The harest thing I’ve ever done to this point!!!!

27 10 2007

I know I’m supposed to write about my races in order, but I’ve been a little busy.  I got back on Tuesday and it’s been a scramble all week.

 Jackie and I did the Denver Gorilla Run today – .  It was 5.7 kilometers (3.6 miles?) with one hitch …. you’re in a full length gorilla suit.  The head is a rubber lined nightmare and the body … well … that’s not terrible ‘cept it itches.  My goal was to finish.  Jackie jogs in spurts and starts …. and had the camera … but had never done an event before.

 Ok – Jackie and Me –> We know each other from the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  She took over Gear and Tent this year and we really bonded.  I’ve been Tiki Mama for something like 4 years now.  She’s a little shorter than I am and usually has her Mohawk in pink for breast cancer awareness.  She’s a bundle of energy and is fantastic as an individual!

So – my downstairs neighbor Gina drove me to downtown Denver at some ungainly hour of 9 … most events I do are DONE by this time, but ok.  It was chilly and I was wearing winter leggings and long sleeves under the suit.  Jackie and her friend Lynn were going to meet me at the Wyncoop Brewery (where the registration was) and my racewalking buddy Mike and his grand-daughter, the Lovely Miss Haley, were going to meet us there at the start then over by around mile 2 and then back at the beginning.

The little flies in the ointment were my cellular not working, Jackie forgetting hers and the Rockies being in the World Series tonight!  The first two made coordination a little wonky and the last made parking insane if you left your spot to go chase us … like my intrepid friend Mike did!  A real quandary was how to use the Blue Palace when you’re in a suit that only has an opening in the back!  The Answer: You don’t!  I kept my hair in place with a bandanna, which was probably the brightest thing I’d ever done!

The purpose of this is to have fun and raise money/awareness for the continuation of the late Dianne Fossey’s work.  I had no clue what to expect and it was a hoot and a half! 

Check in was at 9 … and next year, I’m getting there at 9 again just to watch people come up and transform into their costumes.  You just have to do the course … ride a bike, roller blade, skate board, be pulled in a wagon, run, wheelchair, normal walk, jog or, in my case, racewalk.  The thing is if you’re going for fastest or something like that, you’ve got to wear the rubberized mask for the entire event. 

We had an amazing time … I’ll post photos someplace and drop a link because it was a hoot and a half.  A guy completely decked out as one of the sentries from Planet of the Apes …. Harry Potter (complete with gorilla feet), Einstein, Fidel Castro, Various prom queens and a gorilla in the shower …. Groups: Apes Gone Wild, Gorilligan’s Island (which made me think of my friends Mark and George on their sailing adventure right now), killer bees, Monty Python Night + Maiden w/coconuts + Can of Spam, a Gorilla Gang, and Roller Apes.  Of course, there were tons of Rockies related themes.  My favorite groups had to be a guy we hung out with who was a trailer trash gal with his buddies being a copper and an escaped jailbird … and an amazing pair who had dry ice and smoke behind their heads – Gorillas in the Mist.  Jackie and I were quite tame … but sweet … by comparison.  Jackie pulled her real hair (tiny pink Mohawk) through the top of her Gorilla head and was wearing a pink bra that lit up which was wonderful.  I was wearing a purple Team in Training singlet and a purple tutu — which was, surprisingly, quite a hit!

 Lizzy and Jackie before the Race

Before we took off, I realized that I’d forgotten to set my watch to re-charge .. and depending on a Garmin isn’t always the best when it’s me who has to remember to recharge it!  Ok – I’ve been on myself to stop depending on it for a while and this was to be FUN.  Of course, this means that I’m going to have to wait until they update their website for the finishing time!

Only about 1/3 a mile in, I realized that most of the people immediately pulled their heads off and had some issues with their wardrobes.  All I could think of was how fun and functional the outfit I was in was … I could walk, dance and play!  and you know … I didn’t feel the tutu at all … in fact, I kept it on until I got home!

Right from the beginning, my legs felt like lead and I was really surprised when we got to the 1/2 mile point because it didn’t feel like a 1/2 a mile … but that’s fine.  I was overheating on a rather grand scale!  I did keep my water bottle on me which helped me to bypass the water stations.  Water stations would have been hard anyway.

Couldn’t spit … and couldn’t see!  I put my specs on the outside of the mask simply because they were fogging up too much on the inside.  Next year … it’s either Contact Lenses or I’ll have the eye holes cut out more.  I was kind of teased at the beginning for having such a huge mouth cut out … but I was able to breathe … and that’s got a lot to do with things.

Jackie, as I say, is a bit of a sprinter in a jogging fashion.  She does what her legs tell her to do.  I kept a consistent pace of whatever it was and played a lot of leap frog with folks.  I’m starting to get used to it.  I figured I was going to be the last person across the line, but that was fine … I was doing this for me.  Some people Bungee Jump or Dive out of Planes for their birthdays in their early 40’s … I find events that make me laugh and make new friends.

So – I knew Jackie was in front of me – and she’d been stopping at all the water stops taking photos and making friends.  I came around to the second to last water stop and saw my buddy Mike and his granddaughter (he’s too young for one, but that’s fine) up on the hill I was going toward.  BLAAAAPPPPP!!!! He set off the air horn and I waved … while trying to keep good form! (smile)

I come around the corner and Jackie runs down to meet me … it was the Reunion of Cancer Sux Gorilla Girls … and Mike was in the greatest place to get the photo!  Just About Mile 2 … it’s the Reunion of Cancer Sux Gorilla Girls! I was really tired and it was a wonderful jolt of good vibes to see both of them.  Mike’s a walker and works really hard at it … so he kind of knew what I was going through.  I was having some air issues, but I love the water bottle I’ve got that has a long spout on it — I could get my own mix of Gatorade and water down when I needed it.

