Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tulsa! Route 66 because I'm only half a maniac

A friend managed to talk me into doing the Route 66 half marathon in Tulsa, Nov 2016.  I dragged my feet on this because this is a race I want to do the full marathon.  Also, because of the car collision of November 2015, I hadn't run until August, and even then it is uncomfortable and thus I have not been training.  I went into this knowing I'd be essentially walking a half marathon. That is still mentally hard for me to accept.  

First thing, Google maps told me online that it would be an eight hour drive. I was like 'OKAY! Let's do this!'   I knew it was a five hour drive to KC, MO and thought 'I can do another three on the flip side'.  It was a WINDY day and driving into it all day was hard on the injured wrist holding the wheel against the wind, and on the hearing, as the wind was hitting the vehicle such that it was very noisy inside.  I stopped in KC MO to see a family member, and then stopped off at Barnes n Nobles to buy a book on CD, because one can only listen to news radio or the same songs over and over ;-)   It was a good thing I did.  The drive from KC MO to Tulsa was another five hours, not three.  #GoogleFail

Friday morning I did some tourist things and checked out an estate sale at a gorgeous 1920s craftsman house--which actually ended up being on the race course! An ode to my mom to head to estate sales. This one had things I have *never* seen at any other sale: Indoor bicycle trainer, bike road shoes, and (eww) bicycling shorts. So many great books, but I said no to those and picked up some 1950s "Shiny Brite" Christmas ornaments instead.  :-)   

Friday I went to the expo to pick up my numbers, and my friend's, as she was flying in late.  It felt great to be at one again with all the energy and excitement in there!  I wore my RaygunShirts "This is my fighting cancer shirt".  I may need to get one that says "this is my body post vehicle collision"  

The expo was a good size. Not too big, not too small. There were lines for the half/full, and then other lines for the 5k.  Since my friend convinced me to do both the half and the 5k because 'we got something special' I did it.  ---Side note:  We both forgot about that and we didn't wind up with the special glass that said we did the back to back challenge. 

This pretty much summed it up. The energy of the expo was great, but the reality was that I had not done much walking/training other than every day.  I had done a 5k about a month before, I did a 10K a couple weeks later, but I hadn't done anything over a 10k.  I was fine with being a "much more than back of packer" because this was a large enough race  that there'd be a lot of people on the course with me!  Perspective is everything!    
At the expo, I scored a $5 Whole Foods coupon, so I headed over to one to find something for food. Mac and cheese and a packet of tuna fish.  So nutritious, right?  Easy to heat up in the microwave.   Later I picked up my friend at the airport and we headed to Outback---a go to staple in a large city. They do gluten free right. They also do well when I'm with my siblings/families who have peanut, nut, soy, dairy, gluten restrictions :-)  The one things we've found out is that the sweet potatoes are "covered in foil and then in oil" but they apparently aren't deep fried. If you have a soy oil intolerance, you'll want to avoid the sweet potatoes!  

The drawback to this weekend is that it takes place in November!  Brrr.  The day I drove into town it was unseasonably hot, like the rest of this 2016 Autumn, 70 degrees. I wore my skort. Friday, it was still nice, but a bit breezy, wore a skort.  5k race morning was in the mid30s. What the heck?   I did come prepared!  I also got a hotel near the *start* line of the Sunday races, but not Saturday's 5k, which meant we had to walk about a mile to the start line ---ooops on realizing that!  
Prepared for the cold air

Near the start area is the Woodie Guthrie museum. I didn't get a chance to go in it this time, but when I'm back in this town I'll head in.  The mural is neat.  It was obstructed at the bottom by some race course metal.    

Volunteers setting out the warm blankets. How I wanted one on this morning!   
The start of the 5k race was a long corral that was sparsely filled, so there were plenty of 'holes' in the groupings of people letting in the wind ;-)   I was able to run, slowly, with plenty of walking for the first half mile, then there was a big hill over the train tracks, and I pretty much walked with some running.  Coming up to the last turn area, we saw this retro Tulsa sign: 

Turning the corner, there was this road sign just screaming "take a selfie here".  
We are a special event for sure!

