Wednesday, June 6, 2012

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half: A View from a Banana Suit

Uh. Well, I hadn't planned on running this year's San Diego RnR Half. I was actively *not* running it, in fact, because after the unbelievable disaster that was RnR Las Vegas, I didn't really feel like giving Competitor Group any of my money ever again.

Then a week and a half before the race, I got an email from my running club coach. Jamba Juice wanted two people to run the half in banana costumes. They'd pay your registration and give you a $50 Jamba card as a thank-you. Free race in a silly costume? ME ME ME I WANNA. (When I showed up for our group run that Saturday, everyone in the club was like "oh yeah, we knew you were going to jump on that." I HAVE A REPUTATION APPARENTLY.)

When I picked up the costume at the race expo, the Jamba people told me I could modify it however I wanted. You've got to be careful about saying things like that to me, naive little Jamba Juice people. Behold! BEDAZZLED BANANA at race start:


Besides the bedazzling, I did have to do some fairly significant modifications to be able to run in the costume. If I just wore it as-is, the back of the head hole rested on the back of my neck, and the arm holes were halfway down my upper arms. That's a one-way ticket to Chafingtown-Upon-Pain. I tried to rig some straps to support it, but in the end, I ended up sewing the banana to my trusty LL Bean backpack. I also made the head opening bigger and reinforced it with boning, and I cut the leg opening much larger. (I had cut the armholes bigger, but it turned out they worked better at their original size. So I sewed them back together and covered the seams with jewels.) I rhinestoned the Jamba logo on the front and also made a hairbow and shoebows, which I likewise rhinestoned. And I clipped five Pennyblossoms to the head opening.

Parking last year was horrific, so this time I parked at Qualcomm Stadium and took the trolley into town. Honestly, I probably spent about as much time on the trolley + walking to the start as I would've spent sitting in traffic going to the parking lot, so it was pretty much a wash. But I met a really nice lady named Tabby on the trolley, and we chatted all the way to race start! I also lost one of my shoe bows and one of my Pennyblossoms along the way. This was the start of a trend. :P

I was planning to take the race very easy, since a) I hadn't been training, and b) I WAS WEARING A GIANT BANANA SUIT. I figured I'd probably finish somewhere between a 2:15-2:30. Plus I wanted to really enjoy it-- I wanted to wave to people, yell encouragement, take pictures, all that good stuff.

I ended up starting in corral 11, because that was the corral that was launching when I was finally ready to go. Suited me just fine! Almost immediately, I lost another of my Pennyblossoms, and the other ones really started annoying me because they were hitting my head. So I started giving them away to little girls who were spectating along the course. :) I hope their parents let them keep the hair clip from the weird banana lady!

My coworker Jamie was waiting on the freeway as we ran north-- she had planned to hand out Otter Pops like last year, but this year the race people told her she couldn't. She was a liability or something. Way to suck the fun out of it, Rock N Roll! But she gave me an Otter Pop. A pink one! Nom.

Rock N Roll has bands every mile or so, and one of the early ones was just a guy on a piano. He was playing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song as I approached, and when he saw me he yelled "Banana!" and started playing "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time." I laughed. A lot.

My favorite "band"-- the awesome drummers around Mile 7!


PF Chang's also had costumed runners-- ten guys (also from my running club) running with a Chinese dragon! If you "beat the dragon," you're supposed to get a coupon for a free lettuce wrap. I caught up with the dragon somewhere around Mile 11-- they had started in corral 2 but were running very slowly, so they could be seen by the maximum number of runners. I came up behind yelling "WHAT'S UP!!!" and they were like "BANANA!" and we were all very excited. Here they are!


And then it was practically the end of the race! Even though I was running much slower than usual, the race seemed to go really quickly. I waved at pretty much every spectator I saw, and there were constant shouts of "Banana!" and "Jamba Juice!" the whole way, which was awesome. There were a bunch of cheerleading groups along the way and I high-fived all of them. I even heard a couple of the Team in Training coaches tell their runners "Don't let the banana beat you!" :D Nothing gets attention like running in a banana suit, let me tell you!

After I crossed the finish line, who should be waiting to give me my medal but Tiffany from my boot camp, who also gave me my medal last year!?


And Jill, one of my pace group buddies, had finished just ahead of me!


I stopped by the Jamba booth to get my gift card reward (and also free mini smoothies, yummm) and the Jamba lady was either impressed with or taken aback by the sparkles, one of the two. ("It wasn't like this when you got it, was it?" "Nope!")



Then Lee and Laura, two more of my pace group buddies, found me, and we went to try and meet up with more of our running club people.


Along the way, I was stopped by a lady who told me that I had been her motivation for the last few miles of the race ("I can't let a banana beat me!") and wanted a picture! Glad I could help, random nice lady! Elvis hopped in too:


I had gotten a wristband for the post-race VIP area from the Jamba people, so I popped over there to see if I could find the dragon runners from our club. I found the dragon:


And then I found the runners! Pete is my pace group coach; I've been running with him for almost 2 years now.


The VIP area had a bar! I got a mimosa!


I had planned to trolley back to my car, but Lee and Laura offered to drive me instead. (THANK YOU!) I had to get a picture with their car:


And then that was almost the end...because I got to my car and discovered I'd lost my keys somewhere along the way. :P So I called Rogue, and he drove down and gave me the spare car key. (THANK YOU SWEETIE!) And then that really was the end, and I came home and took an awesome shower and ate and was pretty much destroyed for the rest of the day.

Verdict: RIDICULOUSLY FUN to run in a banana costume. Would totally do again, if they paid for my race. The suit ended up not being too terrible to run in; the worst damage was a bit of chafing on my right arm and some serious shoulder soreness. It definitely helped that it was overcast and cool for the whole race. But I am definitely holding to my rule of no more Rock N Rolls that I pay for. They're just so huge and crowded. I'd much rather do smaller races, like the San Diego Half earlier this year.

Final stats:
Finished in: 2:19:03, pace 10:37/mile
Overall: 8095 out of 17568
Gender: 4102 out of 11207
Division: 905 out of 2155
BANANA DIVISION: 1 out of ???

And all of the official pictures, in which I am jumping up and waving and smiling like a crazy person, are here!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience and photos.

    I'm looking forward to an awesome time as one of the JJ bananas at Rock 'n' Roll Halloween Half Los Angeles on 10/27/2013.