What a great way to start a day!
Regardless of the conditions, for the first time ever (I know, can you believe it), I decided to go to and spectate. Hooray for trying to be enthusiastic for others while dealing with lack of sleep and cold, wet weather! Good thing there were lots and lots of coffee options near the race course.
Given the weather, I was kind of glad I wasn't running. This gave me a lot more flexibility in what I could wear to keep warm (or shed, as the early morning temps started to warm). I'm not sure if that or something else made my early wake up more enjoyable... maybe it's more fun to go to a race when you don't have to worry about how much training you've done and what pace you think you can maintain for the day?
Whatever the cause, instead of my usual early morning crabbies, my thoughts of the morning were actually quite humorous. In fact, after I suited up / grabbed my giveaways / inked my signs, one of the many thoughts going through my head was "does this unicorn horn make my butt look big"?
So, yes, that statement became my theme for the morning as I got ready for the runners to storm by:
A few weeks prior to this race, a group of friends from my local gym, most of whom are in the running "club", had made a pact to carpool down to the race and camp out at mile 24 (or mile 8 if you were running the 10 mile). I didn't know why everyone was so excited about that specific location, but whatever, I was fine with it. Upon our arrival on race day, I quickly became aware of why this was THE place to be.
The energy there was AMAZING! Everyone was happy. People where cheering. And...
I just have to say - could TC Running company be any more awesome? Two RVs, a DJ mc'ing and playing music, free socks for spectators... the perks were fantastic. If only it weren't 8am and I was too tired to take advantage of some of the... treats being offered. (Side note, even though I'm only in my early 30s, my day drinking era has long passed. I went to UW-Madison and burned myself out, so now whenever I try to tailgate as an adult, my body is like "Hey, we did that in college! Enough of that! Here's some severely debilitating heartburn to force you to stop immediately.")
Of course, I had no idea mile 24 was going to be such a hot spot, so I had come up with lots of fun ideas of how to entertain myself on my own. By the way, shout out to my Facebook friends for helping me come up with some ... er ... creative signage.
*I added a "24" to the sign on the lower right once we got to the race.
After getting our free TC socks, our group settled in and started cheering. I grabbed my signs and got ready.
Immediately, I started to get nervous. It seems the first of the Twin Cities 10 mile racer were much too serious. If any reaction was to be had at all, I basically got a few evil eyes or grimaces.
Ruh-roh, I thought. Maybe this unicorn concept wasn't as funny as I thought it would be?!
Or maybe I shouldn't be holding a sign with the word "butt" on it, on a Sunday, in front of a church?
For a while, I dropped the sign and we all rang cowbells and cheered instead.
BTW, ringing a cowbell is surprisingly hard work. My triceps started to get tired after about 20 minutes. Hence the creative way I was holding the bell in the above photo.
As the 10 miler fasties came through, we all continued to cheer and ring bells. It was fun to see people continue to trickle by.
Eventually, 10 miler elites and fast runners passed through, and I decided to test out my sign again. Success! I started to get the fun folks, and got lots of cheering and thumbs up.
By the way, this cemented in my mind that I never want to run a 7 minute mile. Those people are way too serious and focused! If you can't laugh at stupid stuff like unicorns dancing to Lady Gaga and asking if their butt looks big on course, why even bother to race?! (I say this as if I could ever run a 7 minute mile... and I'm pretty sure if I could, I would grimace at unicorns, too.)
More and more 10 milers tromped by as the mid and back pack runners started to filter in. Somewhere in the mix of runners, several friends from the gym passed us by and we raised our cheer volume even higher.
As 10 milers passed by, I enjoyed watching people read my sign, try to process it with runner's brain, slowly look at my hat, and finally realize what was going on. Some people were a good 10-15 feet past me before I could hear the chuckling.
Eventually, the last of the 10 milers went through. Not far behind, the marathon wheelers started breezing past. I've never had the opportunity to see any of these athletes myself, since I'm always in the back of the pack while they get first go at the gun. It was really neat to watch them whiz by. I marveled at the fact that these folks spend 26.2 miles bent in half and pushing themselves at top speed. I don't know if I could ever do that.
Since the wheelers were mostly head down and couldn't read signs, and since the next batch of serious runners were due to come through, this time for the marathon distance, I decided it was time for a break. Back to the cowbell and yelling. Somewhere in this time frame, I started to notice it was getting darker and shed my shades.
Uh-oh, that can't be a good sign. But there was no rain, so we just kept cheering and hoping for the best.
And - being impatient, I started my next sign long before any "fun" runners were due to come through. At that point, I didn't care. I had tons of treats on hand to give out to the marthoners, and I was excited to get started. So, up went the sign.
Runner after runner thundered by. So many looked like they were going to be sick when they saw the twinkie box that I debated putting it away.
And then... there he was.
A stranger ran by and read my sign. As he passed me, we had eye contact for at least 10 feet. I thought I was guaranteed to finally get my first twinkie out on course.
Unfortunately, he kept going. Eventually, I lost sight of him. Darn, I thought that was finally it! Disappointed, I turned my focus back to runners coming my way.
But before I could even refocus, I heard it.
"I just have to have one. I can't resist it."
HE CAME BACK FOR A TWINKIE!
The guy I had lost sight of actually doubled back at mile 24 to grab a twinkie. From me. I just about died laughing. All of us cheered in victory that someone finally took the first twinkie. Hooray!
I wonder what he was saying to himself during this encounter?
I still can't believe he doubled back on a marathon course for a twinkie. LOL!!!! And I wish I would have noted his number so I could see how he did at the finish. Hopefully he'll read this blog and report in with EPIC PR news.
After the first twinkie was in the wild, things went south. It started raining and my sign started to slowly deteriorate. At this rate, I knew I'd never pull out my second case of twinkies, let alone all the skittles and other treats I had on hand.
I spent the next half hour hoping my sign would hold up in the rain until I gave out my last twinkie. Even the twinkie box was starting to fall apart in my hand. But slowly, slowly more and more twinkies were making their way into runners hands.
Side note: I never thought I'd see so many grown men, some with quite impressive mustaches by the way, so excited for a free twinkie. LOL!
Finally, the last twinkie went out. Since the sign indicating I had treats was shredded to bits, I gave up on my treat distribution and went back to my "butt" sign. (Sorry God. Please don't send me to hell for using that sign in front of a church a second time.)
I continued to look for people with their names on their shirts, or for people wearing sparkly skirts like me, and cheered for them with all my heart.
Sometimes I'd see a crazy costumed runner go by, like a Viking, caveman or ... man wrapped in bath towel and wearing only a shower cap?! True story, I saw that.
Once I even got a response to my "butt" sign that was... er... interesting. Two guys said to me "We're not sure, we need to look." Hmmm... how to respond to that one? LOL!
Eventually, after almost 5 hours of cheering, releasing15 twinkies into the wild, and endless cowbell shaking, the rain had soaked through my furry costume and I was done. I couldn't feel my fingers any more, and it was time for a hot lunch. Although I would have loved to stay and cheer for every last runner, I just didn't have it in me. It turned out that the rest of my group was feeling the same, so we packed up and headed for home.
After all was said and done, I can't believe I spent 5 hours on a Sunday morning dressed like a unicorn, making butt jokes and handing out twinkies. In the rain to boot. But, I had a fantastic time. And I think the runners appreciated it too (for the most part, anyway).
By the way, I don't want to hear any complaints about me recycling my unicorn costume from the Monster Dash last year. Yes, I ran a half marathon in that. And maybe if I wear it a few more times, it will finally become a REAL unicorn.
But until that happens, I guess we'll just have this blog.