I realized as I was getting ready to run the race this year that I never actually did a race recap on my blog from last year. I wanted to go back and see what I had said even though I was fairly certain I remembered just about every detail of this race. I loved this race pretty much from start until finish last year and for 11 months it held my half marathon PR at 2:33. I broke that PR in Columbus by running a 2:25 a month ago and I had every intention of letting that time sit for a while. Ok, that’s actually a lie, I went into Tulsa again this year secretly hoping for another PR, but I’m getting ahead of myself here…
Last year my sister Rachel was living in Tulsa so she and my mom were at the race that day.
Photos from last year
I knew Rachel had friends in Tulsa so I asked if she would like to join me for a mini road trip and some sister bonding time and of course she agreed. We left early Saturday morning and made a stop for lunch in Oklahoma City to see a couple of my college friends. I spent 2 years at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, OK and I have many friends that are still in the OKC area that are very dear to me. We met my friend Wendy for lunch and caught up with her and what’s going on in her life. And then we went to see my friend Lauren and her sweet 10 day old baby girl.
After our stops in OKC we headed straight to downtown Tulsa to the expo. It’s a smaller expo but I still like walking around and looking at everything they have. Packet pick-up was smooth and easy and I really like the shirts we got this year. Last year the half marathoners only got t-shirts but this year they really stepped it up with the technical shirts!
While at the expo I decided to buy “The Stick” because I always seem to find an excuse to not foam roll and I really need to do something about taking care of my muscles so I made the investment and so far seem to like it.
After the expo we headed over to Rachel’s friend’s house where we were staying the night.
Sunday morning I was up bright and early and honestly I was VERY nervous about the race. I never get nervous about races so I was really thrown off by how nervous I was. I think it was probably a combination of pressure of a previous PR and the fact that this would be the first race I didn’t have anyone with me; Rachel was just planning to drop me off and then come back at the finish line so I would be all alone.
We made it to the starting area and Rachel was able to drop me off right in front of my corral. I got there pretty early and the corral wasn’t even opened yet so I walked up and down the starting area just to keep warm. I saw some port-o-potties with no lines so I took advantage of that and went in search of a banana and some water; I found water but no banana, oh well. Last year at the start it was super cold and very windy. I remember nearly freezing to death it was that cold. This year it was cold but comfortable. I had toss away clothes on so I was ok. About 7:30 they opened the corrals and so I made one more stop in a port-o-potty (again, only 1 person in line) and then hopped in the corral. Tulsa is a smaller race and although I could never find an exact number my guess would be somewhere between 10,000-12,000 participants. There are 4 corrals and this was hands down the easiest and non-stressful starting line experience. Usually starting lines can be a pain and there are so many people and corrals are packed and lines for toilets are ridiculous…not Tulsa, it’s easy and relaxed.
Ok here’s where I tell you that even thought I was nervous and didn’t really feel up to par I still had secret hopes of a PR. I remember going into this race last year feeling really drained and tired and just saying that I wanted to have fun, then I ended up with an 8 minute PR. So on Sunday I felt much the same way I did last year, tired, drained and just wanting to have fun BUT I knew what I had done last year on those terms and I wanted to see what I could do this year. I had a number in my head that I wanted to hit (that number was 2:18) but I decided to just be conservative so I lined up smack dab in between the 2:30 pacer and the 2:20 pacer. I wasn’t entirely sure I had it in me to break 2:20 but I knew with as well as I have been running since Columbus a PR was definitely possible if I worked hard.
It didn’t take long to get to the start line but by the time I did my legs felt stiff and cold so the first mile was probably one of the most brutal miles I have ever run. I didn’t intend to go out quite as fast as I did but I was so cold and really wanted to get my legs moving. I ran the first mile in 10:47. The only hill that I remembered on this course was right at the 1 mile marker and it went up for quite a bit. I remembered quite a bit of this course but I told my mom later I didn’t actually really remember how many inclines there were in the first half of the race, I guess I blocked that out.
We are moving along and I’m in pain, serious pain. My left hamstring is screaming, my shins hurt, my right calf was tight… Those first 4 miles were hard, really hard.
Mile 2 10:51
Mile 3 10:47
Mile 4 10:35
As I was running along I tried to remember things from the previous year that would keep me moving. I remembered a weird little detour at mile 3 into a tiny cul-de-sac on a pond, I hated that area. I remembered the exact point right after that cul-de-sac where last year I had been passed by the 2:30 pacer (same lady by the way) and made the decision to try and stick with the group as long as I could. I remember the neighborhoods but I didn’t remember how many hills we climbed! I wouldn’t call this a hilly course necessarily because the second half is nearly downhill but there was just a lot of ups and downs.
At mile 4 we were going by a private school that I really liked from last year. I was still hurting but trying to slow down hurt even more and I told myself that I needed to hang on as long as I could otherwise I’d have to walk and that would hurt more.
Mile 5 was one of my favorite miles last year because we went through a nice park area and that’s where I saw my mom and Rachel last year along the course. So this year as I hit mile 5 I got a bit of a mental boost and started to feel a little bit better.
