Monday, May 2, 2011

OKC Half-Marathon Report ... My Daughter's First Race!!!

 Race Review ...

Oklahoma City Memorial (Half)Marathon

May 1, 2011
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Overall Rating ... 3 out of 5

Spoiler Alert... 
  • My daughter, Madi's first ever half-marathon!!!
  • Great event to remember the victims of Oklahoma City tragedy
  • 45 degrees, POURING rain, 15-20mph wind the WHOLE RACE!!!
  • Fair to below average race organization & local support
  • Easy, flat course
  • Nice medal
  • Madi ran an awesome 2:28:27 PR!
  • Did I mention it STORMED THE WHOLE TIME???

Michael, me & Madi before the OKC Half-Marathon

Finisher Medals & Bibs...
My MOST favorite race bib ever ... "MADI'S DAD"!!!

The Trip From KC To OKC... 
Excited about the 5-1/2 hour drive!!!
Okay, so here is the "proud papa" moment ... like every parent, I am proud of and love both of my kids with all my heart!  But anyone who has met my daughter Madison will not only rave about how smart, funny, loving, caring, and wonderful she is ... they will simply tell you they have never met a BETTER PERSON!   As much as I hate to admit it, I have to give her mom most of the credit.  But now ... FINALLY ... she has one thing she can credit her ol' man with ... RUNNING!  And on Sunday, after weeks of tough training, she became an official HALF-MARATHONER!!!  And I couldn't be prouder!  Our trip to Oklahoma City to run the OKC Memorial (Half) Marathon was awesome, and here is the recap.

We left about 7am on Saturday for the 5-1/2 hour drive from KC to OKC ... but the time really flew by because there is SO MUCH TO SEE ON THE INTERSTATE IN KANSAS AND OKLAHOMA!!! (sarcasm)  We did make a couple of stops for maybe the world's best photos!
Mr. Happy!
Oklahoma's sooooooo windy!
Packet Pick-up & Expo ...
As far as packet pick-ups and race expos go, I would give this one a C+.  It could have been a lot better organized and there was a definite "lack of enthusiasm" from the volunteers - but we had a great time anyway!
Hey everybody ... it's my first race packet & gear bag!!!
Watching Madi get her race number for her first half-marathon was so cool.  It's always cool reliving the great moments in your own life through your kids, and this was no different.  There's something magical about picking up your first race packet.  It makes you feel official or something.  She was so excited!
My two beautiful gals ... wow, I'm lucky!!!
The lady who helped us find our race numbers was very kind ... everyone else seemed ready to get the heck out of there, but in fairness, they WERE volunteering and it was late in the day.  I'm sure they were pretty tired from being on their feet all day, dealing with idiots like us!
Check out this Expo!
Michael was sick all week before the race, and on Saturday she felt awful.  But she is so awesome!  She NEVER let on like she was feeling bad, wanting to make Madi's experience wonderful.  I love you Michael - you are a very giving person and you helped make Madison's trip incredible.  Thank you for giving of yourself - I know you felt terrible. 
Shocker ... Michael shopping!  (Check out the lady behind her "Hey, what'd ya get?")
"Holy cow Jim, it's Bill Rogers, Dick Beardsley, and Joan Benoit Samuelson!"
OKC & Bricktown ...
There was a ton of great stuff to do in OKC and Bricktown - Oklahoma City's historic entertainment district.  We walked around for most of the afternoon and got to see a lot of the sights of this wonderful Southwestern city.
Hmmmm ... we really need a MAN to decipher this map!
Hey, let's jump up and click our heels in front of this giant boot!!!
This was billed as a HUGE event for Oklahoma City, and for the most part all of the local people we met were very kind and courteous.  But it really seemed like the marathon weekend really took them by surprise, like they had no idea this many people would be converging on their wonderful city.  For example, we ate at Quiznos for lunch and they were out of bacon, chicken, guacamole, and various cheeses ... ya know THE GOOD STUFF???  And at the hotel, the staff really struggled with check-in.  It was the "official race hotel", but they seemed a little confused.  They were very friendly, just pretty disorganized.
You're out of everything ... what the heck are we supposed to eat???
Of course, being my daughter, Madison is blessed with a great sense of humor and perfect comedic timing ... as you can tell from the photos!  Complete comedy genius runs in our family ... well, we think we're funny anyway!
Madi & Mickey Mantle ... swing needs a little work!
It was literally a living statue with arms ... Hey there ... Hi there ... Ho there!!!
Play that guitar ... idiot!
"What is this ... a fountain for ants? 
How are the children supposed to get a drink if they can't even reach the fountain?"
Madi & Michael in their best Senior Photo poses!
Pre-race salad!
Race Day...
Hey, matching bibs!
After a sleepless night, finally race day was here for Madison.  We had watched the weather all week and even though Saturday in OKC was 76 degrees and perfect, Sunday had promised a threat of rain and plummeting temps.  And unfortunately, for once the forecast was dead-on.  We woke up to about 45 degrees, 15-20mph howling winds, and driving rain ... NO EXAGGERATION!!!  And it lasted ALL DAY ... completely throughout the race!

