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Get Your Kicks on Route 66!

Disclaimer: I received a registration for the Route 66 Half Marathon and 5k 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!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to get in one last race travel weekend for the year, while at the same time hanging out with some of my amazing Skirt Sport Ambassador sisters!  We all headed out last Friday from all different corners of the country with the same destination! We all traveled to Tulsa Oklahoma for the Route 66 Marathon weekend! 
This is a race that I had looked at several times over the last few years and knew that it was one that I really wanted to do. So when then opportunity to run it with BibRave AND meet several of the other Skirt Sport Ambassadors that I have been friends with online for years, I knew it was meant to be!

My first stop on the way there was a layover in Denver where I caught up with fellow BibRave Pro Emily at her gate while she was making her connection on a different airline.

Emily and I in Denver en-route to Tulsa

After chatting with Emily for a bit, it was off to my gate to meet up with Kim and officially kick off this weekend!  I was excited because this was the first time I was meeting Kim and just by chance, we both were on the same connecting flight from Denver!

Once we landed in Tulsa, we quickly found Mary, gathered up our luggage and were on our way to fun! After a short Uber ride to our hotel we realized we were in for a treat this weekend.  We were all laughing and having fun when we checked in and the gentleman working the front desk made Kim’s day when he asked “How y’all doing this afternoon?”  She was too excited to get her first y’all!  (Yeah, she’s from the pacific northwest and doesn’t get “down south” very often).  We were having so much fun with him that he decided to upgrade out room!  Instead of being on the second floor, he was setting us up on the top floor!  When we headed up to our “penthouse” suite, it wasn’t until we walked in the door that we realized it was more that just a top floor room… it was a top floor CORNER room!

Our Room with a View!

We dropped off our gear, grabbed a quick snack at Starbucks and headed to the expo and packet pickup!  Arriving around 3:30 Friday afternoon must have been the sweet spot!  We didn’t have to wait to get out half marathon packets and it was only a short line for the 5k goodies!

I will be honest, I was not sure how big of an expo I was expecting, but for as popular as this race it, the expo was definitely not as crowded as I thought it would be for Friday afternoon.  We spend the next few hours checking out the booths, learning about other races that we might have to put on the list and running into friends.  One friend of mine suggested we may want to head over to pick up our jackets before too long.  Apparently the sizing was off and A LOT of people were sizing up, which meant they were running out of some of the bigger sizes.

OMG!  She was so right!  I ended up going up 2 sizes for my jacket!!  I will admit, it was a little disappointing.  Maybe it was just me, but the quality of the jackets this year didn’t seem like it was quite as good as what I had seen in the past… but maybe it’s just me.  I still like the jacket and will wear it proudly.  I am just glad that I was able to get a jacket that fits!  Now, the hoodie for the 5k – that ROCKS!  it’s lightweight and super soft!  I have a feeling that I will be living in that this winter, now that the cold has settled in Wisconsin!

My and my 5k Hoodie at the Center of the Universe

At the expo, I also FINALLY had a chance to meet my friend Sandy!  We have also been friends online for the last 3 years (She’s been an ambassador since the beginning of time so it’s always fun to meet one of the “originals”).  We all had a laugh when we realized that 3 out of the 4 of us purchased the same blue pullover at at the Logo booth (I was the oddball that didn’t get one)

When they all buy the same shirt…

Friday night’s dinner found us at a local Mexican restaurant recommended to us by one of the volunteers working at the expo.  Elote did NOT disappoint!  They are known for area-sourced ingredients, organic meats, many tequilas & environmentally friendly practices  I had one of the BEST veggie burrito I think I have ever had! We all ordered something different and were very happy with our choices!

Veggie burrito with refried black beans and seasoned roasted sweet potato!

Saturday morning meant 5k time!  We grabbed a shuttle from the hotel to the start line with several other ladies that were in the lobby. The 5k start and finish is at Gutherie Green (this is also the finish line for the half and full marathons on Sunday).  Yes, I know the hotel was only about .8 miles from the start/finish line of the race, but since 2 of the ladies I was were coming off injuries and knew that they were going to need everything for Sunday, we didn’t want to add any more miles than we had to!

