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Where I recap my first color run

by John on March 25th, 2013

If you’ve been stalking my Runkeeper Profile, you might have noticed that I haven’t been running all that much — it’s not for lack of want, it’s just a combination of lack of time and a real dislike of frozen-foot-syndrome. Basically, if I have the opportunity to get all sweaty inside, I’ll do that rather than let my feet grow numb by running outside. And I don’t do treadmills.

But, just because it’s been colder than frozen yeti piss outside doesn’t mean that I won’t pass up on a run . . . so last Saturday, I ran. Just randomly, I typed “Carlisle Color Run” into my freindly Googlething a couple of months ago, to see if one of these newfangled “color runs” might be working their way close to me sometime soon . . . and it just so happened that Harvest Health had just opened registration for their inaugural color run (it happens that they’ve started a whole race series, but I had no idea about that at the time). Excitedly, I signed up . . . despite the fact that I haven’t been running, I’ve been working out like a fiend, so being able to complete a 5k wouldn’t be a big worry – heck, the last nice weekend we had, I pulled a half-marathon from out of my ass.

Now, typically, race day is a very early morning. I’m used to a run starting at 7, which means I’m looking to pick my packet up and pin my number on at 5 . . . but, this run started at 11, and I picked my number up early. So I had some time. Around 9:30 the morning of the run, I dressed1, left my house, and went for coffee before working my way to the Carlisle hospital (the location for the run). Once there, I sipped my coffee while trying to keep warm . . . but the race-time temperature was 36°F (2°C or 275Kelvin) with a biting wind. Before long, I was out of coffee.

Fortunately, the race volunteers were out of the local YMCA, and there was a Zumba instructor on hand . . . so, before race time, I was keeping warm by shaking my money-maker. It should be said that I have the grace of a one-legged antelope, so I’m pretty sure that onlookers might have worried that there was big guy having a conniption, but I was keeping myself warm (so warm, in fact, that I was able to take off the earmuffs before run time). After Zumba, and a trip to the portapotty (never fun to race with a full bladder), I chatted with a few Twitter friends before working my way to the start.

Now, as I said before, I haven’t been running. And I really had no idea how to start the race. I knew this was a “loop” track — three loops, each about a mile in length, but I didn’t know the terrain and whether or not I’d experience any hills (the race wasn’t completely flat, but it was pretty darn close — like Kate Hudson). Not knowing how the color stations were going to work (I was afraid that there might be queues formed), I went out just a little bit faster than my typical “going out for a run pace.”

Before the Color Run

It turned out that I didn’t have any reason to worry about the color stations — bunches of volunteers were armed with colored-dust, and they threw it at you as you passed — there was no fear of having to slow down . . . but I maintained my slightly-faster-than-normal pace throughout the first lap because, well, it felt good. And I remained pretty consistent until the end of the third lap, where I turned on whatever I had left in my tank and sprinted to the finish-line.

Back at that very first color station, the dust covered my iPhone screen, so I couldn’t see my time throughout the entire race. And there was no great big clock to tell me my time at the finish line, so I was quite surprised when I saw a time of 22:11 on my iPhone . . . each loop was closer to .9 miles than a full mile, so this wasn’t quite a 5k, but I was running 8-minute miles. My previous best mile, ever, which was run on a treadmill, for precisely one mile, was 8:24 . . . so I blew that out of the water, and that was kind of cool.

And, because I ran well, I decided to check the overall standings . . . there were prizes being awarded for the top three males & females, and, well, you never know. I did not finish “in the prize,” but I did finish tenth overall (and the 5th male), and that was kind of cool.

Of course, there were some things that I would have really liked to see differently:

  • Registration was cut-off due to participation. Basically, the event reached maximum capacity, and I had friends who were looking to run that couldn’t get in. I hear that next year’s event won’t have a maximum number of entries, so hopefully this is a one-year-only thing.
  • Loop races are pretty boring – but they’re a bit dangerous when you’re including runners and walkers, like this one. Typically, you have to keep “on your toes” at the beginning of any race, while people look to find their own pace, but after the first half-mile, you can run your own race. That wasn’t true here — early on, things were pretty easy (I started near the very front of the pack), but I ended up weaving my way between walkers and slower runners through the final two laps.
  • This wasn’t chip timed (and it shouldn’t have been — I think too many races, where the entry fees, ultimately, benefit charities, spend too much of the money that should go toward the charity to the company handling the timing), but they were collecting the little tab at the bottom of your number to determine place. This meant that you had to stop and wait for someone to collect that little tab . . . but I didn’t realize that this was what they were doing. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since the beginning of the year, but I was in a dead sprint, and I’m still well over 200 pounds . . . so I had to stop quickly to prevent a crash. If they had told me that we needed to turn in our tabs, and stop in the “finish line area,” I wouldn’t have nearly trampled a family of four to death run with reckless abandon at the very end of the race.
  • I specifically wore a plain, white, cotton t-shirt . . . but at the end of the race, it looked like I was wearing a plain, white, cotton t-shirt. I don’t know if the cold temperature meant that I was sweating less and, henceforth, the colored dust didn’t stick, or if cheap colored dust was used, or if I was just running so amazingly quickly that the dust never had a chance to stick . . . but I wasn’t very colorful at the end.

