My First Race! Going Ape in Record Time


Meg has written 31 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a married, step-mother, the 4th of 5 kids. I'm livin' the dream as a manager in retail, putting that English degree to great use. Oh, and I'm sarcastic.

Suited up & ready to go.

I’m not going to lie.  When I woke-up race morning, I was ready to chicken out.  I cried…and cried…and told my husband I didn’t want to do it; I didn’t want to go.  He wasn’t going to have any of that!  He told me I’d be more upset with myself if I didn’t do it.  The anxiety was high but it had more to do with being in a crowd than with the running.  I had visions of being crushed and trampled or being unable to find my husband in the crowd upon my return.  Cue the Xanax.

It was a cold morning when I put on my gorilla suit, about 30° F, but I knew that didn’t matter since the suit was going to be a sauna once I started running.  I put a lot of thought into what to wear inside the gorilla too. I wasn’t about to go in my birthday suit in the ape suit because, well, ew.  And can you imagine the chaffing?  I opted for a sport bra and running shorts.  This would prove to be wise in the end.

This is probably as close to going out in just a sport bra that I will get.

When we got downtown, the Xanax still hadn’t taken the anxiety edge off and I felt like crying again as everyone lined up.  There were 3 categories.  The first to start was for those on wheels:  bikes, wheelchairs, skateboards and even a unicyclist.  Then runners would go.  Finally joggers/walkers would start.  I thought I should probably go with the last group, but then in an uncharacteristic burst of confidence I thought, hey it’s Salty Running, not Salty jogging/walking.  I went to the back of the runners’ group but be ahead of the final wave.  Then next thing I knew, it was go time.

HOLY CRAP!  What seemed like a gazillion gorillas was off and running.  For me, this weird thing took over…it was like I just got caught up in the flow without even thinking!  Once I snapped back to reality, thanks to the heat of the suit and my heavy breathing, I realized I was running at a pace I wouldn’t be able to keep during the rest of the run.  I think I just got wrapped up in the people around me and felt like I needed to keep up with the others.

I tried to slow myself down and even had to walk a stretch.  I actually walked a couple of stretches.  I was a little disappointed at having to walk, but I know I just couldn’t push any harder.  I think I lost 20 pounds in sweat.  The rubbery gorilla-hand gloves were filling with pools of sweat in each finger.  It was like filling baggies with water and then tying them on your hands.  Good Times!

I managed to run the last mile or so.  When the end was in sight, I got a final burst of energy and pushed that extra bit to cross the finish line.  I saw that I was at about 39:40-ish.  I was surprised, pleasantly so.  I really thought the walking I had to do would put me at a much longer time.  It was exciting!  The whole experience was.  At the different water stations and other spots along the way, people were cheering us on—total strangers, just excited to see us go.  The same thing at the finish line—“Way to goes!” and other congratulatory shouts!

I may not be the best at shaving my legs, but I promise I’m not this bad!

I was handed a bottle of water and then went to find my husband.  Once I found him I peeled of the gorilla suit right there among the crowd.  I couldn’t believe others weren’t rushing to do the same.  As it came off, steam was rising off my skin and faux fur was sticking to me.  It was the best, gross feeling ever!

Tell me about your first race! 


12 Responses to “My First Race! Going Ape in Record Time”

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  1. Vanilla says:

    Congrats on your first 5K! Kudos to you for not only doing the race, but in a gorilla suit, nonetheless!

  2. Mint says:

    Haha – this is awesome. Congrats! Sorry to hear you were feeling anxious about it pre-race, but I am so glad it turned out to be a success. I still can’t get over the gorilla suits either. :)

    My first race was almost entirely the opposite experience as it came with very little fanfare or expectation. It was in 1998 when I was in law school. My boyfriend’s (now husband’s) brother was in medical school and they were putting on a 5k. I had just started running and he told me I should do it. So I did. I really didn’t put any thought into the fact that it was a race and there weren’t many participants. In those days, I ran a couple of times a week (3 or 4 miles), but didn’t know or care at all about my paces. I don’t remember much about the race, but I do recall that when I was finishing my (now) brother-in-law said, wow – you ran that pretty fast Mindi. I have no idea what my pace/time was and I did not run a race again until 2005. Thanks for bringing me back – very fun.

  3. Cinnamon Cinnamon says:

    I used to get anxious before every race I ran, but trust me, it gets easier and easier! Thank goodness you have your husband there to kick your butt into gear. :)

    Isn’t it amazing how you get caught up in the flow of the crowd? This is why we’re always yakking on about “don’t go out too fast.” It’s important to pace yourself from the very beginning so you don’t overdo it. And walking is okay, especially when you’re inside a hairy rubber heat trap! How did you do water; did you flip the head up?

    The gorilla suit – HILARIOUS. What an amazing way to remember your first race! Cheers to that, and hopefully many more! And hey, don’t knock the sport bra-and-shorts look. You look great!

  4. Jackie K says:

    Way to go on your first race! You quite some fortitude not only to run your first 5K, but to do it with the added challenge of a gorilla suit. Was this race some type of record attempt (e.g. Guinness) or just a fun annual event?

  5. Pepper Pepper says:

    This is awesome. I am so glad you did it! Congratulations on your first 5k and overcoming your anxiety to do something most people will never do :)

  6. Sassafras says:

    Congrats! I love that you gave yourself a pep talk about which group to start with. But the big question is, what did you do with the gorilla suit? Do you think you’ll ever wear it again?

    • Nutmeg says:

      Well, the suit needs to air out, that’s for sure! If I run it again next year, I can use it and then I get a cheaper entry fee. But, hey, I will always have a last minute costume when needed.

  7. Salty Salty says:

    I am SOOO proud of you!!!! And so jealous you have a gorilla suit :) I’d be curious what kind of effect xanax has on your running. I’d think it would slow you down? I bet you’ll be so much faster during your next race without the gorilla suit and hopefully without the xanax – you’ll be a pro by then and totally not nervous, right? In all seriousness, it is normal to have prerace nerves, but I can only imagine how nervous it must have been this time for you. I do hope you feel more confident next time!

    • Nutmeg says:

      It could be that xanax would slow me down, but being slower is better than not being able to leave the house. ;-) But, with the way my anxiety manifests, my chest feels like it’s going to explode, so running might make me hyperventilate.

      The first run after the race made me feel so fast. I probably would have gone further than ever before but….well, I had a bit of a bathroom emergency.

      With surgery next week, I’m kind of concerned about how to not lose a lot of my progress. Since I can’t work for possibly two weeks, I’m not sure when I’ll be cleared to run.

  8. Rachel says:

    CONGRATS!!! Awesome job overcoming your fears and making it happen! And yay for having a supportive husband that pushed you to do it. That picture of you getting (into or out of?) the gorilla suit is adorable, I love your facial expression :) Oh and I totally have those same NB shoes!

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