Ok before we get any further….I just have to say….
I’M A MARATHONER!
It’s official, I did my 26.2 miles in Tulsa for the Route 66 Marathon and this is the recap of what went down.
In a Nutshell
Official Time: 4:36
Number of Awesome Miles: 12
Numbers of Not So Awesome Miles: 14.2
Number of Kegs on the Course: At least 15, by my count
Number of Cats on the Course: Only one 🙁 but lots of dogs
Number of Pit Stops to High-Five Mr. Street Smart: 7 1/2, although we only actually high fived as I was handing him sweaty layers I didn’t want to wear anymore
Likelihood of Running Another Marathon Soon: Extremely Likely
While I’m incredibly proud of myself for finishing this race, it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. This is said with no intention of diminishing the accomplishment, but if you’re a semi-competitive person and worked your tail off for months and months, you’re kidding yourself if you say you have no expectations. I did, and I fell short of those due to some pretty heinous quad spasms that started up around Mile 12. That continued until I finished, so needless to say those last 14.2 miles were a lot of fun. By fun, I mean running, walking, stopping, repeating until the end. I had been ahead of my goal pace up until Mile 12 and for a little while thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna go for it…” I was feeling good, the miles were ticking off easily, and I felt energized and comfortable at that pace (knowing full well that comfortable quickly changes to highly uncomfortable later on).
“It” was a sub-4 hour marathon…after passing the 13.1 marker in about 2:03, I kind of hoped I still had a 4:10 within reach. Unfortunately my legs just weren’t having it. I think it was most frustrating because this hadn’t happened in any previous race or training run. So while I would have prepared for that if I could, I wasn’t sure what I needed to feel good enough to find my pace again during this race. I adopted my run-walk-stop strategy and while there was never a point when I thought I wouldn’t finish, there was definitely a time when I thought it might take me all damn day.
But…I finished, and had some really amazing support from Mr. Street Smart and our friends Matt, Lacy, and their baby boy James. They spent the better half of their Sunday chasing me around Tulsa just to see me for a few seconds at each stop. Seeing them all at the finish line was one of the best feelings, combined with the fact that I was just so ready to be DONE!
So my debut marathon didn’t go quite according to plan, but that just opens the door for another attempt – if you’re a runner you can probably relate to feeling irritated when you know you’re capable of more than what you just gave. If you’re not a runner, maybe there’s another instance in life you can relate that too, or maybe you just think us runners are absolutely crazy. So now that I’ve put it out there, if you have suggestions for a favorite spring marathon, let me know!
Here’s a little more about the event itself – Route 66 has turned into one of my favorite events of the year and I definitely plan to be back next November!
The Health & Fitness Expo for this race is open to the public and runs through Friday and Saturday before the main events on Sunday. Packet pickup is a breeze and although this is a fairly large race, there are plenty of volunteers so you won’t have to wait long to get your bib or shirt/jacket. The Expo itself is set up nicely to be able to move freely through the booths – a pet peeve of mine is when the aisles at an Expo are so long you’re stuck going back out the way you came in. Sometimes you gotta make a break for it! So I appreciated that there was plenty of room to move around without feeling so cramped and claustrophobic like you sometimes do at big events.
I was also invited to sit on a bloggers’ forum with Social Media Tulsa. There were six panelists and our moderator, Cheryl Lawson, ran us through a series of questions about our blogs and social media and how we use them to talk about our running journeys. It was really fun to hear from these others runners and compare and contrast our running and blogging styles. If you’re interested in checking them out, here’s how to find them:
- Danielle of The T-Rex Runner (@thetrexrunner on Instagram)
- Felisha of She Ran Herself Fit (@sheranherselffit on Instagram)
- Becky of Running With The Jacksons
- Joe of @runultrajoe on Instagram
- Gary of The Michigan Runner (@garymorgan5393 on Instagram)
I got a preview of the course at last years event when Mr. Street Smart and I ran the half marathon. The half and full marathon courses run together for the first 12.5 miles before they split. It’s almost excruciatingly close to the finish for the marathoners, who can nearly hear and see the finish line even though they’re only about halfway done.
Check out my recap from last year when we ran the Half Marathon HERE.