Mile 5 10:43
Mile 6 10:31
Mile 7 10:12
I got a second wind at the end of mile 5 and mile 6 I was starting to feel better and I wasn’t hurting as badly, or maybe I was just used to it, either way I started feeling better and when I hit the half way point I was relieved. At mile 6.5 I actually passed the 4:45 marathon pacer and I remember being really proud of that. Right at the beginning of mile 7 I started talking to a guy from Wisconsin and a girl from Oklahoma City; they were asking questions about the course and I was telling them what I had known from the previous year. The girl was running her first marathon and the guy was her friend and was there to support her and run with her. I was super proud of myself for being able to carry on a conversation with them for nearly a mile, it meant that I wasn’t winded and that I was actually capable of running those miles as fast as I was.
A little after mile 7 we run on Main Street for a bit and I remember really liking that portion of the race last year. Last year at this point I was just so thrilled that I was still hanging with the 2:30 pacer that I didn’t care what was going on; this year I tried to channel those same feelings of being so proud of myself.
Right at mile 8 there was a water stop and I didn’t grab water but I did grab a GU packet as we headed back out to the river. You run one mile down and then at mile 10 make a U-turn and head back up along the river until mile 13.
Mile 8 10:21
Mile 9 10:29
Mile 10 10:26
Mile 9 was almost as bad as the first 4 miles; I was running out of steam and really wanted to quit but I just couldn’t let myself stop. We were going into a headwind pretty much this whole mile and I was actually dreading the turnaround at mile 10 because I knew last year that this was the worst part for me. I took my GU packet at mile 9 and just hung on for dear life. I passed the 2:20 pacer at 9.5 and my goal at this point was to not let him pass me.
Mile 10 we hit the turn around and the wind stopped! Thank the good Lord the wind had stopped. Last year from miles 10-13 we had a head wind and coming off the river beds it was the most brutal cold I could ever remember, I was miserable. Last year I stayed with the pacer until mile 11 and then I crashed and burned so I told myself I would not let that happen this time. I could slow down but I was not going to crash and burn. However, I knew the 2:20 pacer was still behind me and there was no way I wanted him to pass me, no way!
At mile 11 my GU was starting to work and I think I was so relieved that I was almost done and there wasn’t a brutally cold headwind coming at me. I told myself I only had about 22 more minutes of running and that was nothing. Lately putting things into minutes rather than miles has helped me and encouraged me, I’m not really sure but it helps.
Mile 11 10:28
Mile 12 10:24
Mile 13 10:06
Last .20 8:54
Mile 12 and 13 were pretty much the same as 11, just running along the river looking for that cutoff. I knew that the cutoff was literally right at mile 13 so once I spotted it in the distance I just kept pushing. I knew I was about to crush my PR but I was curious just how close I could come to that number I had visualized at the starting line. I was getting closer to it but it seemed feasible.
As soon as we turned toward the park with the finish line I tried to surge to the finish but I didn’t have much of a sprint in me. My Garmin shows otherwise but I felt like I had pushed myself every mile and there wasn’t much left. But I did look down last minute and saw a 2:17 on my watch and pushed so I could make my 2:18.
I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and looked down in complete and utter shock that I had in fact actually ran a 2:18 half. Me! I did! The girl who ran a 2:59 half for her very first half marathon, the one who struggled to hit 2:30 has just broken another PR by 7 whole minutes! I’m still kind of emotional about it.
I’m pretty sure I looked like a zombie as I grabbed my metal, a space blanket and some water and Gatorade (once again I had run through all the water stops on the course) because I was in such shock. I grab a banana and a half a bagel and ate those while I went to look for my sister. I actually couldn’t find her after walking up and down the finish area so I borrowed some nice lady’s phone and called her.
Once we were reunited she snapped a photo to send to my family and Alex and then we headed to the results tent because I wanted a print out of those results, just in case my watch was wrong, but it wasn’t. My official finish time was 2:18:30. Tulsa, you are good to me.
Needless to say this race is still in fact my favorite race; it was my favorite race last year and I wondered if it was only my favorite because of my PR but now that it has given me two PR’s I can most definitely call this is my favorite race. There’s just something about this race that I am able to run really well, the weather is perfect, the crowds are good, the excitement of the day is great, it’s relaxed and overall it’s my perfect race.
Would I recommend this race? Yes, most definitely! Tulsa does a wonderful job of putting this race on and I’ve enjoyed it for 2 years.
Will I run this race again? Now that’s the real question right there and the answer is, “I’m not sure”. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to mess with the beauty of 2 beautiful race experiences, just let them be and be happy. IF, and that’s a BIG IF, I run this race again I will more than likely run the full marathon. They have a great race experience for full marathon runners as well as a “Center of the Universe Detour” on the course that you get a special token for doing so. Who knows what next year holds but as for right now I’m completely happy with the race that I ran on Sunday, I couldn’t have asked any more of myself.