It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

May 02, 2011

OKLAHOMA - Where the Wind & Rain Come Sweeping Down the Plains

Oklahoma City Race Recap - WARNING:  This race recap will not be full of positivity.  Read on if you want my real feelings on this race.

I will start on a positive note.  As mentioned before this was my stepdaughter Madi's first half marathon.  She did AMAZING!!  Seriously she did awesome.  And she managed to have a wonderful time in spite of the horrible weather.  I will let Jim share all of the race details with you since he actually ran the race with her, but I can't tell you how proud both of us are of her and her AWESOME race.  She finished in 2:28:27, below her goal time.  Way to GO Madi!!  She definitely has the running bug and this won't be her last race!

After the race - freezing.  You can really tell how hard the wind was blowing - look at Madi's blanket straight out to the side.

Now for me.  This was my third half marathon and my slowest time ever.  I finished in 2:56:31.  That is a lightening fast pace of 13:28.  In one way I'm mad at myself for the poor results, but on the other hand I'm sort of proud of myself for even running the race and finishing it.

I knew going into the race that I wouldn't finish as strong as I would like because I had really only trained for about 6 weeks due to an injury.  My long runs went like this 5 miles, 6 miles, 7 miles, 9 miles, no long run (Boston), 11 miles - and then race day.  That's it - I had 5 long runs before completing this half.  In spite of the limited training; my training runs were going well.  I felt strong and my times were improving.  If you had asked me 2 weeks ago where I thought I would finish I would have said around 2:30-2:35.  And then last week I got sick.  I had a terrible head cold.  I thought I was feeling a little better by Friday, but then Saturday I ended up being the sickest I had been all week. On the drive to Oklahoma I went through an entire box of Kleenex and I felt completely miserable.   I had to take cold medicine all day, and Nyquil the night before just so I could get some sleep.  Nyquil the night before a race is probably not generally the best idea.  On Sunday the cold had moved into my chest.  I knew going into the race, I wouldn't have a great race time, but honestly in the back of my head I was still hoping for a 2:45.

We knew there was rain in the forecast for Sunday's race, but we were hoping it would be a light mist or would miss us all together.  Not so much.  I woke up at 4:30 am on Sunday and looked outside - no rain - YES, maybe it would miss us.  It was currently about 49 degrees, windy, but no rain.  I dressed in shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt with a short sleeve t-shirt over top of it.  As we continued to get ready it started to rain.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 am, so at 5:45 am we headed to the lobby only to hear that the race had been delayed to 7 am due to lightening.  Well, maybe with a delay the rain would move out.  I walked outside to get a feel for the temps, and it seemed very cold and it was pouring rain.  I decided since we had time I would go put on a pair of running tights under my shorts (thank goodness I did this).  We tried to wait out the rain as long as possible, not wanting to stand in the rain too long prior to the race.  This almost proved disastrous, as we barely made it to the start line and checked our gear bags.  We had less than a minute to spare before the race started.

I felt miserable.  I was so sick, and it was 45 degrees, pouring rain (I mean pouring!) and the winds were a consistent 20 mph.  For a pretty good stretch during the first part of the race you were running directly into the wind.  It was freezing cold.  My lungs were on fire due to my cold and I was thinking to myself - Why am I out here - why didn't I just stay in the hotel?  If I had felt the way I did on a normal Sunday, I would have stayed in bed all day - but not only was I not in bed, I was running a half marathon in the freezing cold wind and rain.

I felt tired and winded the entire race.  I was already walking at mile 3.  After I crossed mile 2, I decided I would run 9 minutes and walk 1.  At some point that became run 5 and walk 1, and then run 2, and walk kept changing.  I was just beat, and beat up by the weather and completely drained of energy.  In spite of this my first 6 miles were still pretty strong (for me).

Between mile 8 and 9 I desperately had to go the bathroom.  The porta pottys along the route always had ridiculous long lines, I kept thinking they would thin out as I went along the race, but they never did. 
Finally I couldn't wait anymore so I stopped.  It took almost 5 minutes.  I finally get inside the porta potty and the drawstring in my shorts have a knot in them.  My hands are literally so cold and numb and swollen that I can't feel them.  I can see my hands, and I'm trying to untie this knot, but my HANDS WON"T FREAKING WORK!  No matter how hard I tried, nothing happened, my hands were too numb to feel or work.  I left the porta potty.  I wasted 5 minutes, and I still had to go to the bathroom.  I was miserable.