My goals for this weekends race was simple.  To do what felt good, giving it what I could and above all, having fun.  As we approached the start line, we grabbed a few quick hello’s with other Half Fanatics and Fifty Staters that were running,  made plan on where to meet up after the race and headed off to run our races.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t do any research on the courses for any of this weekends races.  From talking to other people, I knew that there were some hills and I’m ok with that.  What I wasn’t expecting was the hill in the 1st mile of the 5k!  It was a bridge over one of the highways and I honestly felt like I was running UP an roller coaster!

I started out feeling good and made a decision to see what I could do!  I pushed up that hill, and never looked back. Instead of getting caught up on the course and the people, I put my headphones on, cranked the jams and just ran!  I had every intention of taking some pictures along the course, but that never happened!  I was focused on the miles in front of me.

Since the weather was a little cooler than anticipated, I added a light hoodie over my tank top and arm sleeve.  This really came into play in the second half of the race.  Although the temps were not as cold during the race, the wind gusts that popped up from time to time made it cooler and cut right through the 2 layers on my arms!

The last mile of the race included another up and over a different bridge before heading to the finish line.   I started playing leap frog with an older gentleman and when we turned that last corner, I was passing him again.  I looked over and him and said “Let’s go!  Time to finis this thing!”  We crossed the finish line within feet of each other.  This 5k ended up being my fastest 5k in several years.  Keep in mind, this was also the 1st 5k that I had run since Thanksgiving of last year!

Fellow BibRave Pro Emily and I after the 5k

Post race at Route 66 is always a party!  As I was waiting for Kim and Mary to finish, I grabbed a free beer from the local brewery Nine Band that was serving up 4 different options!  I normally am not a beer drinker, but I do enjoy trying a good local brew from time to time.  Today was one of those days!  I grabbed a second beer and celebrated with the ladies!  That beer hit the spot!

My friend Pam who lives in the area came to meet up with us after the 5k and join us for lunch.  We met up with the rest of the Skirt Sports Ambassador crew that was in town for the race at the Dilly Diner – another local hot spot that came highly recommended.  This was the first time that I was meeting several of the other ladies too, so it was awesome to finally meet those online faces!

On our way back to the hotel from lunch, Pam took us to the Center of the Universe.  This is a local “hot spot” that is one of those weird phenomenons.  The so-called Center of the Universe in downtown Tulsa is marked by a small concrete circle in the middle of a larger circle of bricks. It’s not much to look at, but looking isn’t really the point.  If you stand in the middle of the circle and make a noise, the sound is echoed back several times louder than it was made. It’s your own private amplified echo chamber.  You can hear the echo, but no one else can!  If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking it out!  It’s one of those oddities that you have to see (or in this case HEAR) to believe!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key… we headed back to the hotel and took a nap!!  I think the long day of Friday travel and exploring Tulsa finally caught up to us! We did venture out to grab dinner but then headed straight back to the hotel to get ready for the half marathon in the morning and get to sleep early!

Sunday’s weather for the half marathon was unseasonably COLD!  I spent time going back and forth trying to decide what to wear.  I knew that my BibRave Tank and arm sleeves were NOT going to cut it with the 34* temps (with a feels like temp of 28*!)  Unfortunately I didn’t have as many options with me as I would have liked, so went with the tank and arm sleeves but added my BibRave Hoodie over top.  The legs were another issue.  I didn’t have ANY tights with me!  So I did the next best thing – I put my compression capri’s on under my Skirt Sports Capri’s and added a pair of knee high compression socks.  The pink and black leopard socks didn’t really go with the print on the capri’s but at this point, it was function over fashion!

Pre race is always fun when it’s a Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs race and Route 66 takes it to the next level!  We had a separate VIP area to hang out before the race, our own great check area and plenty of photo opportunities with old friends!  I ran into so many amazing people that have met over the last year or so, it was like a family reunion!  Unfortunately, to quickly it was time to head to the start line with all our layers of clothing!  I made my way to corral C and was chatting with a few people.   One gal I was chatting with realized I was from Green Bay and turned to the guy standing next to her and said “hey, he’s from Fon du Lac!”  The guy turned around and looked and me… “Amy?”  Wow!!  Jeff!!  Jeff and I have been friend online for a few years now and are part of some of the same online running groups.  He lives an hour from me, we have run some of the same races but never met face to face until today!  We chatted as we our corral headed to the start line and when the cannons went off, we fell into pace and started running together!   Yup, I traveled halfway across the country to run with someone who lives an hour away from me!

