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36th birthday: Great Race Cake Wreck! (29 Sep 2015 at 08:17)
Sunday was my 36th birthday, and this year it coincided with the Great Race 10k. Last time that happened I ran it carrying a tiny cake, a feat that I guess no longer seems that difficult to me, and so this year I needed to increase the size of the cake.

It took about a day and a half to make. The cake's skelebones are made of cardboard and its bone adhesive is hot glue. You can see the tab-style construction approach in this in-progress pic:

Cake skeleton in 'wheels-up' configuration
Cake skeleton in 'wheels-up' configuration


The cake of course also needed to have actual cake! Rose baked almost all of the 17 cakes that adorned it, a scene kind of like this:

Cake-o-rama
Cake-o-rama


Some were mild caketastrophes and we did some America's Test Kitchen stuff to figure out whether it was a good idea to reduce the amount this ingredient or that one in order to get the most pliable and sturdy cake skin, but we didn't keep any notes or nothin' like that. We also made 6 pounds of frosting, which was not nearly enough.

Due to lack of forethought, the cake cardboard was so big that I couldn't fit it out of any of the doors of my house except turned on its side (and then just barely). But thanks to midthought, I did that ahead of adding any cake, which would not have tolerated rotation, and assembled it in the garage. It looked like this:

I did have to use the ladder to put the candles in
I did have to use the ladder to put the candles in


How could 6 pounds of frosting not have been enough? The "imagine cake here" stuff I wrote on the cardboard as an insurance policy against the eventuality that the cake would fall off while running. I really didn't have a lot of confidence in the vertical cakes, which were just attached with string and frosting. And if I was just going to be running around in a dirty cardboard box, I wanted people to at least have some hope of puzzling it out after I passed, like "Wait—I think it said something about cake on it? What does 'erstwhile' mean?" But it turned out my cakestimate was off, and we wouldn't have had enough ingredients anyway, so the bottom layer went without cakes (I put some insulation foam down there which you can see in a later picture).

Which was probably for the better. The skeleton was already sagging under the weight and the butter soaking into its paper joints.

That night I barely slept due to cakemares. These were not performative fears, but two main worries: That I would wake to find the cake had collapsed under its own weight, yielding deflcakegate, or that an enterprising ant would have found its way up the sawhorse legs to discover the motherlode, and I'd wake to find the costume teeming with millions of ants. Third worry: both scenarios. But in the morning it was fine, a simple team-lift effort, using the knees and not the lower back, to get it on me. I immediately realized that I was going to need a mouth hole, which I cut from the inside out, since it would not be easy to get that thing off again.

I stepped on a bathroom scale before and after to weigh in. The edifice was 30 lbs.

No longer a need to smile for photos
No longer a need to smile for photos


Since it also wouldn't fit in a normal car, we walked to the start, about 2 miles up the hill known as Squirrel. We got there pretty early, and managed to get it off for 20 minutes while we waited for the race to start.


This was probably the worst first mile of any costume I've done. Most of the other costumes are things you might reasonably wear walking for a short distance, and just get hard because of how they destroy your body. This one was really hard to start, and I was trying to keep it from ripping apart, and of course had not spent any time thinking about race ergonomics, so it was just bouncing its weight on my shoulders with each step. The shoulders got sweaty, the cardboard got softy, and tore, and some people were like "Looks like it's time to give up the cake! Do you need some help getting it off?" and I'm like "I'm not giving up!!". I had a bunch of weird arm techniques like where I'd lean backwards into the cake with my head and neck and push my elbows into my belly so that my hands would be rigid tripod legs, or where I'd lift the whole cake onto straight-up arms to breathe for a sec (but then I couldn't see), etc. Eventually the head came off except for a small cardboard tendon, and I looked like this:

Oops, forgot that I needed to smile again
Oops, forgot that I needed to smile again


But the flip side is that as cake fell off, it became lighter and somewhat easier. I decided to make a point to not actively shed cake, but when it did fall of of its own accord I was fine with that. In the last half, more and more hit the street, and it became plausible again to put the head back on and hold the bottom of the costume up with my elbows or whatever.

By the end of the race, it was light enough that I could run almost at a pace that one would call "running". I'm in this video crossing the finish line at about 8:30. My official time was 1h21m55s, slow of course but not all that bad. There's also some humorous coverage in local news. I'm sore in pretty weird ways today!
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Nels (74.125.59.147) – 09.29.15 15:56:24
You were mentioned before former Mayor Tom Murphy. I think that makes you the real Tom Murphy.
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Tom 7 (74.125.59.147) – 09.29.15 16:10:21
I was just remarking on this same thing earlier today! "ANOTHER Tom Murphy..."
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kcopic (50-242-67-42-static.hfc.comcastbusiness.net) – 09.29.15 18:31:31
FYI, spoons and I are crying laughing reading this. So, thanks? <3 kc
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Herr Dreyer (ip5b43ecbb.dynamic.kabel-deutschland.de) – 09.29.15 19:04:22
In this picture, you look like the love child of Marina Abramovic and Claes Oldenburg.
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Ceri (pool-108-32-42-121.pitbpa.fios.verizon.net) – 09.29.15 22:43:30
Did you see this article?
http://www.pointparkglobe.com/news/view.php/1011939/Great-Race-brings-massive-crowd-through-

- - - -

Sophomore dance major Michelle Happ commented on the runners in crazy outfits at this year’s event.

“I saw a guy in a shark costume running, and another guy dressed up as a robot,” Happ said.

As she was speaking, a man wearing a homemade cake outfit, made out of cardboard that hung heavily around his shoulders, came jogging up to the students, desperately reaching out for a cup. His fake icing dripped on the asphalt as he ran by.
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N7 (c-73-25-74-23.hsd1.or.comcast.net) – 09.30.15 02:42:07
"fake icing"

..."fake"

If only they had realized that costume contained actual cake.
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Tom 7 (74.125.59.147) – 09.30.15 10:32:46
Yeah seriously! And I was not desperate for a cup, I just thought it would be funny to stick my arm out of the melty cardboard hole at the water station. FACT CHECK
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Sophia (108-91-170-155.lightspeed.sntcca.sbcglobal.net) – 10.04.15 12:31:18
BEST YET
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Tom 7 (pool-173-75-25-122.pitbpa.fios.verizon.net) – 10.05.15 22:19:33
:) Thanks!
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jonas (catv-80-99-184-113.catv.broadband.hu) – 10.16.15 07:45:32
Ad for running, would you care to give us an update about the status of the Pac Tom project? The last news is from 2013-11.
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