What’s up party people? I hope your thanksgiving holiday was a good one! I wanted to take the week off after marathon to fully reflect what happened and take in time with my family before writing. And, to be honest, this post is probably the hardest one to do because it’s hard to capture all my experiences during the marathon into words. Let’s go…
So, picking up from last week. Day before marathon, I picked up Nicki and my 2 little ones to go check out the expo. It was a crazy day of updating my running gear, trying out new products, and just taking in the atmosphere. Everyone was excited and ready to go! And then i thought to myself, oh ish… race day is here?!
That evening, I rested up and got some last minute things for race day- pickle juice, shades, etc. Race day jitters hit me and I was hella nervous. For some reason, I was looking for any excuse not to run. I didn’t want to fail to finish the race or quit during the race. In other words, i didn’t want to been seen as a mistake.
As i began laying out my race day stuff, i thought to myself: I’ve put too many days, hours, tears, laughs, heart, soul, and everything else for me to screw up on race day. I realized that i had angels and love all around me; My mother in law traveled down to run with me, kids constantly holding me accountable for my training, brother Rojer investing his time for me by putting together a regiment, my parents and sisters giving their huge support and encouragement, my tribal news department (Mvskoke Media) highlighting my story, friends spending countless hours on the phone and on social media giving me support, and some of the most hilarious stories from my running that you’ll hear sometime, including the time I got caught up in the Susan Komen Half Marathon by accident. By the time I thought about all these memories, I finally passed out.
Luckily, I had my race day routine ready to go: my stuff was set up and ready to go, carb up on oatmeal and lightly drink water. Once we got to downtown Tulsa and parked, Nicki and I took time to smudge ourselves with a sweet grass braid that was given to me by Shinnecock brother Christian and prayed to our Creator for a great day. It was time. Corral D. Here we go.
Once we got to Corral D, it would be around 15 minutes before we got up to the starting line. I had my earphones on listening to my pump up music trying to get my head right. I was so nervous, I couldn’t tell you the song I started out on LOL. All of the sudden, the starting gun goes off and the confetti was flying. It was so awesome just to run through the starting line that I coulda packed up and went home 😂.
We made our way out of downtown and into the neighborhoods. The stops in the neighborhoods were so awesome that I didn’t need my earphones for music as people were blasting feel good music- Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believin’; plus I was making Nicki frustrated because she was talking to me the entire time and I kept saying “huh?” Volunteers were great as they kept us hydrated and neighbors had fruit for us.
Once we reached Brookside, it was a live party! The Street was filled with everyone cheering us on and giving us high-fives. Saw my buddy Yatika Fields at RunnersWorld and gave him a quick hug. He’s painting an awesome mural for the store on 41st and i can’t wait to see it. The hardest parts were along riverside and the Veterans bridge as it was just us Runner’s and the pavement. Once we got past Crybaby Hill and onto the Route 66 bridge, it was like seeing people for the first time in forever. We made a quick stop to take a pic
the marathon split, I had to pull over for a minute as my calves were trying to lock up. Nicki reminded me to keep drinking water as my skull cap was soaked. After a quick salt tablet and pickle juice, we started our run again. We kept saying to ourselves- One Step, One Breath, One Mile at a Time… until we came across this:
ne has been reading this blog or somethin' (jk). Just before we left downtown, I saw my longtime buddy Kristi and gave her a quick hug. During these moments, I knew this race was special. After leaving downtown and going back into the neighborhoods, you start to build some friendships with Runner's a long the way. Don't forget, 26.5 miles is a long run so you'll get to know some people.
Mile 18 was hard. Out of nowhere, I began to get emotional. I began thinking of my family, how I felt like a failure and how I felt like the family was incomplete. I kept saying "I'm sorry for all the failures and heartbreaks" And "i just want the pain and hurt to heal and go away." It was Nicki's calm and healing voice that reminded me all of us Runner's are there for a purpose and everyone is going through their own race and ceremony to make things better. After a quick stretch, we continued running through the neighborhoods. Out of nowhere, I was my buddy Cherrah, an amazing Native leader on multiple fronts, and her crew cheering us on. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Once we got to mile 20 and on TU's campus, I began to feel slow. My water pack was done and I didn't have anything in my system. Nicki and I got to the water station and replenished on liquids. And then I saw my family waiting for us at the 20th mile. I couldn't help but breakdown because they have supported my efforts in every facet of my life. I love you all! My Dad had said a quick prayer and blessed us with an eagle feather. It was a great reminder that our Creator and the universe's energies were with us during our journey.
e left my folks, we began making our way through TU. All of the sudden, I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee, which I assumed it was my IT Band. Luckily, the next water stop we went to had an athletic trainer with a roller. He was able to loosen up some muscles and we trucked on. Miles 21-25 were a complete blur as we were just trying to keep hydrated and loose due to the heat. Once I saw Mile 26, I knew we were almost to the Center of the Universe detour, where Rebekah and the kids were waiting. We powered through the pain and made it through the detour to turn around and take a quick picture with the kids.
een asked this before, why do I run? I run for the healing and love of my family. I run in ceremony for my family because they are the center of my universe. And I run because I'm willing to put myself and my body on the line to bring joy and happiness to our family. Vmestvlke (My family)
Mile 26.2 and .3 left to go. Nicki sped in front of me because my legs were locking up. I remembered what she taught me during the race, which was to keep my muscles firing through power walking. I turned it into a light run and then I saw the last turn. By this time, I had the jams turned on full blast. This is gonna sound cliche, but the Creed Theme Song Lord Knows/Fighting Stronger kicked in and I felt like Adonis himself running through to the finish line
ks on both sides: sisters, mom, dad, Rebekah and the kids, Sara and her crew, and Nick and his dad. It was such a beautiful site. Finally, I crossed the finish line at 6 hours and 17 minutes.
is race was emotional for me because not only was this finishing 26.5 miles, it was also months of training, running, waking up early to train, coming home to be with the kids, cooking, cleaning, traveling to run in other 5k's, late nights overthinking, church services, working with my department to service over 1600 students, battling mental demons, going to powwows, and everything else.
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en as I completed the marathon, I still felt incomplete. It was a great experience and very life changing. In fact, I'm already taking a look at other marathons to run in the future. However, I felt like I should still be running. If there's one thing that I've learned during this marathon training, it is this: do not fear the unknown but rather embrace it. Just like running courses, you enjoy the scenery and take in the environment, whether it was the streets of Tulsa or the hills in Montana. I hope I can find the unknown… I love you then, now, and always.
I want to send a very special shoutout to Nicki. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have been inspired to change my life around and run 26.5 miles. Love you bunches and i can wait to run the next race with you! I'll be sure to train harder so i can keep up with your pace. Kutepetush Nicki!
I'll be sure to write more later, but I wanted to provide some quick thoughts on my marathon experience. Write more later. Remember folks, run your own race One Step, One Breath, One Mile at a Time.