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OKC Memorial Marathon: Inspiration part of running gear


I always tell people that I hate to run but that I love to eat.

Hate might be a strong word, but the truth is, I mostly run so that I can have a cookie or three and not be guilty about it. Staying at a healthy weight is important for me; I want to be healthy enough to be around for my husband and my daughter. I think about them often when I’m running and need a little motivation.

Saturday, I had lots of time to think about people who motivate me.

It was a seven-mile day.


A little background: I’ve run a couple 10Ks. That’s 6.2 miles or so, and that’s the farthest that I’ve ever run. So, as I looked at my 12-week training schedule for the half marathon, I knew there would come a day when I would go farther than I ever had before.

Saturday was that day.

A little more background: My training schedule said that I was only supposed to run six miles. But my running muse Amy Downs suggested that I run with the OKC Landrunners on Saturday, and when I saw that their half-marathon training called for seven miles, I figured, “What the heck. Let’s do it!”

It was a cold morning, but as I’ve mentioned before, I really like running in the cold. Apparently, lots of other folks don’t mind it either. There were a couple hundred folks gathered in one of the parking lots at Lake Stanley Draper before the 7 a.m. start. Amy was among them, and we got a chance to say hi before a few announcements from the group.

Then, we were off.

Everything was great at the start. Good pace. Crisp morning. But my turnaround at 3.5 miles was on the dam of the lake. For about the last half mile, I faced a pretty stiff wind blowing off the lake. But I figured once I got off the dam and headed back, the wind would lessen.


The entire return trip was into the wind. It wasn’t as strong as it was going across the dam, but it was still pretty stiff.

And those last three miles stunk. Stunk bad.

I thought about the hubs and the kiddo when I needed a little mental boost to keep going, but I also thought about Amy. Yes, she’s the one who’s helping me with my running questions and sharing her experiences with you all here on my blog, but she is also an inspiration.

I’ve mentioned it before, but Amy is a survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing. She worked for the Federal Employees Credit Union on the third floor of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. That April morning nearly 20 years ago, Amy was just sitting at her desk, talking to a co-worker when the bomb went off.

Still in her chair, Amy fell three floors.

The floors above her collapsed around her. She screamed for help and heard others doing the same. But as she lay trapped below 10 feet of debris, she heard nothing for an hour. No sirens. No rescuers. Nothing.

For an hour.

Finally, she heard the voices of rescuers, and after six hours, they freed her and rushed her to Presbyterian Hospital. She would be there for weeks, but miraculously, she is not only walking but also running and biking and doing all sorts of distance sports these days.

But I thought about Amy and that time she spent trapped in the rubble of the Murrah building on several occasions Saturday. When the wind wouldn’t seem to stop, I thought of Amy. When I looked up ahead and saw yet another hill, I thought of Amy. When it seemed like I’d never make it back to the parking lot, I thought of Amy.

She spent an agonizing, terrifying hour in the rubble before her rescuers arrived.

Running for an hour didn’t seem so bad when I thought of that.

Having the proper gear is important when you’re running, but you need some inspiration, too. You can’t find that at a store. You can’t buy that in a package. You have to figure out what works for you, then you have to use it when times get tough.

Distance: 7.02 miles.

Time: 1:05:12

Pace: 9:17 minutes/mile

After a three miles on Sunday to help get some soreness out of my legs, Week 4 of training is already off and running. By the end of the week, I’ll be a third of the way through my half-marathon training and only eight weeks from the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

It’s time.

We've put together a calendar with some options. To give it a look, click here.

Red Coyote has a training program for the marathon and half marathon. Contact the store at 405.840.0033 or go to for information about how you might get involved.

Want your training group included on our calendar, please and we’ll get you added.

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›