This blog was written-Wednesday, May 02, 2007 (edited July 12,2009)
On April 19, 1995, a great wrong was done in Oklahoma City, however, on this day in April the forces of fear and hate were beaten by love and compassion.
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is a race that is not about running—it is about life.
168 banners line the marathon course, one for each victim. Those banners serve to remind us as we run that we have been given the gift of life and that it is too precious to waste.
This is what the Memorial Marathon is about: realizing the preciousness of time, valuing one another, taking life as it comes and making something magic from it. Celebrating Life.
You don’t have to be a runner to participate in the Memorial Marathon. All you have to do is change the world you live in one moment, one opportunity, one person at a time. It is not about running—it is about living.
_theme of the race.
MOTO of the Runners-
This is why we run.
We run to Remember Those Who Were Lost.
We run to Celebrate The Gift Of Life.
We run to Reach For A Future bright with hope.
Please take a moment today and reflect on life and remember those that were lost. HUG your family don’t take for granted a single moment you have.
Let me begin with a note. Last year I ran my 1st 5K (3.1miles) & it was the first time I have EVER run in my life. I did not have track in high school nor was I ever remotely interested in running. So a lot of hard work & training from 2006 to 2007 went into this quest to make it happen. Unfortunately, I also went through a very difficult seperation three weeks prior to my race. I had to leave my dream home behind. I had to have the courage to stop an abusive spouse from ever hurting myself or my daughter again and in that process lose everything. I had to get out of that situation and make a better life for us both. It was the best decision I could have made. It was the hardest decision I could have made. The timing of it couldn’t have been worse. As much as it was liberating to be free. It tore my heart out too.
I took the drive from my mom’s house in Ada,OK to Oklahoma City & met four girls I had talked with online for over a year on a runners message board. Some of their family members came too. It was so great to meet friends from online. It was like we had known each other for years. Two of us, Janet & I, were running our FIRST half marathon. Jeanne was running her second half. Tara was running her 1st 5K. Alicia was there for support.
The race & the expo were VERY well organized. We attended the expo the day before the race. I got to buy a hat & a sticker. They even had the OU medical students giving out free chair massages. The best part was getting to listen to a speaker explain each mile to the marathon runners. I listened to every word fascinated by it. He described the ending & I couldn’t wait to experience my own (even though I was terrified!). We got our packets with our race numbers, chip & shirt. We even got to pick a victim that died in the bombing to put on our back & run for their honor.
My victim was a child dear to my heart. She was the same age as Sydney when she perished. I remember her very specifically because originally I was going to name Sydney Baleigh as well. Their similarities really shook me. The day of the bombing I was in downtown Fort Worth in a sky scraper building.The same kind of building the bombing happened in. I remember aching to hold & hug Sydney to me right that very second which was the first thing I did when I saw her. I’ll never forget that day. It was an honor to have Baylee on my back and know my run was for HER.
Starting out was very emotional for me (I was raw anyway). Before the race began we remembered the victims in 168 seconds of silence. I have to tell you 16,000 people PLUS crowd jammed into the downtown streets of Oklahoma City completely SILENT is very , very humbling. Amazing Grace was played next. Amazing Grace makes me cry. Let’s face it grace is the only way we are getting into heaven & that IS amazing. Lastly was the star spangled banner. Proudly we placed our hand on our heart. FULL of the American spirit that makes this country endure a tragic bombing & still stand strong.
These moments touched me deep. And the 1st mile all I could do was think about Baylee & wonder what she would have been like. How her family must miss her. How they can’t hold her & hug her & watch her grow up like I do my daughter. It was very SAD & it stuck with me as I weaved through a lot of people jammed into the first street on the run route. That 1st mile was up a hill & as far as you could see was runners. Whoa!
Pic of 16,000 runners on the 1st mile.
They started the 5K , the half marathoners & the marathoners at the same time.
Janet & I kept pace together the first 6 miles(she is the one I roomed with).
I’m in the pink hat & black tank. Janet is next to me in the white hat & white shirt. This is at the very start.
That was incredible in itself being I had never run with her before in my life but we were perfect together. At mile 3 we passed the Oklahoma State Capital and it was majestic! What a beautiful capital & especially the lawns around it. I paged there when I was in High School so it brought back some fond memories and one of my few political experiences. We hit our 10K at 1:11:50 clock time which was GREAT since we had stopped to stretch & do an energy gel. Real time was 1:08 & that was my fastest 10K time ever. Just after that was an incline & I just couldn’t hang so off she went on her own. I didn’t want to hold her up & mess up her time. All in all we are doing our personal best. It’s not really a race with other people but a race against our own best.
