Jack + Jill 26.2: Halfway Point Thoughts

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This past week marked halfway to the big shot at trying to get a BQ.  8 weeks under my feet, 8 more to go.  As I’ve been running this week, I’ve been reflecting on how I think it’s going and will continue to go until we get to Washington.   Generally, some days I feel like I’ve got a really good shot.  And other days I think there’s no way I can run that fast for that long.IMG_9477

Stuff That Makes Me Feel Confident:

  1. I haven’t missed a track workout.  I’m really proud of this!  Even on the cruise ship.  Even on days when I couldn’t do it in the mornings and I had to hit the treadmill or run in the heat of the afternoon.  I’m logging those fast paced miles and I know that it’s keeping me strong.
  2. Strong long runs.  Until recently, I’ve logged some relatively fast, not too painful long runs.  I try to keep those in mind as they’ve gotten harder in the past week or two.
  3. No major injuries.  Aside from falling down on a hike in Alaska and jamming up my back (fixed by Dr. B), I’ve had a relatively pain-free training cycle thus far.  This has never been the case in my past three rounds of marathoning.  I give credit to strength training, yoga, and regular chiropractic care.
  4. Race conditions.  It will be cooler.  It’ll be downhill.  I’ll have lots of people around me.  And it’ll be game day.

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Stuff That Makes Me Worry:

  1. I haven’t run long enough.  I wanted to have at least one or two 20 milers under my belt by now but the most I’ve done is 18 twice.  I’m glad that these runs don’t leave me too sore or tired the next day but I still want to hit that 20 mark.  Because there’s being conditioned for that long AND having to hit it at goal pace.
  2. I miss my running partner.   I’ve been logging some of these longer runs on my own because M has been battling her own injuries and our schedules just don’t match up well.  It makes getting those longer miles in super boring even with playlists and podcasts out the wazoo.
  3. It’s f*cking hot.  I did a 16 miler last weekend and was soaking wet hair to bra to shorts to shoes and it didn’t even rain.  I wish it would have rained – I would have been just as soaked but cooler.  It makes hitting the distances hard, and the paces harder.  And it’s only going to get worse.
  4. There’s only 7 weeks left.  That’s all.

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Yesterday, I tried to go out for a simple six miler.  One mile easy, 4 miles hard, one mile easy.  I quit at 2.5.  I’m not one to give up mid-training run but it was in the afternoon.  It was hot.  My legs were shaking and felt like I was running sub 7s but I was barely even in the low 8s.  I sat down on the west side of the Tulsa bridge and cried for a minute while I thought about what I was gonna do.  I decided that probably not enough rest, and not enough food (I really have a mental block with later in the day runs.  I don’t want to eat too much and get a cramp so I usually end up not eating enough) and the heat contributed to how I was feeling.  I threw in the towel because I really want tomorrow to go well.  I want to feel strong and rested when I hit the pavement at 5am.

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I’m feeling pretty discouraged.  And I have to come to terms with now the thought of what if we don’t get it?  This is classic Sprenkel.  I always like to think of the worst possible outcome to something, and how I’ll handle it.  So, I’ll keep lacing up and doing the best I can these next seven weeks with a huge emphasis on proper rest. Then come Sunday, July 30, I’ll give Jack and Jill my best shot. But if I don’t get that 3:30, I’m betting that I’ll hit a massive marathon PR in the process and have a breathtaking new state to cross off my list.

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Photos by Kayla Tandoc.

Oklahoma Country Runnin’!

Run 1: Set the Pace

I mentioned in my last post that I was ready to get back to it – starting with a 2 miler to help me gauge my pace for the training season.  I am here to report to you that I completed my mission yesterday evening, in a  light drizzle!  It took a lot of mental determination and energy to get out the door.  Once I was out though, it was just a quick mile up the road and back.  No big deal.

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Rain jacket – check. Sorry Miley, you can’t come.

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It was a rough run, glad to do it though!