We got our racin' clothes on and headed out the door, only to find out the race had been delayed from 6:30am to 7:00am because of lightning in the area.  We killed some time in our hotel lobby and rounded up a few trash bags thinking they would keep us dry during in the thunderstorm we were about to brave.  They worked great for about 15 seconds!  I kept telling Madi everything would be fine, but in the back of my mind I was thinking "Man, this is gonna be a rough way to run your first half-marathon".  But my girl is tough ... and I really don't think it even phased her!  She came to OKC to hammer that half-marathon, and nothing could stop her!!!

These should do the trick!!!
For some reason, I miscalculated the time it would take to get to starting line which was a half-mile from our hotel.  Plus, we stopped a couple of times on the way to seek shelter from the hurricane conditions.  We were literally drenched from head to toe and we hadn't even crossed the starting line yet.  But this would be nothing compared to the soaking we would take for 13.1 miles.

As we approached the starting line corrals, I began scanning the horizon for the gear-check trucks.  PROBLEM ... NO GEAR CHECK TRUCKS IN SIGHT!!!  It was right about that time that I heard the P.A. announcer blare words that made my heart skip a beat ... "ONE MINUTE UNTIL THE START OF THE OKC MEMORIAL MARATHON"!  What the...!!! I panicked ... but tried to remain cool, calm, and collected on the outside so as not to worry Madison.  I started running toward the back of the starting corrals with Madi & Michael closely behind ... or so I thought.  With about 30 seconds until the starting gun, I saw the gear-check trucks on the other side of the huddled runners.  I turned around to tell the girls we were gonna be okay ... but only one girl was standing there - Madi.  Somehow we had lost Michael in the confusion.  I panicked again!  Madi and I had no choice but to continue without her and check our bags.  There was a really cool guy at the rainy gear-check who quickly grabbed our bags and said, "I'll take care of them, just go get in line!"  He was such a blessing! 

Everyone all smiles & calm ... that would change!
Just then, the starting gun sounded ... and out of nowhere, Michael appeared.  She still had her bag in hand and she said "It's okay, I'll just run with it!"  Looking back, that was one of the funniest things I've ever heard!  It didn't seem funny at the time, but the thought of Michael, or anyone for that matter, running a half-marathon while toting their gear bag is priceless!  I pointed her to the gear-check truck and she fortunately found the same great gentleman who had help us!

Once Michael checked her bag, we all got in line.  Luckily, this was a large race and we were at the very back of the pack.  It took about 17 minutes for us to get to the start, so everyone had a chance to calm down a little and start the race like normal runners.  But it was close.  It was like one of those dreams where you over-sleep for the S.A.T.'s or something, and then when you get to the testing facility - THE DOOR IS LOCKED!  But this wasn't a dream ... it was real!  And it was pretty scary!  I thought I had let everyone down by screwing around in the hotel instead of heading to the starting line with enough time to prepare.   To say we cut it close would be a huge understatement!

