Kidding! So Head blogmaster ES asked if I could recap my experience in running the NYC marathon in a Gumby suit, which as I jumped off of the bandwagon of Blogger remorse in my own blog recaps for the year...I have only tried to recap the more interesting facts of my life as a whole.
Marathon = Fun
One month after the NYC marathon thrills are over and yet now is a time for reflection.
Many of us take the race of a marathon seriously, I mean what is not to take seriously about the race...
_It's 26.2 miles.
_It takes 4-6 months to train for the event
_It takes valuable time during those 4-6 months each and every day
_It requires going out in the cold or heat bearing months and grueling temperatures
_it requires waking up early
_it requires us to inhibit our alcohol intake (on some nights)
_and there are much more that I bet I am missing
Why do we do it?
We do this distance...
_to challenge our bodies.
_to take the next step in running.
_because there may be a special meaning, time or place in our lives that we just NEED to do this.
But the number one reason why we all train and race the marathon distance is...because we enjoy it and have FUN with it.
That's the magical word that sometimes is lost within our challenges in life and running.
For first timers, this joy and fulfillment is encompassed to the fullest. They don't know what to expect, they are taking every sight, sound and excitement in and living the dream. After the first marathon, you now have the experience and the time that you want to beat. You now have an expectation to reach and with that expectation we gain pressure.
Pressure to accomplish a personal record adding the emotion of accomplishment or failure. That is where many of us fall under a trap of how the season went when looking back at the success or failure of the race.
A marathon should be FUN, yet challenging and different each and every time. Yes, did I say FUN? How can a person have FUN when running 26.2 grueling miles? I mean, this is a race where your emotions take you to your very highs and very lows.
Have you ever seen these random surveys that ask you silly questions about a specific topic. Ever see a survey about running marathons?
I can clearly remember one marathon survey asking:
Have you ever ran a marathon in a costume?
I could only answer: No, but later wanted to prove that I can do a marathon in a costume.
This year's NYC marathon I completed what I like to call "the impossible." To me the race was far different and challenging than any other marathon that I have done thus far, but in a fun manner. I have learned through the many marathons that you learn and gain a different perspective through each and every race. You grow as a runner or what they call "mature".
First, the costume.
I decided to put a survey out on facebook to decide on which costume I should purchase and narrowed my choices to three costumes:
1) A Bundle of Grapes (one of the fruit of a loom guys) where the big picture I was thinking was "the big apple" but the apple costume was not as great as I had expected.
2) A caterpillar (multiple arms and legs would have made a great costume to dress up multiple sneakers, but the cost was way too high)
3) Gumby (a widely known icon and a costume in green representing Team for Kids, that I coach through the marathon season and it was on sale!)
And the winner was: Gumby!
This costume presented some questions in which I was not prepared to answer. The costume completely covered me from head to toe. Which presented many different challenges such as if I was to run with the costume beforehand or how to solve visibility, ventilation and sanitation problems.
My roommates told me to run around the block with my costume on at 3 a.m. in the morning to give it a "test" run. But envision this, you are coming home from a late night at the bar, somewhat intoxicated, and you see Gumby running around...wouldn't you run after Gumby?
I was afraid of this, and chose to just "go with it," making different modifications such as a pee flap, ventilation holes on the top, a drinking hole for a water bottle, helming the legs of the costume so the feet won't drag and adding a bandanna over Gumby's head to give him a little personalize of who I was. I had to just go with it as the ethic of not trying out anything "new" before you run a marathon was definitely out the door.
Arriving in Staten Island in a private bus was definitely helpful and roaming around athlete's village was a scene. What I remember one of my Alzheimer's teammates said, "finding our coach was a little easier in the mob of 50,000 people because all you had to do is just spot Gumby out of the crowd". Very funny!
The start of the race and chutes of the corals seemed challenging where there were throngs of throw away clothing on the ground. I decided to keep my face open until the start and BOOM! The race began.
At first, the race was very different looking through some screened eyes as ventilation was not the number one priority. Visibility through the costume's eyes presented the most difficulties seeing runners next to you (depth perception), in front of you and shifting lanes. The race was totally in tunnel vision.
The crowd and runner support throughout the entire race was fantastic. Many cheered, "Go Gumby!". But to my dismay, many small children were somewhat frightened by the costume, which later on I had come to my senses about envisioning a human like Gumby running straight at you. Would you like it if you were a child?
There were four points of the race in which I absolutely loved.
1) After taking a restroom break at one of the local parks in Brooklyn, I energized up with a Gel pack. A women comes over to ask if I could take a picture with her, as I said this was fine...she takes the picture, then she hurries to get more of her kids in the mix to take another...and another! I was stuck for about 5-10 minutes with this family along the side of the road! Only later to find a runner screaming out to the family, "even gumby has to finish the race!"
2) Another high was stopping along the elevated barriers on the side of the Queensborough Bridge (the quietest section of the NYC Marathon where no spectators can go) to cheer the runners on for encouragement, where the uphill battle of emotions between exhaustion and excitement mix. It was nice to cheer fellow runners and present a smile during desperate times of the race.
3) Running down 1st Avenue with a Gumby costume in the middle of the street waving your hands up and down to encourage the crowd to cheer and cause an uproar. I must have used so much energy doing this, but it was all worth it! I passed a local bar and the crowd just chanted: "GUM-BEE...GUM-BEE...GUM-BEE!" Increasing in intensity and loudness. It was awesome!
4) The Flyer Gel Station
What else is there to be said? Every flyer looks forward to this moment where they pass the tunnel of camaraderie of volunteers. Seeing your friends when you need it the most is quite the sight to be seen! As also in mile 20 where you see the infamous Patrick Duffy in a kilt playing his infamous bag pipes.
Yes, even though you are running for FUN, in a Gumby costume and trying to coach the members of your team to the finish line. No matter what you do to prepare, there is always a point in the race where the question comes up as a negative...
At mile 22, the turning point of coming back into Manhattan seized difficulty in seeing anything. The sun blaring straight on to the runners faces as sight was already difficult along the course with the costume on.
The thoughts rolled around in my head asking myself: Why? Why did you need to run a marathon in a costume? Why are you continuing with a costume?
This led to an answer entering the 5th avenue hill and running the rest of the race at my own pace with the entire costume on. I needed to just get this costume off and be done, goal complete and then go back on the course to coach.
Looking back, maybe this may have seemed a little daunting to the other runners around me as they struggled up the 5th avenue hill or the last 4 miles of the marathon trudging away and seeing a costumed Gumby sprinting full force to the finish line.
I apologize to all as my actions were to only complete the entire race in costume...which now I can answer that question as a YES! Completed! I had FUN, experienced a whole different outlook and embrace the moment.
I ended up only with a chaffed nose as the screened costume of the eye rubbed up against my nose throughout the race. Leaving me with a red nose, many people asked what next year's costume may bring? Maybe since I have this red chaffed nose, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer will be thrown in the mix.
We shall see when next year rolls around as I'm currently taking suggestions...
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry