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Sara Stover

Living a story worth telling. Shining a light on stories worth sharing.


A Bib Number, a Broken BS Meter & the Power of a Tutu

March 30, 2014

20 days to go! Nothing like seeing your name on the Boston Marathon Entry List to make it official. And I have a BIB NUMBER people! Number 19167! This is REALLY HAPPENING! I find it rather appropriate that I was in Kona when both Tammy AND Joe told me the Bib numbers were up. The place where my life as an endurance athlete began as far as I’m concerned!

Boston bibIn 2009, I did the Lavaman Triathlon on the Big Island. An Olympic distance tri, my first triathlon, and at that point my longest race. 31.93 miles in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 27 seconds!  Fast forward 5 years later, and I am training for the Boston Marathon and Ironman Lake Placid simultaneously. I was so grateful to get out from under the Polar vortex and train in Kona for a few weeks! The day before I left for the Big Island, I ran 20 miles, and it was ONE whole degree outside. A week later, I was running 22 miles under the Hawaiian sun… and it was 79 degrees!

I love the Big Island! Aside from the obvious sunshine, fresh fruits & veggies, and ocean swims, I love the it for being so accepting and laid back. Everyone in Hawaii always treats me with respect and aloha!

coffee talk

Some of my favorite folks on da Big Island, the Coffee Talk Riders. They’re known for being super friendly, and showing up to rides and races in fun, festive apparel, and even tutus! 

No one seems to care how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, or what you wear. Jeremiah and I did a 13 mile hike to several craters in Volcano National Park, and encountered some beautiful but nasty tropical plants as we bush-whacked through a rain forest. The leaves were slicing up our shins, so we wrapped some extra shirts around them, like shin guards. It was ridiculous, and completely acceptable!

I would regularly do a run workout on Ali’i drive, finish and change right into my swimsuit to head to the beach with Jeremiah, hop out of the water, change (again) between a towel and my car, and head to dinner with salt and sweat still in my hair.

I literally wore the same outfit three days in a row… and it didn’t even match!

I’m pretty sure such fashion choices might land me in SELF magazine’s “What’s Legit & What’s Lame this Month”

… on the LAME side! Along with my penchant for racing in a tutu!

I was on the fence about wearing one of my beloved tutu’s in the Boston Marathon. I mean, it’s BOSTON after all. I’ve never done this marathon, and I don’t know if I’ll ever qualify again. So part of me felt that out of respect for this legendary establishment, and in light of the Marathon bombings last year, I should just don respectable attire this year. But then I spent time in Kona and was reminded that while matching clothes have their place, respect has a lot more to do with your attitude, your treatment of others, than it does your wardrobe.

bs meter

And then this report came out that SELF magazine made a mockery of two runners (one being a cancer survivor) wearing tutu’s in a marathon! When SELF editor-in-chief Danzinger realized she was making fun of a cancer survivor, she said  “I had no idea that Monika had been through cancer. It was an error”.
So if the comment had just been about a random runner wearing a tutu, like, oh… ME, that would make it OK? Apparently!

Well, that seals the deal! I will absolutely be wearing a tutu for the Boston Marathon, along with this shirt!
To be honest, I am not shocked in the least by SELF magazines mockery of runners in tutu’s. Did we really expect much else from a magazine that promotes shortcuts to getting six-pack abs, right next to their pick for favorite lip gloss to wear to the gym?!
SELF claims to be the healthy, fitness-focused member of the Fashion magazine tribe, but 80% of it’s glossy pages just shout serious VANITY! It’s the exact opposite of what I strive for:    Train seriously smart, race seriously hard, and give back. But never take YOURSELF too seriously!

grace & tutu

It’s why I started wearing Tutu’s in the first place!

Tinker & Deanna said it would be fun to wear them for Warrior Dash 2011. That race was a month after my first Ironman. I had taken that race SO seriously. And I needed a reminder of why I started running in the first place. To paraphrase Scott Jurek in Eat & Run

  • For fun
  • To get in better shape
  • To remind myself that I can overcome the difficulties of life, “that overcoming difficulties was life”
  • And because I love other runners!

warrior dash tutus.jpg

Team Muddy Fairies, with our tutu’s, embodied all that!

And then I raced Ironman Lake Placid again in 2013. Mile 20 of the run was a particularly miserable one. I realized I couldn’t hit my goal pace, and at the moment that was all that mattered. Then a dude in a pink tutu ran by on the other side of the road, and another. And another! He was shuffling along, but he was smiling.  
Seven dudes from California, doing Ironman in pink tutus! No matter how miserable you felt, you couldn’t help but smile when one of them ran by in those silly tutus!

Could I perhaps have lost the element of fun that they possessed?
I had to stop taking myself so seriously already!
So… my blue tutu came back out. Just in time for the Rev3 Maine 70.3 in August!

I got a lot of comments about the tutu in that triathlon! Mostly from dudes I chicked along the way 🙂
“You should wear one next time! The tutu makes you faster!”   I shouted to one guy that I passed. Well, the tutu, and the idea behind it:  Free from the stress of impressing anyone or proving myself to anyone, I could simply race because I love it!


rev3 tut.jpg

Rev3Maine 2013. I actually got a run PR that day! 
Monika Allen and her friend Tara raced in tutu’s for a nobler purpose though.

Allen co-founded Glam Runner, an organization that sells racing tutus to raise money for San Diego’s Girls on the Run. She’s raised about $5600 for the program by making 2,000 tutus over the past three years. She’s also a cancer survior. Monika ran the L.A. Marathon wearing a starry blue tutu. Tara wore a tutu and a running bib that read “Die Tumor Die”!

Allen’s response to SELF magazine’s mockery was to “Have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously!” Rock on Tara and Monika! You ladies are my heroes!

2nd place Whiteface tutu

The Whiteface Mt. Uphill Rd. Race last Septmember!    And then there’s my response to SELF magazines

“A racing epidemic has struck … and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster. Now, if you told us they made people run away from you faster, maybe we would believe it.”

Hey SELF magazine!

It seems that your BS Meter has malfunctioned! Because a tutu CAN make you run faster! A TUTU can actually make one fast enough to be the 5th Place Women Overall in the Whiteface Mt. Uphill Rd. Race!

It’s secret power is simple really:  In endurance sports, your attitude can make or break a race. Wearing a TUTU is like wearing a positive attitude! And wearing the latest fashion trend can’t make up for a bad attitude or garner respect. Respect has a lot more to do with your attitude, your treatment of others, than it does your wardrobe!


This entry was posted in Sport.
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