After the typical start-stop-start-stop with such a large race, we made it the starting line and Madi & I separated from Michael, agreeing prior to the race to run our own paces.  Due to Michael's illness, I worried about her all day - but for the time being, I had to focus on helping Madi run the race of her life!

With rain literally stinging our faces and the wind blowing strong enough to move you from side-to-side, Madi ran the race like a pro!  Her pace plan was perfect for her and she ran it to perfection.  I'm a pretty wimpy runner when it comes to weather.  I had two shirts, a hat, and rain-soaked gloves on ... and I was FREEZING!!! This girl ran in a tank top and pants, no gloves or hat and only mentioned once at mile three that she was a little chilly - but other than that, she was focused!

Look at that gal ... straight-up Chickin' Fools!!!
The only really tough miles for her were miles 3-5 where we ran toward the Oklahoma State Capital building directly into the 15mph wind, and the last two miles where she decided to go all Kara Goucher on me!  Now Madi can be very direct sometimes, but for the most part she is OVERLY POLITE. I've never heard her utter a word of conceit or arrogance in her whole life.  But I swear, as she passed guy after guy on Sunday, I heard her say under her breath "Chicked ya!!!"  It was friggin' hilarious!

She was smooth and steady, controlling the pace like a seasoned veteran through 10 miles of a rain-drenched, windy, chilly course.  At mile 11 she said she wanted to speed up.  I was really reluctant to "let" her, wanting to make sure she not only finished, but finished strong.  But if you know this girl, you know she is a "little" bull-headed.  She started increasing her pace to 10:30, then 10:00.  I tried to slow her down, but she only ran faster ... 9:45, 9:30, 9:00.  We had chatted throughout the race about running, strategy, pacing, and some of the local sights we ran by ... and at mile 12 I said, "Hey, aren't those homes really pretty?"  All of the time-consuming chit-chat came to an abrupt halt right then when she responded, "I NEED TO FOCUS!"  I got the message and shut up.

At about 12.5 she was up to about 8:30 and I told her I thought she should slow down ... it was then she announced that she had a goal of 2:30 and, in she willfully responded, "Daddy, I've got to do this..."!  She then sped up to 8:00, 7:45, 7:30!!!  As we neared the last quarter-mile downhill I asked her if she was okay and she answered by speeding up to a 6:30 pace!!!  This girl was hauling!!!  As we got closer, I heard her say "I got this" ... AND SHE DID!  She finished by sprinting across the finish line at her first half-marathon with an amazing 2:28:27!!!

"Need a little wind here!"
I was sooooooo proud!  No, I didn't cry ... but almost!  I couldn't believe my little girl had just killed this thing and ran an unbelievable race!  She was so amazing!  I couldn't stop hugging her!

After the race we were freezing!  We got our gear bags and found Michael, and walked the half-mile back to our hotel in the continued pouring rain, teeth chattering, with fingers and legs numb!  It was so cold!  We had been in the pouring rain for about 3 hours with the wind trying to ice us over.  We couldn't get back to the room fast enough!

Once we got back to the room, everyone took hot showers and crawled under the blankets for a few minutes in an attempt to get our body temps back to 98 degrees before going out to find a well-deserved post-race feast.  We were starving!

We landed at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill - an OKC landmark.  We had a great time talking about the race and reliving the horror of almost missing the start. Madi ordered a 1 pound chicken-fried steak that was literally as big as her face!  Michael enjoyed a salad, and I had chicken.  It was so good!  We of course continued to act like tourists, taking a bunch of pictures before heading back to KC.

