, empty and clean portapotties (!!!) and this awesome photo spot.
The race organizers also took a group photo of the group — there was a TON of representation!
(Not my photo, it’s from the Route 66 facebook page.) I promise you my dad and I are in there somewhere!
Once we checked our bags (where I stashed an extra long sleeved shirt for after the race), we left the VIP area to make our way to the corrals.
It was cold (right around 30 degrees), but the temperature was expected to rise to the mid-50s by the time I would finish the race. I wore capris, my half fanatics tank, arm sleeves that I could remove, and a throwaway zip up sweatshirt. It was windy and chilly! We did our best to stay warm and before we knew it it was 7:45 and time to find our corrals.
I ate my honey stinger chews as we lined up and heard the national anthem.
Corral A started right at 8am. The cool thing about this race is that they celebrated each corrals start with confetti and fanfare!
My corral (C) started about 15 minutes later at 8:15.
My plan was to run as slowly as possible for the first half of the race. My dad ran the first 6 miles with me as we left downtown Tulsa and headed out into some scenic neighborhoods.
My garmin was off on my total mileage so there’s no point in sharing the splits but I kept my pace as slow as possible and was feeling as good as I could hope! There were tons of people out in front of their houses partying and sharing beer and jello shots (though I didn’t take any), and at one point we ran through a shopping area that had a an entire spinning class on their bikes outside cheering us on! It was awesome. I stuck to my routine of eating a Gu or 100 calories of Swedish Fish every 45 minutes, and walked water stations to make sure I was drinking enough.
Since I ran the 5k the day before I knew that the marathon was going to be anything but flat. But I felt confident and prepared, becuase all of my training has been on hilly routes. Around mile 8 I decided to start walking up any significant hills. My goal was to conserve energy and feel good for the entire race. This slowed some of my splits down slightly but nothing that I was concerned with.
Around mile 9 we ran along the Arkansas river, then made a left to do a quick out and back under Route 66! Obviously I had to take a photo.
I went to take my swedish fish and suddenly my body did NOT want them. The texture and taste was horrible and I almost threw them right up. I knew right then that I had to change my fueling strategy and luckily I had stuck a couple of extra Gus in my spibelt. From then on, I took Gu only, and luckily it worked out just fine. yikes.
After crossing under Route 66 we were back into downtown Tulsa. Until this point the half marathon and marathon courses were the same, and I was honestly a little bit nervous about how I would feel when the half marathoners turned off towards the finish line as I turned away from the finish to continue on. When we got to that point, you could literally heart Bart Yasso annoucing the finish line, but I didn’t for a second wish I was finishing. I knew I had another 13.1 in me and was feeling really strong and confident. According to the official results I hit the half marathon mark in 2:44:16.
We again left downtown Tulsa, and headed for a series of pretty substantial hills. The marathon leaders were passing us on the other side of the road so I knew we would be coming back this way as well. I just continued walking up, running down, fueling.
Around mile 19 we entered the University of Tulsa’s campus. It was really pretty and a nice change in scenery. I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom, so I took my only portapotty stop around here, and as inconvenient was it was, I knew that it meant I was well hydrated.
I was starting to feel a little bit fatigued – mostly, my feet were tired – but I really felt good and told myself I was strong enough to conquer this.
I hit mile 20 at 4:14:00 according to the offical results.
Heading back up those awful hills the second time was worse that the first. I did more walking than I had on the way out and lost a little bit of time. But I never hit a wall. I felt strong, despite being fatigued. I told myself to just keep on going. One foot in front of the other.
Around mile 25 I saw my dad and was really excited to see him (he had run the half, walked back to the hotel, showered and came back to find me). Shortly after I saw him, I saw the sign for the Center of the Universe Detour!!! I had been waiting to experience this since I first signed up for this race. By taking the detour (that runs through the “Center of the Universe“) you add .3 miles onto the marathon, receive a commemorative medallion, and can say you ran the worlds shortest ultramarathon!
I took my time here, stopped to see my dad again, took a photo, and really took it all in. I was so close to finishing the race that I wanted to enjoy the moments I had left.
I turned a corner, I saw the finish line, and ran and ran and ran. I have never felt stronger. My dad was yelling for me, spectators were clapping for “the half fanatic” and Bart Yasso was cheering me on, saying I was from his home state.
It is a moment I will never. ever. forget.
I crossed the finish in 5:45:20 for a total of 26.5 miles. And I felt great! Yes, I was tired, yes I was grateful to stop running. But my legs didn’t feel like jello, I wasn’t hurting, I wasn’t ready to collapse into a heap on the ground.
I have never felt better at the end of a marathon. I met up with my dad, picked up my gear check bag from the Half Fanatics tent, checked the official results and got my medal engraved. I’ve never had a medal engraved before but decided I had to celebrate a 1+ hour PR and sub-6 hour marathon by doing it.
I hit every single goal that I had going into this race:
Goal 1: Have fun, feel strong, enjoy the 26.2 mile victory lap. CHECK!
Goal 2: Participate in the Center of the Universe Detour. CHECK!
Goal 3: PR the Marathon. My last marathon time was 6:44:48. CHECK! I’m not sure what my exact 26.2 mile time was but I can guess it was around 5:40 or so, which means I PRed by more than an hour. 🙂
Goal 4: Finish 26.2 in under 6 hours. CHECK! Not only did I finish the marathon distance in under 6 hours, but I also finished the entire thing under it. and saw a 5 hour time on the clock as I finished!
My third marathon was a wonderful adventure, and I am positive it wasn’t my last time conquering this distance. I am looking to 2018 for the next one…
As for the Route 66 race series, I love love loved the races. Well organized, great crowd support, and overall just a really great, accepting, wonderful, party atmosphere! I’m not sure I’ll be back becuase it’s not local to me, but it was great checking Oklahoma off the list with this race!!