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OKC Memorial Marathon: Let's go racin' ... and draftin'

I did something crazy Saturday morning.

Or at least crazy by my standards.

I ran 9.3 miles.

There was a time in my life when such a thing would’ve been impossible. Or I would’ve thought it impossible. I’ve written before about how I dropped nearly 50 pounds, and even though running was part of my weight-loss plan from the start and has continued to be part of my keep-the-weight-off plan ever since, I’ve never run much more than 3 or 4 miles.

Three miles five days a week was my routine for several years.

Then a year or so ago, I decided that I wanted to do a 10K. That’s about 6.2 miles, so I upped my distances to 4 or 5 miles a couple days a week.

Still, when I decided earlier this year that I was going to run the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, it seemed crazy to think that I’d be doing training runs longer than anything I’d ever done before. Eight miles. Nine miles. Ten miles. Eleven miles. All of those are runs on my training plan to get me prepared for the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

Saturday, I ran the Panera Bread Beacon Run 15K — 9.3 miles.

The event is sponsored by the OKC Landrunners, the big running club in town. It uses the run as a fundraiser to pay for all the water stops and such during training runs — and since I’m taking advantage of said water stops on some of the club’s training runs, I figured it was only right to support the fundraiser.

But that also meant running 9.3 miles.


I mean, I knew the day was coming where I’d do nine miles, but still, knowing that day is coming and having it arrive are two different deals. I told myself that I’d go out slow, pace myself well and even walk if I needed to. I figured this would be uncharted territory, so whatever happened, I’d be OK with the outcome.

But my initial strategy of starting out slow got sidetracked by the weather. It was beautiful Saturday morning. Sunny. Cool but not cold. A light breeze. It felt so great that I took off without really thinking about how fast I was going.

Then about two miles in, I fell in behind a guy who was running at a nice pace. I wasn’t sure how fast he was going, but I didn’t feel like I was going too slow or too fast, so I figured I’d hang with him a while.

I wasn’t alone.

Over the next mile or two, the group with the guy grew. There must’ve been six or seven of us total.

But at the halfway point turnaround/water stop, the guy flat out stopped. No harm in that. Except I didn’t want to just stand there like a dope looking at him, making him think I was a stalker or something.

So, I kept going without him.

Luckily, a couple other gals who were in that group ended up in front of me. Suddenly, they became my unofficial pace group. For pretty much the rest of the way, we were together.

And it was great.

No one said a word. I have no idea who the gals were. (Frankly, I should get better about talking to people while I’m running, but hey, I have to focus on things like breathing and sweating and not twisting an ankle. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, so I have to pick and choose my activities!) But it was great to all be running at the same pace.

Plus, we even drafted a little bit off each other. The wind wasn’t strong, at least not in Oklahoma terms, but it was blowing enough that it was nice to be able to tuck in behind someone and feel like you were getting a little bit of a wind break.

I have no idea if we actually were getting a wind break, but sometimes just thinking such things is a mental boost that actually helps you physically.

And when you’re running 9.3 miles. you’ll take an advantage you can, whether real or not.

My little pacing group hung together pretty well until about the eight-mile mark. Then, we sort of fell apart. Or should I say, I fell apart.

My hips were killing me. I guess every runner has a trouble spot or two, and for me, my hips are the thing that most often give me trouble. Not sure why. But that’s how it goes. Usually, though, they don’t hurt until after I run. Saturday, they kicked in a little early.

So, I fell back. The last mile was not much fun for me, but I made it, even got a little kick as I headed toward the finish line.

My reward: a finisher’s medal and a big breakfast at Beverly’s Pancake House.

It was a good day. Crazy, but good.

Distance: 9.3 miles

Time: 1:26:20

Average time per mile: 9:16


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 ›