My nitty gritty race report (part 2) of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon from Sunday, which I ran while dressed as Supergirl.
Running can be boring. Running with friends is kinda fun. Running races is pretty fun. Running races among thousands of other runners, with thousands of spectators, all cheering you on, is a lot of fun. Running races with thousands of other people around while dressed in fun ways to stand out, look interesting, and be entertaining in some way is just awesome. In past races I've just worn bright stripey socks and put in colorful braids. This time I decided to go as a costumed character.
In picking out who I wanted to dress up as, I pondered a lot of possibilities. I wanted a (preferably female) character whose basic costume 1) was easily recognizeable at a glance to the average spectator, 2) was suitable for running and sweating in (no skimpy lingerie, no leather, no facemask or headgear, no big dresses or accessories), and 3) was one that I, with my meager and beginner sewing skills, could re-create reasonably authentically on my own (if I'm gonna do something, I'm gonna do it as right as possible).
With those requirements, the list of reasonable possibilities that I came up with was rather depressingly small. Supergirl hit everything pretty well (specifically, the 1984 Helen Slater movie version), so I went with that. the making of
Materials (cost is rough estimate):
- bright blue long-sleeved compression shirt ($10, target)
- red circle mini skirt ($5, ebay)
- red running mini shorts ($5, ebay)
- plain red knee-high athletic socks ($10, amazon)
- red and yellow tech "performance" fabric and matching thread ($20, jo-ann)
- white bracelet watch ($1, ebay)
- google everything to death, figure out what to buy and what to create
- attach yellow belt/border to red skirt
- attach shaped yellow border (with red fabric to even it out) to socks1
- create front 'S' shield from yellow and red fabrics and glue
- attach shield to shirt
- cut and shape cape (I made a small one, so it wouldn't get in the way of running, and also made it detachable, in case of jet engines)
- cut and sew yellow 'S' shield to cape
- attach cape to shirt
I used a basic google image search
for the general look, and got some inspiration from this tutorial
. I did all the sewing, with Xuth playing the very important role of Expert Advisor and taught me a lot of things. I tried to do test versions of almost all the parts, and still ended up spending seemingly just as many hours with a seam ripper undoing mistakes and things that didn't work. But I learned a lot more, and the finished product was something I was pretty happy with. the running of
proof of questionable legality
The practicality of the outfit was fantastic. I was perfectly comfortable for the entire race - The socks and shorts wicked well, the shirt was not too warm or too cold, and I barely even noticed the cape or the skirt while running. I had attached the cape to the shirt with stick-on velcro in case of jet engines or if it ended up interfering with running, but neither were a problem. In the future I may just go ahead and sew it directly on. The tech fabric made all the parts that touched me similarly comfortable. Of course, by race end I had sweated through everything fairly well, so it was also important to be all machine-washable. We'll see how it holds up after that happens. The "Kryptonian bracelet" aka cheap white silicone watch was a silly addition that was lightweight and not annoying and helped me greatly in letting me keep approximate track of my race time.
The reaction from other people was awesome. Other runners were very positive and polite, with several "I like your costume!" comments and one mid-race fist bump. The spectators, however, mostly went wild. For the first half I ran near the side and occasionally would hold up my hand offering high fives, and got about a zillion of them. I got so many "Go Supergirl!"s2
I lost count. I also got several even more enthusiastic reactions, like "OMG IT'S SUPERGIRL!!!!" and one "Supergirl, you just made my day!" Amusingly, most of my best reactions were from adults rather than from kids.
One memorable moment happened on the short Alexander St downhill just after mile 7, turning left onto Main St, where the majority of the runners were hugging the inside corner, but all the spectators were on the right side, with a wide space between. Right at the corner I saw a group of teens who were clearly performing something, but at the moment were all just standing at the sideline, so instead of curving in with the rest of the pack, I charged straight down towards them and stretched out my hand at the bottom. About halfway down the hill a nearby announcer interrupted his chattering and yelled "It's Supergirl!" and the teens all started jumping and cheering and about 50 hands reached out for my highest density of high-fives in the entire race.
By midway through the race I was pretty tired3
, and the last several miles I was really pushing myself hard, which left no more energy for enthusiastic high-fiving and posing and such, which was sad. At some point it would definitely be fun to race without a new PR goal, ideally with other costumed people. I spotted a variety of other runners in fun attire, but sadly nobody else in full costume (I know some existed; I suspect many were behind me). And I unfortunately was feeling worn out enough at the finish line that I didn't think to stop and intentionally get some pictures of me. And despite the dozens of cameras I'm sure I saw pointed at me, I haven't been able to find any other public photo evidence. Fortunately, the costume is totally re-wearable so I'm sure I will have other opportunities. ( other pictures )1
I actually fully expected to be able to buy approximately lookalike socks, but amazingly, these didn't seem to exist at all (costume-marketed socks all had 'S' shield, and most with little capes). Mine aren't perfect (especially since I was optimizing for running) but they turned out decent. They were also by far the most fiddly part of the thing, and took me a couple days of trial and error before getting something that worked. 2
also several "Superwoman!" calls (fine), a couple "Wonder Woman!"s (not exactly) and a few "Superman!"s (well, I suppose just because -I've- never seen him in a miniskirt doesn't make it impossible). 3
That left picture is me breathing really hard, not making ducklips, I swear.