I ran for about 3/4 of a mile with my hands under my shirt trying to get some feeling back in them.  Finally it worked, and while running I was able to untie my drawstring on my shorts and stop at another porta potty for another 4 minutes.  But at least I got to go to the restroom this time.  I'm not trying to make excuses (well I guess I kind of am), but I did lose over 9 minutes during the porta potty fiascos (as validated by my Garmin).  And when my Garmin beeped to let me know I just completed mile nine in 17:04 - I knew there would be no way to make up that time.  This would be my worst half marathon time, and was definitely my worst half marathon experience.  I couldn't wait for the race to be over. 

If I had just finished in my "moving" time, I still would have had a 3 min PR.

I was happy with the first part of the race, slowly getting faster each mile.  In mile 8 and 9 is where I lost time for the stupid Porta Potty.

I finally finished and joined Jim and Madi to learn how great she had done.  I was shivering from head to toe - as were they.  I was trying to put on a warm jacket and gloves, but once again, my fingers were completely frozen and numb and I had a hard time doing this.  I couldn't get my jacket to zip and putting gloves on, well they ended up only half on.  We headed back to the hotel in the pouring rain.  It literally never let up the entire time.  It was 3 hours of solid rain, the temperature dropped all during the race and ended up at about 45 degrees.  I don't think I have ever been that cold in my entire life.  My heart truly went out to those poor people running the full marathon because the rain didn't let up at all.  It was stilling coming down hard when we left OKC at around 1pm.

My final Garmin mileage was 13.34......what?  I ran an extra quarter of a mile?  Jim and I were both talking about how far off the mileage seemed.  At mile one my Garmin already showed 1.04 and there was only one slight left turn.  I know Garmin's aren't 100% accurate and if you don't run the tangents exactly during a race you can add up a little extra mileage - but this seemed pretty excessive.  It got so bad as the race progressed that my Garmin would beep the mile end, and I couldn't even see the race mile marker.  This did not add to my great race experience.

So, to also end on a positive note.  The trip itself was fun.  It was really great to be there with Madi as she got to experience her first race and see all the excitement and nervousness she was feeling.  We gave her a cute running necklace after the race to remember her day by.  She was on cloud 9 all the way home.  And lastly, at the end of the day I finished the half marathon and have another one under my belt!  

Post race

The night before


  1. I've been waiting for this report! I'm so sorry it didn't go so great for you. The weather sounds HORRIFIC!

    Hooray to Madi! What a great race for her to start with...they'll all certainly be better weatherwise from here on out :D

    I'm sure she'll treasure that necklace - what a great gift!

    Are you warmed up yet? I think I would be feeling that freezing cold for days to come.

    Great job on pressing through such horrible conditions. YOU ROCK!!!!

  2. Wow! What a tough day. Think of it this way, despite EVERYTHING working against you, you still finished. That is the spirit of a true marathoner!! No matter how crazy it may seem, we just can't seem to quit! WAY TO GO!!!!

  3. oh man, what a crazy race!!!! being cold and wet....and having to potty, how miserable! but like amber said, you did awesome considering how much you had stacked against you, and thats what matters!!! good job!

  4. That sounds brutal! I think it's an amazing accomplishment that you still finished it. Sadly, not every race is a good experience, but if you can get through that, you can get through a lot more.

  5. Wow. I can't believe you even started the race with all of those factors stacked against you, much less finished it. Way to persevere through it! And just think: the next one will be so much better!

  6. Great job Michael! Just like you said, another one done.

  7. Holy smokes. That weather sounded brutal!! Oh I can;t even imagine how cold you guys were. Way to go just even running it Michael. You are so strong. Most people would have just stayed in bed.

    Congrats Madi for rocking your fist half!! Fantastic time.

  8. You know what? You are a ROCK STAR for finishing in such craptacular conditions - I seriously can't imagine a more miserable race. GREAT JOB! Now rest up!!

    (and CONGRATS to Madi!!)

  9. You are a rockstar!
    You did way better than I could EVER do with being as sick as you were (heck, I wouldn't have even started the race- let alone, finish it)! I was sooo proud of you!
    It was such a great day for me. I'm so glad you and dad made it so awesome for me and stayed positive despite the negative factors.
    Thanks again for the necklace! I love it! You are the best! =)
    I'm proud of you and love you!

  10. Way to go Madi!!! Yay you for starting the race even thought you had been sick right up to race day. I can't believe the weather, that is intense... Rest up there will be other (more fun!) races :)

  11. Well that sounds like fun....NOT!!! Way to go to all of you for getting out there and running in that! Hopefully your next half will be amuch better experience!

  12. Wow, way to stay strong despite the cold and the elements, you did more then most peole would have in the same boat, great job, I have some really expensive bike pics on my post today, proven to help get over colds

  13. Oh man, that weather sound horrible! Brrrr! Seriously, you are hard core for running in that. I think I would have stayed inside the hotel! I'm sooo sorry the race didn't go as well as you would have liked. But, with the weather and you being sick, I think you did great! You should be proud of yourself for getting out there and doing it! Hopefully now you can rest, relax, and get well again!

