May 21, 2008

Race Report: Bay to Breakers

Chris said it best when he stated “I could not really call this a race report since B2B is more about the event and less about the actual run.” Also, I probably can’t really call this a race report since I didn’t register, I didn’t once run, I didn’t get a time, and I didn’t cross the finish line. But ignoring those minor technicalities, we’ll forge onward.

The night before the race, we decided to cop out and pick up sheets at Mervyn’s (which is like the California version of Sears) and make togas as costumes. Yeah, we’re pretty lame. However, as we were walking to the cash register, I noticed an exciting ensemble in the lingerie department that could be used for a caveman costume (thanks for the idea, Nancy!). Now, before you start getting all kinds of inappropriate ideas about what I looked like due to the fact that we got the costumes from the lingerie department, here’s a picture that shows what I looked like when we first got to the race:

Basically, I look like a pregnant eight year old with red wine stains on my teeth. HOT. Also, I know I wasn’t doing anything wrong at that point other than being drunk in public (along with 50,000 other people), but I still find it a little scary that I chose to get my picture taken with cops (yes, those are real cops not people in costume). Probably not the smartest move. You can’t see it in this pic, but I also have on fuzzy leopard print bedroom slippers (clearly the wise and supportive choice to walk a 12K in when I planned to do my first marathon the following weekend). The bone in my hair is a chicken-flavored Nylabone from PetSmart, which, we learned, was not actually chicken-flavored. According to Andy, it didn’t have any flavor at all. We wanted to take it back to PetSmart and complain, but I lost it when I was concussed (more on that later).

So anyway… morning of the race, we woke up at 6 AM to allow us time to stop at my friends’ favorite greasy spoon, The Pantry. (It’s seriously disgusting… even the toast comes pre-buttered with 1/4 cup of industrially-scooped butter). The good news? Mike tried to sleep in and wasn’t ready on time, so we ended up not having time to go to The Pantry. We hopped on the train at 7:04 sans breakfast, and were off to the races.

Mike thought I was crazy for wanting to leave at 7 AM, because he figured only the runners would start on time and that the drinkers would wake up whenever and start late. He also worried that we would be the only ones dressed up, and his fears were compounded when we got to the station and saw only one group in costume and then a ton of serious-looking runners stretching. But not so! When we got on the Caltrain, we discovered that almost everyone was in costume.

Plus, it seemed like everyone else on the train was drinking. The group across from us had a keg, a bottle of vodka, a bottle of champagne, and some orange juice. We promptly pulled our wine bottles out, uncorked them, and started chugging!

We got to the end of the train line, saw that everyone else was carrying around their alcohol, and kept ours as we started walking. Outside Safeway there was a big crowd, and we followed them inside, where we found donuts! I was drunk enough to not really care what I ate, and grabbed an apple fritter… mmm. I figured I’d be doing 7.5 miles, and I probably wouldn’t eat again until late lunch, so it was okay. But it was definitely better than okay… it was delicious! I seem to have become a bit of a donut fiend lately. Once I let myself have one, I just can’t stop!

While walking to the start, we met tons of belligerently drunk people along the way (and kept working on getting there ourselves). We found another cavegirl, Christine, and she was dressed much cuter than me. Tear. But I was still unique as the only one with a bone in my hair (Pebbles-style)!

Halfway to the start, we decided we needed a bathroom break. We stopped at a convenience store, and I politely asked the cashier if we could use the bathroom. She refused, somewhat rudely. I offered to buy something, and she said I still couldn’t use the bathroom. So… I did something very unladylike. We went outside, went behind a bush next to the store, and… we went. I feel kind of bad in retrospect, but at least it was like a woodsy kind of area so I don’t think it really caused a problem.

We finally got to the beginning part of the starting gates about 20 minutes after the race started. There were fences up to create a chute to the actual start, giving us some sense of just how many people had been there before us. It must have been an absolute zoo before! If the fences didn’t give it away, the thousands of crushed soft tortillas on the ground did. I had heard about the famous tortilla toss at the start (thank you, Wikipedia), but had forgotten that I needed to get there early to see it. We weren’t so late that we were the only people around – there were still tons of people making their way to the start. So, we had our own tortilla toss by picking up any whole tortillas we could find and randomly flinging them at each other. Fun!

