Observations on the run:
1. My first ever road 5k since I started the whole OCR mess, and it may as well be a goofy (but charity funding) lark like an Ugly Sweater Run.
2. I purposely parked a distance away so I could give the ol’ bones a warm up jog. It also allowed an opportunity, for anyone in the neighborhood lucky enough to be out and about, to take in the magnificent glow of my sweater.
3. Seriously, my sweater had more sequins and shiny beads than a show at Charlie Brown’s Cabaret. The reflections were leaving scorch marks on the trees.
4. As I made my way over Park Drive Bridge into the park, I could see the festival area over at The Meadow.
5. Dropping into The Meadow loop, I could see the start and finish areas were festooned with huge inflated candy canes, reindeer, and a Santa Claus. A theme was emerging.
6. Having picked up my racer packet the day before (no shirt for this race, rather a goofy beanie with a huge Pom-Pom) I skipped the registration tents and went directly into the festival area, where free water and hot chocolate awaited.
7. The race theme hit me like a tinseled, blinking, knitted, polyester Mack truck.
8. A chiropractor doctor from Life Chiropractic had a tent, and in a weak moment I said yes when asked if I wanted my spine checked out. Next thing I know I’m on my stomach on a massage table getting felt up. Based on his assessment, I’m a cross between Quasimodo and Renfield.
9. The emcee had us line up along the edges, in reverse order, of the start corral. Having found a spot with a fellow GORMR in the first 20 feet, this allowed for some great sweater watching as people filed in down the middle.
10. The ugliness, silliness, inappropriateness, and the downright unbelievable heinous habiliments cannot be understated. My adornment was squarely in the top 10% of fugly, but there were some that made mine look like the most sophisticated bespoke article of clothing that Tom Ford himself could fabricate.
11. There were onesies (basically Snuggies with legs) that will give me nightmares for weeks.
12. And then the first wave started. Being very near the front, I quickly followed another fellow GORMR as we bobbed and weaved to get out of the pack.
13. Oh look! A cute dog!
14. Cramming a 5K into Piedmont Park required a route that looked on paper as if a hyperactive five year old, cracked out on a sugar high, got a hold of his favorite blue crayon and a Piedmont Conservancy Map, with visions of sea creatures in his head.
15. The route was sure to be fast and looked to take me to places in the park I had not been to in over a decade if not ever.
16. Oak hill started it off with a slight climb along 10th street. A massive, gorgeously gray Borzoi watched us with regal indifference as we cruised downhill, made a sharp right and hit the flats around the lake.
17. The expressions on the people just visiting the park with no idea of the sweater run were priceless. I of course was secure in my manliness despite the fetching ladies sweater vest i was wearing. I felt pretty.
18. Oh look! A cute dog!
19. As we crossed the Lake Clara Mead Bridge, passing the public pool, I flashed back to the early 90s and a sultry summer evening; I recalled the old diving pool, a hole in the fence and some illicit skinning dipping.
20. Looking at friend’s photos, it seems us front runners missed the snow at the inflatable arch.
21. Oh look! A cute dog!
22. Stairs! An obstacle!
23. Any minute I expected to be passed, like a Trabant on the Autobahn, by a ‘real’ runner.
24. An elongated ‘S’ took us though The Active Oval (another trip down memory lane of soccer matches and overly serious kickball games) and put us in the middle of that great downhill near the tennis center.
25. A slight uphill towards The Welcome Plaza and I mentally flagged; I actually considered stopping at the Blue Donkey coffee truck for a quick espresso.
26. Oh look! a cute dog!
27. Still no one passing me. Where my 20 minute peeps at?
28. A quick dash to The Promenade, more stairs (down), a 180 and we were on our way through the Six Springs Wetlands.
29. The chill of the morning gave way to uncharacteristic balminess and the goofy hat had to be shed. The dogs in the dog park recoiled in terror at the sweater and the sweaty “hat head”.
30. Oh look! a cute dog!
31. A long flight of stairs down (the race director must have OCR tendencies) and The Meadow came into view.
32. Photo op! …Heavy metal pose
33. Photo op! ….Blue Steel
34. Finally one guy passes me. All elite runners take the day off?
35. I tried to make the jump to light speed as I approached the Park Tavern, but the month+ of no road work coupled with the pain in my ass (piriformis muscle; my new enemy), assured that the hyperdrive motivator just didn’t work.
36. I coast across the finish line doing my best Chariots of Fire pose (arms out, chest high, chin up, face turned towards the bluebell sky, an expression of “victory” bathed in the glorious radiance of a warm December sun) when I hear the announcer; “Red Sweater beats Green sweater for 5th!” And then I see the bobbing ponytail of the girl I passed halfway through the race.
37. Yes!! Epic photo must have been made. Gameface Media, don’t you dare disappoint me. I’ve got people counting on this photo finish.
38. A quick water and it’s off to the Sam Adams beer tent for my free race beer.
39. Great people watching continues as I yuck it up with some fellow GORMRs.
40. Then someone says, “That guy over there is giving away Kind bars”. I would have won the race if I ran like I did to get a Kind bar.
41. It was a fantastic day for a run, I thought, as I jogged back to the car.
42. Nice Punisher shirt, creepy guy on a park bench…………
*Photos By: Ugly Sweater Run and Tretsch