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Final stats from my NikePlus App.

I’ll use that 2 mile time to set my target paces for specific workouts throughout the 8 weeks – it’s fun and tortuous all at once.

I posted the last picture on my Instagram account with the following caption: Rain can’t get me down anymore.  Today marks the first run of #8weeksto15 (I know I said a little while ago I’d be doing a race in 4 weeks from now but plans changed, life got hectic  and I pushed it back like a #bosslady).  I felt bad about it for a while and cycled into not running at all.  I felt like I had failed that 12 week plan.  But I coached myself up with the help of a friend and got out there again….

Something I’m  trying to learn (over and over again) as I become a more seasoned runner (going on almost ten years now!) is that I won’t always be a four times per week runner.  Hell May has hardly seen 4 in the entire month!  But it’s always there in the back of my mind, and I know I’ll come back to it…..

So here I am, the first run for #8weeksto15.  Have you guessed the state yet?  Drivable from OK!

The run was pretty straightforward – run one mile down the road and run back.  I like coming back into it with a run that I know I can do.  I was pleasantly surprised by my pace, I haven’t been that fast on an average since pre-meniscus!

Run 2: Country Run

Since I didn’t work at any of my jobs today, I took an old offer up from a friend to have a run in the country.  My friend Katherine who writes over here and I have been running together in the city for a few weeks now.  She’s invited me out to her neck of the woods a few times and with the time off today it was perfect!  I was extra enthused when I saw her Instagram post this morning of a baking session going down in her kitchen!

This was my first trip north on 169 to Owasso.  It’s not tough to get to, most places from Tulsa are just a twenty minute drive (except Muskogee which happens to range from 45-50 minutes depending on Broken Arrow traffic).  By the time I arrived, the sun was all the way out and the temperatures were in the 80s!  I opted for no hat in order to get some sun on my face.  She took me on her usual route, pointing out neighbors and barnyard animals as we went.  We had to turn around at one point because of a flooded creek!  We were aiming for four but decided to cut it at 2.2 when we looped past her house to grab her dog Stella for a walk (and because if I’m totally honest, I was struggling in the out-of-nowhere sun and heat).

Turn around, don't drown!

Turn around, don’t drown!

Made a pony friend!

Made a pony friend!

Once we got back home from the walk (and a swim in the river for Stella), we teamwork a delicious banana, blueberry and spinach smoothie and she pulled out the magical blueberry muffins.  The smoothie was a perfect post-run cool-down treat and her muffins were wonderfully delicious and made with healthy alternatives too!  Head on over to meet her and check out the recipe here: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins.

Blueberries two ways!

Blueberries two ways!

Yay for blogging friends!

Yay for blogging friends!

That’s all for this weekend y’all!  I hope you’ve had a relaxing day off with your families, taken some time for yourself and a moment to remember those who have served for us!

Roadside Attraction: Catoosa Blue Whale

It’s been a glorious fall day here.  I took Miley for a quick run around the neighborhood this morning after teaching a beginner’s yoga class at Foolish Things Coffee.  I’m staying inspired by my clients and nature today.  In just a few minutes, after this blog is posted, I’ll be on the road for the first time to Memphis from Tulsa.  I’m really looking forward to seeing some new parts of this region, visiting some sweet friends once I’m there and bringing home a fun toy for the studio 🙂 Stay tuned!

 

Last week, I ventured outside of Tulsa for a little Oklahoma field trip.  Other than the small town stops along my route from Austin to Tulsa, I haven’t been anywhere in Oklahoma except this town.  I went with my friend Ashley to see her husband’s band – The Fabulous Minx – play at The Blue Whale.  Ash suggested it earlier in the week and proposed a picnic and concert evening.  How could I turn it down?

Catoosa is less than an hour east of Tulsa and the drive wasn’t bad at all.  Of course, I was just enjoying their company and Spotify playlists from the back seat but still, it didn’t seem to drag on.  We arrived at the Blue Whale, right off the side of the Route 66 road and parked in the gravel parking lot.  There were some other attractions there like a tamale stand and arc sculpture that weren’t open for us to explore.  But the whale was!