Crossing the finish line felt good. Obviously my time is slow, but it was under 45 minutes, so that was a good thing for this collision recovering body. This spring my 5k was almost an hour in extreme pain.  After the finish line I spied one of the mascots.  I don't recall who the dragon belonged to, but I thought it was great.  (There is a mascot race at some point on Saturday).   
 Walking back to the hotel, we tried to take a short cut 'straight ahead'. We passed the "center of the universe" area which is a side detour on the marathon course for a 'special' medal.  I didn't look it up ahead of time, but the echo part sounds neat--and not something we noticed as we walked past.  
My friend and I went back to the expo, so she could experience it and buy race day energy.  While there, we checked out the Brooks display which I had skipped on Friday. She wanted a new pair of shoes, and we did the random entry on their table.  Fill out info on a tablet, win something. My friend won a shirt.  As I was filling out the final screen and hitting 'enter', I said "free shoes, free shoes". The Brooks worker scanned the code and I WON A FREE PAIR OF SHOES!   I had to laugh: last year at the Marine Corps Marathon I won a banner bag which had a free pair of Brooks shoes in it.   I didn't wear those until after my epidural in June this year, and I guess it was time for a new pair ;-)     The Brooks worker insisted I do the treadmill fit test even though I wear Brooks and my local store does a fit. Oh My Goodness. My back was hurting doing the test (barefoot) and then she told me I had to kick higher for the reading.  Pain, 8. OW.

In 2014 I did back to back half marathons in order to become a half fanatic.  Hartford CT and Newport RI halves (Followed up with the Tufts 10K on the Monday--mistake with my foot having a twing in it that day. Then I ran a 10K the next weekend in NH).  Four states that trip, but the important thing was that I earned my entry into the Half Fanatics club.  
Half Marathon Maniac and the Route 66 was the first one where I could partake in any 'mania'.   Got my entry bracelet at the expo and had to keep it on until after the race on Sunday.  Road ID is always on.  Last race with my MotoActv as well---hubby got me a new Garmin vivoactiv HR for Christmas.  
Driving around Saturday afternoon we were hungry and couldn't find the restaurant we had googled. We passed by My Fit Foods and thought 'this sounds like a place we can find gluten and soy free food'.  We were expecting a regular restaurant. Instead, it is a already prepared food, take and reheat establishment. You can reheat and dine in, or take with you home.  Portions are available in regular and large.  Plenty of choices and beverages as well. My limitation was not being able to have soy as well, so I went with the Cilantro Lime Turkey. This was tasty, flavorful, filling.  

---Insert Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics group photo---
Just pretend it's here ;-)   
I didn't ask for permission to publicly share it on the blog and 
I don't feel right doing it without the permission.  
I still couldn't believe I was going to do a half marathon. This year has been hard. I can lament the fitness I've lost, but the reality is going forward from this point isn't as much fun as it was when I could run without pain and enjoy training.   Race day morning was cold, again, but the bright side was that the starting line was basically right outside our room---or so we thought.  Basically, the road sides were blocked off and the only openings to the corrals, each of which is one block long, were at the intersections.  My block/starting corral was at the end of the line, so I would have been better of staying at the Hyatt, HA!   The Maniac corner at the start area, was guarded, we actually did have to show our bracelets to get in!  We went back to our hotel for the warm lobby.  I thought I heard some loudspeaker talk, so we went outside. The national anthem was being played. Several people were walking in front of us and randomly happened to look back. I stopped and stood at attention, my friend did the same.  Someone ahead of us looked over their shoulder, saw us stopped at attention and then they did the same and it repeated for the next four people who had been walking to the start. That was pretty cool.

We then had to go the length of the starting corrals to get to ours. The bad thing about the intersections was that they had gates out into the side street for a bit so we had to swerve around those. Security at those intersections too, so no one could dash into a corral that wasn't theirs.  (Really liked the set up of this race).

