This time I flew into Tulsa. The other times I drove, but it's a long, boring drive and the airfare to fly in was very inexpensive, approaching break even for the cost of gas/vehicle wear-and-tear. My flight went smoothly and I scored a really nice cab driver from the airport who kindly gave me his business card and booked my return ride to the airport on Monday.
|Packet pickup...not too crowded yet.|
|Entrance to expo and packet pickup at the Cox Center|
My room was ready at the Holiday Inn - my favorite hotel when in Tulsa - and I dropped my things off in my room and then headed to the convention center to pick up my race packets for the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. I stopped by the Brooks booth, thinking I'd take advantage of their 35% expo discount and buy a new pair of running shoes, but....I won a new pair!!
|I won a free pair of Brooks running shoes!!|
While out and about, I made sure to stop at Pinketzel Cupcakes to buy a post-race stash for later.
I had many friends coming into town for this race, but most were coming in on Saturday so had dinner by myself at the very nice hotel restaurant. I returned to my room, laid out my running gear for the 5K race the next morning and then settled in for the evening.
It was cold the next morning as I headed out of the hotel. My wardrobe included a fleece jacket that had originally been earmarked for the donation pile. I intended to wear it through the entire 5K and then wear it at the start of the half marathon a day later, before discarding it somewhere along the race route.
I met up with another 50 States Half Marathon club member as I departed, and we walked the mile to the start of the 5K. I didn't have too long to wait before the race began, and I was pleased with myself for running most of the distance. I'd not been running much, having settled into a race-walking pace these last 18 months or so. But I'd been running/walking my training runs for the last couple of months, so this was a nice turn-around to my racing.
|5K finisher medal|
At the finish line I met up with a half dozen fellow 50 Staters and we all went to breakfast at a cute little cafe called Brambles. Afterward I walked back to the hotel and surfed the internet for a bit before showering and dressing and then getting a late lunch at the hotel restaurant. Then it was football on TV in my room for the rest of the afternoon.
|Our little group of 50 State Half Marathon Club members|
Saturday evening we had a great turnout for a pre-race dinner at Baxter's Interurban Grill. We filled four big tables! I'd walked to the restaurant before it got dark, but when we were done, it was close to 8 PM and pitch dark out. One of the gals offered me a ride so I gladly accepted it. We got to within two blocks of my hotel and ran into road blocks as they prepared for the race the next morning. Hopefully she found her way to the freeway, since she was staying at a hotel near the airport.
|Nice turnout for the pre-race dinner|
Sunday morning - half marathon race day - I took my time getting ready, then heading out of the hotel just a few minutes before 8:00 AM. The race start line was just next to the hotel, so no need to head over there early. Add to this the fact that I was in the last corral - corral D - and I knew it would be at least 15 minutes before we started to move toward the start line. It was chilly and I wore that fleece jacket with the plan to discard it around mile 5 or so.
The race started, I crossed the start line, and then took advantage of all of the downhills by running and letting gravity take over. I was accumulating a pretty good pace until mile 5, when a series of long uphills ate away at my good time. But I expected this.
|Half Marathon race route ....very hilly!|
|I passed lots of other runners in the first 10 miles|
|I continued to pass lots of runners in the last 3 miles|
I plodded along, took advantage of the peanut butter-jelly sandwiches that someone was giving out of the back of their car at around mile 9. Another long, grueling uphill stretch, and then we were running out to the center of a bridge on the old historic Route 66, turning around, and heading back toward downtown. Just 2 more miles to the finish line!
|Half Fanatics special half marathon finisher medal and the 5K finisher medal|
At the finish, I collected my finisher medal and headed for the logo gear tent, where I collected my logo pint glass, swag for those who ran both the 5K and the half or full. My next stop was the Muscle Milk tent, where I filled my glass with strawberry creme milk - ohh! So creamy and delicious!
|Route 66 Half Marathon finisher1|
My last stop was at the Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics VIP area, where I exchanged my ordinary finisher medal for the special Half Fanatic finisher medal then entered the big event tent where they were serving hot pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw and other goodies for the finishers. Here I met up with my 50 States friends. We waited for one more person to finish, then walked to Brambles again for a post-race breakfast. It was so nice spending time with these running friends!
|Post-half marathon breakfast at Brambles Cafe|
We all went our separate ways after lunch, and I walked back to my hotel. I lolled for a little bit in my room, getting caught up on Facebook. Finally I made my way into the bathroom, showered, washed my hair, and then got dressed and dried my hair.
I had a free drink coupon for the hotel restaurant and I intended to cash it in! I had a wonderful dinner, a nice local draft beer and sat back and relaxed. It was a nice, if short, weekend, with two races finished, nice time spent with fellow runners. Monday morning I'd be flying back home.
|Starbucks at the airport early Monday morning|
My cab driver showed up exactly on time, got me to the airport in plenty of time, and I was upgraded to 1st class on my flight! All in all, a good day, a good race weekend. But I'm pretty sure this will be my last time doing this race. So many other great races out there to experience.
Next up, Thanksgiving weekend!