Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tulsa 2010

I ran the Tulsa Rt. 66 marathon last Sunday. This is my favorite marathon for many reasons, not the least of which is because it's close to home but not close enough that it feels boring. It's like a travel marathon without the expensive hotel and plane ticket. I also usually run good at this one because it's the first Fall marathon that I run and the cool weather helps.

I had no expectations for this other than to have fun and enjoy the pain I knew was coming due to my lack of training. I often say that to truly enjoy marathons you need a healthy dose of self-dislike because it makes the pain bearable. Well I knew this one would require some serious pissed-off-ed-ness at old Willie for me to get through. Let's just say I had a lot to draw from lately.

One really cool new twist to my experience was that my oldest clone was running the half marathon at Tulsa this year too so I got to share the day with him. As much as I don't want him to be anything like me I do like having him around because we have so much fun together. He is still my son and I have to get on him sometimes but mostly we share the same sense of humor and enjoy the same things so it's like having a perfect friend. I do hope he gets the running bug.

So my son and I rode to Tulsa with 2 of my best friends who were also running the full marathon. We had a great time listening to Christmas music and chatting about most things running and some things not. I've had some of the best conversations with these people and this time didn't disappoint.

So the marathon was fairly straight forward. I hooked up with the 3:50 pace group at the start and ran just in front of them for most of the race. I figured 3:50 was about the best I was capable of right now so I was glad to see that the pace felt comfortable. It was a beautiful running day which means it was overcast and cool. I love the sun but since I'm out of shape I needed all the help I could get and the overcast was probably good for about 10 minutes off my time that day. I can enjoy my wonderful sunshine sometime when I'm in a better running form to enjoy it.

Here is the thing that got me that day and the reason I needed to write this post. Around mile 14-15 I ran by some fire trucks and saw a man performing CPR on a runner who had collapsed during the half marathon. I had never seen real CPR before and I was shocked. Stunned really. The runner lay motionless on the ground while a fireman was violently pressing his chest in an attempt to save this poor man's life. I had so many thoughts at that moment all of which, I'm sure, were fatigue induced. Had this man just died? Was his spirit hanging around watching this? Did he know he was gone? All these weird thoughts raced through my brain as I continued running. It was as if I weren't really there but I was watching myself see all this. Very, very weird.

I will admit that, although I focused on this site for the next few miles, by mile 18 I had forgotten about it and was concentrating on the pain in my legs and knees which had become vicious by then. I was really feeling the lack of endurance by mile 20. I felt I had the energy to go on and run strong but my legs weren't ready for the beating they had taken and each step was hurting. I knew this was coming so I took it very well and walked a little to stretch things out. I ran when I could and walked when I needed and finished in a respectable 3:57.

After the race I met up with my son and our running friends for our post-race lunch and beverages, not remembering at all the feelings I'd had about the CPR incident. It wasn't until later, when I heard the man had died, that I remembered those weird feelings and I really thought about what I'd seen. I'm not going to say that it was a profound moment in my life and that I'm a changed man because of it, nothing that dramatic or cheesy. It was just an experience that I had and I'm not sure how to take it or what to do with it. As I remembered that scene I was struck with the thought of what this man was planning after the race. Was he planning to meet his family and friends for a beer? Did they have dinner plans in Tulsa? I wondered if he had checked out of his hotel room? All these mundane things that I plan and do around a marathon and I never once stop to think, "what if I don't finish this thing?". That's not something you plan for, nor should you! I suppose it's supposed to be weird and unusual to deal with the mundane things after a tragedy. That's why it's a tragedy. I had just never thought about it before like I did on the race course last Sunday. I wish I could say I am going to contemplate this event and re-evaluate my ways but that isn't me. In fact, it sounds silly just to type it. I had a glimpse into a tragedy and it had an impact on me. What that impact is beyond the ones I've shared here I don't know.

Thanks for listening


Terri said...

Wow. Honestly, those are not things I would think about either. Did you find out how old the guy was? or what it was that made him collapse?

Willie, you're only human. And I love your honesty.

(And thanks very much for your message on facebook. Really, thank you!! Totally understand what you were saying.)

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