Race Report: Terrifying 10K

This year, I did my very first, costumed, Halloween run. And MAN was it fun. I’m sad it took me so long to do something like that. NB and I had long been giddy over the idea of dressing as Sam Flynn and Quorra from TRON Legacy. I managed to find an awesome Asics tank that had a blue pattern similar to Quorra’s, and NB bought a clearance black technical shirt and painted it with blue flourescent puffy paint to look like Sam’s top. And it came out GREAT. Unfortunately, there were very few 10K finish line pictures (one of a few complaints I had with the race organization, but I’ll get to that),  so I have no photos for this post, but I promise a picture of our costumes at the end, if I may ask for your patience.

Since it was a 9:30 start, we woke at a leisurely 7 a.m., eating our pre-race oatmeal at a relaxed pace and getting into our costumes. I’d been watching the forecast obsessively all week, and was devastated when the worst turned out to be true: it dawned in the mid-thirties, and it was snowing – huge, fat, wet flakes. I don’t recall a Halloween snow since I was little, and I was dressed as Lamb Chop so I was plenty warm. Fortunately the night before I’d gone out to Dick’s to get a black cold gear Underarmour shirt to layer beneath my costume. I put on my tank and warm warmers (with some white striping for added effect) over the shirt on top and tights on the bottom, donning my Brooks Ghost 4s (wishing for once that I had the blue ones for the color scheme, but I love my green shoes). NB also layered black cold gear under his costume shirt and warm running pants with white stripes running down the side. I skipped my wig because of the snow, instead wearing a black ear band and gloves, since it was going to be a chilly one.

A little after 8, our friends Cas (dressed as a bunny) and Rob (dressed as Zombie Steve Jobs… or maybe just a zombie, haha) picked us up and we headed out. Complaint number one: we’d raced in this park before, twice, actually, but the race organizer for those was a local running store that is INCREDIBLY organized. This one was hosted by the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon group, and shockingly, they weren’t that helpful. They didn’t give an address to plug into GPS but luckily they were able to use the address from the other races in this park and we made it there okay.

We had to park pretty far away and slog through the cold and snow. We were all shivering, and Cas was in pain especially since the ground was so soggy and wet from the snow that her Vibrams were soaked through. Not the ideal Halloween run weather.

Complaint number two: there was only race day packet pickup. It wasn’t too bad – there wasn’t a huge line – but it’s still a pain when that’s the only option. Rob kindly ran our packets back to the car as we pinned our bibs on, tied our timing chips to our laces and prepared ourselves. We went iPod-less because of the weather, carrying only our Toys R Us identity discs.

Before we knew it, it was minutes to the start, and the organizers were telling everyone to head out to the start line. It was freezing. We moved to the back, figuring we could avoid the congestion for the chip start (WRONG. It was a gun start. Complaint number 3). We saw FANTASTIC costumes: there were lots of Mario and Luigis (including two idiot girls in overall shorts and t-shirts. Seriously, ever hear of layering? It’s like those girls that insist on dressing like whores. LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME I look like a moron), Tetris pieces, a limo with a “celebrity” in the back, even Mario Kart cars! We saw one frozen looking guy stuffed into a little bo peep dress with several (girl) sheep around him, shivering his butt off.

The start was apparently delayed by cars driving on the closed course and a fallen tree in the 5K route, but 15 minutes late, we were off! We wanted to take it easy, just have fun and see the sights, but were hoping to run about 55 minutes, which would give us a sub-9 pace overall.

The two courses split immediately, and we were never able to determine the exact start given the lack of timing mats (we thought maybe they had some other contraption but were of course wrong). We both started our Garmins several seconds late as a result, but no biggie. The 5K course split right, and the 10K course split left… right up an enormous hill. Oooh that hill. It was the same hill that caused me to wheeze, just getting over a nose cold, at the very end of the Frigid Five Miler in January. We trucked up it, trying to focus on the costumes and staying relaxed, arms low. One by one we saw people start walking, some sooner than others, but we kept on as the path wound and wound and wound up the hill, until we finally saw the senior center that had warmed us before and after that Five Miler, and we knew we’d made it. A little while later our watches beeped the first mile: 10:17. Slow, but not nearly as bad as it could have been, given that gnarly, 2/3 mile hill.

The snow continued to pelt us. Oddly, it was behind my glasses that seemed to cause more issues, and I kept wiping and wiping and wiping. It was difficult to see, and I knew the road was slicked. It was all making me a litlte grumpy, but I tried to ignore it.

A couple miles in (mile 2 came in the low 9s, closer to our desired pace), we passed a Mario and Luigi, with the Mario theme playing (on a cell phone maybe?). NB and I of course cracked a couple jokes (f***ing Goombas! How did that hhappen? I was inside of the tyube!) as the course rolled on. It really was pretty, even with all the snow, with all those yellow trees lined with white.

The miles began to tick by in 8:30s, and we ignored all the aid stations (I think NB may have taken something at one. I couldn’t stomach the idea of cold water in that weather). We reminisced about the Frigid Five as we followed a similar track, remembering the moments where we cruised, and where we suffered. Some of the hills carried us a bit fast, and others we had to slam on the brakes so we didn’t go careening down and wind up hurting ourselves.

As we went, I felt like I was slowing, but our pace remained fairly even in the 8:30s. Since our distances were a little off (not by a huge amount, given the mile markers, but when we finished it was a fair amount) we were a little unsure of how much further we had to go. We rounded a bend and could see the arch of the sign, and heard Rob (who finished in absurd sub-40 time that I don’t recall and at the moment am too lazy to look up) cheering for us. We looked at each other, discs in hand, and knew: time to kick. We flew across the line, and I was gasping for breath: 55:49

We jogged it out a few steps before walking loopily over to Rob and watched as Cas flew in under 60 minutes, feet soaked.

After the race the real party began, complete with cheap, terrible beer, food from Spaghetti Warehouse, and other typical fare (bagels, bananas). I just had some Doritos and Cheetos and a beer, which I only drank half of since it was pretty bad. We hung out a bit before heading out, freezing our buns off on the walk back to the car and grateful for the heater.

So what was our actual finishing time? Well, our guntime was like 56 something, and apparently it was good enough for 9th in my age group. I wondered to myself how I’d have done if I wasn’t in costume (though that didn’t make much difference), it wasn’t snowing and I’d actually been “racing” it. But I was still glad we didn’t.


And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – taken at the party we went to that night (I was drunk):

The strap across my chest is from a Rock Band guitar
Trying to remember what the movie poster looked like. Backwards. Also - I was quite drunk here, and losing my wig.

Probably our last race for a while, but never fear! I’ve been running a ton, enjoying the fall, and this week we travel to Vancouver, aka running Mecca! Stay tuned.





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I'm a 35-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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