On Friday, I ran in the twinkie run five kilometer race over at Gallup Park. It’s put on every year by “Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (http://www.a2a3.org),” which is a group that provides funds for research in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease.
You might be wondering why it is called the twinkie run. I don’t know how or why it got started, but for every twinkie consumed during the race, you get a 60 second time deduction off your finishing time. Since I do love doing silly things (and this certainly seems silly), I signed up!
The weather was actually pretty good for a race. There was a slight wind from the WNW at like 10mph or so, which I duly noted before the race by licking my finger and sticking it up into the sky. The temperatures were in the high forties or low fifties and the sun was blazing brightly. All in all, it was a beautiful spring day.
I felt a bit unsure of myself as my friends and I walked up to the starting line. I was holding the first twinkie in my hand. I spoke with my friend Alf about what would be the best way to eat a twinkie while racing. You could just try to swallow it down whole. Perhaps a two or even a three-bite gulp would be best. I myself finally settled on a two-bite gulp, planning on putting each half of the twinkie in my cheeks like a squirrel. Then, I could slowly eat it while I raced.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the idea was to eat it BEFORE I started. Neverthelesss, I did the “squirrel cheek” technique as I started the race. It wound around the south side of the river by Gallup Park and headed east along gallup park road. For the first half mile or so, my mouth felt uncomfortably dry while my saliva tried to work on all that sugary sweetness bubbling around in my throat.
I soon got into the swing of things and I started returning to a bit of normalcy while I turned the corner and started heading back west (and into the wind). I drafted off a couple people, but soon passed them, continuing my increasing pace.
Just as I rounded the corner of the canoe livery, I found that a table had been set up with a bunch of twinkies. There were hundreds of golden spongecakes glistening in their clear plastic wrappings. I must admit that I felt a little queasy at the sight.
There was a gentleman at the “twinkie station” on a megaphone making sure that you stopped and COMPLETELY ate the twinkie before you continued on with the race. I started to scarf it down. The first bite took the twinkie down to half its former size. However, as I frantically chewed, the twinkie didn’t seem to want to dissolve. I didn’t have enough saliva to help with the digestion. My teeth chewed furiously while I looked at what remained of the twinkie. When it was about half-chewed, I chomped off another quarter of the twinkie. “Three fourths of the way there,” I told myself while I frantically chewed. I saw a couple runners start off again, and that made me chew all the faster. At last, I took the last quarter of the twinkie in my mouth and half-chewed, half-swallowed it down.
Another gentleman who arrived at about the same time as me said, “Let’s go.” I opened my mouth to show the referee that I had completely ate the twinkie and then sprinted off. The course was basically a repeat of the previous loop, so I knew the basic way to go. I started off pretty good, but on the long stretch along Gallup Park Road, I began to tire.
There was one person who was drafting off me, and decided to pass me as I slowed down around 2 miles into the race. He said, “Come on” to me, and I mustered some energy and tried to stay with his pace. I felt sick to my stomach and my legs felt like I was working anaerobically, but I stayed with him. We passed around to the north side of the river, and I tried to push it, but my breathing felt ragged and I just felt tired. My new-found friend started to pull away from me by a few strides. However, we crossed under the Huron Parkway bridge, and I decided to “kick it in.” I knew there couldn’t be more than a tenth of a mile left, so I told myself to “GET GOING!” I pushed hard, caught up with my friend, and said, “Come on! Let’s go!” and he started sprinting with me. I eventually passed him about twenty feet before the finish line, and sprinted the rest of the way in.
My time was 20:34 (before taking two minutes off for my two twinkies!). I came in third in my age group (out of ten), and eleventh overall (out of 242).
It certainly was a rather interesting race, and I wonder if I can improve my time next year by practicing how I eat my twinkie!
There’s a nice article here: http://annarborchronicle.com/2011/04/02/monthly-milestone-internet-twinkies/
Also, here’s a great picture from that web site of me trying to finish that last twinkie: