Does a Costume Mean I Will Run Faster?

Originally posted in Salty Running on May 1, 2014.

I see lots of people dressing up for races. I shy away from using the word ‘costume’ unless they look like superheroes, pieces of fruit or a shower–and yes, I once actually saw a man dressed up as a shower, curtain and all, during a race. Anyway, unless I see someone costumed like that, I just think of them as dressed up.

When I notice dressed-up people, I will wonder if she can run comfortably in those stockings. I think about the center of gravity when a man with a ten-foot tall hat runs by me. Or I may wonder about whether the man in the banana suit standing in the port-a-potty line will have enough room to handle his business. Those are the things I wonder about.

That is why it astounded me when I read an article in Self Magazine in which the author makes fun of a runner wearing a tutu, alleging that she thought it would make her run faster. As it turned out the woman was running with brain cancer and those tutus were sold to raise money for charity; draw your own conclusions about the author of the Self article. But it made me wonder, do people really think someone in a tutu (or otherwise dressed up) believes she will run faster? Surely people in tutus are not of that mindset. And do other runners even think about that?

And even when I see Wonder Woman, Batman or the Incredible Hulk run past me, I never try to figure out why they are dressed that way. I just smile and try to catch up. Or if she is close enough I tell her that I love her eyelashes and ask how she gets them to stay on. I have friends who wear hoop earrings the size of my head and I stare at them in awe as they run as many miles as I do, if not more.

I will admit that I refuse to get beaten by a pickle ever again–or at least I plan to try my hardest to avoid it.

Once I ran a local “Reindeer” race and found antlers in my race packet. Somehow I got talked into wear them. Even more incredible, I got talked into getting my face painted so that I indeed looked like a grown woman pretending to be a reindeer (if anyone posts pictures of me looking like that I will hunt you down). Anyway, my desire to get dressed up had nothing to do with my ability. It did not make me any faster nor did I think it would. It was just fun.

What we wear should not be a signal to someone what our pace is. It should be a signal that we are individuals who, for whatever reason, decided it would be much more fun running a race as our alter egos. Even if that’s a pickle.

I will be wearing a sparkly tutu when I run the Divas Half marathon, and if I PR it will be because I am well trained and had a great race, not because my tutu is magic.

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