At this point, I decided to get serious with my camera. I took a picture with a guy I dubbed “Green Guy”, who must have hated me. Every time I saw him later in the race, I was like “Green guy!!! I took my picture with you before!!!” Part of his costume was apparently not talking, but if he could talk, I bet he would have been like “Crazy Cavegirl! Get away from me!” Other cool costumes at the start included a Tetris group (complete with boombox playing the Tetris theme song), the “Poontrain” and “Poonductor”, and the Bayola Crayons.

As we each finished our first bottle of wine, we started getting a little rowdy. Mike and Andy had a “cave fight” and clubbed each other, while I found some runners who had beer pong games around their necks and attempted a shot (I missed).

In the midst of all this, we found the starting line. Like real runners, we crouched down in the “on your mark, get set” position. Unlike real runners, we then proceeded to sit down on the ground and open our second bottles of wine.

I didn’t feel too badly when I noticed that a group who had constructed an elaborate horse racing gate prop lined up at the start, counted off to “go” out of the gates, and then milled around drinking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: boozers unite!

Maybe 1/2 mile past the start, we saw another tradition I had heard about on Wikipedia: the salmon. This is a group of people who dress up like fish, start at the finish line, and then run the race “upstream” from the finish to the start. So cool! I’d love to try being a salmon someday.

As we continued along the course, we saw some more fun costumes…

…and then our first naked guy!

1/2 mile down the road, we saw our first naked girl. I only saw her from the back, so I’m not sure if she had covered anything in the front, but I still thought it was a cool “costume.” (Not that I’d be brave enough to try it.)

There were Porta Potties on seemingly every corner, but the lines were horrifically long, so the guys opted to head down an alley. (Ignoring my prior incident) I said I was too respectable to pee in the streets… and instead very classily yelled up to a bunch of guys who were leaning out their apartment windows watching the shenanigans. They very nicely allowed the three of us to come up and use their bathroom! I was very impressed with their hospitality.

Upon heading back out to the race, I immediately spotted not one, but two naked guys! In my drunken state, I decided it would be fun to get a picture with them. I’ve blacked out the inappropriate bits, and not only is this available for your viewing pleasure, but it’s also my new Facebook photo. As I said earlier, I am nothing but class.

Right after we took that picture, I got separated from my friends. Not having a bag or pocket, I had given Andy my cell phone to keep in his backpack, so I had almost no way of getting in touch. All I could do was beg and plead with random people to let me use their cell phones to call mine, and hope that Andy would feel it vibrating and pick up. I walked for another mile or so by myself, stopping only to take pictures with more fun people. I found a whole group of people who were dressed in a jungle theme, and Kevin (the guy on the rhino) offered me his phone while he hit on me. I guess it was kind of sweet, though I felt kind of like a prostitute by flirting for a phone.

Another group didn’t have a phone to provide, but used a squirt gun to shoot some vodka into my mouth, and then allowed me to take a picture with their dog. I really hope they weren’t shooting him with the vodka as well – it was none too tasty.

I finally caught up to my friends on a steep uphill (the Hayes Street Hill, with a 11.15% grade, according to the course map) that I was having no problems walking up – go me! We soon came to a random cart that some group had abandoned. We tried to have a “chariot race” up the hill (yes, I realize that chariots were not from the time of cavemen, and yes, I also realize that with only one cart it was hardly a race), but got tired and abandoned the cart a little further along. The crowds were absolutely crazy at this point, but we soon came to a small park where it thinned out a bit. There were tons of bands everywhere, and we stopped to enjoy the music. At this point, we had covered about 3.5 miles in 4 hours – PR for sure!!! (I’m actually half-serious – I had never done a 12K before).

The mini-park led into a big park: the Golden Gate Park. This was where a lot of people seemed to just stop. There were people hanging out everywhere, and I wondered if everyone had actually done the first 4 miles or if people had just gotten dressed up and come straight there. There were tons of floats, and we rode with some Vikings for a little bit.

