Here’s a confession: running is not always fun for me. In fact, a lot (okay, FINE, most) of the time I consider it work. Sure, I love that it makes me feel strong and healthy and accomplished. But it also makes me feel sweaty and wheezy and tired.
So why do I do it? Aside from the whole good-for-you thing, which is admittedly pretty important, I love that so many of my friends run, too. It’s the reason I got into it in the first place, proving that, yes, I’d jump if everyone else did. Sorry, Mom.
And what’s so great about having so many runner friends, you ask? It means that we make plans to run awesome races together. It means traveling to other cities and states to run said awesome races together. But best of all, it means that they travel to MY city to run said awesome races with ME. I hate to fly, so this is understandably my favorite scenario, one that happened last July when Chicks Meri and Cam flew to the City by the Bay to run the happiest race on the planet.
Yes, that’s right. A happy race! And not just any happy race, The Color Run! Doesn’t it just sound so fun? Because it was. So. Fun.
This is the gist: the 5K race douses runners with a splash of colored corn starch at every kilometer, so that by the time you cross the finish line you look like a super-colorful Rorschach. The race is untimed, so there’s no talk of personal records or “hey, I beat you by 0.05 seconds, suck it.” The point of The Color Run is simply to enjoy, get colored up, then party it up after you cross the finish line. This was our mission and we accepted.
Hey, if you tell me to take it easy and enjoy myself, I’m not going to argue with you. Plus, I was 18 weeks pregnant with my little Bug at the time, so I was more than okay being the tortoise for this one.
Meri flew in first and we palled around the city while we waited for Cam to join us.
Welcome to San Francisco in July. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Once Cam was with us, it was basically about preparing for the 5K – outfit planning and packet pick-ups, which included t-shirts, a headband, and a packet of color to use after the race – and eating. Oh yes, there was eating.
With our bellies full - really, really full - and our race day duds ready to go, we hit the hay. We needed to save our energy for all the happiness and color to come!
July 14th dawned bright and foggy and we woke early to get the party started. Fun fact: Cam is kick-ass at hair braiding, which means she is the Official Hair Braider™ at any and all races she attends with the Chicks.
We made our way to Candlestick Park (go 49ers with your crappy old stadium!) and joined the bazillion other people who were braving the very chilly weather to run/walk/dance their asses to color nirvana.
Literally, there were a bazillion people there.
We were pretty far back from the start line and with the race starting in waves, we had to wait for a while to get going. But they were pumping awesome music through the speakers and the people-watching was pretty excellent, so we busied ourselves with jumping up and down to stave off the cold, pointing out some great costumes, and dodging the rule-breakers who were throwing their packets of color up in the air (hello, that’s for after the race!).
Oh, and we took some pictures, too.
And then it was our turn! We began our trek around the stadium, starting off slow and steady with a brisk walk.
Well, there was some pretend-running.
And then? Then it was time for the color. Let me paint this picture (get it? Paint? Because of the color): you’re skipping along with your friends and fellow runners and then all of a sudden right ahead is a cloud of bright color. Truly the coolest thing. And when you see color, what do you do?
Why, you RUN, my friends. You run to the color and roll around in it (seriously) and stand in front of the color-dousers and make them douse you extra-good. And you cover your mouth because hello, it’s a cloud of color, but it gets into your mouth anyway. You don’t care! This is so fun! Wee, color!
You high five people as they run by!
You stop for water, because all that frolicking and high-fiving and color-getting works up a thirst.
Note to future Color Runners: don’t park your car next to a color station.
We got through all of the color stations at a nice clip considering we were walking, and then there it was. The finish line and the beginning of the par-tay! As you can see, people were in no rush to PR.
We were done!
We were also insanely thirsty. There were stations set up after the finish line with juice and coconut water and snacks, all of which had pretty extensive lines. But no water water. We just wanted water water! Hopefully they’ve remedied the water water situation since last July.
There was a Color Festival just past the finish line, which we moseyed over to.
This is where the color packets came into play. Thousands of us gathered round a DJ set up at the front of the crowd, dancing and celebrating and taking pictures of our manginess. And then the DJ told us to open up our packets and we all counted down. 5-4-3-2-1…
The hills were alive with a color ‘splosion (ah ah ah ahhhhh). In the interest of protecting my phone, I didn’t take pictures as it was happening, but this was the aftermath.
After some more dancing and celebrating, we decided we were both parched and starving (surprised? Didn’t think so), so we packed it up and packed it in and took ourselves over the Golden Gate Bridge to a magical place called In N Out. Sure, it was 10:30 in the morning. Sure, we were completely covered in colored corn starch. But Meri had never had the pleasure of stuffing an In N Out burger into her mouth, so off we went! We definitely got some looks from the other early-risers at In N Out, and I got my hair petted by some high dude who must have thought I was one big acid trip, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.
All in all, this was a pretty stellar race experience. And now that The Color Run is a total phenomenon, with similar races like Color Me Rad and Run or Dye, there’s really no excuse not to do it again. Who knows, maybe it’ll be my first post-Bug race. There’s really no better – or more colorful – way to ease myself back into running.
What’s the most fun race experience you’ve had? We want to hear about it in the comments!