Thursday, December 6, 2012

Race Recap: Route 66 Marathon

Full marathons shake me up... good. Throughout the race, I encounter a confusing rainbow of emotions. My brain is literally all over the board during the run. In one minute, I feel great and the letters P.R. flash before me like a neon sign. Not a mile later, I'm wondering "how on earth will I ever finish?" This pattern repeats numerous times before I settle into survivor mode. No other marathon illustrates this mental chaos as much as my latest 26.2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On November 18, I completed my 3rd full at the Route 66 Marathon, state #9 in my Race All 50 quest. It's taken several weeks to return to normality. The high is gone. The soreness is gone. But the pride and confidence linger. The course ate me up in the backhalf, but now it has left me with a feeling of anything is possible.

I road-tripped the historic Route 66 highway with my friends Patty and Laura from Peoria, IL to Tulsa, OK for this marathon. Being a "girls road trip" will surely be the lasting memory of this race. We had such a fun time on the road, as well as the race expo (see previous post).
The Sole Sisters from Peoria!
It was chilly on race morning and the wind made 40 degrees feel even colder.  We huddled inside the Hyatt lobby for as long as we could before finding gear check and moving into Coral B. The race did a great job of staggered coral starts (I'm a huge fan of this!). Immediately out of the gate, I fell into a comfortable pace and had plenty of room to move around as needed.

The confetti start was super cool!

The beginning of a full marathon always feels mundane to me. There are so many miles to go and I have so much energy in the beginning. It's so difficult to pull back on the reins and conserve...

Mile 1 - 9:36
Mile 2 - 10:12
Mile 3 - 9:50
Mile 4 - 9:57
Mile 5 - 10:01
The first five miles had some hills according to the race elevation chart, but honestly I didn't feel much of them. My legs felt good and I focused on finding a comfortable pace that I could maintain. I knew this wasn't going to be a PR race for me, so I tried to look around and take in the sights as we passed through some pretty neighborhoods. It was like a seasonal rewind for me... leaves on the trees again!

Photo by Eric Bloemers Photography
Look - there I am coming up the right side...
I was ridiculously smiley during the race.
The photographers took nearly 50 pictures of me!
That has to be some kind of record...
Mile 6 - 9:46
Mile 7 - 9:41
Mile 8 - 10:02
Mile 9 - 10:10
When we reached mile 6, the course entered a nice flat out/back section along the Arkansas River. There were great views and a lot of fun through this stretch as runners were cheering back and forth. The atmosphere was very jovial and light. The Route 66 Marathon caters to several run groups (Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics and the 50 State Club) with special medals and bibs for them. There were a TON of those members in the race, sporting their singlets and really making the race a reunion event. It added a unique vibe to the run. It made me happy to see all the comaraderie in an individual sport.  Physically, I was feeling really good and took my first energy gel at mile 6.

I told you... ridiculously full of smiles!
Mile 10 - 10:10
Mile 11 - 10:07
Mile 12 - 10:07
Mile 13 - 10:30
Mile 14 - 10:25
Shortly before mile 10, I hit the turnaround and got to see my girls Patty and Laura on the way back along the river.  I had hardly looked at my watch during the race so far. Somewhere along the river stretch, I looked down and with quick math, realized I could PR on the pace I was running. Aw-man, my mind started reeling... should I or shouldn't I push myself?  Internally, I argued with myself and in a split second (during mile 13), I veered off the course and down by the river to take a picture... Decision made. Enjoy the run; just finish. I don't have to run every race for a new personal record. Sometimes I have to force myself to not be so competitive (even if it is just against myself).

By now, you're wondering where did I get that cute skirt?!?!!

Mile 15 -10:46
Mile 16 - 10:34
Mile 17 - 10:24
Mile 18 - 10:27
I was really glad I didn't try to push for the PR because I would have been disappointed quickly. Shortly after the mile 14 marker, we turned away from the river and the hills of Tulsa began once again. However, my legs were no longer fresh and I could feel every elevation change.  At mile 16.5, I took the Center of the Universe detour... adding an extra 0.3 onto the marathon, making it the shortest ultra in the world. The detour was a short L-shaped leg uphill to earn bonus bling (a large coin) and then back downhill with a glass of beer at the bottom. Since I was out to enjoy this one, I stopped and drank a beer and took a few photos...
At the time, it was a good theory... Thanks for the beer ladies!

