Saturday, June 10, 2023

A Run to Remember - will Blake meet his Half-Marathon Goal?

On April 19, 1995, the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed when a truck-sized home-made bomb exploded right outside. Sixty-eight people died in the bombing, and Oklahoma continues to remember those victims. A "Run to Remember" was organized six years later, and has become the biggest running event in the state. Our son, Blake, ran in the half-marathon last year, and we're back to see him run again in 2023.

This is the 23rd "Run to Remember," and we went to Oklahoma City's new Civic Center where the athletes pick up their computer-chipped bib number the day before the race. Each runner also gets a packet of information and a shirt. We wandered around the Runner's Expo and took advantage of the photo ops and the vendor samples with Blake.

For many blocks around the bombing site, the blast damaged buildings and killed trees. The Civic Center was decorated with elaborate balloon displays. This one is of the Survivor Tree that lived through the blast and is now a part of the memorial downtown.

We were up before 5:00 on the morning of the race, to pick up Blake and deliver him as close as traffic would allow to the start line. The weather was cool and dry, with little wind--perfect conditions for the runners. Then we drove to the first point where we would see him run by, at about 6 miles into his race. On our phones, we watched the live coverage of the start of the race. Runners are placed based on their average running speeds, with the fastest ones at the front. 

It was amazing to see that the runners are packed together for blocks, and as far as we can see. We snapped this screen shot as Blake crossed the start line just a few seconds after 6:30 a.m. That's him in the white shirt in the bottom right of the picture below.

While Blake ran the first six miles, we wandered around to see the preparations that some of the neighborhoods put into this race. All the runners will be coming down this street, and the neighbors have been up for hours setting up signs and treats. This street has "Orange Power" with OSU theme music and decorations. They pitch in to fund the orange fruit and juice for the athletes, plus mimosas for the less serious runners. Mark talked to the single OU fan on the block with his crimson and cream decorations on his lawn. The sky was turning pink as the sun was rising over the marathon course.

At another area they had eight large tables filled with cups of water stacked three high to hand out to the runners. Between the marathoners, the half-marathoners, and the marathon relay teams, thousands of people will run down this street this morning. There isn't time to fill water cups after the race has started.

We watched as the first competitors came down the street--the hand-powered bicycles. While the competitors ride in a horizontal position, each had two regular bicyclists riding beside them. It was amazing that these people would use their arms to propel themselves 23.2 miles today.

Then we started seeing runners, and we spotted Blake. He was all smiles as he rounded the corner and spotted us cheering for him. He's the one in the middle of the picture with the white shirt and black tennis shoes. His yellow bib indicates that he is running the half-marathon. The green bibs are worn by full marathoners. The two groups started and run together for the first part of the race course.

As soon as he passed, we drove the pickup to a second spot a couple miles further into his race. We had to run about a half-mile to see him there, then we drove and ran another half-mile to see him pass a third time. Because we were up so early, we got into the center of the course before all the streets were closed. So the traffic inside the loop of the marathon course is very light. Next, we drove south towards the finish line. We saw Blake pass by a fourth time, and his stride still looks good.  More importantly, he is still smiling! We see that this far into the race, the runners are much further apart.

We jogged to the finish line just in time to see him coming down the home stretch. He's still smiling and his stride looks great. He ran his personal best time! His goal was to run each mile in less than seven minutes. We can walk a very fast 14-minute mile, but we can't imagine going twice as fast for thirteen miles!

He did it! His official time was 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 33 seconds. That's an average pace of 6:46 per mile! He did better than his 7-minute-mile goal for the race. We are so proud of him! He wasn't even winded at the end of the race, and was ready to run more. Instead of looking for a place to sit, we walked around Scissortail Park, and he ate the free burger and drink provided to runners. We hung out at the finish line to watch some of his friends finish the race, and we were there when the first-place full marathon runner crossed the line. Then we walked a mile and a half back to where we parked the pickup.

After lunch (at 10:00 a.m.), Blake was ready for a brisk walk with us around his neighborhood in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City. Between our walks inside the race course to see Blake run, and this neighborhood walk, we managed to get 9.5 miles of exercise this day. Not as much as the racers, but perhaps we will try walking the half-marathon one of these days. 

While Blake felt good about his race, he missed his goal of being in the top fifty among all ages in the half-marathon. He came in #63. He already decided that next year's goal was to finish in the top 1%. Then we found out that because of the beautiful weather, they had an unusually large number of runners today. Over 6,400 people ran in the half-marathon race this year. That means that being #63 put him in the top 1% this year! He had made another of his very lofty goals after all!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Great job! Roger & Michele Mayes