We spent the next few miles chatting and running, enjoying the day, comparing races we’ve done and trying to forget about the cold.  Just before mile 4, I stopped at one of the porta potty’s and told Jeff to keep going.  He said he’d walk for a bit and wait for me to catch up.  A few minutes later, I was back on my way.  I picked up the pace to try and catch up.  Unfortunately, I had a hill in front of me so it took me a bit longer to catch up to Jeff than I had hoped.  As I came up behind he, I realized he had company.  He found Ray!

Ray is a friend of ours from the Fifty States Half Marathon Club that was on a mission that day to finish not only his 5oth state, but also his 100th half marathon!  And for all my number nerds out there… he is 66 years old, running Route 66, 66 months after he ran his first half marathon… and they gave him bib number 66 today!  We were all out there cheering him on and supporting him, and now I was running with him!  I fell into pace with the crew and we kept pushing on.  This day’s goal now changed into running with Ray and enjoying this epic race with him.  He was not running for time, he was just out there to enjoy the day and wanted to finish with as many people as possible.

How much fun did we have?  We ran, we laughed, Ray sang, and we stopped at pretty much ALL of the extra hydration stations along the course!  There were Jello shots, there was fireball, beer and just about everything in between!  Ray was determined to make sure he shopped at each one – and he did!

This ended up being one of those half marathons that will be remembered for a long time!  There was no pressure to run faster, it was all about the fun.  We even stopped for a few minutes to take a bunch of pictures at the iconic Route 66 sign!

We were joined in the final quarter mile by several of Ray’s friends who crossed the finish line carrying the cheer signs they made for him.  He accomplished a great feat today.  It’s one thing to run a half marathon in all 50 states (51 if you count Washington DC) or to complete 100 half marathons, but he managed to do it on the same day!

Thank you Ray for letting us share this amazing day with you!

After crossing the finish line and collecting out medals, Jeff and I found his wife, gathered up our Double coins for running both the half marathon and 5k and found some food!  Not sure why, but pizza always tastes so good after a long run!

One thing that I was extremely grateful for today… the Maniac Tent!  As a Half Fanatic, we had a VIP tent at the finish line also!  Here, I was able to collect my gear check bag, grab more food and beer and get out of the cold wind!  I was also about to pick up my Half Fanatics bonus medal!  I spent some time hanging out in the tent, chatting with other members and enjoying at least being out of the wind (It was still REALLY cold in the tent) until I knew Kim and Mary should be finishing.  Then it was time to find a shuttle back to the hotel, get warm and find showers!!

Overall, Route 66 did not disappoint!  Aside from the sizing snafu with the shirts, I had zero complaints!  The course was well marked, the volunteers were amazing and the aid stations were well staffed and well stocked!  The community support for this race is amazing!  The bling is also second to none!

I did hear from a few people that they were re-routed sooner than they thought they should have been.  They needed to open roads back up by certain times and runners were routed over to the park trails thru the Gathering Place instead of being on the road.  Thankfully this did not change the distance they had to cover but it made it difficult to track them because they never crossed the timing mat at mile 10! The other complain I heard was that those that finished later in the marathon that the pizza that was at the finish line was cold and kinda gross.  You would thing that they would try and  make sure all runners, no matter when they finished, had the same experience and food offerings.

Overall, I loved this race!  Will I consider running it again?  You better believe it!  I’m just not sure when it will be, as I still have quite a few more states to run on my 50 state half marathon quest.  Once I finish that quest, I will head back to run some of my favorite races again!  Route 66 will be on the list!

State #23 (I think – I need to go back and recount)
Half Marathon #48 (#18 for the year!)

Thanks again Ray for allowing me to be part of your day!  It will be a memory that I will cherish forever!

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