Howling Halloween 5k

The focus of my running for the past few years has been mainly on half marathons with a couple of 5k’s thrown in for fun. This year, one of my favorite 5k’s has gone the way of the Sony Walkman – disappeared, vanished, all but forgotten with no regard for its contribution to society and its inspiration to countless masses yearning to break free from the bonds of conformity, existing merely as a dust-covered memory in the dark shadows of our minds. Uh, where was I? Oh, so I was looking for a fun Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas themed run as I haven’t done one before.

Using the power of Facebook, I put out an APB to see if any of my local friends had one they were doing. Crickets. So I searched and found a Halloween themed 5k at a nearby park complete with glow-in-the-dark shirts and medals (which doubled as bottle openers) and even had a Groupon. Jackpot!

the-howling-night-runAgain, I harnessed Facebook to see if anyone wanted to run it with me. One friend offhandedly showed some mild interest, so I quickly pressured him into signing up with his wife and we were set!

Now I needed a costume. So I hit the Goodwill store and saw that they had clown wigs (or maybe they were shower poufs). Perfect! I had a red nose at home and picked up a big bow tie at another store. Clowns are funny, I thought. Oh sure, clowns have gotten a bad rap lately, but I won’t look like one of them. I’ll be a happy clown spreading good cheer and laughter.

WARNING:  The picture below is not for the faint of heart. Do not scroll down if you have a pacemaker or high blood pressure. Pregnant women in their third trimester should consult their gynecologist.

I parked and got out of the car. Various people were milling about, none of whom were in costume, of course. Although as more people arrived, a few princesses and aliens popped up. It was a nighttime run on an unlighted course so we all had headlamps.

Here’s a picture of me that my friend, Steve, took.

skittles-nightmareI call it the Skittles Nightmare. Now, in my defense, it was unusually hot and that wig made my head sweat. It hasn’t seen that much hair since I turned 40. The red nose made me sound like Rosie O’Donnell and I couldn’t breath with it, so that disappeared. As for the look on my face… don’t know what to tell you… it’s a cyclops clown with a five o’clock shadow who just ate a lemon.

Needless to say, I did not spread laughter and cheer wherever I went. Women gasped and little children ran away.

It was dark when we started the race. I was a few steps ahead of Steve and, as we passed through the starting arch, they flashed a strobe light in our eyes just as we ran over the timing sensor bump. I stumbled and looked back to warn Steve but he was already doing the zombie two-step, nearly doing a face plant. I should have given him my rubber nose, I thought.

It was a well set up course with the expected ghosts and ghouls hanging in the trees. The first half mile had a slight incline but after that it was a very pleasant level course. As I said, it was a warm night and I paced myself comfortably. A little boy and his mom were running alongside of me. He wore a black suit with skeleton bones and a skull mask. He yelled something unintelligible through his mask about the heat, then ripped it off and pitched it to the ground taking off like a cheetah, his mom in pursuit.

Around the halfway mark, I came upon a table on the side of the road with a man laying on top and a crazy doctor cutting him in half with a saw. There were some girls near me and we all approached to get a closer look. The patient had a turkey baster or something and squirted us with it. My shorts now had a wet spot, but it was dark so it was ok.

Towards the end there were some Sheriff’s deputies and my first thought was to yell, Don’t arrest me. I’m not one of those creepy clowns. I’m part of the race. But instead, I shone my light in their eyes as I passed. The funny thing is, the bright clown colors attracted bugs. I must have swallowed the equivalent of a trucker’s windshield by the end of the race. Speedy Steve waited at the finish line to cheer me in and a cute little zombie girl handed me a medal. “Don’t eat my brains,” I teased as she inched closer to her mother.

I was looking for the water station as my mouth was coated with wings and legs and, upon finding it, discovered there were no cups left. It was like that milk commercial where the guy finds himself surrounded by delicious cookies and starts chowing down, only to find the milk carton empty and that he has died and gone to hell.

“I have some water in my truck,” Steve offered.

“Oh, I’m ok,” I choked. “I do too. (hack, hack)”

Overall, it was a pretty fun race although $45 is steep for a 5k. I wouldn’t have done it without the Groupon. For the next 5k fun run, I will plan further ahead and get my kids to join me. I thanked Steve and his wife, Cece, for joining me then headed home to my family and a bottle of nut brown home brew.

Tonight I will take my kids trick-or-treating. Parker as an old man. Carson as a Phantom. The clown outfit is nicely tucked away until next year.

This Friday is the Ragnar trail relay and I’ll have a full report after it’s over.

Cool runnings to you, my friends!

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