An Introvert’s Musings on the Omaha Color Run

I have a confession to make.  It’s one that you might find surprising.  After all, I practically ooze charm and grace.  But it’s true, I am a bit of an introvert.  I’m not great with crowds of people.  I’m realllly not great with small talk.  When I meet new people, I have to struggle through a lot of awkwardness before a common interest is found and we can discuss that.  Once I hit my stride, or am really comfortable with someone, sometimes you can’t shut me up.  If you ever find yourself in a conversation with me and want to break free from the painful awkwardness that is happening, all you have to do is bring up any of the following topics:  The West Wing (The show, not the actual west wing of the White House.  Although, if you’re passionate about it, I will probably appreciate the conversation), Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, HIMYM, Britney Spears (specifically her relationship with JT and/or her amazing comeback), the NBA during the first half of the 90’s, pro-wrestling during the second half of the 90’s, Ace of Base, Sweet Valley High books, Hillary Clinton, and – most importantly – Billy Joel.  I think a lot of people assume that introverts are just shy or have low self-esteem.  And that’s really not the case at all.  I love meeting new friends, I just really love my amazing core of best friends.  I’m incredibly proud of all I have/am accomplished/accomplishing, getting vocal attention for it just makes me feel uncomfortable.  (The exception being when I’m talking to my mom.  Then I’m like, “yeah.  I know.  I’m awesome.”)  I know it seems weird for an introvert to have a blog, especially one about their life and not, like, World War II memorabilia.  It’s completely the opposite, though.  I do much better when I’m writing than when I’m talking.  I can think things through before I actually publish them.  My approach to blogging has been to just pretend that I’m writing an email to Emily M. (with fewer links to outrageously expensive/impractical clothes and less planning of my very real wedding to Jason Segel), and it just kind of works for me.  With writing, I can just go to town, and if something needs to be changed, it can be easily done.  I do need to step out of my comfort zone more, but I don’t really think that being an introvert is some kind of character flaw.  The world needs both introverts and extroverts to run.  That being said, I have some advice for you:

The Color Run was not designed for introverts.

We left for Omaha at about 6:30 Saturday morning.  Mindy had coffee for me, which I was soooo grateful for!  After a couple hours of laughing and gossiping, we arrived at the hotel to pick up Shelley and her daughter, Julia (yay for new friends!).  We walked over to the race site and were provided with a nice selection of Pop-Nasty music while we waited.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Pop-Nasty” – which I suppose is every person in the world besides myself and Emily M. – it is simply the music that is neither pop nor hip hop.  It manages to cross both genres, but is somehow neither.  Most pop-nasty “artists” are people whose careers fail to last more than a couple years.  The exception, of course, would be Black Eyed Peas.  The verdict is still out on Ke$ha.  When you’re waiting for the Color Run to begin, you want Pop-Nasty music to be playing.  We were pretty lucky to be in the third wave of people.  Since there were 13,000 people running, they let us go in waves of 1000.  At every kilometer (something I didn’t realize until I did a little research), we were covered in color.  At the end of the race there was a big color party where everyone threw their colored dust in the air and went crazy (I presume, we didn’t partake in the color party).  Sounds fun, right?  Well.  Kind of.

I think my main complaint about the run was the heat.  I know that no one had control over this, but the people planning the event should have either picked a date earlier in the summer or started early early in the morning.  By the time we even started running, we were drenched in sweat.  Now, I realize part of this is my own fault.  You would think that as a resident of Nebraska for 26 full years, I would know better than to agree to an outdoor physical activity, in this fine state, anytime after 7:00 am during July or August.  Apparently, I didn’t.  When I exercise in the heat and humidity, I get really weird dry mouth and have a lot of mucus build up in my throat (attractive, I know).  That, in and of itself, is unpleasant.  When you add massive clouds of cornstarch, things get really tricky.  I’ve never had asthma, but I think I caught a little glimpse of what it’s like on Saturday.
In addition to the heat, there were just soooo many people.  For someone who does horrible in crowds, this was not good.  I think the plan was to let waves of 1000 people go every 10 or 15 minutes, but instead they let us go every 2-3 minutes.  I think that was probably a good idea, because otherwise they would have been there well into the afternoon.  It just all made me very anxious.  My running partner and I were separated, which really, was fine.  Even when I run with a partner, I listen to my iPod and zone everything out so it doesn’t make a huge difference.  There were a lot of people walking (like, walls of 10 girls walking together, side-by-side) and a lot of little kids, so I felt like I was always navigating around and tripping over people.  Also, I made the mistake of not really looking at the course map.  I wasn’t at all familiar with the course and had no idea how far along we were.  I later found out that the color bursts were at every kilometer, which makes sense, but I still think it would have been nice if they would have put out signs saying how far we had run.  I ended up walking at least a mile of it, and eventually crossed the finish line at about 50 minutes.  They were completely out of water, but luckily Emily had grabbed an extra bottle (they were miniature bottles) when she finished.  I know that there were people who took 3 or 4 bottles of water, but I have a hard time understanding why, when you know it’s going to be extremely hot and humid, you wouldn’t make sure that there was enough water and then some.  I doubt it would cost too much, if any, more to buy bigger water bottles.  Or, if they weren’t going to have enough water, let people know so they could bring their own water.  They also didn’t have any food.  Granted, the only races I’ve done have been relatively small and it’s undoubtedly easier to provide for 1000 than 13,000, but it’s nice having a table of fruit and bagels when you finish a run.  When we were heading out of Omaha, we saw several ambulances heading toward the race area and I was just happy that everyone from our group made it out all right.

