This past weekend at the Route 66 Marathon, I won my 7th marathon (and 7th win under 2:50, as I try to go for the “Most wins under 2:50″ record, which is 24). I also set a new Superhero Costume World Record, finishing in 2:48:51 and smashing the old record by 20+ minutes! Here’s the breakdown on what it takes to set a Guinness World Record; the days leading up; race day; and, the inspiring people I met at Route 66!
Setting a Guinness World Record
What does it take to break a Guinness World Record? Well, first you have to know which record you’re going after… there are LOTS of them, which makes it a fun “Claim to fame”! I first learned about the costumed World Records from battling it out with Spiderman at the Napa Valley Marathon in 2011. I then learned that my Marathonguide.com Teammate, Michael Wardian, broke the “Superhero Costume World Record” the following day, also dressed as Spiderman (2:34). I inquired with him and also my Team MG.com teammate, Leah Thorvilson, who’d run a 10K dressed as Spiderwoman, on what I should do/wear. Leah told me where to order a suit online, so I ordered a pink Spiderwoman suit. I submitted paperwork to Guinness beforehand, which takes 4-6 weeks to process. Then I’ll have to submit ‘proof’ (~photos, articles).
Jill Christie holds the record at 3:08:55, which she ran at the 2010 London Marathon (side note: apparently setting Guinness World Records is a popular thing to do in the UK). She dressed as “Supergirl”. I was a little stunned to find out she basically wore a regular running outfit with a cape. I thought you had to wear a full-body, head-to-toe costume, as Michael did. I absolutely wanted to do it in a legitimate costume covering my head and whole body!
Days Leading Up
I gotta give a big THANK YOU to Chris Lieberman and Kimi Hann for all their help and hospitality leading up to Route 66! I was determined to get my kicks… on Route 66… as Spiderwoman. They thought it was the coolest thing ever when I told them what I wanted to do! It seriously was the perfect place to do it, since I went to college in Tulsa and love the city dearly.
As usual, the days leading up to a marathon can be a little hectic. Since I was running in a costume, it involved a little more race planning than usual. I did 2 test runs in my costume and was able to make adjustments and get comfortable with it. I was instantly claustrophobic the first time I put on the suit, which zipped up and had no holes for the eyes/nose/mouth– I felt better once I cut out holes.
I debated on wearing adult diapers, since I’ve had GI issues this year. I ended up wearing racing briefs (more to come on this…). I also purchased some ‘web fluid’… yes, they actually make a special canister for Spidey– I planned to grab this from my friend Amy in the last mile. I thought about spraypainting my Inov-8 233 shoes hot pink, but I wanted it to be known which shoes I was wearing for the World Record attempt!
The day before the marathon, I participated in the “Blogger’s Forum” at the Expo, which was a panel of people who are highly active into blogging/social media. This was very interesting! Cheryl Lawson, head of Social Media Tulsa , asked us questions about our blogs and how we utilize ~Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/etc.. As I pointed out in the discussion, the thing I’ve learned the most from utilizing social media outlets is how it’s connected me to people and how those relationships have significantly impacted my real life. Thank you to Cheryl for the GREAT gifts, including a phone case with a bottle opener!
At the Expo, I got to see lots of people I know… and meet lots of new people too. I saw that Michelob Ultra has a Running Team… and I got to meet lots of Marathon Maniacs! This is a group I technically qualify for… and now I realize it’s a hiphopping, social group that I seriously need to join!
After enduring all the Expo hoopla, I was finally able to have some quiet time to myself, do my second run, focus on carboloading, and get my gear ready. My friend Amy and her kids came up to see me go for the record/help out, so I had dinner with her and her high school teammate, Carissa.
I woke up my usual 2 hours before and started getting ready. I had a few logistical problems within a 30 min. span—I lost my VIP pass and had to get my friend Amy (staying elsewhere) to drive over with hers; I forgot to bring a banana, so I had to settle with eating dates; and then, I put on my costume, my watch over the costume, used the restroom… and realized I needed to take everything off so I could put my contacts in my eyes!
Another dilemma: I taped my gels to my hands… and after warming up, I realized I needed to go to the restroom, again. Since I couldn’t take my arms out of the suit, I had figure out how to unzip it AND pull it down far enough so I could go in the porta-john.
I saw a few friends while warming up and stopped to take pictures. I didn’t get to go through my usual warmup routine cause of the time crunch, but I figured I’d get warmed up once the race started. You really couldn’t ask for better weather (upper 30s at the start? Wind from the South)– the cooler the better for Spidey!
Looking at starting line photos, with Pink Spidey and a bunch of serious men… It almost looks like I was photoshopped into the pictures!
The gun went off, and I tried to focus on staying relaxed. Right off the bat, the first few miles were 20+ seconds slower than what I’d expect under normal circumstances. I knew I might be 10-15 min. slower than PR pace, so I didn’t worry about time at all and focused on staying smooth and being as comfortable as I could be in the suit. Adam Cohen, who finished right in front of me at OKC and has run similar marathon times, was gone from the first mile, so I knew the suit was definitely a hindrance (Adam finished 2nd in 2:40+).
