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.
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 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!