The first half has some rolling hills and weaves through some pretty nice neighborhoods in Tulsa. It passes through one of the private schools, where the students and cheerleaders man the aide stations and point out speed bumps so runners are less likely to trip. The neighborhoods are one of my favorite spots on the course because you pass some beautiful homes and there’s great crowd support. Families camp out in their front lawns to cheer and a lot of them set up a party – you’ll see kegs and tables with beer and jello shots for runners (none for me, thanks) and a lot of smiling faces.
There’s one stretch between Miles 6.5 to 8ish that’s completely flat and straight. This was where I first thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna go for it,” because you can really relax into your stride and get into your zone. There’s a lot of music on the course too, which can be helpful for me because I never run with headphones. After that, you wind your way through some more residential areas before heading back towards downtown Tulsa.
After the courses split, the marathoners head back out of downtown towards the University of Tulsa campus. The course gets considerably more hilly at this point. To be honest, Mile 15 felt just as tough as Mile 25 for me, so the second half of this course was one of those where I didn’t really pay attention to landmarks and it all went by in a bit of a slow, painful blur. It’s out and back, so once you circle through the University of Tulsa campus, you head back towards downtown the same way you left.
There’s a short detour for the “Center of the Universe”. This option lets you tack on an extra 0.3 miles to make the world’s shortest ultra-marathon. With the way my legs were feeling I skipped that (big surprise, I know). From there the marathon course meets back up with where the half-marathoners finish and you get a nice flat straightaway before crossing the finish line. DONE!
Route 66 Marathon Loves First-Time Marathoners
This race seems to really embrace first time marathoners. The volunteers at the Expo and Packet Pickup were the first ones to personally welcome me to the event. If you don’t have your number (or haven’t looked it up on your phone) they’ll print your number and send you to the correct line. It has a line for “My First Marathon” and once they hand you your bib (which also says “My First Marathon”) the volunteers break out in cheers and cowbells. I’m not huge on added attention but I thought it was a fun little touch to make the event that much more exciting for those running the distance for the first time.
This race also features an additional medal for first-time marathoners. I can’t say this was the only reason I chose this race to make my marathon debut, but I do love collecting race medals. And for anyone reading who’s a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic, this race also caters to them. You’ll see a lot of folks wearing the jerseys and singlets both at the Expo and on the course – instant camaraderie with strangers!
The Best Investment I Made
It wasn’t fresh running shoes (although vitally important), it wasn’t the endless gels and chews I ate on long runs, it was my coach. I hadn’t worked with a coach since my tenure as a college athlete ended and honestly, I loved the freedom. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted to and have the flexibility to change my workouts or schedule anytime I needed to. But going into a marathon, I realized I actually did need a little support and accountability. That’s where Heather came in.
I’ve known Heather for a while now, which isn’t surprising since she’s also a dietitian and our world just isn’t that big. But I definitely saw the advantage in working with someone I know and since she’s got the running experience to back it up, I signed on as one of her clients for run coaching. She worked with me from the very start of my marathon prep (all the way back in June!) up until the week post-race. We use Training Peaks to schedule workouts, record notes, and keep in touch, plus she runs an active Slack group to build some community among other runners. If you like the virtual aspect of working with a coach, you’ll love her approach!
My primary goal was to make it to race day uninjured and still excited about running – I was able to achieve both and I attribute a lot of that to the support and motivation I got from working with a coach. It was definitely a worthy investment and one I’ll consider again next time I have a huge goal race like this one. Heather is opening a few spots for new clients for Spring Training Programs in 2018, so if you want to see if you’d be a good fit to work together, check out the application here!
Also be on the watch for training plans with monthly check-ins if 1-on-1 coaching isn’t your thing. Whether you’re eyeing a 5k, half marathon, ultra, or anything in between, she’s a great resource for helping you get to your goal race healthy and happy!
So there you have it, my full run-down of the Route 66 Marathon (pun unintended, but did you see what I did there?) – even though it was only a week ago it feels like it was yesterday and months ago all at the same time.
Have you tackled a marathon or trained for a big event like this before? I’d love to hear your stories so drop a comment below! And if you know someone thinking about running this event next year, feel free to share so they can get an insider’s look at the Route 66 Marathon!