Posted by: deerharas | April 28, 2008

I may not have bested Oprah, but I beat the pants off Katie Holmes!

Well, my Facebook countdown has come to an end, and with it the culmination of nearly five months of training. And since my body is currently good for pretty much nothing else, I figure I’ll type up some of yesterday’s highlights.

Rain, Rain, Go Away
I woke up yesterday morning (at 3:50 AM) to cool weather, which is optimal for a marathon. Rain, however, not so much. According to the news, rain was supposed to pass through the metro but be gone by 4:00 AM. Well, nature was a little late, because it started raining at 5:15. I wouldn’t so much have minded running in the rain as much as waiting in it. We stayed in the car as long as possible to avoid a soggy start, barely leaving in enough time for a porta-potty visit before the gun went off. We had to sneak in through a barrier (following some cute boys) to take our starting point. Thankfully it didn’t rain that long or hard, and honestly I’d take cool, wet weather over heat any day.

The Mickey Mantle Bridge
As I was running yesterday, I had to keep reminding myself to take everything in. It’s so easy to get caught up in yourself or just stare at the person in front of you that you forget that you’re running by some of OKC’s most interesting and beautiful landmarks. One of my favorite visuals from yesterday was the run over the bridge on Mickey Mantle Drive. We were just a mile in, on our way through Bricktown, when a left turn put us face to face with our first huge hill. More than a sense of dread, however, I was overwhelmed with a sense of community as I saw the hundreds of runners all crowded in together, bouncing up and down as they scaled the daunting hill. It looked like every picture of a marathon I’ve ever seen, runners of all shapes and sizes, dressed in all colors, all working toward the same goal.

Mile Six Surprise
My parents and brother were in Baltimore this weekend at an awards banquet for my brother, so my aunt, uncle, and cousin decided to come and cheer me on. They drove in from Amarillo that morning (left at 1:00 AM) and got there just before the race began. However, we didn’t get to see each other before the start, and I was worried I wouldn’t see them until it was all over. However, right before the first relay exchange, I heard someone call out my name and saw my uncle wearing a bright orange Wheaton Thunder sweatshirt! Then I saw Carlee a little bit ahead dutifully documenting the day with her camera. Then I heard Kaye’s voice cheering from across the street and looked over to see a sign saying, “Run, Sarah, Run!” I can’t describe how much it means to have people you love come encourage you during a marathon. My sweet family was a huge blessing.

Under Construction
One of the best things about the marathon is the aid stations. Unlike on long run training days, you don’t have to worry about where to put your water/Powerade/pretzels/bananas; they’re right there for you about every couple of miles. Jamie and I made a point to at least drink a sip or two of water or Powerade at every stop. I was most looking forward to mile eight, because my friend Melissa was volunteering there at the Chesapeake aid station. Their theme was “Under Construction” (since Chesapeake is just that), and sure enough, there was Melissa in her cute little hard hat cheering me on as she handed me my Powerade.

When the Going Gets Tough …
If I could use one word to sum up running, that word would indeed be “fickle.” Some days are good, some are bad, and it’s difficult to predict what kind of day you’re going to have. Now while I wouldn’t say that yesterday was a bad running day, I will say that it got hard a lot earlier than expected. On our long run training days, I noticed the difficulty dramatically increase right at the point just past where we had not yet trained. I figured the last six miles would be particularly difficult since the longest we had run in our training was twenty. Imagine my surprise when I felt a sharp change in difficulty not at mile 20, but at mile 9. That’s when I noticed the blisters. I think my toes got a little wet as I accidentally hit some puddles early on, so by mile 9 my legs were fine, but my toes were screaming. I can’t say that I exactly forgot about the pain as much as I learned to deal with it. It was just a little disappointing; nothing like that had happened on any of our previous long runs.

Celebrating the Half … with a Hill
After the long flat stretch on Britton, Jamie and I were greeted by a honking Daniel just as we reached the halfway point. Just under a balloon arch hung a huge banner that said, “ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, HALF WAY THERE!” It was a great encouragement, that is until we saw the huge hill just a few yards behind it. But up and over we went, and just beyond the hill was Lake Hefner. Now while Lake Hefner is beautiful, it is also synonymous with wind. Add to that the fact that we had to run north into it while watching everyone in front of us run south with the wind at their back, because they’d already passed the turn around point. That had to be the one of the most disheartening moments! But then we hit that far north point too and soon had the wind at our backs as well.

Daniel … My Sock Hero!
While we were on the Hefner trail, all of the sudden we hear Daniel yelling at us from the fence. Much to my delight, he is right by Jamie’s car which happened to have a bag of my stuff in it. Remembering the extra pair of fresh clean socks I had packed away, I asked Daniel to retrieve my pretty polka-dotted pack so I could make the switch. He graciously obliged and took arm-stretch self portraits with Jamie while I changed. I wish I could say they made all the difference, but I’m not really sure the new socks were worth the time we wasted. However, the break was beneficial considering we soon faced more wind as we rounded the other side of the lake near Stars and Stripes Park. We were encouraged yet again, though, as we saw Rich at the relay exchange point just before mile 17.

The Twizzler from Heaven
This might be for me the highlight of the marathon. On our longer training runs, Jamie and I would refuel on bananas and pretzels in addition to drinking Gatorade. Just after mile 17, I saw a woman standing holding a tray of Twizzlers, offering them to runners passing by. Now this wasn’t an aid station, and she didn’t look very official or anything, so I’m not sure what possessed me to take it. Something about the thought of a Twizzler at that very moment however, seemed absolutely perfect. It was the weirdest thing, but the combination of taste and texture made it the best marathon snack ever. It may seem ridiculous, but other than crossing the finish line, I think that Twizzler was the best part of the marathon.

