OK City is a REALLY friendly place to visit! I've never been called "hun" and "ma'am" so many times... ever... in my entire, GosH DaRn, life. Refreshing. Pleasant. Respectful. A place where people still take their hats off (as they should), and place their hands over their hearts (ditto), for the National Anthem.
we're spelling out "O" and "K" here, for Oklahoma, bear with me here, people ;D
London was supposed to be my RunningBrooke April marathon, but the volcano event and subsequent flight disruptions, had me change course. So, hello Oklahoma City, for the running of the 10th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. And so, without further adieu:
The Good (and The Really Good)
Meeting and talking with Running Greats: Bart Yasso, Dick Beardsley and Joan Benoit Samuelson! Each spoke at the Expo. Each shared their personal story. How they came to running, and where running has taken them. Literally, the opportunities, races and places, and not so literally, the strength, courage, and determination, to persevere through life's hardships. Most important message? To NEVER Give Up.
Meet Bart Yasso, on my right, Chief Running Officer (CRO), of Runner's World dubbed the 'Mayor of Running.' Great guy whom I first met at Disney in January. If you haven't read his book My Life On The Run, go out. And buy it Now. Funny. Inspirational. Makes you want to get out there! Bart was a 2 pack a day smoker, and at a crossroads in his life, whose first run was a 1/2 miler, to a bar stool, for some cold ones.
Visit www.bartyasso.com to learn more.
His inscription: Never Limit Where Running Can Take You.
Meet Dick Beardsley, on my left, motivational speaker, London and Grandma's Marathons Champion. Who, at the '82 Boston Marathon, lost to Alberto Salizar. By Two Seconds. Here was a kid, a relative no one, from nowhere, running against a known great, in (arguably) the most prestigious marathon. This race is considered one of the most memorable marathons in history. And Dick, who only joined the cross-country team, after being sandwiched by 20 guys, in the first tackle, of the first football practice, and deciding that this sport was for someone else. His book, Staying The Course: A Runner's Toughest Race, is a great read, where he recounts his rise to running great-dom (made this word up), and his recovery from near-death accidents and pain-killer addiction. In October of 2007. he founded the Dick Beardsley Foundation to help people who cannot afford treatment for chemical dependancy.
His inscription: Have a Smile on your Face, Enthusiasm in your Voice, Joy in your Heart, and Faith in your Soul. To learn more, visit www.dickbeardsley.com
Meet Joan Benoit Samuelson, two-time Boston Marathon Winner and Olympic Gold Champion (1984 LA games). 1984 was the first year women were allowed(?) to run this distance. Protecting our female reproductive organs for us(?)! She kicked butt finishing in 2:24:28, and ran Chicago a year later in 2:21:21. Joan came to the sport rehabbing, from a downhill ski-racing injury.
Her incription: May the Many Miles of Life be Good to You.
Her advice to the audience (but I know she was talking only to me ;D), was to run your own race, and don't get pulled into someone else's energy field, whereby running theirs. I have met my hero, and she is not taller than me. (always envisioned my hero as someone taller...) Joan has a great article in the May/June issue of Women's Running. Check out www.womensrunning.com/home
There's a common thread, and bond, among these three, and I guess, really, among ALL runners, no matter when they came to the sport. It is the love of running (obviously) but, it is also the people we meet, the adventures we share, the stories we have, the camaraderie. It is what running has taught us, how it has become our lives. And for some of us (me included), it has become our vehicle to make a difference in the world. It has become what we can do to help others succeed.
And the Good
- Thunder-Mania. OKC Thunder in the NBA playoffs (first for Thunder), playing the LA Lakers (staying at my hotel). The championship rings are HuGE and ummm, GaUdy, hunks of gold. Diamond encrusted, unmissable... Wish I know which players I rode down the elevator, and insulted(?), by saying 'So what's up with the ring?!'...
- The OK City National Memorial and Museum. Serene strength. Peace in a place of violence. The 128 seconds of silence (pre-race, just after the National Anthem) represented the 128 lives taken that day. It brought tears to my eyes. And I'm no crier.
The reflecting pool sits where the Murrah building once stood.
Field of Empty Chairs symbolize each life lost (128). A victims name is etched on the base of each.
The Survivor Tree withstood the blast and now stands as a symbol of resilience.
- Sorry Oklahomans, but the only thing I had good to eat was a nice and thick, dripping-rare, (probably corn-fed) steak. But it was. The Best Steak. I've ever had. Everything else, was the same color (tan), a lot of which, I didn't recognize.
- Winds. Sustained and swirling. Unsettling. Not working for me.
- New shoes. Yeah, I really did this. Ran Sunday's race in a newish pair of Nike Luna Racers (They've worked before. Virtually weightless, and score for the high-cuteness factor). I'm vain. Problem was, I ordered a Half-Size. Too Small. Mile 10, feet were talking, mile 16, screaming. Needless to say, I'm returning to the tried-and-true, Mizuno Wave Riders.
- Lost Running Karma. My Zen-Like, forward-motion, trace. My Euphoric connection of Body and Mind, moving in harmony to the finish line. Sunday, not so much. I just ran through OK City with a bunch of people I didn't know, but whom seemed to know everyone. Which was a bummer. Kinda lonely. Usually I hook in with a like-paced, like-minded runner. We work together. We help each other. Not this time.
The Ugly (none!)
- Shopping Cart (1937) and Parking Meter (1935) were invented by OKC'ers
- OKC is the home of the National Softball Hall of Fame
- Oklahoma means "Land of the Red Man" in Choctaw language
- Mayor Eiulle, Mayor of the City of Alexandria, dubbed me the Ambassador of Alexandria, by proclamation, at a City Council meeting on April 13th!
- Next marathon: May 2 in Eugene, OR. Less than one week away...
- Next continent: Asia! Great Wall Marathon on May 15th. Woo Hoo! Thanks Marathon Tours! www.marathontours.com
That's it. Thanks everyone. Feeling great, and cheers, it is a beautiful day for a run!