Race recap: We got our kicks on Route 66! You might think that after running a half marathon in 26 states in varying weather conditions that we would be smart enough to bring both a warm and cold weather set of running clothes to Tulsa. You might think this…but you would be wrong. Despite 72 degrees of blissful sunshine on our arrival Saturday, the temperature plummeted over night and was between 39 and 42 at the start! The first few miles through Cherry Street and around the scenic Swan Lake were fast – likely a result of us trying to thaw out our frozen bodies. The next several miles of the course were through some really nice neighborhoods choc full of gentle rolling hills, but the variation in terrain was actually a nice change of pace and helped to keep our legs fresh and our minds interested. Past mile 8, our pace was strong and it was looking like Kristin was on PR pace. At mile 10 we made “the turn”, regarded as the real halfway point by several locals running the race. We didn’t fully understand why until we made “the turn” and faced a tremendous head-wind for the final 5k. As we crossed the mile 12 marker, the wind had really taken its toll on our bodies, but we kept pushing on. I knew Kristin would be close to a PR, but we wouldn’t know how close until we crossed the tape 12 seconds off her PR! Although the weather wasn’t optimal, the course was really enjoyable and it was a pretty fun race.
Highlights: So proud of Kristin for finishing as the 49th female in a field of 1,856 ladies!
Tip: If you stay at a downtown hotel (Courtyard Marriott) the start is close enough that you can warm up outside and still have plenty of time to use the bathroom in your hotel before the race starts.
Day 1 (Saturday):
In the land of oil, where gas prices are ~20% cheaper than the land of Lincoln, it was fitting that our first stop was for a picture with the famous giant Golden Driller. His belt buckle and oil rig say it all we have officially arrived in Tulsa.
Usually, any restaurant with “Big” in the title is a sure-fire place to find your favorite deep-fried foods dripping in grease, but Big Al’s was quite the opposite as the menu caters towards healthier options. The turkey wrap was fresh and tasty and much to our liking Al replaced the traditional mayonnaise with avocados. We also split a strawberry pineapple smoothie, made with local honey, which was delicious. Give Big Al’s a try if you’re looking for a healthier lunch option in Tulsa.
Don’t get me wrong the wraps were good and pretty filing, but we couldn’t pass up a stop at Merritt’s Bakery to try their renowned donuts (Urban Spoon’s #1 rated donut shop in Tulsa). Since Merrit’s doesn’t really have a specialty donut, we opted for the classic chocolate frosted yeast donut. A good donut, but nothing out of the ordinary.
After a nice walk downtown, we headed over to the race expo where we “had to leave our guns outside.” While these signs may be common place to some, we found them pretty amusing and joked throughout the trip about where we were going to keep our guns.
Tip: When registering for the race you have the option of putting any name you want on your bib. I suggest you do it and have some fun! Kristin ran as Twinkle Toes and I was Captain Awesome.
Oral Roberts University has some of the most interesting architecture we have ever seen at a college, including the Prayer Tower (looks a bit like the Space Needle in Seattle), the Howard Auditorium (looks like the Space Mountain dome at Epcot) and giant praying hands. The Prayer Tower is open for tours (noon-5pm Mon-Sat) - just make sure to be respectful of your surroundings as you enjoy the view from the top.
Dwelling Spaces, located in the Blue Dome District, is a pretty unique little shop offering everything from coffee and pastries to hand painted jewelry and tee-shirts from independent/ local companies. I imagine Urban Outfitters without the corporate feel. Great stop for interesting and original gifts/ jewelry.
McNellie’s is our kind of place. Over 60 beers on tap and a selection of over 100 different bottled beers. We grabbed a seat at the bar, enjoyed a sampling of locally brewed beers including Marshall McNellie’s pub ale (decent, but a bit flat) and the Coop F5 IPA (awesome beer with just the right amount of hops), and were warmly welcomed to Oklahoma by Brandon and Greg, who were in town to cheer on their wife’s in the half marathon and insisted on buying us a welcome drink. This is a great bar - the only downside being it’s too far from our house to become regulars!
Every November, the Philbrook Art Museum kicks off it’s annual Festival of Trees celebration with a huge opening night party and lighting ceremony. The Philbrook mansion (former residence of oil tycoon Waite Phillips) is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights and decorations with enough activities to keep both kids and adults entertained (peanut butter bird feeder making, visiting Santa and hot chocolate/ lemonade station). The museum is home to a very broad array of European paintings, modern art, including some of the coolest ceramic pieces I have ever seen (I still can’t believe this suitcase is actually made out of clay), libation cups carved from rhinoceros horn, as well as an entire floor of locally made Christmas ornaments/ art for sale during the Festival of Trees. In addition to being free (normally $11 admission), the vibe on opening night was great and it helped to get us in the Christmas spirit.
After a busy day of sight-seeing we were starving and headed to the always bustling Cherry Street in search of some quality chow. Being a Saturday night, Cherry Street was busy and after poking our heads into a few restaurants to look at menus and gauge the wait time we decided to give Mi Cocina a try. This hip and trendy Mexican restaurant was swamped, which made our table in the bar area a bit noisy. The salsa is fresh and spicy and the staff will let your water go empty before your individual salsa dish does (seriously I think they have a guy who just walks around and hands out new dishes of salsa throughout your meal). Mama’s chicken and rice was quite good, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop eating the grilled onions – not sure that is a great pre-race habit though! A decent Mexican option, but I would want to try some other places along Cherry Street before going back.
Nothing beats a little late-night gelato! We stopped by Mod’s and sampled the chocolate and pistachio combo, which was good, but had nothing on Baltimore – which still boasts the best gelato I have had outside of Italy.
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
Our post-race meal was at the Dilly Deli, where we both opted for breakfast. As we were walking into the restaurant we saw the sign for McNellie’s and almost instinctively went back to our favorite bar. The biscuits and gravy were dry and the gravy was very peppery without much other flavor. Kristin’s eggs were ok, but the hash-browns bordered on burnt. Pretty expensive for a sub-par meal. We should have gone back to McNellie’s for lunch…
Oklahoma Half Marathon Medals
November 20, 2011: Route 66 Half Marathon