Route 66 Marathon’s Half Marathon Recap: Reborn on the Mother Road

The Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa (official name: Route 66 Marathon’s Half Marathon) was my tenth half marathon, and I believe that, by running it, I’ve completely put the scared girl/woman I was behind me. This race recap will be more emotional than most of the ones I’ve written, so bear with me. This PR and this medal doesn’t just belong to me; it belongs to my husband and children for believing in me and supporting me, and to my coach and my CrossFit family for pushing me.

Why I Chose the Route 66 Marathon’s Half Marathon

In January, when I went to the Houston Marathon Expo, I won a free entry into the Route 66 Marathon or Half Marathon. Since I have no plans to run a full marathon in the foreseeable future, I signed up for the Route 66 Half Marathon (and the 5K the day before, because why not?). I loved the idea of running on Route 66; I’ve been fascinated with it for years, and when my husband and I drove from Massachusetts to Los Angeles, we drove on a spur of Route 66 in Arizona. My father and his family drove to Los Angeles from the East Coast by taking Route 66. I grew up where it ends in California. One of my happiest memories is driving to the Route 66 museum in Barstow with my father. Route 66 is a part of me.

Originally, I wanted to run the half marathon with a friend. But as it got closer, I realized that I was fine traveling to Tulsa alone. I travel for work all the time by myself. It was time to travel for fun by myself.
I get a little emotional in my Route 66 Half Marathon recap. I set a PR and realized I'm a completely different person than the scared girl/woman I was years ago.

Friday: The Route 66 Half Marathon/Marathon Expo

flew into Tulsa on Friday to pick up my bibs for the half marathon and 5K, as well as check out the expo. It was much smaller than Houston, but there were still some good vendors. I did try to win a free pair of shoes from Brooks (didn’t happen) and bought a Bondi band because those headbands are great for holding back my hair. Then, I walked around Tulsa’s Deco District, stopping at the Art Deco Museum in the Philcade building. Tulsa is a really fun town: lots of funky shops and cool coffeehouses.

Saturday: The Route 66 5K

Let’s face it, I wasn’t going to race the 5K. I had flown to Tulsa for a half marathon PR, so I used the 5K as my shakeout jog. The race started in Guthrie Green, and I took a picture of the mural of Woody Guthrie on the side of the Guthrie Center. It was windy and chilly, and I was glad I had worn a long sleeve tech tee and capris. I lined up with the 10:19/mile pacer and chatted with her as we wound through Tulsa. After about two miles, I said goodbye to my new friend Katherine and walked the rest of the way, taking selfies and pictures and just having fun. I trotted the last tenth of a mile and picked up my cool finisher’s medal. It was too windy to stick around, so I went back to my hotel to shower, then find a chicken burrito (El Guapo’s wet burrito fit the bill) and relax. I ended up seeing A Bad Mom’s Christmas, which at best is a pale imitation of the original Bad Moms movie. Don’t see it. I also stopped at Wal-Mart for a $10 puffer coat to wear at the start line and donate to charity, as well as a throwaway beanie, and I stopped at Shades of Brown for a latte and to read more of “A Clash of Kings.” I ate pad thai at Yokozuna in the Blue Dome District and chatted with a pleasant shopkeeper.

Sunday: The Route 66 Half Marathon

It’s Sunday morning! I was so nervous. I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, dressed, and gathered my bag to be gear-checked. I had packed my new Route 66 Marathon jacket in there to wear after the race, as well as Advil, my cold wrap, and snacks. I tucked a cardholder into my FlipBelt with my ID, insurance card, credit card, and hotel room key. I wore:

  • CW-X Compression Capris. I ended up with chafing, but the support they gave me was worth it.
  • An Athleta Double Dare bra. Again, support.
  • My “If Girls Ran the World” tech tee. On the back, it says “Anything is possible.” It was a good message for someone chasing a PR.
  • Arm huggies.
  • My Garmin watch, my Fitbit, my RoadID, and a Momentum Jewelry bracelet that says “Enjoy the journey.”
  • Thorlo socks. I credit them for keeping my feet relatively pretty.
  • Brooks Glycerin 14s.
  • The aforementioned Wal-Mart jacket, throwaway beanie, and a pair of throwaway gloves I had gotten at the expo.

