As Camille Herron rested on a medical table Sunday afternoon, the reality of her struggle started to come into focus.
“This was a gut-buster,” she said.
To be exact, it was a two-hour, 51-minute and 20-second struggle to win the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the second time despite adverse conditions that left the Warr Acres resident receiving minor medical attention following the race.
Herron is a marathon veteran having won 13 different races in 10 states, but Sunday was her personal worst time, though possibly her most impressive performance to date.
“She’s a lot better than I will ever be,” said her husband and coach Conor Holt, the men’s race record holder and two-time winner. “It’s great I’m able to be a part of it and coach her. These things are all part of it and you just got to go with the flow. She’s a trooper, I’ll give her that.”
Severe weather conditions delayed the start of the race nearly two hours, forcing Herron into a tough position with her nutrition intake.
She normally eats 75-90 minutes before a race, but Sunday was forced to adjust and use an energy gel just before the start. That wore off about Mile 10, just as the temperature and humidity began to rise.
“After that, it was like survival of the fittest,” Holt said.
Early in the race, it appeared Herron may top her race record of 2:45:13 and even beat the male winner Jason Cook.
It was then, that things got really hard for the 32-year-old.
“I don’t think there was ever a moment I thought about dropping out,” Herron said. “I just told myself to keep lifting my knees, keep my eyes open and keep moving forward. You feel like you’re going faster than you are when you’re really struggling. I felt like I was really trying to gut it out that whole second half.”
Now, she’s planning on taking some well-deserved time off before competing in the Comrades Ultra Marathon, a 56-mile race June 1 in South Africa.
She’s also set her sights on returning next year to defend her title and possibly pass her husband in wins, though she hopes next year won’t be such a struggle.
“I had to at least match him,” Herron said. “I want to keep doing this every year and see how many times I can win it. If I can keep winning until I get to the point I’m not breaking three hours ... I’ll keep trying and I’m sure I’ll have better years ahead of me.”