There were, however, some good things about the Color Run.  It was an extremely fun day with friends.  We had so much fun on the car ride there and back and waiting for the race to start.  I also love the huge sense of community there is between runners at races.  Even when we were driving to Omaha, cars would pass us with people in all white who were obviously going to the Color Run.  They would wave and we would wave and it was just fun.  After the run, we stopped at a Subway in a gas station.  Since we left Omaha pretty early, we were the only color runners there, but soon other people covered in head-to-toe color started showing up.  It kind of felt like we all knew each other.

Since Saturday, Em and I have reflected a lot on what we might have done differently.  My friends who posted pictures on Facebook, looked like they were having as much fun as the people in the ad looked.  This, of course, made us wonder if there was something wrong with us.  We kind of chalked it up to the fact that it was unbearably hot and that we’re both ridiculously large introverts.

Since it’s not likely that I’ll be having a lobotomy and/or moving to somewhere with a milder climate, here are a few of my suggestions and things I’ll keep in mind if I decide to do it next year:

  • Get a big group of friends together and plan on walking a large portion of it.  Also, one of my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors posted pictures of the Color Run in San Francisco and she and her friends pregamed with PBR beforehand.  It was definitely too hot for beer drinking followed by running in Omaha, but I’m sure we could have figured something out (vodka and Crystal Light, maybe?).
  • Carry water with you (and maybe also a snack, for after the run).  Unless you are the fastest person in the first wave of people, you will most likely be stopping to walk quite a bit.  The water stations they had were extremely congested and I didn’t really want to wait, so it would have been nice to have my own water.  If you’re not stopping to walk, you’re probably running over children.  If you’re running over children, then may God have mercy on your soul.
  • Make sure your iPod is on the setting you want it to be on.  I carefully formulated a playlist, but accidentally put it on shuffle instead of having it play straight through.  Somehow all my “filler” songs played at the very beginning.  It just really wasn’t my day.
  • Study the route – I think this goes for just about every race.  After forgetting this detail, I felt lost the entire run.
  • Wear an old bra.  It’s weird because my shirt got almost no color on it, but my bra and actual skin were covered in color.  I’m still trying to wash color out of my stomach.
  • Have fun!!!  Embrace the fact that this is a fun run and don’t take it too seriously.  If you have been training to run a 5k, choose a different race for your first one.  I think if I would have done the Color Run before I ran the A’Ror’N Days 5k, I would have been very discouraged with all the starting and stopping.  Get your “serious” race out of the way and just have fun with this one.

Have any of you done the Color Run in your cities?  Was your experience similar to mine or am I just a grumplestiltskin?  I’d love to hear your feedback!

Oops, I did it again…

Weigh-in was today.  Last week after I weighed in, I walked confidently to the front of the meeting with a big smile on my face.  I had lost 8.4 pounds.  This week was more of a sneak quietly into the back.  I gained 3.8 pounds…  Almost half of what I lost the week before.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t expect to gain.  On Saturday, we celebrated my birthday with pizza and cake and ice cream.  Then Sunday (my actual birthday), my grandpa made the BEST bbq ribs.  Also, after I ran the 5k on Saturday, i took a brief sabbatical from working out.  My legs were so tired, and it’s been kind of nice to rest a bit.  I’m confident that once I get my routine back on track, I’ll start losing again.  But for now, I’d like to stop worrying about it and share my Birthday Week details!

