So, on Sunday April 29, I ran a half marathon in Oklahoma City. It was the Memorial Half Marathon, which is run in OKC every year to commemorate the horrendous bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building where 168 people, among them many children, lost their lives.
I have run this particular half once before, and it is truly one of the most moving experiences you can have. It starts at the Memorial itself, which is devastatingly beautiful in its simplicity. The marathon starts at 6:30 am, which is why many of my pics are dark, but I think you can still get a good feeling for it.
Here I am leaving my hotel room at 5am...my hubby woke up long enough to snap this pic, then he went back to sleep while I rode the shuttle to the starting line. He later brought our girls to the finish line to see me cross...but coming to the starting line to wait 2 hours in the rain and darkness was more than I could ask him!
When I got downtown, luckily, there were markers like this everywhere to guide us runners to the Memorial and to the starting line.
Since I arrived at the starting area at 5am, and the race didn't start until 6:30, I had plenty of time to take in the beauty of the Memorial itself. Here's a shot from inside where the building used to stand, looking at what was the front wall of the building, which now is this gorgeous memorial. The 9:03 signifies the time the bomb went off, I think.
Each person killed in the bombing is remembered by an empty chair, arranged by the floors of the building where they worked. In the early morning darkness, they look breathtaking.
So, after wandering around the Memorial for a while, I was filled with awe and wonder at the grace of the universe for allowing me to be here, alive and able to run this marathon and play my little tiny part in turning a terrible tragedy into something beautiful.
On the way to the starting corral, I visited another memorial, across the street from the main one. This one shows St. Joseph, with his head in his hands and his back to the destruction. It was an extremely powerful image, in fact, it brought me to tears. It was erected in honor of St. Joseph's church, which was the very first church ever built in OKC, which was pretty much destroyed by the bomb. Sorry the pic is so dark...it was 5:30 am!
Finally, I made my way to the starting corral, where the scene looked like this:
I was starting to get excited to run!!
Before we took off, we had 168 seconds of silence to honor the dead. It was pretty incredible to stand among 7,000 people and not hear a sound. Wow.
But after the silence, the excitement really started - the band started playing, the gun went, and we were off!!
My goal was to stay under 10 minutes per mile, which I did until about mile 9. At that point, it started raining and I hit a mini-wall and started asking myself, why the HELL am I doing this?? This isn't fun, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my boobs are flopping around, what the heck and I doing here??? But, I knew that my body was fine, I just had to find that mental toughness that would see me thru the rest of the race.
And, just on cue, the universe helped me out. A squad of firefighters in full regalia came marching up behind me! That put a spring in my step in 2 ways: first, I thought, if those guys can do this with their heavy gear and everything on, then I can do it too! Second, because seeing a group of firemen will put a spring in any girls' step, if you catch my drift. :)
Anyway, I finished in 2:13, which is a full 7 minutes faster than my last half marathon, and almost on pace, at 10.15/mile. I was sooo proud!!
My girls, my sister in law and my husband were all waiting for me at the finish line, which I sprinted triumphantly, if ungracefully, over!
Afterwards, this was our treat - a HUGE ice-crean sandwich drizzled with every kind of syrup, sprinkled with candy and doused in whipped cream! Gotta love that post-race calorie-fest! :)
Thanks for reading, and any of you that live near OKC, I highly recommend signing up for the Memorial Marathon next year, it's a great experience!