Sunday, April 27, 2014

So, about that...

Yes, I know. I decided to drop down to the half for today's race, and I swore it wouldn't impact my miles, and then it did, but really, it wasn't the drop to the half that impacted it as much as the bicycle ride, which was awesome and fabulous and fun (did we talk about how I did not stop to take a photo of a longhorn steer in front of a pond and a barn, because BIG RING? If that doesn't tell you that I was having a blast on the bicycle, I don't know what does...) and windy and HARD and made my legs feel like jello the next day.

The crew after the Lancaster Rally. So much run riding with my new Bike Bestie Mary!
My mileage has been limited the last few weeks, but I've stepped up the cross-training a little bit, and I really am excited to ride Reveille a lot more this summer. I have quite a few things on the calendar but this trip to OKC is always a highlight and something I look forward to each year. So... I was disappointed (to a degree) when storms rolled in this morning and we made the decision to DNS.

The skies about 15 minutes before the finish, before the last downpour of the day.
I've run this race four times, twice doing the half and twice doing the full distance. I love the course, I love the friendliness and appreciation for the runners displayed by the community, and I love the beautifully poignant memorial honoring the victims of the attack. When I decided to drop to the half, Marci and I decided that we would also take a different approach to the weekend. We have always stayed at the same hotel, met the same group for pre-race dinner at Zio's, been good little runners and been in our beds by 8:30 or 9:00.

And our rewards on race day have been.... mixed. The first year, I nearly broke myself before the race even started. 2011, well, yeah, we all know that story... In 2012, Marci & Robert ran the full but the rest of us ran the half in possibly the most humid conditions I've every tolerated. Last year, we had pretty decent weather, but my training was lacking and the whole day was overshadowed by the emotions of the Boston attack. So this year, we took all the "usual" and "routine" and threw it out.  Instead, we got another hotel room (thanks Hilton Honors points, for the free room) overlooking the minor league ballpark. We expressed our regrets to the OKC runner group who usually hosts us for dinner and instead decided to go to the game, and eat hot dogs and ice cream out of a plastic mini helmet. We stayed up late. We had already decided we were going to have fun on the course and take selfies at every mile and sing and high-five volunteers. We wanted to have fun.

I loves me some baseball. No matter the teams or level of play. PLAY BALL! 
So when we woke up and saw the radar, we were a little concerned. We were waiting for the elevator when we saw the first flashes of lightning. We got to the lobby and walked out and saw the rain. Marci went back up for the ponchos (7 of them.. never mind that there were only 4 of us...). And the lightning continued. She came back downstairs and I tried to hide my feelings on my face, but I knew at that minute that we were not going to run. Not again.

Oh, Oklahoma. Why you gotta do me like this? 
There is a photograph of us huddled under the awning during the 30-minute rain delay from 2011. Four of us are frantically searching for another May race. Marci was sitting with a ghost-white face looking like she was about to be ill. We had ZERO business running that day. And when I tried to describe that day to non-runners after the fact, I got blank stares and disbelieving shakes of the head. It was impossible to relay to people why we started, and once we started, why we didn't stop. I do remember thinking that I would never do that again. I have nothing to prove. And I had promised my husband, once the initial warnings of severe weather had surfaced on Thursday and Friday, that I would do nothing stupid.

I love these girls. Every day I know them is a blessing. 
I run because it's fun. I run because it's relaxing, and I enjoy the running community, and I love the friendships and relationships that have developed from my involvement in it. But at the end of the day, I am not a professional athlete. I am a recreational runner, and the idea of running through hazardous weather is not something that I need to do. We were delayed by nearly 2 hours. huddled in a parking garage with hundred of other runners. Our nutrition was shot to hell - I had eaten a small sweet potato with a couple of pats of butter at 5:30.

I am looking at a 2:45 finish time with my current training levels on a perfect day in perfect conditions. With the emotional trauma of the flashbacks, and the delay, and the uncertainty of the weather and course in the next few hours, who knows what we might have been looking at. So we made the decision formally that I honestly think I had made when we stepped outside the hotel.

Hanging out with a few hundred of my closest friends in the parking garage... 
We didn't know at the time whether there would be more storms, but we weren't taking that chance. Ended up, the day cleared up beautifully, but heat and humidity came out in force as soon as the sun came out. There were plenty of chances to reconsider our choice, especially as we walked back to the hotel and had to cross the route, with all the runners headed up the first overpass heading north on the route. The rain had stopped by then. But the beauty of the confidence and self-assurance that I have in my life right now, coupled with the support system that I have built, is that I don't have to second-guess my decision. I will not rationalize or try to explain my decision. I don't need to verbalize excuses. I made a call and I stand by it.

As we walked to our hotel, we saw the runners heading up the overpass. We prayed they would stay dry.
I had a great weekend. I got to chat with Marci for 6 hours and catch up on all manner of things that we hadn't had a chance to chat about lately - work, family, goals, silliness. I had a fun lunch with some of my favorite people and saw some of my OK runner friends. I saw a fun AAA baseball game with my dear friend. I got to give Mark his pre-race knockout punch! This weekend was not for nothing.

Some of my favoritest people on the planet. 
Right as the first rain delay was announced, as we were making our way toward the corrals, we stopped at the Memorial.  I needed a minute to go in and reflect on the reason for this race. That place is haunting to me, every time I see it, whether it is in full sunshine, rain, or in the pre-dawn hours, when the lights that illuminate the 168 chairs glow with their peaceful light. The attacks resonated with me 19 years ago, when I was pregnant with my firstborn. They still do. Every year on April 19 I think of the babies that were dropped off at their daycare and never got to be picked up. Every year on May 19, as my son grows and learns and matures into the fine adult person that he has become, I think about the babies those small chairs represent, and how they didn't get the chance to play hockey, or be in plays, or stay out too late, or move into their dorms for freshman year of college. And it rips my heart out.

Comfort, Strength, Peace, Hope and Serenity
But the beauty of this race, of this city, is the perseverance, and the hope, and the healing. It draws me to the race, to that site, every year. And it always will. And after I visited the memorial, with the raindrops falling gently on the reflecting pool, I was okay with whatever happened that day. I didn't know, as I stood there between the 9:01 wall and the 9:03 wall, looking over the pool at the Survivor Tree, whether they would start the race or cancel it. And if they did start it, but I instead chose to opt out, then I was okay with it then too. I was okay with whatever we would do, or not do.

The Survivor Tree 
I will be back next year. I'm not sure yet if I will attempt the full distance or if I will run the half. I don't know if the RedHawks will be in town and we'll get to see baby baseball players again. But I know that I will be back, and I will run this race again.

Huge congrats to all the runners who started and finished, who Ran to Remember. I did not run today, but I always remember.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trails are the answer

even on days when you don't really know the question... 

Exciting developments and goals are brewing here. I'll be ready to share soon enough. For now, Texas, y'all.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Little Dose of FIGJAM

Run updates & OKC training summary will have to wait. Race day is 3 weeks out. Done a bit of adjustment to plans for the year. Made a few decisions about goals and such. But for now, know that I only ran 10 miles this week, and yet it was an incredibly fun, inspiring and rewarding week. 

Because cowbell. And tacos. And FIGJAM. 

I have awesome friends. We have the MOST fun. 

That is all.