After the gel for some reason the caffeine maybe?? Made my heartrate skyrocket & I had problems after that but ONWARD I went! We came up on the turn from the marathoners at 8 1/2 I knew it was the home stretch & kept telling myself I HAD it. Only 5 more miles which seemed nothing compared to the eight already done. *side note here HOW insane when you think ONLY 5 more miles gads*
I noticed alot of things while running and trying not to think about the fact that I was running. I saw Janet & Jeanne on a turn around portion of the trail. Frantic happy waves, claps & cheers. I saw a camera crew following a couple for a while & wondered who they were. I saw a lady running with a baby jogger & she passed me(ha). The people lining the race route with signs & banners & pom poms. Cheering on every runner (I love love love the people of Oklahoma). I also saw a runner with a memorial on her back. Not a paper tag like mine but pictures & tributes pinned to her back and down each sleeve. I couldn’t get close enough to read it but I knew it was someone running for a family member lost in the bombing. I felt a choke in my throat. How humbling, my physical struggles seemed so minor.
Then my body decided to totally betray me at about mile 9 1/2. My feet started cramping & I HAD to walk. Oh I would still run. I’d pick out something to run to & make it there. This went on for a while ALL my focus was just running to the NEXT thing I picked out while I endured the cramping pain in both feet & calves. Sometimes I would stop especially when my calves knotted completely up. I walked all the water stops & even stretched Mile 10-11 at the curb for a bit. Then my stomach started to hurt like hunger so I thought maybe I’d grab something from the nice people along the route. They held out orange slices & pretzels. I grabbed a pretzel ,OH bad idea, I chewed & chewed & chewed & it was going nowhere! Tried to wash it down with water but no luck there either! LOL!I did finally choke it down (literally).
Then the marathon winner came through. YEP that’s right. That man RAN 26.2 miles before I could complete 13.1!!! He was skinny. He was fast. He had a truck camera crew following him. WOW. I was amazed! I’m convinced it’s not just physical strength & endurance it’s a natural talent for those guys. Hear! Hear!
At MILE 12! I KNEW how close I was. I really got teary. All I could think about was how HARD the last few weeks have been. I never got any midweek runs in(pretty much the whole training) & missed a long run right before my move & my big decision. I had been training for this since October 1st the year before. Running faithfully every sunday(except the one time). I thought about ALL I had been through & how close I was to FINISHING this anyway despite it ALL. Well JEEZ it’s hard to run when you are sobbing!
So I told myself I’d think of it later & to keep going. I did walk a little on the turn that took you to Broadway the last street. I wanted to save it for the finish. I took my headphones off. I wanted to hear the crowd. I didn’t want to miss a single moment. I could SEE the crowd already. Then the guy sitting on the side directing runners the right way said You only have 5 blocks!(I heard someone say next to me ONLY 5blocks? like who are you kidding?? HA!) BUT I was LIKE OK let’s run! Finish it running just like I started! And I ran the last 5 blocks! (wish I could say I sprinted but uhhhh no I was lucky I wasn’t a heap of jello on the roadway) As I came to the finish line I could see the clock was about to tick over to 2:44 & I was like NO WAY! I finished 2:43:59! I was NOT gonna let that last second beat me! (I sprinted there!)
I actually finished a half marathon.
I ran(and walked) 13.1 miles!
Proud??? You bet!
My sprint finish!
At the finish line there were people handing out medals. They were either survivors or directly related to survivors. We were told this was their BEST day of the year. They enjoy giving medals to the marathon runners more than anything. It gives them peace & it gives them hope and it blesses them to see the sheer accomplishment on the runners faces. I was bleary but thrilled & I wish I could have said something to them but I was wiped! So I put the medal around my neck & I felt like I was at the end of a Starwars movie.(applause)
Me with my medal!
FINALLY I heard Alicia hollering at me. It was so crowded I could hardly pick her out. I waved like a fool & made a tongue hanging out of my mouth face & she pointed to her husband taking pics & he took my pic getting my medal! It was so wonderful to have someone in the crowd cheering for me!
They had a big vendor finish line buffet. I saw all the food but felt like I was gonna chuck. I drank water like I just came from the desert! I finally got down some cookies (Oreos yum)& a banana. And caught up w/ Janet( she SMOKED IT!) & finished 2:26 And Jeanne (she did too!) 2:33.
Janet & I at finish line.
My CHIP time which is when I crossed the start line(took 3mins to get to the start which is why the clock was off my actual time) to the finish line was 2:40:39
Not BAD considering the trouble I had at the end & not to mention the average person runs it 2:26 so I wasn’t far off at all for my first one!
I actually can’t wait to do it again!!! SICK I KNOW!
Walking was tough the day after. I walked like a Night of the Living Dead zombie in fits & starts. ESPECIALLY after sitting!! OUCH. The next day it was just my calves,shins & ankles that hurt. The day after that just my hip on the abductor muscle.
All & All I survived! Whooppeee.
I can never convey the comaderie we all felt & the joy of making new friendships.
Tara’s friend Shaunna, Tara’s son, Tara, Jeanne, Me, Janet prerace. I love my eyes in this picture. Truly shows my utter TERROR. HA!
It was definitely a trip I will never forget. I will cherish that achievement for the rest of my days. I will cherish the memory of that honor to live & run for life.
You can turn your life around. You can do the impossible. All you have to do is channel great tradegy into LIVING for all that you have.