If Life Gives You Color, Run With It

Disclaimer: For those of you who have been following my blog long-term, you know that I have a severe disability that prevents me from doing many activities, including walking, without pretty intense pain and swelling. Before deciding to do the Color Run, I had a very serious long talk with my orthopaedist about whether or not this activity would be an option for me. After advising rest, ice, compression, elevation, and a few medications to help with swelling and pain, he told me that it would be okay for me to participate in a one-day release of my limitations, but he did warn me about the considerable pain and swelling I would experience in the days following. After having a talk with him, I decided that it would still be in my best interest to participate in this event. I advise you to talk to your doctor before participating in any exercise or fitness program regardless of your level of health, but particularly if you have an injury or disability that could be exacerbated by the activity. While the Color Run is an incredible event and I highly recommend it, my advice is far less important than the advice of your medical professional, as he knows your case better than I will. I also advise that if you plan to participate in a 5k, you should probably participate in some sort of training program before hand and work your way up to it, rather than diving right in like I did. With that said… onto the actual post.

At 4:00am on July 1, I was laying awake, staring at the ceiling. I tried to think back to the last time that I had walked a half a mile, let alone 3.1 miles. I couldn’t think of a time in my life that I had walked that far. I am sure there was a time, but I simply could not remember it. I was having trouble remembering the last time I walked much farther than around my block, vacation aside, when I ~I occasionally take a short walk on the beach.

I was nervous. Would I even make it through the 5k? Or even just to the first checkpoint? I had no idea, but I was ready to take a leap of faith. I thought back to several months ago, when I first got the crazy idea to do a 5k.

You see, up until several months ago, the thought had never occurred to me to do a 5k. Are you kidding me? A 5k is for fit people. It’s for people who actually enjoy running. Or, enjoy sweating. It’s not for people like me, who hate being outside, hate physical labor (for me, specifically, it’s because most physical labor hurts due to my condition). A 5k? Not for me, no, thank you.

And then everything changed when I heard my first whisper of The Color Run.

It was this new kind of 5k. Brand new, in fact. And it was built around the idea that, after each kilometer, you would be showered with color. A different color each time? So I could be all cool and colorful and exciting? Well, that sounded kind of interesting. Plus, honestly, their videos sucked me in.

You see, I am one of those weird people who cries at the drop of a hat. Every flash mob, every standing ovation, every time that a crowd of people unites together and does something really amazing, it makes me cry. Their videos showing the color throw at the end made me cry like a baby… and I knew I wanted to do it. Watch the video, see for yourself.

So, you see why I had this dream of participating. But, of course, I knew with my disabilities, it probably wasn’t in the cards. I knew that it would be amazing, though, so, just in case, I assembled a team of people interested. My dad, my brother, and my sister (who flew in all the way from Germany!) were ready to participate as soon as I got a yes from my doctor. I spoke to my doctor, and was ready to sign up, but the tickets for Kansas City’s race sold out so fast– within hours. I was devastated.

I’m not kidding. I literally sat and cried about how I was finally getting to do something like this and I couldn’t because, darn it, it was sold out. Within a few days, though, the awesome people at The Color Run opened a second Kansas City date! I set an alarm, and signed up first thing, as Team Rainbow Trout (yes, my brother helped pick the name, and I personally think it was AWESOME!)

Fast-forward to the day of the run, laying awake. At 4:45, my sister came in and shook my foot. It was time to wake up. Our friends who had participated on Saturday’s race gave us some good advice, and one piece of advice was to get there early.

I’m not a morning person, but I had the feeling that this would be worth it. We quietly left the house, just the four of us, and made the drive up to Arrowhead Stadium. We got there around 5:30 in the morning, and we were the first people to arrive! The awesome Color Run team even gave us a cool little prize for being the first team there!

We made sure to snap some fun photos while waiting for the run to start.

My sister and brother were all geared up and ready to go. We wore our color run tee shirts and sweat bands that came with our registration.

I got a rare photo op with him, too. Now that he’s a tween, he doesn’t allow too many photos like that with me!

We also recruited our dad to take a fun picture beforehand. We were going for a “warrior” pose, but I confess I may have missed the mark… a lot. I’m not sure I would make a very menacing warrior.

