Sunday, June 1, 2014

Color Me Happy: Happiest 5k on the Planet

Running is something that I have always wanted to be good at, be into, and enjoy. Well let's just say what I want and what I get aren't always jiving! 

I started running in earnest about a year and half ago. It started while we were stationed in Germany. Maybe it was because my great friend Jilly motivated me or maybe it was the thought of us doing a triathlon together that got me motivated, who knows. My biggest hurdle with the whole running thing has always been my damned asthma. At any rate, I started running, and enjoying it- for the most part. 

While we never did our triathlon, but I did complete a half-marathon in September 2013. The running sucked and it was exhausting, but that feeling coming across the finish line was exhilarating and unlike anything I had experienced before. It was phenomenal! 

So fast forward 7 months, with a PCS move (Permanent Change of Station for the non military folk on here), sprinkle in the stress of buying a new home and cyber schooling my 13 year old son, add on a couple of 10 pounds to all the wrong places, and what you have is a recipe for disaster. I need something to motivate me and fast!

Savannah is a city of perpetual activities for all walks of life. If you can't find something to do in Savannah you aren't looking hard enough. There is always something going on in this quaint but busy little town, and the weekend of May 17th was this year's Color Run.

They call it The Happiest 5k on the Planet, and it really is the happiest running experience- ever! Here are some reasons it's the happiest 5k, and some tips to keep you happy on race day! 

Bag and headband!
1. Cool Swag is included. Admittedly this is only my second race ever, so I'm drawing on limited experience. However, I know cool swag when I come across cool FREE swag! When we went to pick up our race day packets the day before the race and what I received truly shocked me! We had a Color Run t-shirt, rainbow colored Color Run head bands, a smaller Color Run face tattoo, and a larger HAPPY tattoo. All of this came a pretty cool colorful Color Run bag- heck they even included safety pins to attached the running bib to our shirts! Oh and did I mention that it was all FREE!
2.  Come one, come all. The attitude of the 5k is so un-racelike that you really don't feel like you are in a competition at all. The race is not timed so you never feel likes it's a death match to the end. Quite the contrary, you are truly there for the whole experience of it and the fun day! There were families with younger children walking, many with strollers even. There were people of all shapes and varying degrees of fitness. It was very inviting for everyone, even those looking to time their 5k.

Finish line dash
3. You end the race as colorful as you want to be. Indeed when you go through the color zones you can avoid getting doused with color by simply running through them quickly. There were plenty of people who didn't look the least bit "colored" when they finished the race. The amount of color you get at each zone is really dependent on how long you take going through and how much actual color you want. The first two zones were just ran through fairly quickly and had minimal colors on us. The last zones we stopped and walked through and allowed ourselves to get thoroughly colored. We even stopped, dropped and rolled in it! You have more control than you think when going through the color zones. 

4. There are tons of pictures being taken.  If you want to pose for the camera, fear not, there are plenty of photographers snapping your candids while you run amuck in the colored zones. So smile big for the camera and strike a pose! Oh and the pictures were ready to view within three days post race, which was a great turn around. 

Race day pictures
5. Pre and post race celebrations were a blast! During the pre-race workout up there was plenty of music, cheering, and just general excitement. On their stage they had several Zumba instructors conducting classes. So we joined in and got ourselves stretched and ready for the race. It was a great way to get the blood flowing and the music was jamming! Considering our race started at 8:00am and we got to the park at 6:45, I'm glad they had someone there to help get me warmed up. Now during the post race celebration, there was music and hoopla, and most of all there was color! Tons of it. In little bags they handed you when you came across the finish line. It was really too much fun! 

As with any non-standard race, there are tips and pointers that can help you get through the race and feel better at the end. Here is what I learned:

1. Take a bottle of water with you on the race, if possible. There were times when we just needed to swish with it to get some of the color dust out of our mouth (or teeth) and the water came in handy. Remember you can control the amount of color you get on you, and we were rolling in it. So we did get some in our mouth. 

2. Make sure to control your breathing. As an asthmatic I was nervous about the "dust" particles hindering my breathing and affecting my running. So for the first two color stations I was nervous about it. I used a bandana one of our teammates had to cover my nose and mouth to minimize the amount of color dust I was breathing in. The fact is that it wasn't that bad after you got used to the feeling. However, if you do suffer from any kind of breathing condition I would use caution and take a bandana or something to cover your nose and mouth. While I did make it through the run and the post celebration color-fest, I was a bit tight-chested later that evening and in through the next day. I felt wheezy so I would exercise caution if you are asthmatic. Definitely something I will consider on our next one. 

3. Your choice of clothing is important! All the color WILL NOT come out of your clothes! Since they provided a T-shirt, I wore the one I got with my swag bag. I did put on a tank top underneath- mostly because I sweat quite a bit and I didn't want the color sticking to my body. It was great because it provided a barrier between my sweat and the color, making it so much easier when it was time to bathe. The areas where sweat pooled the most, got colored the most- like the backs of my knees, crooks of my arms and the back of my neck. The crooks of my arms were a weird purple and blue! Hah! In addition to having on an undershirt or tank top, make sure you wear that rainbow headband they give you. It's hot here in Savannah, but thankfully it wasn't terrible on the race day. Despite the cooler temps, I still was sweating like a pig! The headband really helps to keep the sweat out of your eyes, which in turn keeps the color at bay. Always a plus!

4. Ears, hands and feet will stay colored for days. Despite many attempts to remove all the color from these areas, it was just impossible to do. My hands and ears had blue color on/in them for many days later. My daughter's feet were blue and my son couldn't manage to get the blue color off his neck. While most of the color will fade and disappear, just be prepared if you have the huge meeting with the big boss that following week that you don't walk in looking like you loved on a smurf. 

5. Protect your belongings. There will be places you don't want this color to get into, so make sure you protect your belongings. For starters, put your cell phone or camera in a zip loc bag or be prepared to have a colored dusted phone. My phone case is pink and by the end of the run it was dirty and looked awful. When we were done with the run we walked around and went to lunch, giving us plenty of time to "lose" quite a bit of color- remember it's a corn starch dust so it will brush off and shake out if you try. That being said remember that you will have to get back into your car eventually and this is where a sheet or towel come in handy. We didn't change clothes but that could be an option to- but you could get other clothes colored. 

6. Wash with like colors.  With 4 Color Run participants it was easy to wash all of our colored clothing together. They provided a Shout color sheet in our swag bag and I used it to help collect the loose color in the wash. Almost everything came out clean, except my tank top which still has remnants of the colors. To be safe, just make sure you don't put other laundry in with your Color Run clothes.  

It was a great family experience. The kids loved it and so did we! We had fun and would recommend it to anyone looking for a little fitness and fun rolled into one. It is a truly Happy experience, and one I know we will do again!
Family fun

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