Learning to embrace the dreaded road race
by Saralyn Norkus League of Her Own
Jun 12, 2013 | 987 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last weekend I did something that I never thought I would do — I ran in a 5K down at Camp Jordan.

OK, so maybe “ran” is a bit strong of a word. Perhaps I should just say that I participated in a 5K, which consisted of more walking than running, although the running that I did do was more than I’ve done in my entire life. EVER.

My parents even made the trip down from Michigan to witness such a monumental event!

A few months ago I noticed that one of those oh-so-popular color runs was coming to Chattanooga. Since it wasn’t a timed race and was more of a go out, goof off, and have fun type thing, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and sign up.

I also set a goal for myself, which was to run at least one mile of the 3.1 miles that make up a 5-kilometer race. I hate to say it, but I did not achieve that one goal. FAIL.

My one, lone excuse is that in the week or two leading up to the day of the 5K I stupidly injured my foot while attempting an Insanity workout.

Insanity 1,

Saralyn 0

Anyways, we are not here to discuss the latest injury to be cataloged in my ever-expanding file of stupid injuries.

Bright and early last Saturday morning I found myself among a large mix of people. There were the running enthusiasts, the college kids, the parents with their small children, the awesome ladies with their fantastic tutus, the first-timers, the 20-timers, and a multitude of others.

Let me make one thing clear: Up until this 5K I have absolutely hated running. Hate, hate, hate it. I was the bane of my middle school and high school gym teachers’ existences; that one student who wouldn’t run no matter the threats thrown at me. Go ahead and fail me “Teach,” the real world doesn’t care if you failed gym class.

Back to the present day: I still don’t see what is so enjoyable about running. I run more now than I ever have, that is true. I just don’t feel that “runner’s high” that I’ve been told about from numerous different people.

I don’t have the same hateful disdain for running that I used to, but I still see it as a laborious task. Give me a gym full of weights and an elliptical machine any day.

My training leading up to the Color Vibe 5K was dismal to say the least. I took to the local Greenway a few times, the local high school tracks a few more times, and then the YMCA indoor track for the last few days before the race.

Thankfully, I was able to convince one of my friends, Rachael, to suffer through a 5K with me, because as the saying goes, misery does indeed love company!

Prior to the 5K even beginning we found ourselves colored in a multitude of bright colors thanks to the exuberance of the crowd. Due to the large amount of participants in the Color Vibe they released us to the course in groups.

Rachael and I were in one of the middle groups, surrounded by some of those awesome women in tutus. It was then that we decided the next time we ever do something like this, we will do it in tutus or perhaps amazingly tacky ’80s prom dresses!

I did start out the 3.1 miles by running, surprise of all surprises.

My running was short-lived though, as we soon discovered that the first portion of the course was to be run on the grass. As someone who has had more ankle injuries than she can count, it’s basically rule Numero Uno that you DO NOT run on uneven terrain. Tracks and paved pathways are one thing, but running “cross-country” style just doesn’t work for me.

My dear friend set quite a grueling speed-walking pace and I found myself inwardly and outwardly complaining about the 5K basically one mile in. I’m sure that I made her go slower than she would’ve liked to and it’s probably a miracle that she didn’t smack my whiny, complaining self!

The Color Vibe is broken down into four different color stations, where race staff throw various colors on you as you run or walk through. Making the first two felt like absolute torture. My calves were on fire, my foot was throbbing, and I had already almost tripped up and rolled my ankle on my lone attempt at running in the grass.

Just why exactly had I thought this would be a fun activity?

We got back onto the paved Camp Jordan path, and my attitude started to adjust. And by the time I had made the third color station, I was actually beginning to enjoy the whole 5K thing. Maybe my adrenaline finally started to kick in, who really knows?

With one more color station standing between me and the finish I found myself ready to attempt running again. Once we reached the final clearing the end was in sight. This was the time to haul butt to the finish line.

I almost made it all the way to the end running until I realized the finish was slightly uphill in the grass. A momentary pause and I was good to finish, even managing to not collapse on the ground and become very colorful roadkill.

The aches, the pains, the exhaustion faded away to exuberance and excitement as the DJ flown in from California hyped everyone up at the continuous finish line party, which was chock full with awesome music and happy people throwing color around everywhere. It was truly a fantastic experience.

I had done it, an actual 5K, with actual running done on my part!

The other goal going into the Color Vibe was that we finish in an hour or less. While it felt like those 3.1 miles dragged on forever, our final time was actually 45 minutes! That means Rachael and I were averaging a 14 minute-mile that Saturday morning. We even managed to finish within most of the same group we had started out with.

Yes, I am proud of the small achievements!

I am so proud of the fact that I (barely) survived my first 5K that I have already signed up for the Run or Dye 5K that will be coming to Chattanooga on Aug. 24.

This time though, I’m going to run a solid mile, darnit!