Like I said, though, we got there before any other participants, so we ended up just sitting on the concrete hanging out for awhile. About an hour before the race, as other runners and walkers started arriving, they started pumping music, which really got our blood pumping.

Before the race, I was looking at my powder. I’m one of those crazy people who really follows rules to a T. So, when something says “save me for the finish festival,” I admit my heart broke a little bit when people tossed the powder on each other before or during the race…

I was so excited to get pink (my brother snagged purple before I could– it’s my favorite color!) Our four-pack for our team rounded out with green and yellow. The powder is actually made out of cornstarch and fragrance. In other words, if it gets in your mouth, you won’t die. Unless, like, you’re allergic to corn or something. Then you might.

And trust me, it will get in your mouth. But I digress.

Before the start of the race, I tried to take as many photos as I could of everyone’s state of mind. Mostly to take the focus off of the fact that my state of mind was NERVOUS. What was I thinking? 3.1 miles? Really? Am I dumb? I’m so out of shape. I mean, you guys know me, I love food. I don’t love exercise. So I focused my nervous, excited energy into snapping photos of Team Rainbow Trout.

Like this photo of my very “chill” brother, about an hour before the race.

And this silly photo of my sister giving my dad dirty looks. Yes, that’s the sunrise behind her. I was actually so interested in something that I woke up before sunrise. This is a major deal for me.

As the seconds ticked closer, everyone was on their feet, moving, blood pumping, and ready to go. It was almost time!

And we were off!

I admit, I started to get a little winded before the first kilometer was over. I was worried about how this would bode for the race, but I decided I for sure wanted to reach the first marker. Because of my disability, my family had agreed that if I ever got to the point where I needed to stop, we would quit, and go home, no questions asked. I had so much desire, though, to at least get to the first one, so I pushed ahead. And, honestly, before I knew it, I saw this:

We did it! We made it to the first color zone! I had made it that far! And by the time I made it that far, I wasn’t feeling so bad after all. The thrill was starting to get to me.

We had yellow, but I was hungry for more color on my shirt, which I was wearing like a badge of honor. I was dreaming of having a very colorful shirt, and I knew I couldn’t get it if I didn’t keep going.

We kept walking, and before I knew it… we were there! We had made it to the second color zone!

We were all orange, and I was thrilled to have gotten more color! We were only a few colors away from having it all. We pushed on, and I was actually less out of breath after the second one than I was leading up to the first. I truly think that having each zone to look forward to helped me push on, and focus on the next zone that laid ahead.

Plus, along the way, they had some great volunteers to hand out water to everyone. There were two water checkpoints on the race, which absolutely beat my lukewarm water bottle. The volunteers were amazing. A lot of them were from Ronald McDonald House Charities, which is what the cost of the race went to help.

As a die-hard Sporting KC fan (and fan of few other sports teams), I rarely see Kauffman or Arrowhead Stadiums, so it was kind of interesting to see them! (Although, next year, I may need to bribe some people to see to it that our run is closer to, in my opinion, the most beautiful stadium in Kansas City, Livestrong Sporting Park. Walking near that? Amazing!)

Our third checkpoint was my personal favorite… blue! It was a bright, vibrant shade to pair with our warmer oranges and yellows. In the background, you’ll see one of the fun and festive articles of clothing, a tutu. We kind of regretted the fact that we hadn’t been more creative with our clothing!

My sister’s hand got a fresh coat of color somehow, and it looked amazing with her Color Run tattoo that came in our running kits!

One of the cool things about our running location was the fact that the pink checkpoint went under a bridge, which meant when you went over the bridge, you could see everyone running below you. It was a really cool photo opportunity!

The other side of the picture above was this very pink checkpoint. You see, at the other checkpoints, the air could blow it out of the way, but in this checkpoint, it couldn’t go anywhere, which meant the pink was everywhere!

Including a random handful that landed in my face! I was almost head-to-toe in color by now!

We were all colorful, and we finally realized that we were on our last leg! We had made it through four kilometers! And, while I was breaking a slight sweat, I honestly was doing okay. We had taken our pace slow and steady, so even though we launched in the first wave, we were somewhere around the fourth wave by this point in our own standings. However, it didn’t seem to matter. We figured that even if we were the last ones to cross the finish (we weren’t), it would be okay because we had actually completed a 5k. For the members of Team Rainbow Trout, this was our first 5k. Now, my dad and sister both log a lot of walking time at work, and my brother never stops moving (he plays soccer 3 seasons a year, and is always running or walking from this friends’ house to this house, and everything else). I was the only one, really, who didn’t walk. Ever.

We could see and hear many participants already at the finish festival as we were on the home stretch, but there were still droves of people in front of and behind us.

Before we knew it, we could see the finish! We were almost there! We had succeeded! As we approached, a color throw was happening! We knew we wouldn’t make it into the finish area and get our packets open in time, so I took the opportunity to snap a photo of the brilliant color!

I have to admit, watching (and later, participating) in the color throw made me teary-eyed just as much as the video I had first seen of the run did!

I was just so thrilled, and shocked, that we actually did it! It was now time for us to bask in the glory that is the Finish Festival. It was our turn to get to do that amazing color throw, to celebrate the fact that we had made it.

Even the ground at the Finish Festival makes it look like a party!

The first throw that occurred when we were in the Finish Festival was a “Kansas City” red and yellow only throw, for the KC Chiefs. Seriously, who does a girl have to pay around here for some Sporting KC love? I am all for a blue-only throw in favor of Sporting KC, the Royals, and the KC Blues! My dad had yellow powder, but he was nice enough to share with us for the red-and-yellow Color Throw. The nice thing is that a bag has several handfuls of powder in it, so there’s plenty to share, or make it last for several throws, or even throw some in the throw and throw the rest on your teammates!

It was countdown time… 5, 4, 3, 2….

After staying for a few color throws, we finally decided to chuck our remaining powder at each other, and head to the car to head home. My sister wasn’t the only one who got a few handfuls thrown, even at her face!

As we headed home, it was time to reflect on our day. I did end up facing a lot of pain that evening and the following day, but honestly, it was incredibly worth it.

My knees were swollen, and needed ice and a lot of rest in the days following the run. A 5k is not something I could do every day, or even every month, but it was something. It was a once-in-a-lifetime (once-in-a-year???) opportunity!

On the car ride home, we talked about how we were excited to form our team again next year. Team Rainbow Trout will live on!

If you want to have as much fun as we did, check out the Color Run website and see when the Color Run is coming to a city near you! Register and see if you can beat Kansas City! We were the biggest Color Run city in their tour so far with 30,000 participants!

Make sure you stay hydrated. Even though Color Run volunteers had two ice water checkpoints and water bottles at the finish line, when it is hot outside, you need to make sure you’re bringing your own bottle to begin with. If you can, make sure it is a re-usable container, so you can keep our earth it’s best color… green. The Color Run truly is the Happiest 5K on the Planet!

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7 comments

  1. I am so proud of all four of you. You all look adorable. I was worried about you and your knees but glad they weren’t TOO bad. I enjoyed seeing the pictures you all looked like you had a lot of fun.

  2. How fun! I have been wanting to do a 5K for a couple of years now – the Color Run was here in Phoenix in January, I’ll definitely sign up for next years!

  3. This is so freakin’ amazing! I love your pix (BTW, you are very brave to take your camera to such an event! I would freak out for the color to get into it!) and so proud of you for completing it!! You go, girl!!

  4. Great posting! I found myself rooting for you right from the beginning and by the end I was the one tearing up! I’m so happy for you! I’m 57 and did the NYC Color run this past Sat with family and friends. I have some pretty serious spinal issues but at this point I can walk everyday, although it’s pretty painful at times. I was a little worried about being able to make it through the Run but I truly believe that the sheer joy of 12,000 happy people carried me through. For me and I suspect for you, this was a life changing event and I feel like I really accomplished a huge goal. Much luck to you in the future and look forward to seeing your Color Run post next year 🙂 PS Color me Rad is awesome too, I volunteered at the one near my house in May and I swear I had more fun than the Runners!

    1. I haven’t heard of Color Me Rad! I’ll have to look into it. Yes, I definitely believe the energy of the crowd really helped energize me through! I hope to participate in the Color Run again, as well as the Glow Run (a night-time 5k with body paint and glowsticks!)

      It’s amazing to hear your inspirational story! Stay colorful! 🙂

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