Welcome to the Blue Whale!

Welcome to the Blue Whale!

Ashley and I played on the whale while the boys set up stuff for the show.  She told me the tale of the whale, which I will now tell you.  Ol’ Blue is the name of the iconic whale that was built as an anniversary gift from a man to his wife.  Hugh S. Davis was his name and he owned the land with the pond on it.  For years people and kids played in the pond, using it to cool off in the hot Oklahoma summers.

Hugh was a fan of nature, having worked at the Tulsa Zoo before retirement.  In 1970, Hugh enlisted the help of his friend Harold (a welder) to construct the whale.  It took them 2 years and Harold helped out free of charge (that Okie spirit, I’m tellin’ you!).  Once the whale was complete, people just came to it.  They wanted to jump off the tail (much as I did) and slide off the fins.  The Blue Whale was closed for a while after Hugh died but has been a restoration project ever since.  It was a great backdrop to the concert!  Before the show started kids played and fished on the whale.  There were turtles, fish and snakes in the water but no one swam.  Ryan said people don’t really swim in the pond anymore (I certainly couldn’t have been persuaded, it was pretty murky and stagnant).

After sitting a bit on the tail with Ashley, we carefully climbed down and started our picnic with the rest of the bandmates and their wives.  It was a delicious homemade salad (recipe soon!) and beer.  I loved getting to hear the Minx play for the first time.  The girls and I lounged on the blanket looking at the stars and observing with (not sure exactly) what kind of emotion the underage kids smoking and drinking while their friends’ band played.  Once the Minx came on, we were up and dancing around to their rockabilly sound.  It was a great trip outside town and I can’t wait to see the Minx again.

If you ever find yourself outside Tulsa to the east, swing by Ol’ Blue for a free place to picnic and some funky history.

Whale tails

Whale tails

Time for Memphis!!

Becoming a Documented Okie

This post has very little to do with health and fitness and the most to do with getting that grown-up to-do list taken care of.  Last week marked my one month milestone in my new city of Tulsa and I figured it was time to make the leap to the proper documentation for me and my car.

I went ahead and did all the leg work and research and will now tell you of the relatively painless Oklahoma DOT policies for getting a driver’s license and tags if you’re new to the state.  (Note: If you’re an OK resident already, I have no idea what the policies for renewal are yet.  This only applies for recent transfers into the state).

WHAT YOU NEED (what I had to show)

– OK License: Primary ID (birth certificate or passport) and Secondary ID (old state’s license/student/military ID), official paper you’ll receive from the Driver’s Branch

– Tags: OK license, previous registration, OK car insurance proof

 

Driver’s License.

Do this first.  You’ll need the license to get you tags.  You will have to make two stops before you’ll have the license in your hand.  I know, annoying.  But, if you plan it right it’s pretty ok.  And your driver’s license stop can also be your license plate stop.

So first, you will go to 3190 W. 21st Street S.  It’s on the West side of the river and less than ten minutes from downtown.  They open at 7 AM.  I figured if I got there a little before 7, I would be the first.  Not true.  There was a line already formed at about ten til 7 when I arrived.  It wasn’t too long, but it was the first of our wintry-ish mornings, drizzly and chilly.  I stood in line and chatted with the women close to me – some testing for bus licenses and others renewing.

They open the doors promptly at 7 and let you in.  Standard BMV procedure is next – take a number.  Get the number first, then grab the sheet to fill out with all your personal info.  You will need to have one primary ID (other than your previous state’s license) like a birth certificate or passport, and a secondary ID like my Indiana license or a school/military ID.

