Just a relatively easy drive up to Oklahoma City - 462 miles - and I was checked into the Skirvin Hilton Hotel by 4 PM on Friday, March 20, after leaving my house at around 8:30 AM that morning. A friend from our MTF motorcycling community lives in Wichita, so we made plans to get together for lunch the next day - Saturday.
Saturday a little before noon, I left the hotel and walked over to the Bricktown section of the city to meet my friend Robert for lunch at Zios Italian Grill. Nothing like a heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs to get myself all carbo loaded up and ready to run a half marathon the next day.
|Myriad Botanical Gardens....Crystal Bridge on left side of photo|
Robert left his motorcycle in the restaurant parking lot, changed into jeans and sandals and then we walked over to the beautiful Myriad Botanical Gardens, right in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. The race organizers had a large tent set up on the north side of the gardens for packet pickup so we ambled that way, enjoying the just-budding tulips and daffodils along the way.
|Packet pick-up on the north side of Myriad Botanical Gardens|
I remember so vividly the day this bombing occurred. It was all over the news for days. What made it so especially horrific were the 19 day-care children who died in the bombing. Robert really didn't remember the facts surrounding this event so I shared with him how, just like the JFK and subsequent assassinations stole our youthful innocence and replaced it with premature adult wisdom, so did this bombing steal from us our sense of safety and security. Suddenly the acts of terrorism we witnessed from thousands of miles away via television were now right here on our own soil, in our own back yards. He had no idea of the impact this event had on Americans.
|OKC National Memorial - each chair represents a person killed.|
Afterward, we wandered in search of a coffee shop but couldn't find one - not even using Google maps on my smartphone - so we went to my hotel and sat in the very pleasant lobby bar area and had cups of very good coffee and a charcuterie platter to nibble on as we chatted and sipped our coffee. The time flew by and soon it was after 6 PM. I needed to send Robert on his way back home to Wichita so that I could start my pre-race evening rituals of getting ready, getting hydrated, getting off my feet. It was a very pleasant afternoon!
I was just a couple of blocks from the start line, so I set my alarm for 5:30 AM with plans to be out of my hotel room by 6:30 AM. A group photo for all the Half Fanatics was planned for 6:45 AM near the start line. As I walked toward the designated spot, I ran into 3 other Half Fanatics, none of whom knew of the group photo. The more the merrier! We had a huge turnout of Half Fanatics for such a small race. It was fun seeing so many fellow Fanatics at the photo spot and also later, along the race route.
I was unsure of the weather for this race, in particular the temperature. It's always hard to factor in what effect higher humidity will have on the "feels like" so I brought gloves and wore a bandana but quickly realized it would be too warm for these. I ended up carrying these items the entire 13 miles. I thought my long-sleeve shirt might be too much as well, but as we got north of the downtown area, it felt cooler and I was happy I had it on.
|Not especially scenic race route. Data from my GPS watch|
The race route was not especially scenic, and it did have a few hills surprisingly. But the organization was, as always, stellar by this group as was the on-course support. Soon I was making the last couple of turns toward the finish line.
|The really gorgeous and huge finisher medal|
I collected my medal and my wine glass and checked my finish time in case I placed in my age group. I've placed 3rd at the other two races. This is one of the very few races that provide immediate results printouts to the runners. Unfortunately, I did not place, so I walked back to the hotel, with plenty of time to shower and get dressed before checking out of the hotel.
|I now have 3 Go Girl Run wineglasses. Just need one more to have the set.|
I debated whether to drive straight through to home, knowing it would be almost 7 hours of driving after waking up at 5 AM and running a half marathon. But I also knew that if I did stop I'd want to be south of Dallas to avoid Monday morning rush hour traffic. However, if I was going to drive that far, I might as well continue on toward home.
There is significant construction on 35E north of Dallas and it was a huge traffic jam on my way up to OKC. So coming back south, I decided to exit 35 in Gainesville and take US82 east to US75 south. It added 20-some miles but was definitely the right thing to do. With very little aggravation, I was soon through Dallas and on I-45 heading south for home.
Coming up next: State #47 in Newmarket NH. Now the weather watch begins!