I was staying at the Aloft downtown (stay there! The Aloft is awesome!), so the start line was a short walk away. I strolled over there with a couple of ladies from Bentonville, Arkansas, and we parted ways when I headed for gear check. The Route 66 Marathon volunteers were extremely efficient; they had my bag tagged and in the U-Haul to be delivered to the finish in minutes. I ate my banana, drank my pre-workout, went to the porta-potty – all that good pre-race stuff, made even more fun by the 39-degree weather. I warmed up and lined up in the A Corral, somewhere between the 1:50 and 1:55 pacers. About three minutes before the gun, I took off my puffer jacket and hung it on the chain link fence. I hope some tween girl loves it.

The Route 66 Half Marathon Course

And then we were off! It took about 30 seconds to get to the actual start line and start running. I immediately got LL Cool J (“Mama Said Knock You Out”) pumping through my skull. And then I ran. The first few miles went by fast; spectators cheered and held signs, and some offered beer and Jell-O shots. (Spoiler alert: I did not stop at any unofficial water stations.) Bands also played along the course, so we had plenty of entertainment.

Tulsa has a lot more hills than I thought, so the first half of the Route 66 Half Marathon was spent on gently rolling hills. My legs weren’t thrilled with that, and by the 10K mark, my hamstrings started to protest. Fortunately, the course went downhill enough so that I could make up a little of the uphill time, and there were also enough flat spots to gain speed. Up, down, up, down. I fueled every 30 minutes with Vanilla Orange Roctane GU and sipped my from my water bottle, and I also made sure to have some of the water at the water stops. We ran down Peoria past a cycling studio, and they had dragged spin bikes out and were giving us high fives.

I had tears in my eyes when we ran past Cyrus Avery Plaza. Cyrus Avery was the Tulsa businessman who devised Route 66, and passing under the Route 66 sign and seeing the bronze statues was a little emotional for me. (There’s more to the story of why I love Route 66 so much, but I’ll leave it alone for now because I’m already a big mushball.)

All along the course, fall leaves still bloomed on the trees. Running through one neighborhood reminded me of my old neighborhood in New England, the older houses and the leaves stirring on the asphalt. At some point, as I’m running, I realized how far I’ve come. I used to be terrified to travel alone, even for work. I would never have thought I could run a half marathon, let alone ten. My childhood was spent being told what I couldn’t do, and I let that carry too far forward into my adult life. The day that my husband suggested I freelance for a living, back in 2010, was the day that everything started to change. It was the day I started really peeling off the cocoon of who I used to be and let her go. I feel like I finally said goodbye to the scared girl/woman I was, the one that sat at a desk letting attorneys treat her like subhuman scum, the one who didn’t believe in herself, the one who was willing to settle for a mediocre job and a mediocre life. Traveling to Tulsa and running the Route 66 Half Marathon really made me realize that I am a different person from the one who left California in 1996.

But what really made me cry? Crybaby Hill. The name is a perfect description. We hit it after Mile 11, when my legs were already so tired from Tulsa’s rolling hills. I ran my slowest mile chugging up Crybaby Hill, an 8:54 mile that had my hamstrings, hips, and quads swearing and straining. I couldn’t recover from that. I just kept going, one foot in front of the other. I knew the finish line wasn’t far away, and at some point, I hollered to a volunteer, “Please tell me there aren’t any more hills!”

As soon as my watch beeped at me to tell me I had run 13 miles, I booked it as best as I could. According to my Garmin, I ran at a 7:51 pace for that two-tenths of a mile (I had picked up an extra tenth, which is normal).

I crossed the finish line of the Route 66 Half Marathon in 1:51:29, a 14-second PR from the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon. I have been chasing that PR for over two years.

Afterward, I met up with Felicia, a buddy I had met at the My Mommy Is Stronger Than Your Mommy competition, and her husband Doug. I ate pizza, stretched, and went to the physical therapy tent. And I did a short workout later in the afternoon, although Tuesday morning, my hamstrings were still sore.

The Route 66 Marathon committee did a great job with the course: plenty of hydration stations, great entertainment, and excellent medals. I would do this one again in a heartbeat. Also, thank you to the committee, the volunteers, and the police officers for such a fantastic experience.


6 thoughts on “Route 66 Marathon’s Half Marathon Recap: Reborn on the Mother Road

  1. I love that you had a great race! That one sounds fun! It’s great that you actually have history with Route 66 that you could celebrate, too. ? I get all teary through the MCM. That one is just so important to me.

  2. When I ran the Little Rock half marathon earlier this year I stopped at the Route 66 booth and really considered running that race! I decided not to this year due to finances but hopefully another time!

  3. Congrats on battling it to the end and getting that PR! I’d love to do this race, for the experience. The hills, not so much…

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