April 28, 2008

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

Bill Rodgers and myself

What a incredible event! That is the only way to describe the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon! This years event was the eighth annual and I've been fortunate to have been invited to Oklahoma City for the past seven years. To watch this race grow from a fairly small event to the thousands of runners it now attracts is a tribute to the outstanding job that Chet, Thomas, Jeff, Mark, and the hundreds of other volunteers do!

My good friend and running legend Bill Rodgers is also there every year and its always so fun to see Bill! My wife Jill and I arrived on Thursday evening and we were picked up by Kevin Hayes from Federal Express. He was so kind as to take us over to the Federal Express terminal and give us a tour of one of their big cargo planes, it's unbelievable how big they are and how quickly they are able to load and unload the planes!

It was a early morning alarm Friday as I had to be at the OKC NBC TV station for an interview on their morning show. After that it was back to the hotel where I met my good friend Mark Bravo for a run. Mark and I have made it a tradition to run together one day while I'm in town to catch up on things. Mark underwent hip surgery but is making a marvoulous recovery!

After our run is was time for breakfast then I spent most of the rest of the day with Bill at the booth at the expo talking to folks, having pictures taken, signing bibs and posters, and selling and signing my book, Staying the Course, A Runner's Toughest Race and C.D.s

Friday afternoon, Bill and I did a question and answer session at the expo which is always lots of fun! Friday evening we were all invited to the VIP dinner, lots of good food!

Saturday morning they have a run for folks that want to run with Bill and I, we had over 100 people show up for a nice easy 4 miler, most folks were getting ready to run the race the next morning, myself included! After breakfast it was back to the expo for a radio interview, hanging out in the booth, and then I gave my talk at 3pm, it went well!

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon really has a special pasta dinner the night before the race! It's held at the Oklahoma City Memorial. When you look out onto the sacred grounds and see the 168 empty chairs of the 168 people that died in the bombing back in 1995, it really helps you reflect on just how precious life really is! To see the "tree" that survived the bombing, is unreal, I choke up every time I see it! Bill and I said a few words, had questions from the crowd, and ate lots of pasta!

Sunday dawned windy, cool, and a little wet! No worries about overheating this year! I woke up not feeling the best, felt like I was coming down with the flu. I warmed up and once the starting gun was fired, I could tell by the first mile something was wrong! I had planned to run the full marathon, but by two miles I opted for the half and ran easy to the finish.

For those of you looking for a great late spring marathon, you need to check this race out! Beside the wonderful event they put on for all of us runners, they also have given hundreds of thousands of dollars over the year to the Memorial! Thanks OKC for the wonderful time Jill and I had!

Keep up the GREAT work!

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