It was so nice to be in the corral with everyone around us (i.e I was warm with the surrounding body heat).  Hills, hills, hills. I never would have thought Tulsa or Oklahoma would have been hilly.  I grew up in Iowa with the Loess Hills; however, I live near a river now, so I'm a flat lander, and one who is happy we drove part of the route the prior day.  Once we got out of downtown/business areas and entered into the residential areas it was flatter.  We went down a hill and at the little spot before the rise started, there were runners and a race person helping a man who appeared to have performed a face plant. OUCH.  He wanted to continue. I wonder if they let him.  I had been doing a walk, with a little running up to this point. Pretty much after I turned the corner, I just started walking completely.  My lower back was aching and I had many more miles to go.

One of the roads we ran on was near a private school. The road was lined with a water stop, and with speed bumps. Lots of speed bumps.  It made me wonder what kind of speedsters those high schoolers and parents much be ;-)

We wound our way up to a pretty park at the top of a climb. There was great country/banjo music at the area. I think that was about mile 4 or 5.  
Who was I to argue, especially when they repeated it three times!  
Also, does this photo scream "no longer a twenty something"?

There are many gorgeous homes in this town.   It was a great route to just 'walk' because of this.  One area of the roadway was torn up and patched with gravel, then we turned off the road. A volunteer was telling us that we were running on earthquake damaged land, from the fracking/drilling massive earthquake in September.

Soon we were on a road paralleling a river that reminded me of the great wide Nebraska Platt River. One that didn't look very deep, but it was quite wide and probably scared pioneers in days gone by.  The Arkansas River I've seen before near Leadville CO as the east fork of the Arkansas River, where it's very tiny.  I've seen it in Salida, Colorado as a stream/brook with lots of rocks. Something about as wide as an eighteen wheeler.   This crossing in Tulsa was quite wide.  It was also where we turned off the street, took a left to do a U turn on the bridge/Route 66. Alongside it was an old bridge that was cut off from traffic. I believe it was an original 66 crossing.  
Arkansas River  
Route 66 ba-by!   Woot!   

The last couple of miles were really hard for me. My back was really hurting and I was trying to keep my mind off of it.  Plenty of people were around me at this point, which was nice and reassuring (I wasn't the last one out).  Then I spied it, money on the course!  Yes, I stopped for a quarter on the roadway.  Why not? It just made my registration a little less ;-)  

I was soooo happy to see the finish line :-)  and I did the dumbest thing possible.  I ran the last ten paces. Oh my back. Why did I do that?   Habit. I always take off faster at the last of a race, and I got caught up in the energy of the crowd/finish. Made me wonder what the heck I was doing and then beat myself up for it from the pain that took a while to diminish.

Finish area.
Heat blanket: check  
Medal: check   
Photos: check
Food: check
Results page: check   Maniac Corner: CHECK
Inking that we were suppose to get something special for doing the 5k and half was there ---OOPS
I'd show you the inside, but you have to earn you way :-D 

I exchanged my 'regular' half marathon medal for the Fanatics one.  The original was blue and the Maniac one is yellow. This race is truly amazing with the medals. Special for your first marathon, first half marathon, special for maniac members. I think there are like a couple of handfuls of different types of medals they offer.  

Done, for the glory of cool medals. 
When we got back to the hotel we had the same thought: thankful we had the rest of the day to relax and did not have to travel right away.  We leisurely soaked in the hot tub for about an hour after we were back at the hotel, cleaned up and then I said "we need to get out and stretch, let's go to Target". We found a superTarget so we were able to get gluten free (soy free) food for dinner and breakfast, did some slow strolling and headed back. The microwave in the lobby was on the wimpy side, 180º from mine at home, but there were good chairs to relax in while we waited for our dinner to heat. They even had silverware for us!

We headed out in the morning, dropped my friend off at the airport and I settled in for the ten hour drive home.  Google was off, the car GPS was spot on with that. 

Definitely recommend Route 66 marathon/half/5k weekend.  


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