I waited less than 30 minutes before being called up.  I did not have to show any proof of current residency in Oklahoma (I had my mortgage bill just in case), nor did I have to say when I moved to town.  They asked the standard questions – am I a felon, can I see, do I have seizures – you know, to make sure I’m a safe driver.  I also re-took the eye exam and handed over my Indiana identification (for the first time ever!).  I didn’t pay anything at this location but when we finished, received an official stamped piece of paper to take to the tag agency.

Tag Agency

Conveniently there’s a tag agency located right next door to the License Branch.  Inconveniently it opens an hour and a half after the License Branch.  Since I was through my process so quickly, I decided to go to the downtown tag location.

Located at 5th and Denver, the downtown tag agency has free parking and took care of both my license and plates.  They open at 9 am during the week and aren’t open on the weekend.  I handed over the sheet from my morning stop, signed a few more things, asked to be an organ donor and sat for my photo.  The total for this was around $35 (I’ll put more specific fees when I look them up later).

Okie Official

Okie Official

While the license was printing, I moved to a different counter to work on my plates.  I needed to show my current registration (from IN) and proof of OK car insurance, and then when it was available I presented my license.  They provided me a form to fill out to transfer my title to OK and will be in touch once that’s completed (I didn’t have my title with me).  This fee was around $130 (again, will update when I have specific amounts).

The kind lady working that morning came out with me to inspect my car – wrote down the serial number and asked for my odometer reading.  And that was that!  Now I’m officially an OKIE!

OK Plates

OK Plates

I hope this helps anyone else facing this daunting task.  It was actually quite painless and a little bit pleasant.  Those friendly Okies 🙂

Tulsa: One Month Later

As I was running on the river last night, I realized it was the evening bookending my first complete month in Tulsa.  I had a great second half of a 9 miler around the lake river (the Austinite in me still refers to rivers as lakes!).  I was watching the sun set and remembered one of my very first nights here I did the same thing.  And then realized I had been in this new place exactly one month.

It’s funny to me, because both Austin and Memphis took a little while to feel like home.  Not Tulsa.  Maybe I just got lucky with the friends I’ve made, or maybe it’s just the Oklahomans and their kindness.  I’m not sure, but I like it.  People have been asking me how I’m doing and how I’m liking Tulsa and what it’s like – I was thinking about all of this on my run last night, trying to come up with an appropriate way to present it to you.  Then I remembered the blog post of another girl, also new to Oklahoma, who I haven’t met yet but we’ve connected virtually over this similar life transition (and plan to meet soon!), who described it via her senses.

And now I will do the same.

Tulsa tastes like….

….fresh vegetables.  From the garden.  Or from the farmer’s market.  There’s a lot of Oklavore cooking going on here.

….my morning latte.  Part of my morning routine is stopping by Foolish Things Coffee Company.  I do event planning for them part time, and am also working on a business fitness plan for their employees.  Plus, completely unbiased, I just think they’re the best 😉

….Andolini’s pizza.  I’ve found my favorite pizza place here and this is probably the restaurant I’ve visited the most so far.  If you come visit, we will go!

Tulsa sounds like….

….the laughter of my new friends at work.  I can hear them laughing in the kitchen when I’m doing laptop work at the cafe.  Or around the dinner table.  Or during workouts when things are about to get really hard.

….the Divergent soundtrack.  Because well, let’s be honest, that’s what’s fueling my runs right now.

….quiet.  Even in the midst of downtown, there’s this peaceful quietness to Tulsa.  It gives your soul some space and peace.

….hushed conversations for making this place better.  I overhear a lot of chatter at Foolish Things – from One Million Cups meetings to other business owners coming together to make plans for supporting the city, people here care about their town and making it better.  I can’t wait to be part of that.

Tulsa looks like….

….progress.  There’s a lot of construction here.  Not anything like Austin, which is a beautiful thing but you can feel the preparations for growth and improvements.  It’s energizing.

….a backdrop to Gatsby’s era.  There are parts of downtown that if you catch correctly, give you just a view of buildings with the deco style architecture.  It’s beautiful.

