The Color Me Rad 5k

Saturday October 5th, 2013.

What happened should not have been possible.

Let me back things up.

The night before the race, October 4th.  Usual very late night playing D&D with the guys.  Really didn’t have dinner, got home around 1:30am, so-so sleep.  Woke on Saturday, made microwaved oatmeal that turned out pretty lousy.  Rushed out the door.

Dropped the children off at their grandparents’ house, got to UBC, found parking a nautical mile away from where the event starts.  Met up with {Diwali}’s friends.  There were fewer of them than I expected; the Facebook group to which I was a member was lighting up all week with some of the twenty others posting about if or when or if they were coming.  In the end, there was just five ladies plus {Diwali} and myself.

Grey overcast skies, light wind, not cold but not warm.  Just right, actually.  Because of the nature of the Color Me Rad event and the staining of EVERYTHING I expected from the corn-starch powder bombs, I decided to wear my old VFF KSO’s.  Kind of a send-off party for them that they didn’t get when I switched to the Bikilas.

Lots of music and excitement, fun warm-up (happy to say there are no pics of me faking my way through a Zumba session) and a literal crate of Red Bull energy drink available to anyone who runs best when their heart is SCREAMING at them.  Not me.

We queue’d up for our starting time.  Now, it’s not a timed race but they were letting people out in heats.  About 30 minutes out from our start, I downed a couple Purple K‘s and a mix of Xpand Extreme Pump and Anabolic State powders I brought from home.  I like to give the mix a half-hour to settle, and to begin to work.

Quite a crowd at the starting gate so it was going to take a while to get up to speed.  We hadn’t made any kind of plans on how or where to meet along the run route.  I knew there were Color Stations along the way, and I figured I’d run or run-walk to the first one, wait for {Diwali} and the others (remember, my pace is a couple minutes per km than theirs), then we’d proceed on.

Off and running, as the saying goes.  First few minutes was like ducking out at the end of a sporting event; knots of people walking or light-jogging, very few of them politely off to the right.  Coming up to speed my goal was to predict openings and gaps I could exploit to free myself of the crowd.  Sure enough, I could.  There were a lot of walkers and groups with strollers.  Past them, slow runners, then past them, runners at speed and soon the tail end stragglers from the previous heat.

There were four Color Stations … run-through pit stops where volunteers with cardboard boxes full of dye-powder shoveled the stuff at you as you passed.  I figured each to be a kilometer apart, with the run’s mid-point somewhere between two Stations.  The route is a very easy, gentle, level paved road.  Starting at UBC Thunderbird Stadium, midpoint near the Museum of Anthropology, back again :

There's a nude beach below Stations 3 and 4

There’s a nude beach below Stations 3 and 4

So I decided to see what I could do.  Feet and ankles were feeling good, pre-race nerves weren’t bleeding energy from me, and I was passing people by the handful, coming up to a good pace.

I ran straight through to the first Color Station, got dusted up a nice Orange.  Decided I’d keep going as best I could, still at my normal running pace, to the next station.

Got to that station.  Figured hey, why not keep running to the mid-point, see if I need to break pace and walk ?  {Diwali} and others were way lost behind me now, I was on my own.  Still passing people as I went, jinking left to pass them, cutting back to the right in case I had a tail that wanted past.

Well, the mid-point turnaround didn’t turn out to be that far away, so I kept running once I reached it and hooked around the hairpin turn to come back.

Next Color Station came and went.  So did the next one.  That’s when I realized it.  That’s when I heard the voice in my head.

“We have this thing.”

As simple as that.  I knew I had in me what I needed to keep going.  Now, my best run to date, for consecutive unbroken running distance was officially 1.2k, unofficially ~1.6k.  I was now at FOUR KILOMETERS and had all the life left I needed.  It gave me an end-game surge.

My calves were beginning to lock up in the last 500m, and there was this hateful, hateful little incline for about 75m transitioning from road to grass leading to the last 200m sprint to the finish line.  It was in this last 300m that I had to dig down deep, to shut off everything that evolution gives us that says “please stop what you’re doing”, to keep breathing and moving forward.  My memory of that stretch is vague, but it snaps back into focus when I sped up slightly and passed under the big inflatable arch.

I did it.

I ran all 5k.

Nearest I can estimate was a time of 26-27 minutes, given when we started and what time it was when I asked someone just after I finished.

Felt like the world was mine; I was a Homeric god (Iliad kind, not Simpsons kind) striding the earth, mountains trembling before me, seas shuddering.

Sing, goddess, the triumph of ZeroToRun.

Sing, goddess, the triumph of ZeroToRun.

Also it was wise to keep moving, because I could feel the body come to collect on our Grand Bargain.  All around me was a party; people flinging colored powder at their friends and family and complete strangers, a mess of dye packs strewn about, wedding dresses and crazy hairstyles, pictures aplenty.

Was about ten minutes ( !!! ) later when {Diwali} and her crew finally crossed the finish line.  One of her crew had stopped to avail herself of a Port-A-Potty at the second Color Station and so set them back a few minutes.

There were a number of photo stations around; we got a group shot :

Heroes, writ colorful.

Heroes, writ colorful.

A group shot in which I appear to be getting punched in the face.

And a couple weeks after this run, I would find out from a co-op student I work with (she also ran the race) that some race pics are up on Flo-Foto.  This was the only “action shot” I could find of myself :

Damn you, watermarks.

Damn you, watermarks.

In the end, it was a truly amazing experience.  It was the kind of thing I have been working towards since the start of this whole program.  I ran a full five kilometers, passed probably 400 other runners (I’m counting walkers too, live with it), posted an unofficial time in the sub-28-min range.  It should not have been possible; late night, early morning, no food in me, still suffering tendonitis, barely having run in the last month…but it happened, and I made it happen.  Felt on top of the world.

Now I want more.




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