Recently, Q and I participated in our very first 5 km fun run.
I have this love-hate, actually let’s be honest, it’s really more of a hate-hate, kind of relationship with running. I’m not really built to be a runner, nor have I ever really been, but during various times in my life, *ahem Army days ahem*, I have done a lot of it. I know it’s good cardio and exercise, and I hear every say how relaxing and stress refucing it can be, but I’ve never really found that.
Rewind to a few months ago, in the late spring.
It was a couple of months post hand surgery, and I decided that I should get back to working out by walking after I dropped the dude off at school. I started slowly, with just a couple laps but soon built it up to about a 45 min walk most days during the week. One day while I was walking, I was feeling a bit bored, so I decided to try a short jog. I went further than anticipated, so the next day I decided I would do more. On the third day of this, I had the brilliant idea to try to train to do a 5km run and that very night I bought myself a Couch to 5 k running program app and decided to give it a try. Being me, though, it didn’t stop there. Of course I had to start checking out local 5km runs and impulsively registered myself for the Vancouver Colour Run which would be taking place at the end of September. September was like, 5 months away. I could do this program in 9 weeks. I counted the weeks and discovered that I had exactly 18 weeks to train.
That gave me enough time to do the C25k program twice through, or repeat any weeks I needed or wanted to. It was perfect. I was already walking several kms a day, this program incorporated the walk-run training technique, it would be great! I made sure to clear it with my doctors, and they were in full support as long as it didn’t aggravate my symptoms. My husband bought me snazzy new runners with zippy laces so I didn’t need to do any lace tying, I bought a running hat and some new tank tops and I was ready to start running. I even recruited a few friends to train with me, one who would come and do the run with me and another in England who would (obviously) have to do a different one. I started a private Facebook group so we coukd support each other, loaded up my Spotify playlist with peppy, motivating songs, and got ready to train.
At first it went great!
Aside from some major back and leg cramps, the first couple of weeks went well. My guide on my C25k app was none other than Runicorn, the Color Run mascot himself. I made the mistake of trying the program with the drill sergeant guide, but that gave me cold chills and flashbacks to my basic training days, and was promptly changed to the Runicorn. I was feeling fairly confident that I would, in fact, be able to meet my goal of running the 5k “race”. The run-walk pace seemed pretty do-able with my newly made but awesome Spotify running playlist, and I was getting in the groove.
Actually, that is a bit of a lie.
No matter how hard I tried to get into it, around the 20 minute mark I almost always started wondering just whose stupid idea this whole running thing was (mine) and whose bright idea it was to sign up for a race (mine again), and why in heaven was it so hot out every morning just when I started my run. I tried a running hat, as I was fogging up my sunglasses within minutes of starting every day. Still, though, I kept going. I got a bit frustrated because I wasn’t getting that “running high” that I always hear people talking about, and my mind never found any kind of peace or clearance, it just ended up with slightly angry thoughts. Haha. I was determined that I was going to push through it though. I could do this.
Then it all started to fall apart.
I got a spring bug and missed a week of training. Then I had another nerve block for my hand. Another set back. Then we hit a heat wave in which it became unbearably hot by 9am, just in time for my morning run. Ugh. I struggled with finding motivation to do it, but my group kept encouraging each other and it helped to have some accountability partners. I redoubled my efforts and re-did the week I had just finished, as the upcoming week was going to be a big run interval and I wanted to feel a bit readier. It was then that I had probably my best week of runs and Ifelt encouraged again. I had this. I was going to be able to do this 5 km in the fall, I knew it! But then my headaches started. Bad ones,the kind that lay you out on the couch making you wish that head transplants were actually a thing. At first I thought I might be dehydrated, so I added an extra rehydration drink to my morning routine. I ate a bit before, I waited to eat till I was done, I drank tea and then I didn’t. I even stopped pulling my hair into a ponytail in case it as too tight. But nothing worked. I was so sad. It’ll pass, I thought, if I just take a short break. So I went back to walking for a couple of weeks, hoping it would settle. I figured that my CRPS was flaring, because of course, why wouldn’t it be, and that backing off might be the answer. It seemed to help and so after a couple weeks, I tried again. And almost passed out from overheating. It was so bad that I wondered how I was going to make it back on my 750m walk home. I had to walk so slowly and was so afraid the whole time that I was going to do a header on the sidewalk. I beat myself up the whole way home.
I was so upset with myself.
I was angry at my faulty body. It made me mad that it wouldn’t let me do this thing, this *one* thing that I wanted to do for myself, sad that yet another thing was being taken away, frustrated that I couldn’t do this thing that most people could do. Honestly? I felt weak, like a loser and a failure. ButI had signed up for this event, and darn it, Q and I were still going to do it. There was no shame in walking it, it just wasn’t my original goal.
Fast forward to race weekend.