After the Color Run

Overall, it was a great time, even if I wasn’t quite technicolor in the end. Apparently, Harvest Health is starting a whole race series . . . the next one I’m looking at will be a “Trick or Trot” right around Halloween . . . which should be fun. I really think that’s the secret to smaller races – keep them fun . . . let the long runs let the distance dictate what they are — you run a marathon because you want to run a marathon. For a 5k or 10k, make it something you want to do while running — I want to run through a mud pit or breath fire or get painted like a rainbow or wear fairy wings or fight zombies…while running.


1 I wore running tights, a long-sleeved compression shirt, a pair of running shorts, a white t-shirt, ear-muffs, sunglasses, and gloves.
19 Comments
  1. Non-runner asks, “what is a color run?”

    Congrats though on having a fun run!

    • Ah, yes – if I had actually thought things through, I might have explained what a color run is. And that is, you run a race, and throughout the race, there are “color stations,” which are manned by volunteers armed with colored dust. As you pass through the color station, they throw/sprinkle/bombard you with the dust so that, at the end of the run, you’re technicolor.

      This dust just wasn’t very colored – I know @DenitsaM ran one where it looked like she was involved with an explosion at the Crayola factory – but this race, well, you can kind of see some yellow dirt on me in the “after” pic.

  2. Saucy permalink

    I’m doing my first Color Run on 5/18. It’ll also be my first race of the year and I’m doing it with a bunch of local ladies who also have diabetes. I can’t wait! I just hope I end up being more colorful than you – I guess I’ll have to keep it slow just to make sure 🙂

    • Really, I did this run because I wanted to run, so I’m not too disappointed by the lack of color — but there were a lot of kids who ran, and I know they were kind of looking around at each other at the end, wondering why they weren’t colored.

      I’m really hoping it was just a decision to buy cheap colored dust — something easily remedied (even if it means a little bit more in entry fee)

  3. Your time was great!

    I did expect to see a much more colorful you at the end. I have thought about doing one of these races because they seem like fun. Except you know… I hate to run. I tried to get into it with one of those couch to 5k apps but then I gave up and went back to the yoga studio. 🙂

    • I’m of the opinion that “being active” > “not being active,” no matter what the active track is. If you don’t like running, don’t do it . . . personally, I wish I had more time for yoga. I used to go 2-3 times/week, and I really miss it.

  4. I think it’s been a decade since I’ve run a 5k competitively (by competitively, I just mean in a race with other people that’s been measured to be 5k).

    I can’t remember any of my times since high school cross country. It’s time to get back out there. I haven’t been to the gym to train in forever since we started potty training my daughter, but I think she’s about ready to be in the kid’s club for two hours while I hop back on the treadmill. The color run sounds like fun. And maybe a zombie one…

    • The zombie one was a lot of fun, but really expensive. I do a most of my working out either over lunch while at work or while the family is still asleep — if I had to rely on child watch at the gym, I’d be lucky to get two workouts in a week.

  5. Nice time – it must have been the Zumba.

    • Oh, it was totally the Zumba. They had professional photographers taking pictures on the course — I don’t know if they were out during the Zumba session, but were they, well, it’d be easy enough to find the big guy wearing green gloves moving in a near-opposite direction to everyone else.

  6. Sorry you weren’t colorful. But as an aside, literally, that instagram pic of you in the batman hate. Creepy. 😉

  7. Nice pace, John!

    I admit the appeal of Color Run is kind of lost on me, though.

    • As I wrote on your blog, I was hoping for a good avatar out of it, little more than that (other than to support a local race).

  8. Laura permalink

    Glad you had fun.

  9. It wasn’t “completely flat, but it was pretty darn close. Like Kate Hudson.”

    Best racing simile ever.

  10. Now that is one disappointingly uncolorful finale.

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