Last weekend, David and I went on a whirlwind trip to Tulsa, OK to run the Route 66 Marathon (for me) and Half Marathon (for David). Neither of us were exactly “trained” for this race, which meant we spent the lead up to the race preparing for an inevitable suffer fest rather than being nervous for any race goals. The experience taught me some lessons: 1) just because a state doesn’t have any mountains, doesn’t mean it’s flat; 2) 26.2 miles is a long way, even if you’re “taking it easy”; and 3) Tulsa may be small but surprisingly not as lame as I thought.
Before I recap the weekend, let’s take a look at how far along I am in my goal to run a race in all 50 states:
We flew into Tulsa about midday on Saturday and immediately hit up the airport murals.
Then headed to the expo to pick up our bibs. The expo was pretty big, with plenty of samples (is it just me or are samples becoming a rare luxury at expos?) and vendors. We grabbed shot bloks and power bars, both of which we had forgotten at home, snapped a pic, and got out of there. We may not have trained well, but at least we didn’t tire out our feet the day before! Because that’s the same.
Our hotel was in downtown Tulsa and once a pretty big deal, hosting big names like JFK, Elvis Presley, and Britney Spears. It was built in 1925 and is one of many Art Deco buildings in Tulsa. That also happens to be my favorite architectural style! Our room was bigger than our apartment #nbd.
We ate an early dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and had a beer up at the penthouse bar after dinner.
Then got our flat runners ready before hitting the sack.
The hotel was perfectly situated just a couple blocks from the race start, and it didn’t start until 8:00, meaning we had an unusually leisurely morning getting ready. We ate cookies and Power Bars for breakfast, something that worked out great for me at the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon.
We walked over with only about 20 minutes to shiver in our corral. They shot off some confetti and we took off.
The weather was perfect for running – when we started, it was in the low 40s, and topped out in the 50s. I got in an easy running groove on the rolling hills. The hills were not the steepest I’ve ever run, but they were pretty relentless. I was running about an 8:30 pace, which is nowhere near my marathon PR pace, but still with my lack of training and the hills, I knew it was entirely possible that I wouldn’t be able to sustain that pace.
In the meantime though, I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It wound through a lot of beautiful and swanky neighborhoods and through some of the cooler parts of Tulsa. There were a ton of turns, which isn’t great for racing but keeps things interesting.
Around mile 17, I felt kind of done. I could feel a blister forming on one of my toes and stopped to try to loosen my shoe. My legs were beat and I felt every mile that I didn’t run leading up to the race. Instead of throwing in the towel, though, I told myself to just keep chugging along – I was never going to PR anyway, so why worry if I was slowing down? I felt like I was going in slow motion, but I was running. I thought about downing a beer at one of the block party stations set up along the course, but they were all serving Coors Lite and I’m a beer snob. Instead I let myself leisurely walk through the aid stations and ran in between.
At about mile 25.5, there is a detour that you can choose to do if you wish that takes you to the Center of the Universe, which is an acoustical vortex in which everything sounds echo-y from one exact spot. If you do the detour, you end up running 26.5 miles, thus completing the world’s shortest ultra marathon (defined as anything over 26.2 miles) and earning you a special extra coin. Of course I had to do it, despite the fact that it added yet another hill to the course. But I made it and got my coin, then headed to the finish!
I finished my “ultra marathon” in 4:02:58. It may be a personal worst, but hey, I finished. My legs didn’t love me for what I did to them for about half an hour after finishing, but once they recovered from the initial shock, I really wasn’t sore at all. It was my fastest recovery ever after a marathon, and about 1000x faster than my recovery time after the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon. So I accomplished my main goal of not wearing myself out right before I start training for the Boston Marathon.
David toughed it out for his half marathon and finished in 1:33:33, a personal worst for him too. We celebrated by drinking a Michelob Ultra and sunbathing in the grass for longer than was probably necessary at the finish.
We were pretty pooped the rest of the day. We managed to walk to a trendy diner (we used this Bon Appetit article to find the hot spots of Tulsa), spent some time in our hotel restaurant/bar, watched Maleficent in our room, then went back to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Sometimes it’s just too hard to tourist.
… but we were ready to get back at it the next day! We went to Boston Avenue Methodist Church, a quintessential Art Deco building; posed with the Golden Driller; tried out the acoustical marvels of the Center of the Universe; and saw as much sites as possible. In the afternoon, we went to the Tulsa Zoo, because we just hadn’t had enough time on our feet yet 🙂 We had a late flight out and felt like our ~48 hours in Tulsa were well spent.
We probably won’t travel much until the Boston Marathon in April. I’m ready to get back into marathon shape and to spend a full week in New England. I’m coming for you Heartbreak Hill!!!