I celebrated the one year anniversary of my first 5K with a 5K! Back in October I ran the Emmaus Halloween Parade 5K, in a French maid costume, of course.
The first year I was inspired by a famous tutu wearing runner; I wanted to wear a tutu. Turns out that a close friend had a black tutu which was part of a bumble bee costume. I was a bumble bee.
It was a cold Saturday night and I wasn’t used to running at that time of day. After a few brief stretches the group, mostly dressed in costume, gathered at the start line and took off. I shed a tear. This was a monumental event for me – my first 5K. I was running for so many reasons, but that one moment was all for me. The course was mostly flat, probably because the parade participants follow the same route. About 3/4 of the way up Chestnut Street I was praying for the race to be over. We looped around a corner and started heading back to the start line, parallel with Chestnut Street, so we could run up Chestnut ALL OVER AGAIN! Ugh.
Running up Chestnut again I saw a young girl, jumping up and down while holding a poster board with something scribbled on it. As I got closer I could see that the sign said 1 MILE. Wow! One mile to go. Great! What a relief…until I realized that I had only run one mile. There were 2.1 miles left to go. Ugh. Defeat again.
I sucked it up and got into a rhythm. I started to enjoy the time I had with all these costumed crazies. I wound up being passed by three men dressed as bananas. Yes, they were life-sized, six foot bananas. Very funny. They settled into a groove just in front of me and there we stayed for almost the rest of the race. Three bananas being trailed by a bumble bee.
With each block we passed people were yelling, ‘BANANAS!’ and ‘GO BANANAS!’ No one gave a hoot about the bumble bee, but it was so funny to hear people yell for bananas. They were just as crazy as we. And just like the snap of my fingers I hated the bananas. WHAT ABOUT THE BEE?!?!?!?! Yup, there are bananas running. Yup, ‘go bananas’, pretty funny.
As some point they kicked it into high gear (or more likely, I just lost some speed) and they were a distant memory. I finished the race, eventually, at 34 minutes and change. Not bad for my first race, in the cold, at night, while wearing a bee costume!
Fast forward to December 31, 2009.
At the last moment I decided to run the Bethlehem First Night 5K. It was a day race following a brief, but wicked dumping of snow. I suited up and hopped in the car. With some races, there were people dressed in costume. I prefer to be with the majority, so I’m okay only wearing a silly outfit in a Halloween run.
The group gathered at the start/finish line and took off. It was a slow start – runners mixed with walkers, but we pulled away from the pack and got into our own. The first road was completely snow covered, but with some prior experience I was able to safely navigate. In the distance I could see a hill, an icy hill. The group started to slow down, but I decided to speed up.
I saw a banana in the distance.
I instantly thought of that first race – those damn bananas. It’s kind of funny that I’m cursing bananas. Whatever! I was tired of being (or BEE-ing) behind the bananas…the crowd was rooting for them. No one cared about the bee. Yes, perhaps I’m a little bitter…unlike my ripe banana enemies.
There’s a book out there called The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know--And Then Some. I don’t have it, but I skimmed the back cover. It’s an honest (and sometimes funny) compilation of rules for running.
So rule 2.32 came to mind…oddly enough, it’s probably one of the few rules I remember while peeling through the book. Drum roll, please.
“Rule 2.32 Do whatever it takes to finish ahead of a costumed runner.”
This would be a difficult feat for an amateur runner during a costumed race, but not too difficult when the costumed are the minority.
As I approached the banana, remember…on the icy hill, I looked to the woman on my left and said, “I was beat by a banana last year, but not today.” With that I pushed off from the base of the hill and swiftly passed the lone banana, all while chuckling to myself.
Guess you just had to be there.