There are many things I'll remember about the OKC Half-Marathon.  I'll remember Bricktown and the nice people.  I'll reminisce about the cold weather, rain, and wind.  I'll remember how Michael was a trooper and ran a half-marathon while battling a terrible cold.  And I'll have nightmares about almost missing the start.  But most of all, I will never forget the look on Madison's face as she crossed the finish line and how unbelievably proud I was of my little girl that day!  She continues to amaze me.  Not because she can now add "half-marathoner" to her growing list of great accomplishments, but because I know that she can do anything.  And best of all ... I GET to be her dad!  I love you Madi, and I'm so proud you're in my life.  Great job baby! 
... be great today! (like you are everyday!)


  1. What an amazing race report! It had a little bit of everything in it! The drama!!

    I don't know how much more perfect that boot picture of you and Madi could have gotten. What a hoot!

  2. Awww this is awesome, loved reading it :D LOVE all the pics, you guys are all too cute, I wish I was that awesome in front of the camera I usually run away from it. Congrats to your daughter!!!!

  3. Thanks so much for this report, Daddy!
    I had the most amazing time this weekend.
    Thanks for all the personal training you pushed me through and always encouraging me. You are one of my biggest inspirations and I love you soooo much! Despite the weather, I had the most unforgettable, best weekend of my life with you and Michael. You are the best dad a girl could ask for. Thanks for all you do for me. Love you soooo much! =)
    (And darn right I chicked those guys! They deserved it. I trained harder. Haha)

  4. Jim -

    That's an awesome race report. I heard so many details from Madison last night as well. It sounds like it was an awesome experience, to say the least, and I'm so happy for her.

    From everything she tells me, it sounds like you're a great mentor and example for her. I'd have to agree with you and say that she's a winner in every aspect of the word.

    Good luck in all of your future races and look forward to seeing you again soon!


  5. What an awesome weekend, and a great recap too! How special for you to have had that experience with her. I can't imagine having to run a 13.1 miles in such bad conditions, and then for her to have a tank top, no gloves, no hat... she truly is tough.

  6. Your family should be called, "The Hams" for all your pics. I think you know we both have daughters the same age. And, both are amazing young ladies. I disagree with one thing you said though, knowing you the way I do (virtually) you should take some credit for the way she is.

    And Michael....could there be a better sport than her?! She's awesome.

    That weather looks brutal. Just think how much more enjoyable your guys' next race will be. Congrats Madi - soon you will be faster than your old man.

  7. Great report. I smiled the whole way through it. Except for the bag-check debacle. I have nightmares about that sort of thing happening.

  8. Great race report!! This was awesome! You are such an amazing Dad and running mentor! I know Madi had the time of her life.

  9. OUTSTANDING RR. What an experience to share with your family. Madison - you rocked it!

  10. Looks like you guys had tons of fun! congrats to Madi on her first 1/2!

  11. This whole post had me both is smiles and tears (I'm an emotional person what can I say?) Your whole family is incredibly lucky to have each other and it's apparent you guys don't take your blessings for granted. The pictures are so much fun!!! GREAT JOB MADI!

  12. Congratulations Madi! Loved the race report, especially the pics - hilarious. The comedic genius and timing clearly DOES run in the family :)

  13. That is so awesome and I am so happy for your daughter! I am sorry we didn't get to meet up but we too were huddled up trying to avoid the weather before the race. I am sure we will meet up someday!

    Again congrats to all of you for finishing a cold and miserable race!

  14. GREAT race report!!

    Officially? You had me at "What is this ... a fountain for ants?"

    Madi did amazing!!! And in such crappy conditions, too. Congratulations!!

  15. Congrats to your daughter Madi! What a great experience it is to share running with your daughter. I get to share it with my dad too. :-)

    I LOVE the windy picture, made me LOL!!

  16. OMG - I want to join your family...such a great RR......your daughter is beautiful and the pics are so fun!!!! What a great family weekend! Seriously - will you adopt me (even though I'm a ranger fan???)

  17. OMG this recap was hilarious! I love all the hijinx! Congrats to Madi on her first Half!!!!

  18. It looks like ya'll had a wonderful time!!! Congrats to Madi!!!

  19. This was one of the best race reports I have ever read, what a fun family weekend you all had, congrats to everyone

  20. Super race and report! Well done Madi and well done Madi's dad! I ran my first marathon with my dad in 1981 and it is still on of my bets running memories. You are one awesome family!

  21. Great race recap! Congrats to all of you for a great event and something that will be special for years to come!

  22. I loved reading this report. Very funny and you have a nice family. I am in the same boat. I can't take a whole lot of credit for how my kids are but athletics is one that I will claim

  23. ok

    this made me all kinds of happy.

    the photos.
    your beautiful family.
    the smile sign

    all. smiles.

  24. Even though the pre-race time was crazy and it was storming, Madi beat her goal!!! And had fun, too!

  25. I hope I can someday write a race report like this about running a race with one (or both!) of my kids. Congratulations to your whole family!!

  26. Oh how I love love this!!!
    congrats Madi!
    I agree with Chris (today only dont get use to it): you have something to do with her awesomeness. FOR SURE
    what a great experience to share with your kid!
    I hope I get to do that with my sons one day...
    Congrats to the whole super family!!!

  27. Awesome recap!

    I'm going to agree with Chris K, Stephanie and Allison. I hope everyone in life loves their family - I know I do. Though your family is really special - if I could pick any family to be adopted by, it would be you guys. =)

    I'm known as the cheesy or crazy one of my family, so I loved all your pictures - especially the Mickey Mantle picture, kick up your heels picture, and the guitar one, haha You guys know how to have a great time!

    Kudos to Madi for surviving such a crazy race, the conditions sounded terrible! If she can survive that race, she can survive anything! I bet if she runs another half marathon in better conditions that she will do even better. The fact she was running at 6:30 pace is testament to that. Dare I say I see possibly a 2 hour half marathon in her future?

  28. Oh - LOVE how proud you are! Congrats Madi on such an AWESOME first race.

  29. I don't think I've ever seen a father daughter duo have so much fun! I freaking love it! :) Super big congrats to Madi - she's awesome!

  30. What brutal conditions! Thanks for sharing Madi's race with us. You guys look like a super fun family.

    (PS, check out my giveaway on my blog... either of the ladies in your life would love the prize!! )

  31. I can't believe that you let Michael out of the house wearing a Red Sox shirt. Was that a sympathy play so she could go shopping?

    Great bib "Madi's dad" and great job Madi!

  32. Jim! Those pics are great! What crap weather though! People dont believe me when I tell them, they usually just have to run with me but I've run my best races in a cold, rainy downpour. It distracts me from the fatigue for some reason.

    Congrats to your daughter! My soon to be 12 year old has been running with me for years and our races together are my most favorite ones!

    As always, a great report! Did Dicks Sporting Goods have a booth at the expo??

  33. How did you have any energy to run after all those pictures? Loved them all! Wonderful time it sounds like in spite of the nasty weather.

  34. Great job! I love the race report! Congrats Madi and good luck on your next one :)

  35. That's a wonderful race recap -- and I'm very impressed you guys ran at all. I would have been so tempted to stay in bed because of the rain.

  36. Great Recap! I know you enjoyed every minute of your run with Madi. Even though the weather was crappy.

    Congrats to your family especially Madi!

  37. Great race recap and cutest family ever!

    Congratulations on getting to share something you and your wife love with your daughter! My dad is 70 and we still try to run races together! (sorta!)

  38. This looks AWESOME! She looked like she had so much fun! Glad it went well! Great Race report!

  39. Go, Madi! That was the best family race report I've ever read.

  40. Congrats to both of you! What a wonderful memory you made together. I love all the pictures.

  41. This was such a great post :) I ran a half-marathon with my dad a few years ago and it was such a wonderful experience. I loved reading about yours!


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