The Time I Finished a Marathon in a Mustard Costume

I signed up for my first full marathon, Grandma's Marathon, on January 3rd, 2015. I had six months to train my body to run 26.3 miles. I didn't understand the impact of training during the harsh winter months in Minnesota because my mind was focused more on the idea of actually running my first marathon rather than what it took to make it happen.

At first, it wasn't so bad because I took the training inside for January, but when the runs started to get 5-10 miles each time, I needed to head to the pavement for road training.

In the Northern half of the country, we have to attach cleats or Yak Tracks to our cold-weather running shoes to reduce the slippage on the ice. The number of layers we wear will blow your mind, and it's not optional. Two sets of running tights, wool socks, a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt, another long-sleeved shirt, a running coat, and then a raincoat on top of that. Let's not forget a neck warmer, face shield, hat, and, of course, running mittens. Yes, that's a thing. If you don't have the right gear, you can't do the run.

My running partner/coach set our running calendar, and nothing would keep us from making our commitment. Cold weather? NO! Raining? Hell no! Cramps? No way, take a Midol and don't be late for our 5:35 AM start time. You see, the miles you put in prepare you for the marathon day. But sometimes, you forget about why you signed up for the run in the first place, and your feelings get in the way, or in this case, the physical pain sets in.

In preparation for the marathon, my training friends and I ran three half marathons as a Chicago-Style Hot Dog. Yup, you read that correctly. Our coach told us that's what we're doing because it would make the race more fun, get more attention, and take our minds off of the pain. She was right, it brought levity, so we chose to do it for the big day.

On Marathon Day, I dressed as a bottle of mustard paired with my relish and Chicago Hot Dog sidekicks, and was ready for the race. And then the heavens opened up, and it began to rain. That wasn't supposed to happen. So, we geared up, took big plastic garbage bags, cut some holes in them for our heads and arms, and ran the first 7 miles in the pouring rain.

All I wanted was for the rain to stop, and when it did, it got so hot and muggy! My feet were soggy, my foam costume began to smell like something I can't even describe, and there was a 10-mile lul with no one cheering, and my spirit dropped. I put in my earbuds to bring my mind elsewhere.

Once we got downtown, the party was on! I was running, in pain, with my sidekicks while the rest of the world was literally tailgating on the side of the road, cheering us on. The high-fives, the photo ops, and the little kids that came up to give us hugs were priceless! Coach was right; wearing the costume took my mind off of my aching hip and back. And the slice of bacon and gulps of ginger beer were heavenly!

Only three more miles! I had already done 23; what's three more? The fans were gone again, and I was losing spirit. My body was breaking down. I started to jog, then walk, walk some more, and walk some more. I even thought to myself that I just couldn't go on. I was so tired, so sore, but my fellow condiments kept pushing me to keep going.

The lessons learned from my marathon days were to keep your goals in mind, keep an eye on the prize, and don't let feelings control your actions that you literally don't take action. Gear up, you can handle the circumstances, but you will be severely set back if you don't have the proper gear. This is literally and metaphorically speaking.

When the excitement and attention wear off, is your head still in the right place? Make it fun. Surround yourself with teammates and people that will push you and are not afraid to tell you to keep up with them. Accountability is key. What my body did for me, how accomplishing it made me feel, is unlike anything I've ever done. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. But maybe dressed as Wonder Woman.