“DON’T YOU MISS YOUR FAMILY?” – ROUTE 66 MARATHON WEEKEND, PART 1

Holy shit, I’m so excited to write about this weekend that I can barely contain myself.

Team T-Rex headed out to Tulsa, Oklahoma this past weekend to run the Route 66 Marathon (T-Rex note: I mention that Tulsa is in Oklahoma because a surprising number of people asked me where Tulsa is when I told them I was going there. People, please learn geography. It’s very important. Love, A Geography Major Named T-Rex Runner). In perhaps an unfortunate harbinger of things to come, I threw up on the airplane because my stomach had been bothering me all week. Finally I got to join the Mile High Vomit Club! No, I didn’t use one of those little barf bags, but that would have been way more fun than the tiny airport bathroom. In related awkward airplane news, Amanda got assigned to the same seat as someone else, and it took what seemed like forever to assign her a new seat. Meanwhile, we just stood in the aisle while everyone else in the plane was sitting down and staring at us. So that was fun.

I have wanted to do Route 66 for a very long time for some unknown reason. I guess I had heard about all the sweet perks they offer Maniacs and 50 Staters (special bibs and medals, our own private gear check and bathrooms, VIP tents at the start and finish…), but now that I have a truly surprising number of friends in Tulsa (who knew there was such a huge Maniac contingency there?) I was even more excited. Amanda and I headed out on Friday after work and arrived around 10pm and were greeted by the wonderful Patty and her husband Steve, who had graciously agreed to let Team T-Rex terrorize their home for the weekend. Immediately, we headed over to McNellie’s – a local bar with many local beers – to meet up with Otter the Great, who was in Tulsa with plans to surprise his friend Dan, who was flying in to run the marathon (more on this later). You may remember Otter and Dan as my internet friends who became my real life friends in Chicago.

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I’ve expanded my horizons and I am now drinking wheat beers instead of exclusively beers that taste like Bud Light.

We ended up staying out kind of late trying to help Otter figure out how to scare Dan as much as humanly possible when he surprised him. Top ideas from Otter included hiding in Dan’s rental car and then popping up unexpectedly or popping out from behind a bush. I suggested that Otter wear my T-Rex costume to the airport, but it was noted that this might not be a particularly effective disguise since Otter is almost an entire foot taller than me. Still, Otter has strong potential as a stalker, apparently.

[T-Rex note: We later came to find out that Otter completely missed surprising Dan. Read about it here.]

We had to get up pretty early this next morning to get to the Mascot Dash, which had become a great source of internal stress recently. The Mascot Dash is a Route 66 tradition that takes place on the day before the race, after the 5k and the kids’ fun run. Mascots from local sports teams and businesses are invited to come and race, and anyone can sign up. About a month ago, I posted a picture from last year’s Mascot Dash and asked if anyone wanted to make me a costume so I could run in it this year. I was kidding, but Abbi, a fellow Maniac, took me seriously and offered to make me a costume. How could I say no to that? Besides, I knew the results would be hilarious, and humiliating myself for your benefit is really what this blog is all about. That being said, I was starting to panic about how far the race was (it didn’t say on the website), whether I would finish last (somehow not a big deal when I’m running in real life, but a huge deal in a T-Rex costume), and whether I would fall. I was mostly worried about falling. So as is typical when I get stressed about things, I just ignored this situation until the last possible minute – aka when it came time to take the costume out of the box at 8:30 on Saturday morning.

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I mean, this is tremendous.

Try and think about a better handmade T-Rex costume than this. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Before the race was to begin, some of the mascots stood at the finish line of the Kids’ Fun Run and the 5k to welcome in the finishers. I did some dancing, gave plenty of high fives (except to the children who were scared of me…sorry about that) and generally had a good time while sweating profusely in my costume.

By the time the mascot race started, I was pretty much more nervous than I have been before any other race, with the possible exception of my first marathon, where I hysterically cried at the starting line. I don’t know why. I was sweating, my heart was racing, and I was shaking.  Possibly because I could only see directly in front of me and not down or two the sized, but I mean, I was going 200 yards. What type of catastrophe could possibly take place in 200 yards? Please watch the Youtube link below and pay special attention on the left hand side of the screen circa the 35 second mark.

DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE WHY I HAVE STRESS? Um, remember that time my HEAD FELL OFF in a mascot race and I committed the #1 rule of being a mascot which is never show the public your real face?! Omg I died. Slash I almost really did die because I almost fell over when the lady in the pizza costume hit me.  You know what’s sad though? I felt embarrassed for less than 2 seconds before my brain immediately thought “omg such good blog material.” Like I said, I live to humiliate myself for your amusement, even if it is never intentional.

After the race, all the mascots had a dance party with the kids who had done the fun run. Despite the fact that I was sweating mightily under the costume, it was a good time. The kids loved my costume so much that they kept trying to pull it off of me by grabbing my tail. I still managed to get in some sweet moves, though. My friend Halbert from 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut was able to capture the epic event on video!

Here’s some other assorted pictures from the best 2 hours of my life.

