Tom7 has become fond of running races under difficult conditions. One day, talking about possible future costumes, I somehow committed myself to a ridiculous pair costume. The idea was for Tom to run with chains on his legs and arms, like an escaped convict. It seemed so unlikely to be possible that I agreed to chase him as a keystone cop - if he went through with it.
When it became clear that he was serious, I had some work to do. I had never run a marathon before, so I had to train for a couple months. I had a number of overtraining injuries, since I'd never run more than a half, but after some patience I was able to run about 22 miles or so around 10 minute pace. My chief concern for myself was that the costume would be very warm, and I usually am overheated running in any clothes. My primary concern though, was that Tom's feet were going to fall off from the repetitive grinding of the leg irons.
The whole thing was basically great. Everyone loved the costumes and we got tons of support. I have never liked performing in this kind of way, whether it is singing, giving talks, or dancing - but I have to say that I can finally see why people do this kind of thing. I am always so worried about the attention being on me, and this time I was able to see that it doesn't have to be about that. It can be just about making others' experiences better/more fun too. We got tons of laughter and comments from other runners like
- You guys just made my day, seriously
- I have to keep going - I can't get beat by the guy with leg irons
- I love you (This happened many times)
We also got tons of other kinds of comments:
- "Are you running the whole marathon?" Tom's response to this varied, but usually was something snarky like "Of course. Who runs a half marathon?" Responses to this varied.
- "Are you guys going to switch halfway?" This was a very strange question, but we were asked it many times. I don't really understand where it came from, but I tried to answer "I'm not going to wear leg irons - are you crazy?"
- "Love your costume." Me: "It's not a costume."
- "Did you train in the outfit?" Tom: "It's my first time breaking out!"
It was still a marathon though, and was a painful race, especially for Tom. This picture above was from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and clearly shows the restrictions the irons put on him. I spent most of the hours watching the slack in the leg chain occasionally whack Tom in the calves, which was sympathetically awful to watch at first. However, the semi-periodic motion slowly became interesting in the same way watching a screensaver can be fun.
Definitely see Tom's somewhat overlapping description of the marathon for his perspective, including all the details of his injuries.
It turns out that the most annoying problem I had was not my cardio, or my legs, or even the heat. It was the moustache. It had this septum clip which loosened with every jolt. I finally figured out that I could generally keep some hairs in my mouth to prevent it from wildly swinging around. I actually had people yell that they couldn’t believe I still had the thing on (having seen us at the beginning and end of the race).
Though we were very slow (it turns out that leg irons are apparently designed to prevent you from running), neither of us really cared. There were tons of other great moments, like when the actual REAL cop busted out his own very REAL baton to "help" me and approached Tom in a very menacing way. I thought for a second that he was serious. I do have video of one of my favorite moments (thanks Turadg!). Sometimes we'd pass bands, and do various kinds of antics - hopefully making them laugh while singing or whatever. But one band managed to coordinate fast enough to play a song themed for us as we passed: