Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vote for my race-day facial hair!

Admittedly, I've always been a bit of a facial hair fanatic.

This can attributed to both parenting and pop culture. I saw "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" at least 20 times while growing up and TV in my youth contained such mustached icons as Hulk Hogan, Tom Selleck, Ned Flanders and Super Mario.

My dad has also been a staple of mustache consistency through the years. I don't recall if I've seen him minus a mustache, and if I did, I likely blocked it out of my memory due to shock.

As a result of this mustached upbringing, I have admiration and respect for anyone that pulls off a look that includes facial hair. Some modern-day examples include Kimbo Slice, Giants closer Brian Wilson and Free Press baseball blogger Ed Thoma.

As much as I would like to join the ranks of men who sport a beard on a regular basis, I am held back for a variety of reasons: It looks like crap, it doesn't grow in evenly, it's tedious to groom and, again, it looks like crap.

However, one thing I'm not opposed to is growing it out for a specific race or event. For one thing, it gives the event added significance and symbolism. And if you're getting ready for a marathon, it makes the training more fun and helps take your mind off the pain your legs undoubtedly feel after 20-mile training runs.

The tradition of athletes symbolically growing a beard is long-established. NHL players regularly grow "playoff beards," the offensive linemen for the New England Patriots grew out their beards during the team's near-perfect season in 2007-2008, and normally clean-shaven Forrest Gump let his facial hair run wild during his run across the country.

For the next five-plus weeks, I will be joining that group as I put my razor away and let my facial hair grow for the Mankato Half Marathon on Oct. 22. Call it my "Runners Beard" if you will.

In an effort to both engage my readership and embarrass myself at the same time, I'm going to leave the choice of the my race-day facial hair up to my readers.

On the right-hand side of my blog, you will find a poll with different facial hair options that you can vote on. The poll will be open until the day before the race (Oct. 21), at which time I will tally the votes, break out the razor and fashion my facial hair for the big day.

A couple of notes about the poll:
  • I tried to keep the options to a precious few, but if you have another suggestion for a different facial hair style, please email it to me and I will consider adding it to the poll. In order to avoid confusion, please refer to this photo as the standard for facial hair terminology.
  • The option of keeping a full beard has deliberately been left off the list. As much as I enjoy the warmth a beard provides in the cold winter months, I don't think I'd enjoy running 13 miles with it.

If you're still doubting the benefits and joy of facial hair, this might help change your mind.

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