I don’t think spectators knew what to think of seeing a pink Spidey running along! It probably provided a unique element of entertainment. The kids cheered… loved their reactions! My friend Keelie said her 3 y.o. son couldn’t stop talking about Spidey the rest of the day after seeing me run by– ahhh, heart melting! Most people thought I was a MAN, as in SpiderMAN (as I’m, eh, not well-endowed!). I heard lots of “Go Spiderman!”, “Go Spidey!”, and “Go Spider dude”. A minority figured out or knew I was a woman and cheered on “Spiderwoman”. Probably the other fellow runners thought “Who’s this joker up here”… not knowing I was WOMAN! When I was still up there and passing some of the men in the first 1/2, I think they realized Spidey meant serious business!
As far as the costume it definitely felt like the resistance of the fabric hindered my performance/gait. I felt awkward, like I couldn’t really crank the pace down and lift my legs– felt more like a training run than a race… but more uncomfortable cause of the head and face coverage. I had to really concentrate on keeping the pace going, not hyperventilating from getting claustrophobic with the headgear, and not letting my awkwardness distract me. I started to warm up/feel stuffy as the race went on, but the breeze from the South helped cool me off. Judging by all the sweat/fluid/grime stains on the suit… which took 2 WASHES and Shout to get out… I sweated like a pig, even in the cool conditions! I also chafed badly under my arms (forgot to put vaseline there). I had cut out holes for the mouth/nose/eyes, so I breathed as best as I could… and took my gels/fluids around my usual points. On the whole, I compare running a marathon in a costume to running a marathon at high altitude in the heat (as I know, from running 2:51 at the PanAmerican Games last fall in Guadalajara, my personal worst).
It hit me around 15 miles that I HAD TO GO! As in… number 2… my worst fear! I tried to hold it in, but started to feel very uncomfortable. It would NEVER cross my mind to stop at a porta-john, and logistically… it was too difficult with the suit on! Having learned my lesson at Grandma’s Marathon (where I had diarrhea in my racing briefs and severely chafed), I moved my briefs over to the side, in the suit, and let it flow. Felt better after that, even though things were not pretty!
Having a comfortable time cushion on the first half… and knowing the second half was much tougher with the hills/turns (just under 2,000 ft. of elevation change, according to USATFs Map my routes)… I focused on ‘maintaining’ on the second half. My favorite part was running through the TU campus, where I went to college… my oh my how much the campus has changed/improved!
Once I was on 21st, I knew it was smooth sailing after that! I looked for my friend Amy, who planned to hand me the can of ‘web fluid’ to shoot the last mile! However, once I grabbed it… the top cap flew off– Wardrobe malfunction! I had to figure out how to shoot it without the cap. I got it to fire a few times… but unfortunately not as planned at the finish (sorry guys, my finish turned out a little lame)! As with every marathon, it was a relief to finally cross the finish line! I did it, nabbing the win, course record, and World Records! Spiderwoman got her kicks on Route 66!
Thanks to everyone in Tulsa for all the support!!! It was not only a wild and crazy experience for me… but I hope it added to the fun for the spectators and the Route 66 marathon. I’m already to starting to think about what I want to race as next. There’s a Cartoon character record… tutu record… wedding dress record… Endless possibilities!
As I talk about all the time, life is all about the relationships and the people you meet. The Route 66 marathon was definitely filled with some inspiring people! On Sat. at the Blogger’s Panel, I was in awe of the people on the panel. You had:
Juli Goldstein, who’s a Veterinarian, Ms. Florida US Continental, a Marathon Maniac, and is an athlete ambassador for Icedot, which is a wristband where you activate a pin number with your medical info and can be used in case of emergency. Juli also ran/walked a ~week long stage race in the Amazon forest!
Nicholas Norfolk, who lost 100 lbs. through running, ran all 50 states in 2011, is a Marathon Maniac/Ice Dot athlete, and a prolific Tweeter @absolut_zer0 .
Mama Laughlin, who’s a mother of two, used running to help her lose ~60 lbs. post-pregnancy, and has a popular blog where she talks about her relatable experiences
Mason Harvey, who’s a 13 y.o. teenager from Guthrie, who lost 85 lbs. by eating better and exercising! He’s now a spokeperson for other kids facing childhood obesity who want to turn their lives around. This kid is AMAZING! You can follow him on Twitter @strivefor85.
I’m running Dallas in 3 weeks!!! I think running Route 66 will boost my fitness for Dallas. I’m not sure where my fitness stands though, but I’m on the upswing. I think it will be good to get a good early competitive race in, and then keep racing through the winter as I get back in shape. There’s about 6 women who have run under 2:40 entered– I’ll let er rip and see what happens! As happened 2 years ago when I won Dallas, I surprised myself with a 2:42 (coming back from hip surgery).
Spidey Sitings Around Tulsa