….big, puffy clouds.  More than any place I’ve lived so far, I’m noticing the sky.  Clouds do funny things here.  They’re fluffy and make shapes more so than I’ve noticed before.  And when the sun is close to the horizon, the clouds light up in magnificent colors, giving that Texas sky a run for it’s money.

Tulsa smells like….

….dirt.  There’s nothing like my weekend treks on Turkey Mountain with Miley.  You smell dirt and dust on the trail, and on her for days to come after.

.fresh pastries at Foolish Things Coffee Company.  On my days in the kitchen, and even just at the bar tables on my laptop, the smell of sugar and butter and dough wafts through the coffee house.  I’m just glad that I like to run 😉

….sweat.  Yes.  But, that’s my job, and I’m so thankful to have sweaty clients!

Tulsa feels like….

….the last few rays of sun on a river run.  That moment right when the warmth of the sun changes to the feeling of shade.  Always welcome on the hot run days.  In the winter it will be the soaking up of the warmth instead of the welcome anticipation of the shadow.

….Texas.  The heat and humidity are close in comparison.  I know we’ll get winter before Austin does but until then I feel well prepped for the climate here.

….bugs in your face if you mistime your river run.  (Just bein’ honest.  But Austin had the same problem).

….helpfulness.  Everyone I’ve met, from my neighbor Wayne to my newest clients is interested in bartering or helping a girl get settled.  I’ve had fresh veggies, car washes, website development and training space offered to me.

.big hugs from old and new friends alike.  People are so welcoming, friendly and loving here.  And they give great hugs.

….home.  It does.  And one day soon I’ll be able to call it that (as soon as I can let go of the Grizzlies…).

 

Meet Me Under the Oklahoma Sky

Dear Tulsans,

Last fall I came to your town to run in the Route 66 Half Marathon.  For me then, it was a chance to visit my friends Katie and Justin again, to see their now-open coffee shop Foolish Things Coffee Company and to check another state off my list.  In the three days I was there, something unexpected happened.

I felt it even before I arrived in your lovely city, somewhere between Atoka and the toll booths of the Indian Nation Turnpike.  The sun was setting over the breathtaking plains and it made possibilities for the future seem endless.  I’ve always been a go-with-my-gut kind of girl, often leaping into things without much thought.  Like when I chose Rhodes College over Wake Forest because Walkin’ in Memphis was the first song I heard on decision day.  Whatever feeling I had driving in, I announced it as soon as I walked in the door at Katie and Justin’s – “I think I might like to move here.”

Endless Possibilities

The events of that weekend – a wonderful race (albeit a cold 25 degrees), the first run where I’ve actually met people that I still keep in touch with, spending time at Foolish Things and talking to Tulsans about the town only solidified the feeling in my stomach. I love your small town city feel, the energy bursting out of the young entrepreneurs trying to get people excited about living in Tulsa, your riverfront and your friendliness.  There’s an energy in your city and I felt it.  I want to be a part of the growth, part of making Tulsa the best it can be.  And I love that I felt you want that same thing.

Mile 9. The cold riverfront.

A sucker for rivers…

So, in eleven short weeks I will leave Austin in its dust, bringing with me the knowledge and experience I have gained here (of which there is much! Austin, I thank you for the rich growth I’ve experienced in my two years) and the heart for running and coaching I grew in Memphis.  I’ll start by hosting a running group – The Runnin’ Fools – out of Foolish Things Coffee Company.  We will train for the race that brought me to Tulsa in the first place, the Route 66 Half Marathon.   Join us for a FREE group run and meet the Coach (me!) session afterwards at Foolish Things.  Saturday, June 7 at 7 am.

Coffee and running: The perfect morning pair.

