Today was the Tulsa Run, but not just the Tulsa Run. It was the 40th Tulsa Run. It’s a big race, hosting both a 5K and a 15K. I think I heard something like 2,400 people participated in the run. I like running the 15K. It’s a beautiful course, well supported, and challenging but not impossible. And 15K is a perfect distance. For me, at the end of a 10K (6.2 miles) I’m just settling in and getting ready to run, so a 15K (9.3 miles) is a great distance for me.
I was really looking forward to running it again this year, but an inflamed hip flexor nipped that in the bud. Not being able to run, especially having to sit out the Tulsa Run, has really put me in a funk. But I tried to tell myself I’m going to attend anyway and cheer on my friends. After all, I know what a difference spectator support can make.
So I woke up this morning feeling a bit apathetic anyway about attending a race I wasn’t going to be able to run, but I thought about all my friends and hundreds of other runners who would be running, maybe some of them setting out for a distance PR, a 15K PR, coming back from injury, or maybe, like me, just now finding a hidden runner within themselves. Running is about a shared experience, so I got myself up and out the door…
Into the first freezing temps of the year! This was me at the Tulsa Run last year:This was me at the Tulsa Run this year. You can’t tell, but I have running tights on under my pants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt under my fleece jacket, and 2 pairs of gloves on! Oklahoma weather is so unpredictable this time of year.The first part of the run goes by a park, so I planted myself there, just past the 3 mile marker and had a great view of the runners. It was actually kind of fun to see the super fast leaders of the race, and then look down the road and see the major pack of runners coming.I saw quite a few of my friends pass; then, because I was about to freeze, I decided to hop in my car, warm up for a bit, and camp out at the finish line to cheer my friends across.
At the Tulsa Run, runners have to run uphill to reach the finish line. This photo doesn’t really do the hill justice, but trust me. It’s a tough finish!So began my experience of being a spectator at a big race. And I think the experience only deepened my love of running and heightened my desire to get back to it.
I saw runners in shorts and tank tops, while I’m bundled up on the sidelines, and I remembered how quickly I could forget the cold on a run.
I saw runners in costume, running side by side, and I remembered how running is sometimes all about sharing something I love with others instead of competition.
I saw runners coming up the hill to the finish line, sweat lined faces pinched in concentration, and I remembered that burn in my legs and how the sound of the finish line pulled me forward, and so I cheered for my friends and random runners.
I saw runners who were stooped and grey, tall and slender, black and white. I saw wheelchair athletes and athletes running 5 minute miles. I saw people panting as they ran, others slowing to a walk. I saw the hard work of running 9.3 miles, and in all its diversity, it was a beautiful thing. And whether a participant walked, ran, or a little of both, finished in under 1 hour or finished in 3 hours, a gigantic medal awaited them at the finish line because they were a 15K finisher.
Talk to me:
What are your weekend plans?
Have you ever watched, or participated, in a running race?