Saturday, November 17, 2001

RR Oklahoma Marathon

Trip Report
Oklahoma Marathon
Tulsa, OK

Before I start into a brief trip report I must first request that y'all take a moment to say a prayer, make a magical incantation or a chant a voodoo verse or whatever you do to help me heal my leg in the two short weeks that I have before my next marathon. Because I NEVER want to run another marathon where I START OUT INJURED!What an UGLY and PAINFUL race/experience that was!As I indicated last week before I left for Tulsa, OK I have been struggling for the past two months with a strained right hamstring. I have been trying to take as much time off as possible, run easy and visit a masseuse a least once each week to work on the leg.I thought that my strategy was working when I walked up to the start line and my leg felt the best it has in the past few weeks. At least it wasn't throbbing constantly!The course was a 6.5 mile stretch on a paved bike path along the Arkansas River. I don't like that kind of course because you have to run the course four times and it gets boring and you cross the Half at the start/finish line and sometimes you just feel like packing it in at that point! But the postive side is that you know the course well after the first loop and you get to see your fellow runners and competitors several times during the race.The weather was unsusally mild (59 degrees) at the 7:30am start but the skies were overcast and it never warmed up much past the mid 60s. I had decided to run smart which meant easy as I had attended the race/event mostly for the social aspect (more on that later) and had thus set an easy(?) goal of 3:45 to finish so as not to cause further injury to my leg.As I said the leg felt good for the first 8 to 10 miles and I was running a smooth and easy 8:15 pace. Around 10 miles the right hamstring started to tighten, the leg started to stiffen and I began to have difficulty bending my knee. Suddenly I was having difficulty holding a 8:30 pace?I still felt OK as I crossed the Half in 1:49 but I knew that if I was having problems running a 8:30 pace at that point that this could get very UGLY! By 16 miles my right leg was throbbing and had stiffened so badly that I could no longer bend it at all and it began to affect my normal running stride and I was having to expend much more energy just to run the 8:30 pace. It felt like I was having to drag a wooden peg/leg around that weighed about 100 pounds?By 20 miles I had altered my stride so much that my left leg was now hurting due to the additional stress and the right leg had gone completely numb? My pace had slowed to about 10 minutes/mile and my hear rate had zoomed to 155+. That heart rate normally equates to a sub- 8 minute pace for me so I knew that I was working my ass (or really my heart) off and getting nowhere!I seriously considered quitting and dropping out but since I had already made the final turn and was on the last leg (bad choice of words) of the race I decided to continue for another few miles to see if I could work the stiffness and pain out of my legs?The next three miles were some of the worst and most painful miles of my life so at 23 miles I decided that I either had to stop and walk in or force myself to go back to my normal running stride. So I clenched my teeth, focused on overcoming the pain and resistance in my right leg and forced my right knee to BEND! And it worked!Within minutes the pain eased, the knee started to flex a bit more and I began to feel like I was running smoother and easier. At mile 24 I glanced at my watch -3:26! I had less than 19 minutes left if I wanted to finish under 3:45.Energy wasn't a problem - I seemed to have lots of that since I had run so slowly. But I had to run sub 8:30s for the last two miles and my legs both felt like they were remote- unattached parts of my body that weighed a thousand pounds each! As I pushed harder and harder the pace dropped and the legs actually seemed to respond with more flexibilty and less pain - but my heart rate now zoomed to 165+ just to get the pace down to 8:25 on the last mile! It was one of the strangest, ugliest and happiest finishes I have ever experienced as I crossed the finish line in 3:44:34! But not one that I ever wish to repeat!Now for the happy part of the story! The marathon was a reunion and annual meeting for a new and second Marathon Club called the 50 States Marathon Club. (Won't go into the politics of why there is a second club). Most of the members are the same runners that I have run the states, continents and countries with and four of my running colleagues from London had traveled over for the race. So it was like an 'old boys' meeting and I got to visit and chat with a lot of running friends. We had a great pasta dinner and social gathering the night before the race and then I had dinner with some real close friends after the race.I also manged to meet and visit with some friends who live in Tulsa (Charbonneaus and Kurzs)and even had a surprise around the 10 mile mark of the race when someone shouted "Go Maddog". There could only be one person in Tulsa who knows that nickname - a former resident of Dallas and member of the BBR (my fellow BBR members should already have guessed - it was Jill). So other than the race which I would rather forget it was a pleasant trip. But I am glad to be home and have my two sons here for the Thanksgiving Holidays.However I am slightly concerned that I have registered (and am thus committed in my book) for two more marathons this year. The next one is Dec 2nd in Tampa. Fortunately my leg does not seem to have suffered any further damage from the race but I cannot say the same thing about my confidence that the leg will be healed or sound by then?Thus my opening request. And two weeks is a long time!

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