I am excited to continue in the spirit of Foolish Things’ ambition to create a community in the downtown neighborhood by creating an outlet for it through running.  Training for a common goal is a powerful way to bring people together and I hope you’ll join us for the miles ahead.  I’ll leave one of my favorite runs below for you to try while you wait for me:

The 30-20-10 (Great for 5k speed training/pretending you’re Katniss running through the arena)

  • Warm up jog for 10-20 minutes
  • The set: 30 seconds of jogging, 20 seconds of running, 10 seconds of sprinting.  Do this 5 times (that’s one set).
  • Complete 3-5 sets resting (walk or jog) for two minutes between sets.
  • Cool down for 10 minutes

I’m looking forward to this next chapter with you Tulsans, and I hope you’re ready for an energetic option in the fitness sector, straight from the capital of fitness, Austin.  See you in June!

Happy trails,

Coach Sprenk

State 11: Oklahoma

A few months ago, I headed north to Tulsa, Oklahoma to participate in the Williams Route 66 Half Marathon.  I’d been to Tulsa only once before, on my roadtrip moving from Zionsville to Austin in August 2012.  My childhood friend Katie and her husband Justin graciously agreed to host me for the weekend, and that’s only the beginning of the Oklahoma hospitality.  Read on….

Saturday

I left Austin for Tulsa on Saturday morning after running with the ladies I’m coaching for the 3M half marathon (now in less than 2 weeks!).  The weather in Austin had turned suddenly and uncharacteristically cold, we’re talking low 20s, so I anticipated even worse in Tulsa.  I bundled up for the drive, gave little rascal Miley a hug and kiss (my first time ever leaving her!) and hopped in the car.

Bye little rascal – Be good!

The drive was fairly uneventful.  Austin to Waco to Dallas to the state line through nothing and nothing and nothing and then hello Tulsa!  The Oklahoma hospitality greeted me as soon as I crossed the state line.  There’s a toll road just on the other side of the Texas/Oklahoma border and I was in no way prepared for their style.  In Texas they just take a picture of your plates and mail you the bill but in Oklahoma they wanted exact change…..I was $1.40 short.  The sun had already set and temperatures were dropping.  I explained to the booth attendant that I was driving to visit a friend for the weekend and would come back through on Monday.  Then, this kind lady paid the rest of my toll for me!  She simply said, “Can I trust you?”  Yes of course!  She handed me a tiny manila envelope with her name on it and the final amount due, instructing me to drop it off on my way back out of the state.  With that she said good night and waved me through!

Oklahoma, I think you and my unprepared self will get along just fine!

Wide Open Oklahoma Spaces.

453 miles, one friendly toll booth attendant and 7 hours later, I found Katie’s house.  She and Justin came out in the freezing weather to greet me and carry my lightly packed bag inside.  I hadn’t seen their new house yet so after first being greeted by their two fur babies, I was given the full tour (proud to be the first to sleep in their guest room!).  Katie and I caught up on marriage (hers), breakups (mine), dogs (ours) and future plans (she with a new business, me finishing school and thinking of where to move next) over homemade pizza and wine before I snuggled in to the warmth of bed.

Typical pre-race fuel and excellent company!

Zionsville in Tulsa!

Sunday

I woke up rested on Sunday and checked my phone for the temperature.  I’m not one to wuss out on races because of weather but when 25 registered in my mind, I certainly thought about it.  The skies were clear though, so I bundled up the best I could and mentally prepped for 2 hours in the cold.

Y’all this is a problem #toocold #wuss

Katie and Justin’s cafe, Foolish Things Coffee, was just blocks from the start so we planned to head there so they could open for a few hours during the first part of the race.  Justin fixed me up a cup of their gourmet drip coffee while Katie scooped up some homemade granola for me.  I stayed in the warmth as long as I possibly could (7:59am) and then left them to find the start line.

An Oklahoma sunrise and a Foolish Things breakfast.

Ready to go – State 11!

Y’all, it was cold.  I had on a long sleeve Under Armour tight-as-hell insulating shirt and a fleece zip up over that.  My ears were covered by a Bondi Band and had gloves on both hands.  I could feel the burn on my face and the tiny patch of skin between my mid-calves and ankles, but otherwise was pretty comfortable as long as I was moving.  Talk about motivation to run….

