The OKC Memorial – A marathon like no other.

The Young Family OKC Medals

 “Memorials do not take away the pain. They can not fill the emptiness.  Excuse me, I’m a little emotional. But they can make a place in time and tell the value of what was lost. The debris is gone and the building is no more but now this is a place of peace, remembrance and life.”  

Barbara Bush

I can recount the day for you.  But unless you have experienced it, I just really can’t help you experience it.  If there is ever a reason to get yourself off the couch, or even out of the safety net of the “gym”, this is it. I promise.

It was a perfect day…. May 1, 2011, a Sunday.  NO the sun did not rise in its glory in the east, pretty sure I heard no birds.  But WE rose.  OKC and people from around the country and world ROSE to take on a challenge in defiance of what people say we can do, in defiance of what is logical, in defiance of hatred and apathy that is all too present even in our own country.  We all had different goals and our own reasons, true, but there was that common thread to be sure those 168 seconds of silence over the crowd of 25,000.  The National Anthem echoed across the city streets as rain and lightening and wind tried to keep the race from happening.  Do we give up that easy? Do we go home to our comfortable beds and luxury?  Some did, and I am most sorry for them.  For what happened in the following hours was worthy of every ounce of effort and struggle that would be witnessed and experienced.

This particular event, my family and I were honored to run bearing the colors and name of Mitchell Whitaker, as part of GoMitchGo Foundation.   How do you say you can’t do this, when a 10 year old fought for TWO years of his young life with every fiber of his being to beat cancer, and when the battle is lost tells us to Keep Fighting?  HOW?!  And knowing right now, thousands are fighting the same kind of fight?  And hundreds of thousands of our military are fighting to keep us free to run in the streets on this very day…. I’m sorry, I just do not think it is possible to resist this powerful call to represent our humanity.

Prior to this event 4 years ago, I was a non participant.  My life was changed forever the day I started at the side of the memorial running with people who ran for more than themselves.

So we start in the rain, which is fine, then it gets really wet n sloshy, I mean squishy shoes.  Thinking this is going to be a challenge for the next 24  miles (took about 2 miles to really have wet shoes). But I love running cold. no heat and southwind to beat you down.  Didn’t realize I’d be unable to smile or wave due to hypo cold-o skin o that was soggy and dripping- o. Still that was ok.  I was worried about my time yes, I had goals after all! sense working hard and hurting and not going ahead and getting a time thing accomplished too. Things moving along swimmingly until mile 15 where the side of knee pain thing sprouted. And grew until mile 17 to a reality thing, not just a phantom pain.  Since I had ignored it for 2 miles, the body tried another tactic, went to the calf- signalling for things to stop. I said ok I’ll stretch but no long term stopping, sorry body o mine. I pretended I had an artificial limb that was hurting really bad and needed adjusting… like so many amazing para triathletes I’ve read about… I read the flags on Classen that one by one named the bombing victims… I talked to a young guy from Fayetteville, also in his 3rd Marathon.  I watched my time, and tried to keep my goal range in sight.  I stopped every mile to stretch the stuff that was not wanting to leave me alone any more.  The rain stopped actually for a little while, not sure how long, but was replaced with dark clouds and big ole pelts of raindrops in the eyes.  I took soggy gloves off, put em back on cuz it felt warmer.  I looked for people I knew, not very many spectators this year, probably watching on tv.  God Bless those who came out and froze for us.  It’s weird how you want to keep going when one spot really really really hurts, and everything else feels amazing, and you think wow, I guess this is truly a marathon after all, did I think I could  just go do it? lol. And it’s amazing to look all around you and you KNOW everyone is feeling something similar, yet we all HOLD ON, keep going- Partly because we have to to get to the finish line and get warm and dry, and partly because it never never leaves your mind, the ultimate pain and sacrifices that have been made before you, for you, (Easter the weekend before, very poignant now).  This is just symbolic, a very short effort on our part to show empathy and desire to connect with people across generations who are part of the journey of life.  It is not ugly to have pain, it is beautiful. It is not tragic to suffer, it is a release.

So I finish the marathon this time a changed person, from the year before, which equals 20 minutes faster time, I know there is a parallel there somewhere.  It is not just physical conditioning but a change in the heart and mind that makes it possible.  I cried at the final turn, then again. Tried not to because I ugly cry.  You realize you are finishing and the pain is released for the last 400m to enjoy the moment- it is a God given gift that feeling, I just know it. Knowing that that crazy number I put on my dream board is actually about to actually happen – 3:35. My magic number.  Not as fast as many, faster than the old me. I gave it my best effort and I am happy.  I know I am capable of even more now should I be called to endure some other form for me or for others.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kristi Edwards
    May 08, 2011 @ 03:32:04

    love you for sharing your innermost with us. and written so eloquently..congrats cori! Kristi E.



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