Run To Remember

The road ahead has many miles, races, time, and love.  My registration for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon went in months ago.  I had the opportunity to run this half marathon race a couple years back and it has resonated with me as one of the most heartfelt and emotionally intense runs I've done.

Many people my age and older recall the tragic day when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in downtown Oklahoma City.  This occurred on April 19, 1995.  I was in 7th grade and I recall being in my teachers class room for lunch and she was talking on the phone.  Clearly she was in shock by the information she was receiving about the bombing.  We had TVs in our classrooms and she later put on the news which gave us the general information.  My tender age didn't quite wrap my head around it all.  I proceeded with my day and later went home.
It wasn't until my mom approached me when I got home in a very cautious, almost frightened tone.  She began by asking if I had heard about anything significant happening today.  I calmly told her that there was a building bombed on the news.  Unsure if I had put the pieces together, she proceeded to say, "Sara, that is where your dad works".

Now let me tell you... there are times in life when something is said, or you see something, and those sounds or images get burned into the back of your head.  So significant that you cannot un-hear, or un-see them.  Every time I recall this day, I can clear as day, hear my moms voice and see the look on her face.  My mind instantly recalled the images of the building, gouged and exposing its interior.

Traumatic events change us.  They place fear, anxiety, doubt, depression... so much, so heavy.  All I could do in this instant was tell my mom to call my dad.  If anyone remembers this day, we didn't have cell phones.  At least if you did, they were those big brick things that looked more like you were talking into a shoe box.  The phone lines were jammed and after hours of trying to call, we realized we would just have to wait.  We stared at the TV.  The news crews were heavy and there was constant footage on the TV.  Every ounce of my body just kept waiting and lingering on the hope that I would see my dads face on the TV.

We waited.  Hours.
Then finally, the phone rang.  It was my grandpa.  He gave me the news I was holding out hope for.  My dad called him to tell him he was ok and asked to call us as my dad also couldn't get a line out.

Later I talked with my dad, who works for the IRS, and learned that while Federal, they actually have a building down the street from the Federal Building.  Those gut wrenching hours of waiting to know if my dad was ok were some of the hardest hours I've ever lived through.  I ended up being one of those fortunate enough to have a positive outcome.  My dad has shared stories with me about many of the people he knew that were lost that day in the bombing.  I encourage you, if you ever have a chance, to visit the memorial site in OKC.

The first time I ran this race I signed up for the half marathon.  When I signed up I didn't realize I'd be running with a tiny human growing inside me.  April 24, 2016 I was 9 weeks pregnant with Clare.  I was still feeling healthy and my doctor said I was good to run the race.  I finished in 1:59:14 but it was an emotional race.  One of the most beautiful tributes in honor of the victims lost on April 19, 1995.
My dad lives in OKC and has run this half and full marathon before.  So he shared with me one of the things he likes to do each time he does this race.  The memorial is open for individuals to walk around before the race starts.  It is dark as the race begins at 0600 in order to avoid the heat that OKC traditionally brings in the afternoon, as well as the humidity.  So we walk around in the dark with the lighting of the memorial.  Its quiet and somber.  My dad looks over at the rows of chairs lit up.  Each chair represents a victim lost in the bombing.  Their names are etched on the glass.  The chairs are lined up in rows that represent what floor they were on.  One of the rows has small chairs.  These represent the precious children that were in the day care that day.
As we walk around, my dad tells me he likes to pick out a chair and carry that individual on his heart during the run.  He dedicates the run to that person.  He thinks of them as he runs.  So I put it on my heart to do the same.  As I'm walking around I'm full of tears.  I see the small chairs and cannot help but hurt for those lives taken too soon.  I cradle my belly and continue walking through the rows.  Then a chair catches my eye.  The name on the chair is long and I'm curious.  I walk over to the chair to find a womans name with her unborn childs name etched with it.  As I was currently pregnant, this was one of the hardest and most emotional moments I've ever had.  I carried the names of Carrie Ann Lenz and her son Michael James Lenz III with me that day.  As I ran the streets of OKC, I thought about Michael and the life he would have.  He would be in college, married, out playing baseball... all I know is the race was ran in its entirety that day for Michael, Carrie, and the entire group of 168 people who were tragically lost that April day 21 years prior.

I'd always known I would someday run the OKC memorial marathon.  So when my 50 by 50 project had Oklahoma on the list, I knew without a doubt this would be the one.  Marathon #8 holds a special outlook in my heart.

Last weekend I was able to toe the start line, and was honored to once again run the streets of OKC in remembrance of those individuals we lost.  I have a lot to say about the joy of my race, how I fundraised and had the most epic running challenge with my son, but I'll save that one for next time.  For now, my heart is somber and I'm once again reflecting on how there is so much more we have to give, for those of us that are forced to move on.  My hope is that I can continue to live this life always giving more than I'll take.

Moving forward I'm looking forward to marathons 9 and 10.  I'm actually running both of these in June!  I'll share much more later, as well as I have some product reviews for you all, and some various requests.  Thank you all for following me on this journey.


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