I’m not the only crazy one!

There were plenty of other crazies at the start with me (see proof above) and we all commiserated over the temperatures.  A pair of boys next to me were saying they would be spending 4+ hours trying to complete the full…I’m so glad I gave that distance up!  2 hours sounds like plenty of time in the sub-freezing temps.  Thankyouverymuch.

My beloved Saucony Mirages – their third race! (Austin Marathon, Louisville Half, Tulsa Half)

Mile 1 – We started off with a confetti shower and headed away from the skyline into the residential hills.  I started thinking about my goal for the race – Katie and Justin joked I’d better PR for the sake of promoting their “Breakfast of Champions” but I knew that was out of the question.  I hadn’t been consistently training and honestly didn’t anticipate finishing without walking a bit.  I was going to enjoy my music, enjoy the crowd’s energy and enjoy texting and Instagramming through the miles.  Easiest goal ever 🙂

Mile 2 – Not long after the first mile mark and about halfway up our first significant hill, the two boys from the start line found me.  It was typical race conversation, opened up with a complaint about the hills.  I retorted with something about it being hilly in Austin and so it didn’t seem so bad, although the hills were comparable!

Mile 3 – I paused to take a picture and told the boys to continue on, that I could try to catch up.  Without expecting to, I did (I think they slowed to wait for me 😉 ) and we continued chatting about race histories (the one with the darker beard was trying to do a marathon in every state, the other one was running his first marathon).  I told stories of my first marathon and we kept moving.

Mile 4 and 5 – We’re deep into some historic neighborhoods now.  Beautiful homes, rolling hills and bright autumn colors.  Dad’s texting me, I’m impressing the boys with my ability to take pictures, post to Instagram and text while maintaining their pace.  Their pace, which they keep commenting needs to slow down if they’re gonna make it the full distance.

Mile 6-9 – I’m distracted by my company and fail to take pictures by the mile like I normally do but our conversation is interesting and we’re still trudging along at a sub 2-hour pace.  I learn the relationship of the boys – dark beard is a math teacher from Moore and light beard was his student last year.  Light beard is now in college studying something complex like engineering.  Dark beard knows the route well and warns me of the hardest strip along the river coming up.

Mile 10-12 – We’re finally along the river, a scene that feels happily familiar to me thanks to years of running along the mighty Mississippi.  The drawback is that it’s colder on the river, and I’m chilled deep to my bones.  I remember the Kings of Leon were on, and it’s getting harder for me to text because my fingers won’t move how they’re supposed to.  I’m still trying to stop to take pictures.  Our conversation is a little less but I still offer words of encouragement – those poor souls have a long way to go.

Before we separate,  I make them take a picture with me.  I’ve run several dozen races and have never made friends.  I’m always open to it, how great to be in a new place and make a connection with someone who loves what you love?  It had just never happened until today.  We exchanged information so I could continue to text them encouragement on their last leg of the race.  And I finally learned their names – dark beard, the math teacher is Ryan and his student is Zander (short for Alexander).  I promised to finish under 2 hours for them.

And I do.  I push hard the last mile to make it but I still felt strong – something about the cold weather or good company or a fast song.  State 11 done!

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The boys end up finishing the full – Zander the first-timer leaves his teacher in the dust but Ryan sucks it up and gets it done.  And I’m still so grateful I stick to halves.

I reunite with Katie at the Cafe and am served a specialty mocha by Justin.  It takes that, a few hours and a warm bath for me to completely thaw out before hitting the town for Christmas shopping and margaritas!

I leave Tulsa on Monday with it on my mind for a final settling place for me, inspired by the Carpenters’ success at each of their entrepreneurial ventures, a little chilly, pleased with my new friends and tentative plans to reunite for a race this spring.  And I leave $1.40 plus some interest at the toll booth on the way out of town.

Thanks Oklahoma!