Well... after weeks of training and preparation, the day I had been waiting for finally arrived--The Color Run in Chicago, my very first 5k. It didn't go according to plan, necessarily, but it definitely ranks up there as one of my most favorite life experiences.
You see, a week prior to the race, I was out on a run when, on the home stretch, I stepped wrong and felt a pain in my right foot. Being that I was so close to home, I decided to just push through it and keep going (it was a rough run for other reasons, like the 98% humidity, and one of the few times I've ever just wanted it to be over, please let me get home before I pass out). At first, my foot didn't bother me much at all, but as the week progressed... it wasn't getting better. It was getting worse. And that was when I started to get worried. I work a very physically demanding job, where I'm on my feet for 8+ hours a day, and I was concerned that perhaps I might have landed myself with a stress fracture or something. Even just standing felt weird.
So... I went to the doctor. Thankfully, she told me it was just a minor sprain, and that with ice, rest, and the addition of an ankle brace into my life, I would be up and running again in no time--but not in time for the weekend. Which meant that I would not actually be running for my first 5k. She told me I could go and walk--the Color Run is all about running, walking, jogging, dancing, having fun, doing whatever--but that I should wait a week or two before I started pounding the pavement again.
I was incredibly sad about this, but... I knew she was right, and I didn't want to push it. The knowledge that I would get to do another run in Milwaukee, and that I was signed up for my town's 4th of July 5k, helped me get through being bummed out, and by Saturday night, I was not so much sad anymore, and really, just excited--excited to get the experience, regardless of my speed.
The mister and I got up REALLY early on Sunday (on little sleep), got dressed, and hopped in the car to drive to the city. Packet pick-up down at Grant Park for the race started at 6, and I got there not long after. It was really awesome to see the crowds start to grow and swell as it got closer and closer to 8 A.M., the opening of the race chute. We wandered around the sea of white shirts and soaked up the energy and intensity; everyone was so happy, so excited to be there!
Shortly before 8, I met up with two longtime friends who were participating with me (our fourth team member could not attend at the last minute, sadly) and after finding a place to meet up with the husband afterwards, we joined the crowd and slowly made our way up Monroe to the starting line. We chatted as we waited, and then, we were off!
It was the PERFECT lakefront day... sunny, clear skies, not too humid, slight breezes here and there. We went up Columbus, around to Randolph, back down Columbus, over to Congress... and though I did not run, I split my time between walking and some light jogging. There were a lot of walking participants, actually, so I didn't feel too bad about not being able to go ful speed. It was just so amazing to be there, traversing those city streets, laughing and yelling and taking in the sights around us.
At the first kilometer, we ran through the orange color zone--and then pink, yellow, and blue. You can go all out and get super color-fied, or you can go for more of a light dusting. I, of course, wanted as much color as I could (though I was not as covered as some people I saw!) Thought it was a little disorienting to move through the color zones, it was fun and hilarious to see what we looked like on the other side.
We decided to jog the end, through the finish line--and then we were there! We made it, 3.1 miles of color and excitement. I felt exhilarated and happy to have finished, covered from head to toe in a rainbow of joy. After reconnecting, the three of us made our way into Grant Park again, eventually finding our personal photographer and joining the crowds for the post-run color throws at the finish festival, which were really cool to both watch and participate in!
Before long, we all decided to go our separate ways and said goodbye--Thomas and I went over to Buckingham Fountain and wandered around downtown for a bit, then went over to the parking garage. I drew a lot of amused looks on the Kennedy when we were driving home (after all, how often do you see someone who is covered in all sorts of color?) and when we finally got home, I hung up my shirt and headband on a hanger and took one of the most gratifying showers ever. I felt really accomplished, really happy, and really glad that I decided to do it.
It was SUCH an incredible experience, and I feel really fortunate to have participated. I am SO looking forward to the Color Run in Milwaukee in August (which I'm hoping I'll be able to run, full-tilt) and also, the 4th of July 5k, which happens even sooner. And who knows, maybe I'll be able to get another 5k in here and there before winter arrives in Chicagoland! One thing is for certain: I am a runner, and I will keep running, keep going, for as long as I can.
I brought my old digital camera with me to capture the colorful goodness... enjoy!
(Color Runners color jumping... this last one courtesy of the husband.)