Sunday 7 June 2015
For the past few months, my regular readers may have noticed by series of fitness (I use the term lightly) updates. They were done under the title “Getting fit for travel” so that I could justify posting about my experiences on my travel blog but in actuality I personally was getting fit for a 5km I had signed up to do (don’t let that put you off though- if you’re going travelling getting fit is a great idea, particularly if hiking is going to be involved). The run in question was The Color Run (for any fellow Brits, it is an American company hence the lack of “u” in colour- it doesn’t look right to me either), an event that takes place around the world, with London being just one of the locations, and on Sunday 7 June, my day was finally here. Gulp.
Basically, I have wanted to go to India to experience the Hindu Holi festival, where they throw coloured powder at each other. Unfortunately, for budgetary reasons, I cannot afford to go to India. Thankfully, several Holi-esque celebrations have popped up closer to home. A couple of Holi festival events take place in London over the summer, involving coloured powder and music, but I decided that since I did actually want to get fit I would do the run. I thought it may be a tad cheaper as well- it just took up weeks and weeks (I exaggerate) of my life instead as I tried to get myself in a position where I could actually run it. 5km may not sound like a lot to the masses but exercise and I have never been close so this was big for me.
During my extended training period, I managed to do one 5km. In the week before the run I did two shorter runs (not wanting to tire myself out too much/I was busy) and I turned up on Sunday optimistic I could run the whole thing. I have to say, as the day arrived I was not as excited as I should have been for the self-proclaimed “Happiest 5K on the plant” but I wasn’t dreading it. My flatmate, however, was not happy. She held the fact this had been my idea against my until we were about half way through the run. Maybe longer.
Not having any spectators to hold our stuff, we packed light, with only our phones, keys and contactless debit card to use on the buses and tubes. It turns out that sports bras make very useful handbags. Perhaps if I never exercise again I can use mine for that. As I was leaving, I thought that I didn’t have my sunglasses but couldn’t be bothered to turn back for them. It was a bright day, there would be coloured powder flying through the air but I didn’t want them ruined.
This was the first time I had really been seen in public in sportswear. Sure I’ve been running in the park but not just sitting around on public transport. Thankfully, as we caught the Jubilee line to Wembley Park, we spotted several other people wearing the Color Run tops. Many people had dressed up more than we had, with colourful make-up and even the odd tutu.
As we arrived at the park, there was a person on the stage shouting and trying to get everyone warmed up. We were not in that kind of mood. Instead I forked out a fiver on some brightly coloured sunglasses (having decided that not having brought mine was stupid- it was a very sunny day) and we got in the starting line. Although we were meant to start at four, there were so many people (19,000 altogether) that starting was staggered. It felt like we were waiting forever. There was another warm-up act getting us to shout and countdown. I don’t consider myself a grumpy person but I am too much of a cynic for that kind of enforced happiness. Although I will admit, as we got closer to the actual starting line I did perk up.
Then we were off. Usually I hit the running wall after about 7 minutes or so but I can power on through. This time, it hit me almost immediately. Oh no. I was worried. So many people were walking (this wasn’t a serious race after all) so dodging them (the walkers like to spread out across the entire pathway) and not giving in and joining them took even more motivation. The weather was hot and the route started uphill (UPHILL ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) plus, my Color Run sweatband, which I was using to keep my fringe back kept pinging off. Eventually I managed to stay but I did look like I had a chicken comb on my head. Just as I got this in a place a girl with her Go-Pro started running alongside us shouting at us to keep going. It us laugh but neither me or my chicken comb wanted to be on film.
So, you ask, did I manage it. Did I conquer the Color Run and run the whole 5km… No. No I did not. NO DON’T GIVE UP ON ME AND CLICK OFF THIS PAGE, I CAN EXPLAIN!
Having spent months trying to get to the stage that I could actually run, you can imagine that I was pretty disappointed to not manage to run the whole thing but the truth was you couldn’t really do it. At each 1km there was a colour station where volunteers covered you with coloured powder. If you kept on running you’d miss getting covered and that was ultimately the point. If you didn’t, you might as well have been doing any other run. On the second check point, the whole crowd was walking so running really wasn’t an option at all.
In my defence, I did run the whole way between checkpoints (apart from the water station at about 2.5km- sorry I know this is just getting worse) but that was saying something considering the amount of people walking. The fact I didn’t break my ankle as I continuously hopped up and down from the pavement, dodging people, was an achievement in itself. I am pretty clumsy after all and nearly fall over at least once a day.
As we finally crossed the finish line, we were greeted with the Finish Festival. We were handed water and a bag of coloured powder. After some failed photo attempts (good photos were hard when there was just the two of you) we made our way over to the stage where the guy from the starting line was shouting along to a club-mix. My flatmate had perked up and we bobbed along to the music for a while. Then there was a colour throw where the entire crowd jumped up and down and threw their powder into the air. It was a pretty cool experience, as the air turned purple and you could barely see a few feet in front of your face, but afterwards we left the crowd for some fresh, powder-less air.
There were several food trucks dotted around we ended up in a long queue for some Mexican food. It was kinda like being at a festival except festival food is amazing and sadly our nachos were not, although they were festival-food-price. After sitting in the sun for a while and taking a few more pictures, we turned to leave. On our way, we passed a bar and decided that this was the perfect time for a drink, so we sat on a spot of tarmac and enjoyed a Corona before making our second attempt to vacate the vicinity.
This time we made it to the tube, stopping only at an ice cream truck. I had wanted a whippy ice cream with a cone and a flake (£2.50) but sadly my change wouldn’t buy me a flake so I had to settle for one without (£1.80). You may be able to tell I was pretty incensed by this. I mean what happened to a 99 flake costing 99p?!
Anyway, that was it! We left pretty covered in powder, although thankfully the loose bits seemed to have got lost on the way so we didn’t leave a trail behind us. We probably got some weird looks on public transport but we were far from the only Color Runners around. Despite my ice-cream annoyance, we were in a pretty good mood. We had finished the run, and run most of it. We had thrown some coloured powder around and we had decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. All in all, it been a pretty good day.
Now I may have not been able to run the whole thing on the day but over the past few weeks I have actually managed a 5km, which I have to admit, I am pretty proud of. As a kid I had flat feet, meaning that I used to twist my ankles all the time and I still do more than I should when running. Running has also always been the thing I have just never been able to do- I was always last in poorly named school “fun runs” and warm up runs in Games lessons (the low point of my week) so for me this has all been an actual achievement. This may not have been a race- the real competition was how much colour you could get on you, rather than your time- but I did actually overtake multiple people who had decided to walk, and even the odd runner, so for me I’m counting this as one race that I did not lose.