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Picture 1: T-Rex hugs a child
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Picture 2: Child runs away screaming in terror
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For some reason, this picture just makes me feel extremely cool even though it should have the opposite effect.
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I’m pretty sure we were wobbling. Please note me trying to keep my head in place.
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Some of my favorite Half Fanatics came to cheer me on!!! Ok, maybe they came to run the 5k, but they stayed to cheer me on, so whatever.

So, after the race, a woman named Laurie came up and asked to take a picture with me. She told me she loves my blog and said “Thank you for doing what you do.” I was totally floored. I actually almost cried. She thanked me. As if I did something nice for her. It was one of the best things anyone has ever said to me.

After dancing and sweating in my costume for a very long time (I got good use out of it, Abbi!!), it was time to head out. After a quick shower, we grabbed some lunch at a very delicious pizza establishment and then headed over to the Expo. When we got there, I got a text from Kate asking me if we could pick up the bibs for everyone in the car with her, since they had all done the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon that morning in Kansas City and didn’t think they would make it in time to go to the Expo. I figured it would be no problem, but apparently people were trying to steal Maniac bibs to get the special medal and the perks! In fact, Maniacs were trying to take bibs from other Maniacs, because if you hadn’t signed up before September 1, you didn’t get the perks. I cannot even explain how enraged I was to find out that SIX people had try to pick up Dave Mari’s bib. First of all, he’s probably the best known Maniac of anyone, so you’re stupid if you try to pretend to be him. Second, he’s also one of the best people ever, so if you take his bib, you are a horrible person. That is all. Anyway, I was eventually able to get them all…but now we were carrying around 6 bags of packets, shirts etc!

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Dave Mari – often imitated, never duplicated.  He was even in the promo materials for the marathon! Come on.

The expo was kind of a cluster as we made our way over to the Maniacs and 50 States tables and ran into about 5 million people along the way. I had brought Team T-Rex shirts to deliver to Andrew and Jay, both of whom were awesome enough to support the cause! Thank you both! We eventually found the tables and the Main Maniacs were all in attendance! It was like a family reunion over there. I also finally got to meet the Official Seamstress of Team T-Rex, Abbi!! She was just as adorable and tiny as I had anticipated. Fun fact: when I met Abbi, she said “Wow, you really do have perfect hair!” She’s my new best friend.

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Amanda meets MMs #1 and 2 at her first race as a Maniac. What kind of luck is that?

I wanted to buy another Maniacs singlet, so I headed over to the gear area and asked to purchase one. So many people were trying to impersonate Maniacs that you had to pull up your Maniacs number on your phone and show your ID to prove that you actually were a Maniacs so you could buy a singlet! That’s when I realized that we might have a problem since my MM profile still says my married name, but my license says my maiden name. Luckily, as soon as I told Ray the Gear Guy my name as I was preparing to explain, he goes “Oh, T-Rex Runner! No problem!” Thank God for this blog, I swear. It saves me constantly.

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Jay was lucky enough to meet me on a day when my hair looked particularly luxurious.

I also finally got to meet Heather, whose smile I tried to copy in Chicago and failed miserably. Anders was wearing his Team T-Rex shirt to the expo also! He is such a good advertiser.

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One day I’m going to totally get that smile right.

After the Expo, we rushed over to the 50 States Club Reunion Meeting and were fortunate enough to see Anders get his 50 States Finisher Award! They called him up on stage and he gave a little speech that, of course, almost made me cry. Don’t worry, it’s short because he isn’t me and knows when to stop speaking.

“I’ve been here since April last year except for a short Christmas break last year, and I always get the question ‘Don’t you miss your family?’ and my answer is always ‘I meet them every weekend.’” – Anders Forselius

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He’s not Carol Moody, but he’s got a great t-shirt so I’ll allow it.

I really couldn’t have said it better myself. This entire weekend, I felt like I was with my family, even though with the exception of Amanda, I have met every single one of these people randomly at a race somewhere. It is truly amazing what an awesome little community we have, and I am so proud to be a part of two organizations that are so supportive of everyone’s goals. When you can go to Tulsa in the middle of November and not only know a bunch of people who actually live there but then see some of your best friends who are there for the same reason you are, it’s such a cool feeling. It’s weekends like this where I am reminded just how lucky I am.

Fittingly, we went to dinner at Olive Garden, where the slogan is “When you’re here, you’re family.” Touche, Olive Garden. Patty had invited us to dinner with her running group, the Dom-N-8rz, and many of them were Maniacs as well – including Lyle and Robert, with Robert being all dressed up in a tux because he had a choir performance after dinner. Adorable. Dan, Otter, and Dan’s friend Nolan came along too, and we had a grand old time chatting away. At one point, Patty asked me if it would be ok if she introduced me to the group, since she had sent out a link to my blog on the group email. Of course, I said something awkward like “I write a blog, I hear it’s funny…you should read it!” and then ran away and sat down.

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Public speaking used to be my thing…now, not so much.
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I think Otter and Dan qualify as real friends now that I’ve met them more than once.

As the day wound to a close, my tiny T-Rex heart was just about as full as it could be. Tulsa’s slogan should be “When you’re here, you’re family.” It’s apparently working for Olive Garden.

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