I was attending another event in Vancouver the day before the race, so we decided to book a hotel room and make altitude getaway out of it. The afternoon before the race, we braved the pouring rain to go out to the course and pick up our race kits. I was seriously crossing every body part that I could that the weather would clear up for the next days race, because I figured doing it in the pouring rain wouldn’t be much fun. We also checked out the Colour Run store, where I totally got sucked in my the fun merch and my kid and spent a bunch of money on fun stuff like aviator glasses with rainbow lenses, a pair of booty running shorts that said “Happy” on the bum (only $8 and SO soft!), a couple of leis, stickers and a stuffed Runicorn for Q. I had to exercise a great deal of self control and restraint to not buy the sparkly tutu and knee socks, but I succeeded!
We were all decked out and set for the race the next day. We also picked up my mom and aunts race kits and it was a blooming good thing we did, as the line up the next morning was HUGE!!! We headed back to our hotel for a chill evening, knowing we’d be getting up pretty early to be there on time. When we got back to our room, we realized that somewhere between our car and room, Q’s race kit had gone missing. I freaked out. How would he run the race the next day? Would I have to pay for a whole new registration for him? We scoured the hotel and parking lot, and checked with the front desk,but no luck. Someone had clearly picked it up, tight it looked cool and kept it. As a side note, who does that? I would see that and think that it was probably important, regardless of how cool it looked, and turn it in. I was frantically tweeting the organizers, but was prepared to pay the next day if necessary. No use in freaking out more, there was nothing I could do that night anyways.
Then it was race day!
We headed downtown, parked and made our way to the waiting area. It was festively decorated with palm trees, signs and there was a Zumba inspired warmup taking place on the stage. It was a pretty festive and fun atmosphere, for sure. Thankfully the run had replied to my tweet and told me to talk to the people at check in and they’d get us sorted out. We jumped into a line for the package pickup desk, thinking that it wasn’t too bad at all! Until we got to the front and they told us we’d have to get into the other line, the one that was easily over a hundred people deep and so big it doubled back on itself. Argh, really? So away we went, silently annoyed, until a woman with a clipboard walked up to us and asked if we were already registered. I explained the story, and she swept us out of the line, sized Q up and grabbed him a replacement package, just like that. It was such a relief. Shortly after, we found my mom and aunt, my friend and her daughter. Oh, did I mention that I got sucked back to the store, where I bought a bandana, and visor for Q. Like I said. I’m a sucker.
Ha. All of Team Sparkle Ninjas were together and ready to run, er, walk!
We waited and watched as the first leg went as we made our way to the starting corral. It was a fun and festive atmosphere, but there were SO many people. We were in the starting queue for an hour, and as we were waiting our turns, people were actually walking by on the way to their cars, leaving because they had finished the race.
And with that, we were off. Q, my aunt and I ran out of the gate,caught up in the moment. We slowed pretty quickly to wait for my mom, who was behind us, so we didn’t get separated,but my friend and her daughter had kept running and we’re now ahead of us. Q wanted to go fast, but there were too many people for him to not be. Right with me, much to his disappointment. Finally we his the first kilometre mark. Instead of the powdered colour we had been expecting, we were sprayed with coloured water by the volunteers at the station. We were giggling and cheering and having a great time, so didn’t think much of it at the time. 2km came and went, with another water colour station. By this point, I was starting to get so thirsty, so was probably a bit too excited to see the water bottle station at about the halfway point. By this point, we were wet and colourful and we’re looking forward to seeing what the next colour was going to be.
My back started to seize a bit and I could feel my body beginning to overheat from my CRPS, so I let myself slow my walking pace a little, all the while telling myself that taking care of myself was nothing to be ashamed of. After a bit of letting my body cool down, we were able to pick up the pace again and caught up with my aunt and Q.
I hadn’t brought my phone, because I was worried about a) my lack of running short pockets to carry it in, and b) the fact that I was worried about it getting killed by the colour, so I don’t actually have any pictures of my own from the race. Insert sad face here. My mom and friend both took some though, never fear.
The last km marker before the finish gate was full of bubbles. People were actually stopping for so long to pose and take pictures there that we thought that there was a lineup or backup at that marker, haha. We got a couple of neat pics, but wanted to keep going to the finish line, so off we headed again. Just before the finish line, my mom and aunt took a wrong turn and ended up almost taking a shortcut to the end, but Q noticed and called them back. I had promised Q that we could run through the Finish Line, so just before we got there, he took hold of my good hand and off we went. We giggled as we finished and were handed out medals and then cheered on the rest of Team Sparkle Ninjas as they also finished.
Then we were done!
We all had a great time on our first (Q and I anyway!) and decided that the Sparkle Ninjas would be back to do the run again in 2017. I enjoyed the atmosphere and style of the run, and although I didn’t actually get to run the whole thing, I’d say it was a success anyway. The event promotes fun, health and happiness, and I think that they succeeded in all three areas. Next year I will know to stretch more at the begging to avoid muscle soreness, haha, and will be sure to get my sparkle on even more! All in all, it was a fun experience to do with my dude and family and I look forward to doing it again next year.
A marathon runner I probably won’t be, but that’s ok. I can still walk them and have fun within the limits of my own body.
Have you ever done a race? How did you like it?