Every so often, the stars align and deliver you a perfect set of circumstances to run your best race. So it was with the 2014 Tulsa Run, albeit I do find myself in the minority.
I do not like the cold, and I’m not talking about snow and ice cold. I’m talking about 58 degrees and overcast cold. In the same way Oklahoma punished me with a subzero marathon at last year’s Route 66, it gifted me a pleasant average of 70 degrees at this year’s Tulsa Run. No shivering, no sore joints, no crazy clothing…just running and sweating.
The race organizers also dramatically changed the route, shifting from a very flat run down Riverside to a route meandering through various parts of the Route 66 Marathon course. That meant hills…and lots of them. Hills tend to boost my confidence as it’s unusual for me not to close on other runners during the uphill sections.
The icing on the cake was the start time: 9:00 am. How often do you get to run a race as late as 9? Not only did it boost the temperatures into my comfortable range, it also allowed me to get a reasonable amount of sleep. I wake up 3 hours before I leave to run, and 5:00 am is so much nicer than 3:00 am. I would still rather run around noon, but I’ll take what I can get.
Since this was a 15k, a distance I’ve only ever run on the trails, I didn’t know exactly what to expect for pace. Looking at my recent 10k times, I decided 7:30 min/mile would be a great day and set out to stay ahead of the 1:10 pacer. I passed him within the first 2k and tried not to look back.
Unfortunately, I did have a fueling snafu. My own fluids were giving me reflux, and it’s tough to run with reflux. I decided not to drink anymore than absolutely necessary and just kept churning. Normally I drink about 16 oz. per 10k, but on this day, I found myself at 13k with about 12 oz. remaining.
I had been struggling during the final 5k, but heading into the last 2k, I got the chills. The lack of fluids caught up with me, and I had to decide between a potential ER trip and a walk break. I walked and consumed as much fluid as I could. It didn’t take long to feel good enough to run some more, and I knew my time would quickly get away from me if I kept walking.
When a large group caught me, I took off again at their pace. I was suffering, but I was moving. And Mr. Red Hat 1:10 Pacer was nowhere to be seen…or so I thought. I passed a few runners on the final hills, and turned to run the last 3 blocks down Boston with nothing left. There on my left rounding the corner at a significantly quicker pace was Mr. Red Hat. He was apparently in danger of missing 1:10 which meant I was also in danger.
I stepped on the gas as best I could, but he pulled away. I crossed the finish line at 1:10:15, a bit bummed out for missing my goal time slightly but still reasonably happy. What hadn’t occurred to me until I saw my results, though, was 1:10:15 was gun time, and Red Hat started far ahead of me.
I snuck in barely under 1:10 with a 1:09:45 for a 7:32 pace.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my first Tulsa Run. I’m looking forward to going back next year and very much hoping for just as many hills and even more heat.