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San Francisco Marathon 2014: Spa Day! (29 Jul 2014 at 23:58)
News flash: I like doing stupid things in road races, especially marathons. So let's talk about that again. This weekend's was the San Francisco Marathon. I bet there are some people out there that get super comfortable after running a marathon, like just lying in a soapy warm bubble bath with some champagne and getting a pedicure, but I thought, why pamper yourself after the marathon when you could pamper yourself during the marathon?

Here I am at the beginning of the race taking a weird selfie
Here I am at the beginning of the race taking a weird selfie


Actually, this costume was conceived on the basis of softness, because I needed to be able to get it on the airplane. My first thought was 3 oz or less of liquid or gel in a transparent baggie, but those high-concept costumes make racers alarmed and friends worry about me, and anyway how would you even wear that? So instead some soft stuff that absolutely cannot be confiscated by TSA: Plush bathrobe, loofa with a handle, hair wrap, and memory foam flip-flop spa slippers. (Yes, as many racers wondered: I was indeed wearing something under the robe, just a pair of boxers.)

I stayed with my friend called Spoons in SF and the marathon starts before public transit, so I walked to the start, about 5 miles at 4am. I don't know the city all that well. At some point I was being directioned under some highway overpasses that became increasingly sketchy fenced-up trespass shanty towns, which was one of a few moments during the day where it occurred to me I might be making bad life choices. But, I could tell by the subtle, tentative body language of others that I was the danger. I made it to the start just on time and took the photo above.

Let's talk about proper athletic footwear. These slippers aren't. The walk down there was not terrible, definitely slower than regular walking, but you've worn slippers before so you know what it's like. Immediately when I started running there were two serious problems: My shins started burning, and the slippers kept nearly falling off my feet. This was worrisome, because I'm used to getting 8–10 miles in before it starts feeling intolerable. Fortunately, I stuck with it and pinched the flip flop string in-between my toes and things started to come together. I found that a shuffle where the flippers barely left the ground was much better for keeping them on, and even pretty fast. At that point I was doing about 9 minute miles. The shins burned but it became clear that it was just my legs trying to warn me about my bad life choices and once we had a nice adult discussion about talking back, that went away. Here is a video of me kind of figuring out how to shuffle:



There was just one persistent problem, which was that every once in a while the front of the slipper would catch on something, and fold down under my foot, and my toes would go straight down on the pavement. Not painful or anything but it seemed like the potential for acute disaster was there.

Then we got to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a real nice part of the race. They close down two car lanes of it, one for runners to go out, and one for them to come back. It can get a bit crowded—a car lane is not that wide—and that was a problem for me because my left slipper totally flew off. Basically it was folding more and more often, because with each fold it became more downward-pointing, and more catch-on-stuff-y, and so I kicked it forward and picked it up without slowing down too much to get in the way of the people behind me. I don't mind being psychologically disruptive, but actually obstructing real runners with my shenanigans is bad sportsmanship and not OK. But there was nowhere to pull over and get the slipper back on, so I ran the second half of the bridge on a bare left foot. The good news is that the bridge is quite windswept and didn't have almost any tiny pointed gravel caltrops on it. Not so bad. Probably about one mile. Basically a pedicure. At the end I finally found a side-of-the-road place to do field upgrades. At this point the slippers looked like this:

Pedicure
Pedicure


Actually holding up pretty well, except for the downward-pointing thing. Spoons had lent me some packing tape, the super flimsy brown stuff that was invented by people that feel regular packing tape is too expensive and luxurious. Treat yoself! I used that to update the left shoe to address the toe-pointing. It solved that problem and added a few new small ones, like now my toes didn't really fit all the way through, and tape sticking to the skin, and small rocks and sand getting trapped in there with my foot. After a few more miles the right slipper started failing the same way, so that one got supercharged, too.

Dr. Spoons captured this around mile 20, which is where marathons get sad for everyone:

Marbathon, a.k.a. bathrobe marathon
Marbathon, a.k.a. bathrobe marathon


You can see I am having a blast, though. That plush robe and hair wrap kept me super warm and comfy. I tried (not very hard) to keep the robe overlappingly covering my body, but it would open up as seen in picture, which made that aspect a bit cooler and safer. It stayed tied on the whole time (except when I retied it to try to wrap up again, or make the knot more aesthetically loopy), as did the hair wrap. I got lucky that it was a fairly mild day until the last third or so, because in the sun they were both very uncomfortably moisture-absorbing and hot.

Sometimes I asked the medical stations if they had exfoliating facial cream or cucumber slices for my eyes, but they did not. As usual for this kind of costume, people first noticed the bathrobe and thought ha-ha, and then saw the slippers and were like (!!). It's kind of weird how close people will talk about you, seemingly as though you can't hear them. Almost everybody understood this one without explanation, though, except for someone who thought it was like a king's robe (?) and some people who were absolutely sure that they were some kind of special athletic slippers. And weren't they? Nearing about mile 23 my right foot was hurting pretty bad, and I was worried I might have given myself a stress fracture, so I walked gingerly until the last stretch. I think it was actually just some weird deep-insides cramp or something less serious, like my foot guts trying to warn me about bad life choices, because running the ending gauntlet felt okay, and walking around with sneakers on now is pretty much OK. Here's what they looked like at the end of the race (plus BART ride, plus walk):

F-- would not buy again
F-- would not buy again


I thought it'd be good to write a review of these slippers for Bed Bath & Beyond ("more like Bed Bath & Be Conned!!") but these particular ones are not online. But I bled a lot less than the ice skates, which were allegedly designed for sports, so that's worth at least a rating of ★☆☆☆☆.
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ndm (73.163.28.107) – 07.30.14 20:12:57
Nice how he thematically took the photo right below the wash & dry.
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Sophia (108-89-38-179.lightspeed.sntcca.sbcglobal.net) – 08.02.14 08:12:22
FYI for next marathon: MUNI runs all night.
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Tom 7 (c-67-186-7-254.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.02.14 13:10:33
Ah, does it? I even took MUNI to the race expo, there was just some warning in the materials that it was before public transit because it was Sunday. Next time!
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