First I’d like to thank the people of Tulsa for cheering me on towards a great finish on Saturday with a smile on my face. Conditions were perfect for the 34th annual Tulsa Run. Sunny, breezy, cool. Thousands of runners lined up coursing with adrenaline and Gu, ready to rock the run through downtown Tulsa, along quirky Cherry Street and west toward the Arkansas River. My favorite part of the race—besides watching the crowd take off, an undulating mass of color—is the exit ramp from 21st onto southbound Riverside. The circular roadway descends onto the next section of the course in such a way that runners are given a clear view of the river (or riverbed), and of the swelling crowd before and below them.* It just makes me smile to see.
My expectations were, as usual, low. I wanted to arrive at both the start and finish with a smile. I wanted to be a nudge faster than last year and I wanted to run the entire length of the final hill before the finish line, Denver Avenue. Proud to say I met all of my goals and had a good time to boot.
Far be it from me, a mere amateur and run-for-fun gal about town, to claim any level of expertise in this area but I’d like to suggest a few guidelines that might make races a bit safer and more fun. I give you heretofore give you my race manifesto as a supplement to my swimsuit manifesto.
- Thou shalt choose the right porta potty line. I can not stress enough the import of this decision. Even if you think you have arrived at your destination on time and you will have plenty of time for potty-line standing, be willing to ditch your line for the faster one.
- Thou shalt have a potty line strategy and implement it efficiently. Again, this is vital. Know which three or four porta-toilets belong unspoken to the queue in which you stand. Be ready to advance to open cubicles swiftly and with purpose. Do not stand about gabbing with your girlfriends, failing to move forward, failing to claim open toilets and making me nearly miss the gun.
- Thou shalt move like pleasant cattle at the sound of the gun. We’re all going the same place, and we’re all gonna get there. Let’s all just get along about it. And another thing. Those dudes who are nearly naked and skinny and graceful? They go in the front. Slowpokes like me line up in the back; walkers, get your rears back farther.
- Thou shalt have your gadgets ready to go before the cattle prodding begins. In the event of a technical difficulty, choose one of three options. a.) give up worrying about it. b.) suspend worry for a few moments until you get to a spot that will allow for correction without maiming other runners. c.) adopt a no gadget rule.
- Thou shalt use your brain and compassion for humanity before using said gadgets to run backwards, capturing photos of your friends in matching outfits. I’m happy as all get out that you are running and having fun and looking all smoking hot in your cute stuff. Just remember that we are behind you; if you could just scoot over a tad, that’d be fantastic.
- Thou shalt cheer on other runners: We all worked hard; let’s celebrate. I loved running up Denver giving props to strangers who were struggling with that cruel piece of seemingly endless elevation. Kindness matters.
- Thou shalt not let little things like official chip times or pesky numbers impede your sense of satisfaction and joy. Even when you see the official time and decide that you suck, will forever suck and should totally be faster than that. Remember: “It is just a number,” she says to herself sheepishly.
- If you are a spectator in the gauntlet at the finish line, thou shalt make some flipping noise, people. Twice I’ve finished long races where the lack of enthusiasm on the faces of what is supposed to be the madding crowd is downright soporific. I know I’m not in your posse. Still. I just did that cool thing while you were standing there drinking your hot Starbucks. How about a “way to go?” Help a sister out.
- Thou shalt smile and enjoy the journey.
*I wanted to take a photo of this, but I did not want to break my own manifesto…