Unfortunately, the park was my downfall. Around mile 5.5, we went under a bridge that had bands, floats, and tons of people packed under it. (It was a gorgeous day, so I’m not sure why under the bridge was the place to be, but it was). In the melee, a girl with stiletto heels accidentally stepped on the top of my foot. If you remember, I was wearing bedroom slippers that were thong style, so there was nothing to protect me from her foot. I crouched down to rub my foot, fighting back tears, and Andy helped me out of the crowd. I decided I would be fine (oh wine, how you numb the pain), and we continued walking. Casualty #1.

A little bit later, we saw a cool float up ahead that was decorated like a fairy princess castle. Mike decided that we had done entirely too much walking and not enough running, and challenged us to a race to the castle. We took off, none too fast in our flip flop slippers, and somehow all of us managed to lose each other in the crowd. I reached the castle and saw that it was actually a big enclosed moonbounce on wheels, so I decided that since the castle was our meeting spot anyway, I’d go bounce a bit while looking for Mike and Andy. I got in the line to get into the moonbounce, and the girl at the door waved me forward. It was one of those netting things where you had to duck down and slither under it on your stomach, and it was then that tragedy struck. As I started slithering, a big guy who was on the moonbounce took one huge leap – and landed on my head. I heard him say “oh my god, are you okay?”… and then I blacked out. Casualty #2.

I woke up lying in the grass with my dress hiked up, my underwear all exposed and with cups of water being thrown on me. I was now cold and wet, but nothing inappropriate had happened – a bunch of people had just carried me off to the side and my dress had ridden up in the process. It turned out that I had only been knocked out for less than 30 seconds, but it was still enough to really freak me out. My head hurt, but I felt okay. I realized that my hair bone and my slippers were missing, and one of the guys helped me find my slippers where they had come off next to the castle float. In the process of doing so, I caught a glimpse of Andy in the crowd, and was so relieved to find him. I grabbed his arm and we stayed together the rest of the way.

Unfortunately, “the rest of the way” turned out to only be another 1/2 mile or so. Just after the 6 mile mark, we saw a big sign that said “course closed.” Glancing at our watches, we saw that it was 2:30 PM, and we had been walking (slash hanging out and drinking) for 6.5 hours! We attempted to follow the course anyway, but my foot and my head were hurting, and I was freezing from the water being poured on me (casualty #3 – I’m out) and the post-race party and buses to get back downtown were at the 6 mile mark anyway. We caught up with Mike, and I took my first DNF in a race.

I’m a little disappointed not to add California to the list of states I’ve raced in (or even run in, since the only running I did was my half-jog half-shuffle for about 100 feet to the castle). However, I’ve been told that Bay to Breakers is a race you have to run at least once, and walk/drink at least once. I’m glad to have half of my obligation done!

Other race reports:
Chris at Gibtown Runner


12 thoughts on “Race Report: Bay to Breakers”

  1. Great report! Let’s see… drinking first thing in the morning, urinating in public, getting separated from your friends, finding them again later, taking pics with random people, getting routed off the course – yep, sounds just like my previous B2B experiences! Still too bad about the concussion incident but sounds like you had some fun memories regardless. BTW – your new facebook photo is hilarious!

  2. This was a fantastic report! I love it…and am seriously adding this “race” to my to-dos for next year!! Sounds so fun (except of course, the stiletto and blacking out!)

  3. That was a cool report and now a race I hope to run/walk. I will skip the moonbounce however. I hope the large fella who clobbered you was not naked.

  4. OMG!! Wow!! That sounds like an event! Besides the bad happenins (I’m sorry about that 🙁 ) it sounded like a killer time ;D ;D

  5. I’m laughing over here, not at your incidents, of course, but those photos. You CRACK me up. Glad you had a good time and you look so happy in your pics. Great report!!!

  6. Wow, Laura, are you sure we ran the same race on Sunday??? Yours was obviously a bit more memorable than mine. Great report and thanks for sharing all of the pics.

  7. WOW now that is a race report 🙂 glad you had fun in CA!!!! wish i would have been here for that race… but since you didnt finish just means you will have to come back again for another race 🙂 there are A LOT of them! loved reading all your takes on the city and california 🙂 glad you had fun!

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