This weekend I ran my very first official 5k.
It was the ‘Run or Dye’ 5k held in DC at RFK Stadium which is one of what seems like hundreds of “color runs” being held these days. For the uninitiated, the idea is that at various checkpoints throughout the course (a.k.a. dye zones) there are volunteers that pelt you with dye (the dye being a chalky, cornstarch-based powder). The race is not timed, and there were plenty of people who walked the course, I even saw families with young children in strollers. I wore a black pair of New Balance running shoes with a standard pair of running shorts and the white race t-shirt (for maximum color display-ability). I also tied my car key up in my laces like a running professional.
What I liked about the idea, other than the obvious fun-factor of being covered in color, is that it was a laid-back way to try out racing and see if it was something that I would enjoy. This Saturday’s race was the “make or break” for whether I signed up for more races. I was scared that I wasn’t going to like the atmosphere, or wouldn’t be as fast as anyone else, etc, etc. I needed an easy atmosphere to face these fears and see what would happen.
But I am happy to report that I loved it. Like, really loved it. The atmosphere was so positive and uplifting. At one point, the race switch backed on itself so you could high-five people running the other direction and I took full advantage. At one point I proclaimed to my fellow-runner and friend, Heather that “running must make me like people!” And all this time I thought it was alcohol that did that!
Hurricane Andrea tried to rain on our
race. But thankfully we got a gap of non-rain in the morning hours. And it turned out perfectly since it wasn’t too sunny so it was nice and cool – we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for running!
The course started off with a long opening corral (more like a chute).
My main criticism of the way the race was set up was that everyone fed into one starting corral, and then groups of people were allowed to begin racing every 5 minutes or so, rather than having people register for specific starting times. After waiting in a Porta Potty line that took way longer than it should have, Heather and I entered the corral at what I thought was a relatively early time – but it still took nearly 40 minutes for us to actual start the race. I found this incredibly frustrating because I was stretched out and anxious to run. Thankfully, next weekend’s 5k is set up different with assigned starting times.
We did our best to entertain ourselves taking pictures until it was time to go.
Once we finally got moving, the first dye zone was pink and was maybe a tenth of a mile into the course. I’m not sure if people working this dye zone just threw the dye differently, or what the issue was, but when we hit the zone there was a huge cloud of pink dust in the air that was not pleasant to run through. You just inhaled all this dust and afterwards were “spitting rainbows” (as Heather put it – which I think that sounds like an awesome name for our rap duo). I also discovered much later on at home that I was sneezing color. I know the dye is just cornstarch, but inhaling it doesn’t seem like the healthiest thing in the world.
As I mentioned, we only experienced this problem at the first dye zone, at the others the volunteer “color bombers” would hit individual people (usually in the chest, back, legs) with shots of color and there wasn’t a cloud of dust hanging over the course.
At the final dye zone, Heather and I stopped to take a few pictures and to decorate our faces – “Lord of the Rings Uruk-hai- Style” with some awesome handprints. Nerd girls FTW!
After stopping for our photo break, we decided to run a few sprints to the finish. It was so much fun to just let loose and run as fast as possible! I think the people we blew past thought we were nuts, but we were having fun and it really underscored my feeling of the day that running makes me happy!
Overall throughout the race I walked more than I needed to, as Heather hasn’t been focusing on cardio as much as strength training lately and I wasn’t worried about time. But I didn’t mind because knowing that I could run more than I was gave me this sense of confidence that I really needed as a part of my first race. I did completely forgot to turn on my ‘Map My Run’ app to check our pace (thank you 40 minute wait at the starting line), but I get the feeling that we did okay overall. Next week on Sunday we’re running the ‘Color Me Rad’ 5k so I’m going to try to remember to turn the app on to officially see how we do.
A few short months ago, I wrote a post about running for the very first time. Now I think it’s safe to call myself a runner. A slow runner, a runner who is still learning, a runner who doesn’t always believe she can do it – but still a runner nonetheless. And now that I’ve run my first race I discovered something more (something I never thought would be true) – that running makes me happy.