Friends, Fitness, Fun, and Food-Grade-Dyed-Cornstarch

2 Oct

I’ve participated in a lot of races in my day. At this point I’m not sure how many 5ks I’ve done. Not because the number is particularly high (I’d guess we’re between 10 and 20), but because after 5 or so I stop paying attention. I do know for a fact, though, that this Sunday was the first time that I finished a 5k a different color(s) than I started it.

Obligatory "Pre-Color" Shot

Obligatory “Pre-Color” Shot

It seems that my college roommate and I started our adult-onset athleticism around the same time. When we lived together 7 years ago physical activity was not exactly part of our repertoire. Oreos, ranch dressing (not with the Oreos), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Yes. Anything beyond the amount of walking living in a college town requires? Absolutely not. As we noticed each other’s fitness related posts on Facebook we started to reconnect over it, and at one point she said “maybe we can run a 5k together one, preferably one where they throw color at you.” I wasn’t sure we’d ever make that happen since she still lives in State College, and we’re in Philly, but I liked the sound of it. Then they announced that The Color Run was coming to Penn State, and we rallied to make this dream a reality.

From their website: “The Color Run™, also known as the ‘Happiest 5k on the Planet’, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality.” The Color Run’s goal (besides making cash, they are for-profit) is to promote healthy living. They estimate that more than 60% of their runners are doing their first 5k, as was the case for Leah (and I was so excited to be there for it!). Because the series is geared towards getting people active (and covered in paint) and not towards handing out winner’s medals, the atmosphere is a lot less intense than any race I’ve been to. There is a Runicorn (read: dude dressed as a running unicorn) mascot. So, seriously, not intense.

The Runicorn, and his doppelganger

The Runicorn, and his doppelganger

The event starts off with a pre-race party where folks mill about and dance to the music that a slightly crazy DJ is pumping out, while the aforementioned DJ throws prizes into the crowd. Then the Penn State Fitness team led the crowd through a Zumba routine (this one baffled me, why are we doing a 25 minute workout before our workout?) which was interesting. I’d never done Zumba, and found I didn’t really love it. In fact, I may have been heard saying “dude, I run so I don’t have to do Zumba” you know, with a lot of whiny inflection.

After that it was time to line up for the race, which was released across the start line in waves. So much like the half-marathon I don’t think we crossed the starting line until 30 or so minutes after the race started. Except that didn’t matter for this race, because it’s not timed. You are really just out there to have fun, get moving, and leave covered in paint.

Normally I run solo. Even the two half-marathons that I “ran with my dad” equated to us lining up at the start line together and then running our own race. The Color Run was different. We signed up as a team, and while there is no requirement to run as a team (apparently I’m not the only one with the line-up-together-go-separate-ways strategy), we came to State College to run with Leah, and run with Leah we were going to do. Her coworker, who had also never run a 5k before, stayed with us as well. Leah awoke Saturday morning with a cold, and she already fights some wicked asthma, so her lungs were working against us. She was worried that she was going to drag us down, and that we were going to be annoyed, but we weren’t. We adopted the “no man left behind” mantra, and when a walk was needed we walked, when jogging worked, we jogged, when we reached a color stop, we stopped and threw food-grade-dyed-cornstarch at one another.

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We did time ourselves, and it wasn’t a great showing, but it didn’t matter. We went out for fitness, we went out for fun, and we went out to be with friends. When we crossed the finish line I thought of all of the races I’d run by myself, and how lonely I would have been doing this race alone.

ink explosionTime changes us. If you went back 7 years ago to find me on our plaid sofa, and Leah in her papasan chair and said “guess what ladies, one day you will sign up for a 5k together, for fun, on purpose!” We’d have laughed at you, and offered you an Oreo. Leah and I drifted away for awhile, but I can honestly say that talking about fitness on Facebook and through our blogs (check out Leah’s blog at: was truly instrumental in bringing us back together, not Buffy, not Oreos, but running and taking care of our health. And I am so grateful.

Sparkle and Shine Reunited

Sparkle and Shine Reunited


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