Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Route 66 Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
“The marathon can humble you.” — Bill Rodgers
Well, I’ve had enough humbling. And disappointment. This fall season has not been good to me. Following up on an incredibly disappointing performance at Chicago, I experienced my worst marathon time yet at Route 66. It’s more about the time goal; this was the first time I was feeling actual pain (and not your everyday terrible marathon-running discomfort) — where I could feel all my muscles just lock up and not move anymore. Knee buckling, stop-me-in-my-tracks, make-me-nauseous, searching-for-the-medical-tent pain. If this experience was a gauge of ever running a marathon again, I would say “absolutely not.” (I know that’s not true, but I WILL probably be taking a year or longer off of the distance). But without going into too many personally negative emotional tangents, I want to recap just what an awesome job the Route 66 Marathon race directors did down there in Tulsa.
Cost and Registration: As previously mentioned, I was an ambassador for the race with BibRave, and my registration was paid in full (including the VIP Mother Road package). Early registration when I signed up in April was $95; prices increased incrementally up to race week for the full marathon up to $120 (there are no race day/weekend registrations). I don’t believe there was an extra cost for the Center of the Universe detour, as it seems anyone could have taken the “detour” as you passed. There’s a weekend full of events for runners and spectators: a 5K, half marathon, marathon – even a Mascot Dash!
Race Communication: Route 66 Marathon had its own app, which honestly wasn’t the best from a user experience, but had full schedule of events for the expo and race notification updates, which I found helpful. I received several emails leading up to race day, including 3-4 the weekend of the race that were specific to start line, corrals, and other important race day information.
Expo and Packet Pick-up: I had an upgrade to the VIP Mother Load package, which gave me the benefit of “skipping the line” (or, a separate VIP pickup) for bibs. There wasn’t any line when I attended the expo, though it was a nice perk. The volunteer who handed me my packet told me that my wrist band was in my bag for the pre- and post-race VIP… and when I opened everything up that night, there was no VIP band. Unfortunately, I was unable to go back to the expo the next day, as I was in a professional development seminar the entirety of the expo open hours on Saturday. Had I paid for the upgrade, I definitely would have been more pissed and sought out remedy the situation. I love the race poster that I received and plan to frame it for my home gym.
That said, this expo was one of my favorites – a great mix of vendors (a lot of them new to me including PICKLE JUICE!!!); several race booths showing off their respective bling; and some interesting panels, including the race’s bloggers and social teams, and the ever-awesome Bart Yasso.
Start Line: Great organization, easy to figure out where I needed to go, AND CONFETTI CANNONS when each wave started. It felt really special.
Weather: The weather was positively beautiful! I wore shorts and a long-sleeve shirt through majority of the marathon.
Course and Elevation: **CURSES HILLS**
The course was exciting as it involved a lot of the surrounding neighborhoods, but the last stretch of the course was through a warehouse district and mostly-abandoned section of downtown, and… well, that is where some crowd support is sorely needed and missing.
Aid Stations: It was hard at times to distinguish which was an official aid station and which was a neighborhood-supported stop, there was so much support on this course (save for the last 4-6 miles). But about every 2 miles, there was the race volunteered-manned water and Gatorade tables – they alternated flavors throughout the race, which was fine by me, but I could see how others who are particular about flavor would dislike this (I still hate Grape very much). There was also a gel stops at least once along the course; I feel like there may have been two, but regardless, I was happy for strawberry-banana.
Fans and Experience: They weren’t lying when they call this race a marathon-sized party – the community REALLY comes out to celebrate. And there was beer. A LOT OF IT. And mimosas. And Jell-O shots. And Fireball. (And some partial nudity lol). I only wish that the course was flip-flopped, so that the runners could experience more of that “party” atmosphere at a later point in the race when the support is really needed (and, for me, personally, when the race was no longer going well for me). The crowd support definitely thinned out for the last 10k of the race.
Finish Line and After Party: Bart Yasso was calling out finisher names! We had a moment. haha
There was a shit-ton of pizza and beer (neither that I could have) and really nothing else (I don’t even remember seeing a banana), no Muscle Milk either (only water and more Gatorade, no). VIP Mother Load after-party – since there was no wrist band in my bag, I did not look for it. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling much of celebrating after the race, and barely had enough time to shower, pack up, and check out of the hotel by 3pm. Thankful for the late check-out though (Thanks, Hilton Double Tree!)
BTW: The Hilton Double Tree hotel is in a PERFECT location for the expo (connected to the hotel by a skywalk) and the start line; however, it was about a mile-and-a-half walk from the finish line, which OOOOOOOOOF. To be wholly fair to the race, there were hotel shuttles; however, I did not plan that out ahead of time.
Detour: I originally signed up to run the Center of the Universe detour, but I barely had 26.2 miles to give, let alone an extra quarter mile. But I saw some of the pictures of the event afterwards, and is was Christmas themed and I am bummed that I wasn’t having a better time.
Swag and Medals: THE BEST FINISHER JACKET EVER. It has zippered pockets. It’s cozy. I love the design and colors. Full swoon. The Goddess of Speed medal is also one the best that I have received (it spins!) and has a flat base, so it can sit on a shelf as a trophy, too. Route 66 took the awesome design and took it one step further by personalizing the metal finish of the medal for first-time marathoners, and special medal ribbons for Marathon Maniacs.
The Great: Really excellent race organization, communication, and volunteers. And I crossed off my 4th marathon state!
The Good: If drinking and running is your thing, BOY do I have the race for you!
The Bad: Hills. As trained as I was on our local trails, that barely prepared me for this course.
The Ugly: Pain. Injury. Self-doubt. Disappointment. Ugly crying. Yelling at your husband when it’s not his fault.
Ugh, looking at my splits just makes me more sad – I was basically on pace to have the race of my life:
1:00:44 (basically, my 10k PR time)
2:09:49 (a new half PR time for me)
At 20 miles, I was at 3:35:24
Hindsight, I can yell at myself to “SLOW DOWN!” but everything felt good for that first part of the race – and it felt EASY. I didn’t look at my watch until my left leg started to go numb around mile 12.
Overall place: 818
Division place (F40-44): 53