"Leapfrog?" I was pretty sure I knew what they meant and once we turned the corner, I was sure glad someone had the idea.
Our game of leapfrog was accom
plished by each of us running in a straight line. The leader would take the brunt of the wind while the others would tuck behind and try to conserve energy. After the set amount of time the leader would fall to the back of the line and the next up would have their turn in the front.
We said to have the leader take the front for about a minute at a time. I tried to take my share of the lead and not get knocked over. The wind was terrible. My hat kept trying to blow off and some of the gusts would take your breath away. A few others spotted what we were doing and we encouraged them to join in. It was a long stretch directly in to the wind but eventually we turned out of it and rounded the
other side of the lake.
Somewhere in that chaos, we lost Rick. He mentioned something to someone, but we never saw him again.
As we rounded mile 16, I attempted to make some of my money back. They were handing out GU and I scored my flavor, vanilla bean.
We passed a large drummer's circle out in the park to support the runners. Another timing mat was quickly approaching as we headed right back in to the wind. Stacey jumped in front of me and we leapfrogged our way out of Lake Hefner park and back into another neighborhood. I'm sure somewhere in there we saw cowbell man once more as well.
Once we were back in the calm of a covered neighborhood we quit playing leapfrog and ran side by side. Now we were missing another runner. Brad had pulled off to deal with a shoe and ankle problem, he thought he'd catch up later.
As we faced the mile 17 marker, I said to Bill, "You know the best thing about this marker?" "What's that?," he replied. "Single digits," I answered.
We had done it. We were still on pace for a 3:30-ish race and now ther
e were only 9 miles left. I tried not to dwell on the fact that 9 miles is still a long way and I knew that a lot could happen in that time, but it was a small victory to celebrate, we only had single digits left to run!!
As we ran this stretch, I ended up passing people I knew. It's such a small world running into acquaintances out on the course. I managed a quick hello with them and felt great to still be in such good spirits. Kenton snapped a few pictures and reported back to my family where I was. I kept yakking away at whatever my partners would respond to. I could tell they were getting quiet and maybe not having as much "fun" as I was.
Mile 20 came with quite a bit of hoopla. It was the last timing mat before the finish and the last "Relay Exchange" point. As we passed through the
area there were hundreds of spectators there to support their relay members or others just to
spectate. It's hard this late in the game when a new fresh runner bounds out of the chute ready to run a 10K. I was tired and had just run 20 miles. A course volunteer gave us the validation we needed,
"Okay we got some full marathoners coming through, make way! None of this relay business!"
Hey, we're all proud of anyone who rises off "the couch of doom", but in that instance, we needed our card punched and it was.
I took the lead of the leapfrog line and lead my gang through a large cheering crowd. I felt a little taller at that moment.
I needed that confidence boost, too. As soon as the crowd faded some, the toughest part of the entire day awaited us at the next corner.....