My best friend hates to run, but when I said “foam,” her interest was piqued because she had just gotten a divorce and she was revisiting our slutty college years.
“Wait, did you say this one has foam in it?” she asked me over the phone.
“Yes,” I replied, “thus the name.”
"And so we’ll have to wear swimsuits—or tank tops or shorts or something similar?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“And it’s not some girl-power race where there’s only a bunch of girls sliding around in bikinis? Like, guys will be there sliding around with us, too?”
“Sure, Leigh, but I don’t think it’s going to be like foam parties on the island of Ibiza, with a bunch of hot Europeans writhing around—"
“Oh my gosh, please shut up. Ever since you went to Spain in college you find any fcking excuse to use the phrase ‘on the island of Ibiza.’ I can hear your nose flaring when you say it.”
I checked the mirror. She was right. My nostrils were all puffed out the way they get when I’m being pretentious.
“I swear I have heard it at least 600,000 times since we were 19,” Leigh continued. “It’s part of the reason I didn’t speak to you for like 2 years.”
“That wasn’t why you didn’t speak to me. It was because of that dickbag ex-husband of yours—"
“Okay, you’re right,” Leigh conceded. “But still. No more ‘on the island of Ibiza.’”
"Fine,” I said. Because she was right. I mean, she'd been slightly exaggerating; I hadn't been using the phrase since I was 19, but ever since I’d started seeing in my beloved People magazine that all the big-time celebrities vacation in Ibiza, I couldn’t help but occasionally point out that I had vacationed there once, too. The way I ended up there was kind of on accident, BUT STILL.
“So there will be guys there?” Leigh continued.
“Sign me up,” she affirmed.
I didn’t care about the swimsuits or the guys in trunks or the foam: I only cared about the medals. It’s one of the first things I look into when I’m signing up for a race. Is there a medal? And not only that: Is it a finisher’s medal?
I always land smack-dab in the middle of the pack, you see, so there have only been three instances when I’ve actually pulled ahead and placed, earning myself a prize or a medal.
One of those times was when I was so hung over after a girls’ night that I almost puked on mile 2.5 of a 3-mile race. That would have been difficult, as I was pushing my then-1-year-old son in his stroller and would have had to sort of nudge him out of the way first. But I held it back and was able to finish not very strong, still earning me 1st place in my age division because hardly anyone had signed up.
Totally worth it. Especially with the picture that my husband took—now hanging on the living room wall—of me at the finish line, medal around my neck as I held tight to the stroller, my face flushed with the beer sweats that everyone mistook as a healthy 5k sheen as they congratulated me for finishing first, even with a kid in a stroller.
But what people didn’t get is that the stroller made the run easier: I had something to lean on as I felt the dry heave retches coming on.
Anyway, my point is, I need the promise of a finisher’s medal—meaning you get the medal as soon as you cross the finish line whether you place or not—because I’m a race bling whore. Which is much better than the type of whore I was 15 years or so ago, trust.
I feel like I’m veering way off-track here, no?
Anyway, I was signing up for this Foam Fest on my trusty laptop when my husband popped up over my shoulder to watch because he’s a creeper.
After a few moments of silence, he asked, “Wait, how much did you say this race is?”
“$65,” I replied.
"And it’s only a 5K?”
“Yeah,” I said, “but it’s a Foam Fest.”
“What the hell is a Foam Fest?”
“It’s when they fill up a bunch of shit with foam. There are, like, obstacles and stuff.” Even I realized how ridiculous it sounded as I explained it to him, but I couldn’t help it. I was excited. I love to run, and there was a medal.
I could hear my husband roll his eyes behind me. I swear I could hear it.
“It’s called marketing,” he said. “Pretty soon there’ll be a race where you pay $100 for people to take a piss on you, and you’ll sign up because"--here, he did a high voice to mimic my own, even though we both know that my regular voice is so low that I sound like a pack-a-day smoking bar skank, which I haven’t been since I was 23 years old. Or yesterday. Whatever.--"I’ve never done one of those races before, where people pee on you….”
I swiveled around in my chair to face him. “They have those? Where people pee on you? Is there a medal?”
“It’s not a real race.”
"But if it were…would there be a medal?”
A sigh from my husband. A shrug. “Sure.”
“Then sign me up, bitches.”
Here, my kindergartener interjected. “MOM. What if they had a race called the Hershey Squirt and the medal was shaped like a big pair of underwear with poop in it?”
I looked down at him. “I’d do it.”
My husband slowly turned to me, realization dawning on his face in horror, for he had married a woman who would proudly wear a medal pair of underwear with a shit stain on it just because it was a medal. “You really would, wouldn’t you?” he asked sadly.
I blinked. Nodded. “I would.”
And then, as I finished typing in my information to register for the Foam Fest, my husband sat down next to me and thought up new types of races that he could “make a killing on” because of dumbasses like me. As I clicked to confirm my credit card number, I heard something like, “Hell, at that price, we could give people three medals, donate to charity, and still make $15,000.”
I think the best part of the story is that the Foam Fest ended up getting canceled because apparently bad business practices ended up bankrupting the company. A bunch of people from all over the country filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and when I told my husband, he just nodded his head, as if he’d known it all along. “See?” he kept saying. “See?”
And then, a couple of weeks ago, when I heard that some local company was putting on a mustache run in our little town early next year, I was so excited that I almost pissed myself and bottled it up to start my own Pee Race.
“What?” my husband asked, sighing. “What is it now?” He looked over my shoulder as I signed up, my hands flying over my laptop’s keyboard excitedly.
“A mustache run…holy shit, seriously?” he said.
I squealed in delight. “And I don’t even think this one’s for charity!”
“Because you get a medal—and it’s shaped like a mustache!” I couldn’t help it; I clapped my hands with glee like a little kid.
My husband stood there watching me, and I could tell he was slightly amused. That was all the encouragement I needed to go on. “You’re supposed to wear your best mustache stuff…”
“Do you have any mustache stuff?” my husband, the party pooper, asked me.
“No,” I replied definitively. “But I will after I get my medal.”
I typed a few more things into the online registration form as he watched me. Then I paused, thinking.
“I wish it was a beard run,” I mused, stroking my chin thoughtfully. “Then instead of having to buy mustache stuff to wear to the race, I could just let my whiskers grow out.”
I looked up at my husband. “I could probably have a pretty substantial beard by race day, don’t you think?”
I saw him involuntarily shudder, and I wondered if he was once again questioning his sanity on the day he proposed to me, or if “I married her before her beard started growing in” was an actual box you could check off on the paperwork as grounds for an annulment in the Catholic church.
I didn’t wonder for long, though. I had a race to sign up for.