NOTE: While this blog post was originally published on November 25, 2014, it is still one of my all-time favorites! I missed running this race for the first time in 8 years this year since I've moved to Ireland. I thought I would dust this one off as part of the Bibrave Pro Thanksgiving Round-Up! Be sure to follow my link at the end to the next stop on the link-up!
The Route 66 Marathon is a fantastic late-season race in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It always falls on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which gives runners the perfect excuse to indulge in all the holiday fare that awaits just a few days later! In 2014, I was not sure if I would be able to run Route 66 after running NYC Marathon just 3 weeks prior, but my marathon recovery went remarkably well and I felt I was fit enough to complete the half with my RunHers. As this was my last major race of the year, my goal was purely to run with joy. It’s really easy to let the expectations and responsibilities of work or family interfere with my joy and gratefulness in the simple things in life. I am not talking about any one major crisis (thank goodness!), but just the daily stresses of being human. We all have challenges to face. For me, staying present in the moment and finding gratefulness in the opportunity before me, keeps me focused on what truly matters in my life.
So here is a collection of people who helped me stay present and find gratefulness in my run that day.
1) Thank you, Norman RunHers, for showing up and just being there every week to run, to laugh, to drink coffee, to talk chafing, to encourage each other, to truly build a community of which I am proud to be a member.
2) Thank you, Homeland Security Man, for patrolling the crowded hotel lobbies, parking lots, buildings and rooftops. Thank you for looking in garbage cans I would not think twice to stand near and searching unassuming places all to keep us safe as we run our race.
3) Thank you, Oklahoma weather, for clearing up and warming up to give us a chance to run without lightning or hypothermia. Only in Oklahoma can we have a snow and ice storm on Monday and 60 degrees with 90% humidity on Saturday. (For real, this has happened!)
4) Thank you, Marathon Foto girl, for standing inside a fenced corral of stampeding runners, snapping your little fingers away in an effort to get a shot one of us would be willing to buy. I would get dizzy trying to do what you do!
5) Thank you, Policeman and Firemen, for stopping traffic on a busy road so I and 8,000 of my friends could enjoy running without stopping at traffic lights. Getting up early on a Sunday morning to watch a parade of neon clad people running is probably not your idea of fun, but there you stood, on the side of the road, with smiles on your faces.
6) Thank you, veteran, for reminding us that freedom is most certainly not free. Your selfless service is not taken for granted. Ever.
7) Thank you, Patrick, volunteer bike medic, for riding alongside all the runners throughout the entire course. I saw you offer a struggling runner water between water stops, encouraging her that Gatorade was just a few blocks away. Your watchful eye probably helped her finish the race. Thank you, Medic Tent volunteers, for always being there to take our vitals, toss us some ibuprofen, or stop the chafe with a stick of vaseline. I have utilized your services more times than I can count over the years, some more critical than others. Marathons could NOT happen without you.
8) Thank you, Cascia Hall students, for warning me of the multiple speed bumps throughout your campus. Seeing as I sprained my ankle falling off a perfectly good sidewalk days before the race, I certainly appreciated the heads-up!
9) Thank you, spectators, for your signs, your cheers, your encouragement, your photo booths, your jello shots and, of course, your beer. Every runner should be a marathon spectator so they can understand how hard you work to cheer for the runners you love!
10) Thank you, sweet volunteer, for shouting out that half marathoners need to stay left. After two beers and a jello shot, I most definitely needed the directional assistance!
11) Thank you, Bart Yasso and finish line volunteers, for making us recreational warriors feel like rock stars as we crossed the finish line and for hugging my sweaty self like I was a member of your own family. Thank you for the thin piece of foil that miraculously keeps us warm as we start to cool down. Thank you for draping our finishing medals over our heads and making us feel as though we truly are champions. YOU are what make finishing a marathon so special!
Thank you, Route 66 Marathon, for organizing such a joyful run. Your race reminded me of how much I truly have to be grateful for in my life.
Keep following the Bibrave Pro Thanksgiving round-up by reading Jenna's blog here!