The warm weather is finally trickling back into our weekends and we are now in the midst of race season! Every weekend you have your choice of fun runs and charity races. Do you want to get dirty, muddy, colorful, glowy, foamy, sweaty, wetty, and a cool, free tee shirt? Of course you do! Well, that makes two of us.
I recently ran in the Color Me Rad 5K. It was definitely one of the best 5Ks I’ve ever participated in! This was the true definition of a FUN RUN.
Fun– (Noun) Enjoyment, amusement or lighthearted pleasure.
Run-(Verb) Move at a speed faster then a walk, never having both or all feet on the ground at the same time.
Fun Runs are excellent starting points for the first time runner, or the athlete looking for inspiration. I saw such a wide variety of age, size and ability. Each person had their own reason for being there and the commonality that brought them together was the idea of accomplishing this race all while having a huge amount of FUN.
That morning was dreary. It was a cold, gray April morning. It was threatening rain and my cousins and I were wearing white and not nearly enough layers. I was borderline dreading this run. I quickly realized that this was a massive event, much bigger then any 5K I had ever been a part of. Everyone was dressed in different combinations of athletic gear and white clothing with sweet neon-colored shades on (although we did not need them with no sun shining). I heard the Start/Finish area before I saw it. Music was blaring, there were inflatables, tents, people covered in color, people with clean white clothes on everywhere!
The race start was informal. Get behind the starting line in whatever combination you’d like. In other races I’ve ran you are corralled by your 1 mile run time. BUT, this is where the party started. People had packets of color that they were throwing at each other and playing tag with. There was a little kid running around with what looked like a squirt bottle… a pressurized blaster filled with COLOR!! He was short so he kept shooting strangers in the back and I quickly ended up with a yellow streak across my stomach. The starting line party continued with the dreadlocked MC shooting droves of this magical neon corn starch into the crowd by means of an ACTUAL fire extinguisher! Just drenching people in teal powder and sending it into the back of the masses by means of some solid wind gusts.
BANG! WOO! AHH! Race starts and all I’m trying to do is warm up! I was so involved in all the sights and sounds around me and crazy combinations of outfits and people passing me and I was passing that I quickly forgot about everything I usually have on my mind in races: are my shorts sitting right, headphones in, mileage tracking app on, music pumping, sneakers tied, re-tied and tied, my pace, my knees, my ponytail, my stride, etc. the mental checklist could go on and on. All of that was gone. I tucked my headphones into my shirt, I kept pace with my two cousins, who I was super excited to be doing this with, and trotted along and actually looked up at the scenery. The trail was dirt (my knees were so happy), the first check point was blue powder and they seemed to be running low or completely out so it was up to the other 3 color checkpoints to get us blasted with a blaze of neon glory. The next color check point was yellow and I was dusted with what resembled pollen. I quickly learned that if I walk through the check point and stand in front of one of the volunteers they would launch color directly one me. Perfect! At the orange check point I was ready to get covered. I had orange down the ENTIRE left side of my body. (and was still getting it out of my left ear 3 days later). Awesome!! The final checkpoint was purple and I floated through the purple cloud with the gracefulness of a wood nymph and then trucked it to the finish line!
The finish line was filled with people handing out snacks, water and more COLOR! We each got a color packet which the three of us quickly threw at each other. There was a stage with music, that same dread-locked MC was rocking the mic with ease and exuberance. His energy was contagious and the color soaked crowd was dancing and screaming for more color! He was throwing packets and buckets of color off the stage and the did a massive countdown and everyone at once released handful upon handful of vibrant color into the air! It was a beautiful sight to see and an amazing way to finish out this run. From start to finish, I did not notice the gray sky or the cold. I saw only rad colors!
Fun Run “Gottas”:
Gotta leave your headphones home. They are a pain in the butt to clean the little ear buds of the dusty cornstarch. (Mine are permanently orange tinted still.) There is music at the checkpoints. It promotes chumminess if you can talk to and hear the people around you. They are having a good time and so are you.
Gotta invite friends… family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. It IS the more the merrier. The more people there are, the more variety of paces you can chose from. You can stick with the running pace of someone who matches your pace. If you are needing motivation or that final push to the finish you’ve got an entire squad of cheerleaders running ahead and behind you. You may have been the inspiration one of your friends needed to TRY a race. You are now the fitspiration that convinced them to “Do Rad Stuff!”
Gotta take pictures. I don’t care if you’ve never taken a selfie in your life. There is nothing more fun then to see a crisp, white tee shirt and shorts turned into a technicolor, mosh pit of neon that goes from the crown of your head and swirls down to the soles of your shoes. Also, color bomb pics are essential. If you can get an action shot of hundred of people throwing handfuls of colorful dust into the air you will instantly be in awe and want more.
Gotta have fun. I know you competitive athletes out there want to focus on time, form, pace and stride (like I started out doing) but find the place in yourself where you can enjoy the entire experience as much as possible. I am able to time myself in my next training session, I can beat my 5K time at a road race, I am able to pass people when they are my equals but doing these things at a fun run like this one takes a little bit away from the experience you are in the midst of. Actually, the SLOWER you go through th color check points the better because then they get you realllllyyyyy good! Doused, drenched, splashed, blasted, soaked, covered, and splattered with color!
Gotta do you. It’s your race. If you want to walk, walk-run, sprint, jog, trot, skip, frolic, trudge… Do it! Know your abilities, know when it’s too much (we do not want injuries), also know when you could push it more! Often, a good adrenaline rush and high excitement situation, like a race, brings out your best performance. You may surprise yourself!