[ back to Tom 7 Radar ]

p
e
r
s
o
n
a
l
Pittsburgh Marathon: Tell me that guy's not from the CDC (03 May 2009 at 22:42)
So today I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon, I lovely jaunt through Pittsburgh's many distinct neighborhoods. My time was pants. Embarrassing, really, at 4h13m17s. I say that because my first marathon last year I did in a respectable 3h23m04s. But I knew this would happen: I had lost a month and a half of training because of a mysterious back injury, and then when I got mysteriously better I immediately overtrained myself into some kind of other illness, and so I was totally out of shape for this event. Since I knew I was not going to have a shot at beating my personal best, and who wants to try hard and put in a mediocre-bad non-best time, I decided yesterday that I would run in costume. Costumes are a kind of marathon tradition, though there were hardly any other costumes in Pittsburgh this year, surprisingly. I only have pretty much one costume making strategy, which is to use a full-body Tyvek jumpsuit with something written on it and maybe some kind of props. This time it was a timely reference. I wore it as a hazmat suit, and picked up a respirator at the hardware store too (all sold out at the drugstore, somewhat alarmingly), then emblazoned it with "CDC — INFLUENZA UNIT" and on the back "H1N1 INFLUENZA-A 2009". This was the first time I ever wore a costume in a race but I really liked it. Lots of cheering people (or others in the race) got it, and it is really fun to hear them mention it or pick up the cheer volume/directedness as you go by, since 4 hours is a pretty long and potentially boring period without stimulus. 1/3 of people approximately thought it was just doctor scrubs, which I can understand because med students are in the habit of around here wearing their scrubs to the coffeeshop or the Shadyside X gym or whatever, I think as a way to attract mates. (Obviously they do not make good workout clothes nor would it be any particular hardship to change.) But if the costume was scrubs it would be dumb to write CDC INFLUENZA UNIT H1N1 all over it. At least one other comment suggested the interpretation that I was an escaped prisoner, which I think is funny, especially the idea that I might have escaped and run 26 miles only to end up right where I started, back at the penitentiary. The downsides of this costume are multitudinous: e.g. the respirator made it basically impossible to breathe. I wore it for the first mile and a half but it was like sucking bigtime wind, whereas the first few miles are usually super easy. So most of the race I had that around my chin and maybe covering my mouth but breathing from the nose, except that I'd put the hood and mask on again when I sussed that a cheering and photography gauntlet was coming up—even though then it was soaked in sweat and gatorade so I'd be inhaling that moistness—because it definitely increased the cheering factor. Here's what it looks like with all options enabled:

H1N1 swine flu costume at Pittsburgh Marathon 2009
(Thx to Nels for this photo.)


Downside #2 is majorer: Fact: That suit is basically waterproof to protect the skin or underclothes, so it just stores up sweat drops and heat to make a sort of stinko jacuzzi inside. After a few miles I took off the clothes I had underneath, which helped a bit, and I also ran for a bit with the top down bare-chest just me holding it like an oversized jacuzzi diaper, but then I thought if I'm going to do a costume marathon I should really wear a costume the whole time. Anyway, this did not help my speed but it would have been shit anyway.

Why did I suxx so much? The costume was some trouble but the lack of training was the biggest component. This was a good lesson. I felt much worse running this than I did putting in a very much better time in SF. Training works. I also thought this course was pretty hard. You can't really tell it from the elevation chart, but lots of it is these rolling up- and down-hills. The three-mile continuous climb comes at pretty much the worst time, and it was responsible for offing me and a few friends. The weather started out and ended perfect but there was some water on the road from a storm yesterday and it drizzled a bit more, and by mile 16ish my shoes were soaked with juice, which actually really sucks because it makes the shoes a lot heavier and harder to move and blister-raisins up your feet in an uncomfortable way. I also got some bigtime muscle cramps, I don't know why. The 4-mile bike trip to and fro probably did not help.

Big ups to the folks from the CMU running club, most of which were doing their first marathons and many of which put me to shame. Thanks a lot to all the friends that showed neighborhood pride by coming out to cheer (sometimes in multiple locations!).

Speaking of bigtime, I made the KDKA news. Check out the rousing story Supporters Cheer On Marathon Runners for my one-second appearance at about 1:43. They don't even explain or mention my costume, so I guess they must have just thought I give a mean high-five, which is true.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Chris C (76.99.55.118) – 05.04.09 00:53:15
Jesus, I had trouble making it through a mile in 15 minutes for high school gym class, never mind 26-something in under 4.25 hours while wearing a giant plastic suit and mask.

nice work
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Scott (formerly known as Graue) (ip70-179-94-234.dc.dc.cox.net) – 05.04.09 01:52:02
Heh. Your pace of about 9:40 a mile if I did the math right, is about what I averaged on my best days when I was running regularly. And that was only for like 5-8 miles at a time. Anyway, good show and here's hoping for less costume and more training next time. :)
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-69-3-248-214.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 05.04.09 08:30:49
Cheers. I definitely want to get in shape to do another one where I can qualify for Boston (3h10m59s) some time this year. I think it is doable for me.

I forgot to mention: This was a comeback version of the marathon after it wasn't held for 6 years because of no $$$. It was pretty intense. They had to cap the registration at 10,500 and change the beginning of the course to prevent danger. Good impression all around.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Nels (gs5048.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 05.04.09 09:43:54
Yeah that TV appearance was pretty short... But maybe your first on in Pittsburgh?
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
msiegler (65.210.56.209) – 05.04.09 09:59:29
Incorrect but awesome!
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
matus casinghino (cse-dhcp-10-158.ucsd.edu) – 05.04.09 17:16:25
i am so much in love with theme from msiegler
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Anonymous (c-71-235-193-208.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) – 05.04.09 18:41:13
No wonder you took four hours, you were oxygen deprived from the first mile in the mask, dehydrated from sweating in the suit and had squishy feet from puddle jumpin. Next year, shorts and tee shirt and tamaflu...
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Scott (formerly known as Graue) (ip70-179-94-234.dc.dc.cox.net) – 05.05.09 14:45:44
Oh, offtopic, dude, but your RSS feed is broken. I was wondering why your feed wasn't showing up on my LiveJournal recently, and I checked the feed page there, and it is all, "Error Message: RSS parser error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 41, column 1778, byte 14725" and stuff.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-69-3-248-214.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 05.06.09 00:29:51
Thanks for the heads up. This has happened before when I've included non-ASCII characters. I thought I'm encoding UTF-8 correctly but maybe not. Other parsers accept it; livejournal's is very picky.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Tom 7 (h-69-3-248-214.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 05.06.09 00:38:41
Seems like it's my fault for putting Latin characters and purporting them to be utf-8. I'll try to fix it.
c
o
m
m
e
n
t
Anonymous (h-74-0-114-2.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 06.21.09 20:19:46
I fixed.
p
o
s
t

a

c
o
m
m
e
n
t
[ Tom 7 Radar  •  Tom 7 on Google+  •  on Twitter  •  on Facebook ]