Friday, April 30, 2010

OKC Marathon

Last weekend, myself and several of my officemates went down to Oklahoma City to take part in various events in the OKC Memorial Marathon. People are usually shocked when I tell them that I ran a marathon last week. Why would anyone want to run 26 miles? I used to wonder the same thing. Then I ran one. Now I have 26.2 reasons why.

1. The OKC Marathon was my second marathon. My first came in Tulsa in November of 2008. After I finished the first one a year and a half ago, I wondered if I would ever run another. I eventually decided to run again to prove to myself that the first go round wasn't a fluke. I didn't want to become a sort of "one-hit wonder runner." I didn't want people to say "remember when Eric ran a marathon?" the same way they say, "remember when Ben Affleck won an Oscar?"
2. It is never too cold to run a marathon. It was 27 degrees at the start in Tulsa and 45 degrees last week in OKC. 27 wins every time.
3. I make an effort to lock eyes with the person I'm grabbing a cup from at each water stop. I point at them 10 feet out just to make sure we make a clean connection. It is crucial for the exchange. It is weird. I don't deny it. Yet I feel a sense of connection with the H2O slinger when I do it.
4. Hearing people yell your name along the course never gets old. If you have a friend running in an upcoming marathon, do them a favor. Get a lawn chair. Trust me, sitting for an hour to see them for 20 seconds is a great use of your time.
5. Runners have great legs. Even the guys... and I'm not ashamed to say it.
6. I heard the shuttle system for the relay in OKC was a mess. That's what I heard at least. I wouldn't know. I ran the whole thing.
7. Asking a runner if they'll ever run another marathon a few hours after they cross the finish line is liking asking a mother if she'll ever have another kid a few hours after she's given birth. Honestly, I like the analogy but I'll spare us all the gory details and not further it.
8. Band-aids are essential for any run over an hour long. Yes, I'm talking about wearing them there. Embrace it. Own it. Do it.
9. Energy gel is disgusting but tastes surprisingly good at mile 19.
10. EL Fudge cookies taste like lobster at the finish line.
11. Running for a cause takes the experience to the next level. It gave me great joy to know that the OKC Marathon is held to serve the memory of those lost in the 1995 bombing. In it's 10th year, the race has raised thousands and thousands of dollars for the memorial and scholarships for the children of those lost in the attack. If you are a runner, you really should consider signing up for this run sometime soon.
12. I was also honored to run for ActiveWater last week. This is a great organization that works to mobilize people to raise money for clean water in Africa. Having gone to Africa last fall, it means more than I can explain.

13. Always remember: pasta the night before. Anything you want afterwards.
14. Running is an experience best shared with others. I saw two people I went to high school with on the course. I hadn't seen them in 10 years. I saw one at mile 8 and the other at mile 22. I hope I made a good impression. I doubt I did. I'm terrible at small talk after running for 3 1/2 hours.
15. Speaking of mile 22, I have to figure out how to finish stronger. Miles 21-25 killed me again.
16. I love the way I feel when training for a marathon. I'm always tired but it is worth it.
17. Running down the final stretch, finish line in sight, thousands of people lining the streets, remains one of the coolest athletic moments in my life. You really should experience this sometime. It is breathtaking.

18. Number 18... I think I'm hitting the wall.
19. I love watching people complete their first run... of any distance. It is one of the few sporting events where everyone wins. How's that for being a socialist?
20. I also love the final moments before the race begins. It's a rare mixture of nervous anticipation and focused energy. I usually ask myself, "should I pee one more time?"
21. Embrace running shorts. The shorter the better. When in doubt, see #5.
22. Remember the line in the song "Oklahoma"? The one about the wind sweeping down the plains? It is true. It is windy in central Oklahoma.
23. A day after massage is a tradition I plan to keep.
24. I like $10 socks. Even if it is financially irresponsible.
25. I know that my knees will be shot when I'm 60 if I keep running. I'll take the knee replacement if it saves me from the bypass surgery.
26.2 I love it when my mind tells my body to do things it doesn't think it can do.

And that's why I run.

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