Mile 19 - 11:17
Mile 20 - 11:06
Mile 21 - 11:11
Mile 22 - 10:27
Mile 23 - 11:20
These miles are the hardest of any marathon for me... this one especially. The hills seemed to... just. keep. coming. I think I may have sworn at them a couple times.  The sun was peeking out now, making me warm... on top of tired, I became grumpy. Water stops became more frequent. I had been sipping normally throughout the race, but suddenly I was so darn thirsty. I began to worry about drinking too much. The race had awesome self-serve water/gatorade stations throughout the race and I took full advantage of the "green" convenience.

Everyone around me seemed to be walking the uphills now. It was so hard to keep running. Slowly, hill by hill, my determination dwindled. I began to pick an object halfway up the hill, run to it and then walk the rest of the uphill. Talk about a morale killer...

Mile 24 - 11:29
Mile 25 - 10:41
Mile 26 - 12:27
Mile 0.68 - 7:34
The course elevation chart showed a good drop in the last two miles, and yet I didn't feel it. Just the opposite... it felt like we were still climbing. I was so confused and frustrated. It was a long struggle to finish.  I was thankful I slipped my ipod inside my shirt earlier. I turned on the tunes and tried to zone out with one step in front of another. I wasn't so smiley coming down the finishing stretch...

I finished a challenging race... There was immense relief and great satisfaction in that. As painful as the backhalf was, I was instantly proud of the course that I just tackled.

Marathon #3
State #9 - Okalahoma!
Official Chip Time: 4:40:31
(26.68 miles for a 10:30 avg pace) 
Overall  #903 out of 1891
Women  #308 out of 822
Div F35-39  #52 out of 133

The bottoms of my feet were killing me! I immediately tore my shoes off, found the beer and got comfy along the finishing stretch waiting for my friends to come in.

 I absolutely LOVE the bling from this race!


  1. Congrats on the finish!! I did the half last year and was very surprised at how hilly it was.

  2. FUN!!!! You kicked ass and have ton of amazing photos!

  3. You take great race photos! And there are so many ;) Great race!

  4. I love how you are smiling in all your race pics. Congrats on finishing the marathon!

  5. I live in Tulsa and ran the half last year. I plan on running again next year. I am so glad that you enjoyed the race. We have a lot of fun each year having the racers in town and cheering everyone on! The pics were great!

  6. Love all the smiles!! Congrats!

  7. this is going to sound so dorky, but often times I find it incredibly hard to recap all that was happening in my surrounding and in my head for a half, and you managed to do it so well for a full-- loved reading this. I heard last year that it tends to be windy, however I had no idea about all those hills. I STILL need to get OK off my state list.

  8. Congrats!

    Great recap. I LOVE reading them because you do such a good job with them.

  9. Great recap, Jess! You look so happy in your photos. :) Thanks for the fun road trip and I'm looking forward to Little Rock. Get lucky!

  10. Wow, you take great race pictures! Nice job on your tough marathon.

  11. Congrats again Jess! WTG! You're so amazing! Well done! I will be running my very first marathon (fingers crossed) on March 17th ( with the "only" goal of finishing. Hope I get smily pictures like yours! Love the blings too ;)

  12. I love how you smile in all pictures!! Congrats on another awesome race!

  13. Awesome job sounds like an amazing race!!!!

  14. I love your smiley photos! Congratulations on another great race!

  15. We Tulsans like to keep our hills a great secret! And yeah, those last few miles coming down 21st are just killer. I think they're net downhill, but you have to go up first. Congrats on a great race!!

  16. Congratulations Jess! Your mile paces are awesome!

  17. You did SO good and you look so happy!! :)
    Now you have me thinking just maybe I could run a marathon!

  18. My brother ran the race and said it was a tough course, he struggled on the back half as well. Glad you took the detour.

  19. It was a pleasure doing this trip with you. The course was tough. So glad i went even if i struggled! You are a warrioress! -Renn

  20. Awesome job on the race! It sounds like a great race to add to mybucket list.

    The girls roadtrip sounds like fun. My best friend and I are heading out to Virginia Beach in March to do a race.

  21. You're amazing and I cannot wait to do this race next year... I'm terrified to do a full (I do my first half in January) but I shall keep working at it! Route 66 is a tough but great race, love the bling!

  22. amazing job jess! you should be so proud!!

  23. Wow! How inspiring are you?! I hope to do a full next year!

  24. Wow, you make it look so easy. In reality, I have no desire to do a marathon, but I admire those that do.

    Just out of curiousity as a "new to running" runner (been an athlete for ages, just new to running), do you fill your water bottle up all the way or do you find it to be too heavy?

    1. I fill my water bottle all the way up. It takes some getting used to I guess... but I've been running (long) with it for years now. :)

  25. Congrats on your finish. I like the bling. And you do look SUPER smiley (which is a good thing). My pictures usually come out WAY too serious.


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