My first (run/walk) 5k – Ottawa Color Craze 5k

May 18, 2013

“I really have no idea what possessed me to attempt a 5k, but, here I am!”

That text, from me to my friend Beth M shortly before the start of this morning’s Ottawa Color Craze 5k, pretty well sums up my ambivalence of the morning. For a few weeks I’d been looking forward – with a fair dose of apprehension – to my first-ever run/walk 5k, and now, regardless if I was ready for IT, here it was.

I’d done a little bit of running training in recent weeks, with my buddy the ever-patient Mrs. O – but I certainly hadn’t done as much as I’d like to have done.  I’d never gone more than 2.5 miles of run/walk in any single day, and still needed generous stretches of walking interspersed with the running.

The event was the Ottawa Color Craze 5k, a run in my hometown that benefits Communities in Schools.  A very worthy cause with which Mrs. O was familiar, and with which I previously was not.  The “color” is the theme of the run: the idea is to wear white or light-colored clothing to the run, and at pre-determined “color stations” along the route, you get blasted by volunteers throwing colored corn starch.  As the pre-run email said (paraphrasing), “start wearing white, end wearing color!”

The start time was 10 AM.  Weather was really nice – I don’t know but would guess 70ish degrees, with a little wind.  Again I’m fortunate that it’s in Forest Park in my hometown, one mile from my house. So I was able to just ride my bike over around 9:30 to pick up my packet.  I met Mrs. O there in the park; and I got a picture of the “before” – prior to all the color carnage.

Ottawa_ColorCraze_2013_01Above:  Was really cool to roll into the park on the bike and see a big crowd assembled at the check-in table wearing tons of white.  Reminded me of Wimbledon!  It was also visually very cool to see the large group depart the start line at the air horn and file out of the park…a long line of folks wearing white…visually pretty cool.

At 10 AM the air horn sounded and everyone headed out.  There was a fairly narrow channel heading out, with the result that 90% of the participants walked for the first few minutes.  Most folks didn’t start running till they’d turned out of the park onto the side street.

Not a really big “ride report write-up” from me, except to say that I had a lot of fun.  Mrs. O, saint that she is, stayed with me the entire time even though she could have finished several minutes faster if she’d chosen to.  We started out with a decent (for me!) run segment, then into a walk, and so on for the duration.  I do recall that the turnaround point – not the exact midpoint but just where you turn, down an east-running road, then back north and then cross back onto the first road you were on – did arrive faster than I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised at that  🙂  Again, having not done more than 2.5 miles in any training session, a full 3.1 mile course was going to seem like a lot to me.

We went through a few color stations as we made our way – including one where the volunteer throwing the color was unsatisfied with how much Mrs. O had taken and made a point to run after her with a little cup of the stuff, getting her several feet down the road 🙂

In all, I was not totally satisfied with my pace, but what else is new, right?  I knew my walking segments would come more frequently, and for longer duration, toward the end, but I was a little disappointed with just HOW unwilling my legs were to run for the last perhaps mile.  I do take heart that it’s just a question of getting accustomed to the different muscle usage and different movements; when I do get tired and need to slow to walk, it’s rarely from cardio, it’s from my legs getting a little “weary” and needing to stop.  I have every confidence that over time, with training, that’ll dissipate.  For only having run perhaps 5 running training sessions total in my life, and still growing accustomed to a body that’s 90+ pounds lighter than it used to be, I’m not going to be overly harsh on myself.  But my struggle did generate in me a resolve to keep working hard so that I can keep getting better.  An earlier blog post about the bike (which I cannot seem to find) will also prove accurate for the running side:  the initial impetus of the activity is to lose weight & get into better shape, but my psyche is such that I turn the formula around and want to work hard and get in better shape, in the service of becoming a more capable cyclist (and now, runner) 🙂

Notwithstanding my slower pace (read:  I walked a lot, ran a little) in the final mile, we did arrive at the park.  Mrs. O, aka “The Taskmaster”, gently insisted on the start point for our final running segment, which we did, crossing through the finish line.  Our total finish time was roughly 42 minutes.  This wasn’t a timed 5k, so this is based upon my phone’s clock.  I’d had a goal to finish this first one in 40 minutes; but, given those few minutes we were more or less required to walk at the start, I can rationalize that I *might* have been able to slide in at 40 minutes if not for that.  Either way, it’s a start; and now, it’s my start.  My first-ever run/walk  5k.  I’m looking forward to the next one, but also aware of the work I’ll need to put in in order to feel a little more satisfied there.

A final word of praise and thanks for the volunteers, coordinators, planners of this event. Especially for a small-town event, this one was very well organized.  I’ve been speaking to a friend lately who participates frequently in 5ks, triathlons, half marathons, and heard some horror stories of poor organization – including situations where runners have every right to expect more.  Here, despite being a small-town event, things were coordinated and organized well.  Water stations along the route, helpful volunteers around, the color stations of course, some bananas and water at run’s end – A+ job and I think everyone had a really good time.  If they repeat this next year I’ll most definitely be back.

Ottawa_ColorCraze_2013_02Above:  Me at the finish.  We went through 3-4 different color stations, but the “blue people” – the final color station shortly before you returned into the park – is the one that really got me  🙂  While running through there we passed a small kid, a few years old, who was head-to-toe blue.  Face, arms, legs, clothes – pure blue.

Ottawa_ColorCraze_2013_03Above:  Self-picture at the restroom in Subway, where I rode to for lunch following the run.  Had to capture a last picture of the color carnage.  They had warned participants to wear stuff they wouldn’t mind getting colored, and they weren’t kidding!

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