Jackie and I were together for a little bit, but her legs don’t much like walking – which is cool – so she hopped off to someplace.  That’s when I looked across the Platte River and realized that there were a BOATLOAD of people behind me … some jogging … some on skates … kind of shook me a little.  I also was feeling a little light headed.  I had some Cliff Shock Blocks I’d wrapped in wax paper in my fanny pack, so I sucked on the cherry blocks for the rest of the race.

Up a little hill and around to a hill I knew from another event.  I knew where I was going until we took a turn to get back on Wyncoop.

There are a few things to realize about the heads of these suits … there’s almost no way to cut in peripheral vision … unless you have mirrors everyplace.  I couldn’t see curbs, small children, plants, cracks in the sidewalk, dogs etc when they were below me … had to keep my head up … which is, of course, good racewalking form (smile). 

I hit the street and tried to get my bearings.  That wasn’t easy.  I was really getting overheated and I couldn’t keep my glasses clear, but I knew the finish had to be someplace close.  I got across a couple of streets and finally saw the low slung FINISH line.  No loud music or high place finish sign … I was at a small event!  The minute I got a straight shot, this Gorilla in a Purple Tutu got a second wind and did her level best to beat feet in.  

I’d done it … I’d finished this blasted thing with the mask on … I might have had to wipe my glasses about every 20 yards toward the end … but I got the job done … and I was standing straight and my form was good and I was bound and determined to get in under 48 minutes.

48 minutes for 3.7 miles …. that’s slow,right? 

NO!  You try it on your first shot in a fluffy furry gorilla suit, rubberized mask, singlet and purple tutu!  I DARE ya! 

So … here comes Lizzy … shusshing her tutu as much as her still feeling like lead legs would take her.  There was cheering on the outside … and me feeling like I was going to pass out on the inside!  I’m very serious here!  I was fixated on a point just past the finish line and I was going for it … if anyone had crossed in front of me, they were a dead gorilla.  I realized I had picked up this strange habit of slowing down right as the timer was going off when I was doing track work outs … I want to blow PAST  finish lines … not slow down and saunter across them.

I blew past alright!  I also ripped that mask off as fast as I could get it because I thought I was going DOWN!  I realized, of course, that I couldn’t pass out because my private Medical Team wasn’t there.  I figured they were going to have a nightmare parking coming back … and I think I was making some decent time.  I caught the hours out of the corner of my eye – Numbers are hard for me to read sometimes … not as bad as letters (I’m severely dyslexic) … it was either 46 or 48.  I know it wasn’t 49.  They were handwriting the times, so I’m hoping they got me.

Me being the shy Gorilla that I am asked if there was a first WALKER across … like there were first RUNNERS.  It’s not judged, so I didn’t harp on racewalker … but I DID wear the mask the whole way!

I thought Jackie had already come in, but I heard someone say “Look at the Pink one … She’s got a Banana Phone!”  JACKIE!  I DOVE back on the course — we’re a team, damnit!  This wasn’t chipped.  I covered my race number so they wouldn’t get it and I bopped in with Jackie! 

You know – this was hard … but it was truly fun.  There was a lot of playing around like there is at the back of the Disney.  My bandanna was SOAKED.  I’m either wearing contacts or doing something different with the glasses … but dang!  What made it even more fun was Jackie bopping around on the course … being Wackie Jackie … her friend Lynn keeping care of our stuff at the Wyncoop bar and being a really good sport … and my buddy Mike who REALLY wanted to come out and play, but he took photos, brought his full of fun and life energy and shared his little 3 year old granddaughter … who was probably just a smidge perplexed about all these grown-ups in gorilla suits playing dress up! 

The sad thing was just after Jackie got in, they were starting to clean up.  I kept looking for Mike, but I had a feeling they weren’t finding parking and we’d chat later (he’s responsible for the photos in this post).  People were kind of done and hanging out … but be DAMNED!  I got a third wind and I really did look like a Muppet on Espresso but I was cheering folks.  They were finishing and doing it in their own style!  Behind me, a couple of guys said “HEY – I know you!!!” Turned out they met me when I was a course martial for the Park to Park 10 Miler … and the gal of their group was the first female in on this one.  “We saw you doing that walking thing in and cheered!  You should get First Walker!”  I laughed and said if it was offered, I’d have it proudly on my wall!  I turned around just in time to see  a guy come in who was pushing his wheelchair.  His hands were closed, so I don’t think they work and it was a chair that, I found out later, he plays wheelchair tennis in.  Dang!  I was REALLY impressed.  He felt lousy about how slow he was … I glared “HEY – You FINISHED!”  I stayed out as long as I could, but I was catching a chill.

I’m kind of conquering fears through racewalking … I kind of have that same feeling I did after my first marathon … I’ve now done this event and I can do the next challange.  I’ve now done an event in a full gorilla suit and not died, I wonder what is next … I’m sure my coach has something up his sleeve … and I’m not sure if I want to know!

All that aside … as I hang up my suit … inside out … Bailey, the dog, is relaxing that Mom’s back to being Mom … and I’m looking forward to adding members to Cancer Sux Gorilla Gang!  Nothing will ever take the place, however, of Wackie Jackie and Dizzy Lizzy out there … and Mike’s photo that captured it all!

Just About Mile 2 … it’s the Reunion of Cancer Sux Gorilla Girls! 

Who ever said all the fun was in SF … I’m finding some here in D’Town!




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