  14. The race was wicked but I am so amazed that you stuck it out while feeling sick. You are a rockstar!

    I hope you feel better soon!

  15. What awful weather for a race. I cant say I have ran in a down pour. I did start a race in rain and wind but by half way it started to get nice out. Congrats on your finish. You made it threw being sick and rotten weather. You deserve a medal after all of that.

    Congrats to Madi on her first half. She rocked that race.

  16. Holy wind gusts!! I know this sounds crazy but my favorite race days are in the driving rain. For some reason I love it! Although, I do hate it when it's a cold rain!

    You did great! Especially from being sick! BUT, you did it!! That's what counts!

  17. OK Jim---we get it your qualified for Boston and ran take off the yellow shirt please!!!! Us non-qualifiers are jealous and don't need it rubbed in our faces....LOL....just kidding bro!! Wear that shirt everyday as I know I would.

    Michael - way to hang tough. You have something to build on now for sure. BTW did you notice that your three miles after the port-o were beyond consistent? That is awesome on a day like you had weather wise. Way to be a superhero.

  18. WOW! I am not going to complain about running in 80 degree temp with 15 mph wind.. I love running in the rain, but not freezing rain.

    What miserable day.. But you finished! And that is all that matters. Sickness and all. You should be so proud of yourself. You are a Runner!

    Congrats to Madi as well!

  19. Oh, I'm so sorry your race didn't go as well as you hoped! Just reading your report I'm feeling cold and shivery, what awful weather!! I firmly believe, though, that even bad days make you a better athlete - you could have quit or not even started, but you toughed it out. You ROCK!

  20. oh man! I am SOOO sorry about the weather & the sickness. I absolutely hate running in the wind, so I totally feel for ya. Sorry you didn't get the time you wanted, but hey..maybe I can cheer you up. You won my giveaway!! Email me your shipping info & what necklace (bulletwood or purple heart) and chain (ball or snake) you want!

  21. Oh the weather sounds horrible! Not being able to go to the bathroom would have been my undoing and it would not have been pretty. You stuck it out. Miserable miserable weather and you were already sick! Glad you could find a few positives. You deserve an extra medal for finishing!

  22. i'm pretty sure this should count as a PR b/c you can subtract 45 minutes for the wind/rain/coldness and then another hour for the plague thing you had going on... ;)

    for real though, way to tough it out!

  23. You did what you had to do to get it done. While the time may be disappointing to you, it was a solid effort, you got some experience to learn from and were able to brave the conditions. Next time everything will line up for you!

  24. Ugh. This are what i call character builders. I can't imagine running in those conditions sick like you were. Know that the next one will be worlds better.
    Huge congrats to Madi and I'm glad you all had a fun family trip!

  25. Michael!! You are my hero!! There is NO WAY I would've pushed through the way you did. That warm bed (even a hotel bed) would've been where I stayed had I been feeling as badly as you did. And the weather...ick. And the drawstring on your shorts!!! Oh goodness. Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment--truly.

  26. Baby, I am soooooo proud of you! I probably wouldn't have ran at all ... I can't believe what an amazing person you are! I love you.

    Jason - HA ... I sleep in that thing! I'll NEVER take it off ... N-E-V-E-R!!! (mainly because I'll never get another one!)

  27. Aww sorry about your tough race. . . but I am super impressed with you toughing it out :D I would have stayed in bed! And I just read Jim's report on Madi's race, so so awesome!! I love how you guys race together :)

  28. Big congrats to Madi! That's impressive. And a big congrats to you - finishing despite the circumstances has strengthened you in ways you have yet to realize. The next time you come up against a wall you'll recall how you were able to fight and finish and that will give you the strength to remain confident in any scenario.

  29. I don't even know if I would have gotten out of bed, with feeling sick and all that rain and cold. You are a warrior. And to still get a near-PR with two bathroom stops is icing on the cake.

  30. Yikes. Rough day but way to stick it out! You are such an inspiration!

  31. P.S. It's adorable that Jim comments on your blog!

  32. Being sick and running through a storm - just one of those would have kept a lot of runners in bed that day! Great job!

  33. you should be so proud
    most people would have stayed in bed
    this will make you stronger
    you will remember how hard it was and that you did not give up!
    congrats to you!

  34. You are amazing to have run it at all! With being sick and have the weather so bad, I probably would have just gone back to bed.

  35. Congrats to Madi!!

    Ugh, after your report and Amandas@5 miles past empty, I am literally chilled to my core.

    SO so so sorry you had elements like that to deal with in conjunction with your sickness! :( But, you completed it! That is MENTAL TOUGHNESS at it's best there!!!