Be Strong and Courageous
In addition to looking forward to aid stations, Jamie and I also looked forward to mile markers. Awhile back I got the idea from Kristin Armstrong’s blog to read a different verse at every mile of the marathon. Jamie took the odds, and I took the evens. Of course I waited until the night before to select and write mine out, putting me to bed about an hour later than I had intended. However, I figured that my lost sleep wouldn’t compare to the encouragement and strength that was to flow out to us the next day through those words. At mile 18, I read “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9” I always tried to read mine as loud as possible so as to encourage those around us as well. Some middle aged guys said something about how neat it was that we were doing that, and another guy showed me his LiveStrong-esque bracelet imprinted with Joshua 1:9. Of course, I littered my little notecards after I was done with each of them, but as my friend Michelle noted, God’s word does not return void! (Seriously, though, I would not have littered except for the fact that with all the cups and all it is a totally acceptable practice on marathon day!)

Mile 20: Sweet Friends and a Drive-by Honking
I’ve always heard that a marathon really starts at mile 20. Well, if that’s true, I was incredibly blessed to have a whole slew of friends start me off! I was so excited to see EB, Angela, Meagan, and Shelly at the last relay exchange. There were a ton of people gathered around at that point, and it meant so hear voices above the crowd cheering specifically for me. Plus, I was looking for someone I could hand off my jacket to. EB saved the day! Then, not even a mile later, I heard honking as we crossed over I-44, and Stacey was driving by cheering and taking pictures. It was a great start to the last 6.2.

Mocha Says Run!
Right at mile 21, there was my family again, a much needed encouragement at an increasingly difficult point in the race. There is a distinct difference in the picture Carlee took at mile 6 in comparison to the one at mile 21. The race grew tedious, especially on that long Classen stretch. Our aid station walking grew from 10-15 seconds (just enough to swallow a few sips of water/Powerade) to a minute or more as we tried to psyche ourselves up for more running. (I saw we, although I don’t think Jamie needed quite as much psyching as me.) Thankfully, Stacey came out of nowhere again, this time with a sign, and proceeded to tell me what a soldier I was. Then my family drove by honking as my aunt held their Yorkie out the window yelling, “Sarah! Mocha says run!” That got some laughs from the runners around us.

Heritage Hills … Emphasis on the “Hills”
The last portion of the race runs through Mesta Park (Stacey’s ‘hood) and Heritage Hills. Now while the houses and landscaping are incredible, the hills are killer. Plus the fact that the course has you run from 18th all the way to 13th only to have you turn around and run all the way back to 18th before you can turn south one last time. While I think almost all of our walking was solely at aid stations, I broke down and told Jamie we needed to walk a little just before mile 25. And then once we did start running again, I felt one of the blisters on my toe pop. At this point my body was used to ignoring the pain, so after a few “ow, ow, ow, ows” I was able to press through. I think Jamie was a little concerned at my outcry, but probably relieved to hear it was just my blister and not some major muscle spasm.

No Holding Back
With the end almost in sight, we agreed to no more stops. Not even for a sip of water at the last aid station. It was so hard to believe that after over four and a half hours of running, we would soon be done. We made it out of Heritage Hills and finally hit the last stretch on Broadway with the end actually in sight. However, that sight could not have seemed any farther away. Jamie went ahead and picked up the pace, and I did my best to keep up. Watching that clock count up and knowing that on the other side a t-shirt, medal, massage and hamburger were waiting was plenty of motivation to give every ounce of energy I had left. We crossed the finish line with a gun time of 4:45:03 and a chip time of 4:43:34.

The Coveted Green Shirt
A little after mile 18, I saw someone holding a sign that said “GREEN SHIRTS 8 MILES FROM HERE” and I knew exactly what it was talking about. Three years ago when I first did the marathon relay, I saw several people wearing these forest green shirts that said “FINISHER” on the back of them. I soon found out that these were only for those who ran the entire marathon, not the relay or half marathon participants. While I had no aspirations of ever running a marathon at that point, I did have a spot in my heart for those shirts. So this year, I knew what lay behind the finish line just for me! Even more than my medal, I will treasure my green shirt.

My Once a Year Fling with Carl’s Jr.
I have eaten at Carl’s Jr. exactly four times in my life. I actually find their advertising kind of offensive which doesn’t exactly scream out “appetizing.” However, once a year, I cave in and eat a post-race burger. And let me tell you, it’s good stuff. Ooh, and this year they had El-Fudge cookies, too. After I had gotten my free massage and eaten my hamburger, my family was ready for Ted’s. I honestly think half of the reason they drove all the way from Amarillo was to eat at Ted’s. So we ate, and I drank my first Dr. Pepper in over a month, and it was the perfect end to an incredible day.

So those are the highlights. You can go here for pictures. When I first began training, it was so that I could say that I ran a marathon … a one time thing with no aspirations of becoming a “marathoner.” I really don’t know if I’ll ever run another one, but just the fact that I’m even considering it with as sore as I am today leads me to believe that I probably will. I do still have Oprah’s time looming out in front of me …



  1. Way to go, Sarah!! We are so proud of you for setting the goal, training faithfully, and then completing the marathon. Who cares about the time?! YOU FINISHED! Congratulations! Wear that “finisher” t-shirt proudly. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on your blog. I’ve been a faithful reader since Tracy told me about it. You write well — must be in the genes. 🙂

  2. […] The Origin of Brands Blog wrote an interesting post today on I may not have bested Oprah, but I beat the pants off Katie Holmes!Here’s a quick excerpt…runners all crowded in together, bouncing up and down as they scaled the daunting hill.  It looked like every picture of a marathon I’ve ever… […]

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