My week was just awesome.  My 16 month old niece visited Tuesday through Saturday and we had SO much fun.  Every time I see her, she’s just smarter and cuter and all-together even more awesome than the last time I saw her (which I really didn’t think was possible).  We went on a lot of walks with the wagon and she helped me push the cart at the grocery store.  The house is so quiet without her here!

Friday, I made my birthday cake.  Now, before anyone gets all concerned about me making my own birthday cake… I WANTED to do it.  I don’t bake cake all that much anymore, especially since I’ve been eating healthier.  This is a cake that I’ve made several times.  In fact, it’s sort of my specialty.  I’m to the point where I almost have the recipe memorized.  While I was baking, I was SO excited.  I didn’t have to go back to the store for any extra ingredients.  I cleaned up as I went along.  Nigella was on the Cooking Channel.  (I’m kind of obsessed.  Her voice is what my inner dialogue sounds like when I’m baking, even though the only accent I can do in real life is Southern.  And even then, it’s not so much “Southern” as it is “hick.”)  Anyway, things were going pretty well.  I took the cakes out of the oven (they looked flawless) and let them cool for a very appropriate length of time on the cooling racks.  After they had cooled, I leveled them off and started frosting.  As soon as I finished, I noticed a crack in the top layer about an inch long.  I called to my mom, who was talking to my aunt, for advice.  She kept on talking while the cake kept on cracking.  I kind of pushed it together with my hands to try to save it, but it just kept falling through my fingers.  After many half cuss words were said, and surprisingly no tears spilled, I decided to just let it be.  There was talk of going to Central City or Grand Island to get an ice cream cake, but I decided we’d eat this one.

She’s a beaut, right? As my friend, Kim, called it: Pangea Cake

Since we had family over, I didn’t really have an opportunity to let go of steam regarding the cake.  So, I did what any normal person would do.  I went to Jazzercise… Angry.  I know you probably think Angry Jazzercise is not possible.  Well, it is.  I mean, it’s not EASY, but it’s possible.  I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but it was exactly what I needed.  By the time I got home, my sister and sister-in-law had arrived, so I was happy.  Also, one of the last songs of the set list was “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, and that’s a REALLY hard song to stay angry to.  Friday night, we had a dance party with Little Miss Whitney on our deck and it was so much fun.

Saturday morning was the 5k and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  (At least, not for me.)  It had rained the night before and was cool and cloudy and I just loved it.  I had so much fun running with my sister.  There were a lot of random spurts of “dance running.”  We were also passed, about halfway through, by a woman pulling her two kids in a wagon.  I mean, she was walking fast.  But still, she was walking.  We eventually passed her right before the finish line (mainly because she let us).  According to my watch and the lady calling out the time, we finished in about 43 minutes.  HOWEVER, once they posted the times, they had me listed at 45 minutes AND said that I was 40 seconds slower than my sister when we pretty much finished at exactly the same time.  It’s not a big deal, but I was still a little pissed.  Then we went to a pancake feed at the airport, took naps, and CELEBRATED.  My mom had bought a little toy Batgirl to put on my cake, so that made my cake appear kind of badass.

I like to think Batgirl is saving Southern California from a giant earthquake/mudslide.

Waiting to blow out candles with my grandmas.

Yep… I DID blow them out with one breath. There was A LOT of smoke.

All-in-all it was a good Birthday Week.  We went to the Henry Doorly Zoo yesterday and had so much fun.  I’m ready to get back into a routine, though.  What I’m not looking forward to is running in this heat and humidity.  It’s 103º F in Aurora right now.  Yikes!  I think I might have to wake up at 5:00 am tomorrow to run.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today’s my birthday so I feel like I need to post something, BUT I am 100% exhausted.  My niece was visiting us for the week and we’ve had family visiting from out of state so it’s just been an extremely awesome tornado of chaos.  I’ll give an official summary of the week’s events later, but here are a few highlights.

– I lost 8.4 pounds at weigh-in on Wednesday.  I even stepped on the scale twice to make sure I didn’t do something wrong.  This brings my total to 28.4 (47 lbs if we’re counting pre-WW weight loss) and I got my 10% key ring and 25 pound “weight” to put on it.

– Saturday I ran my first 5k.  It took 43 minutes and we got passed by a woman pulling her two kids in a wagon, but still… we ran the entire way.

– After fighting with myself over what to do about my birthday cake, I decided to indulge a little (okay, a lot) and make my AMAZING Chocolate Butter Cake with Fudge Frosting.  Someone, somewhere did not like this, because after I got it all frosted, this happened (It’s supposed to be a three-layer, nine-inch round cake):

Did we still eat it?  Abso-frickin-lutely.  It still tasted amazing.

Also… Big shout out to the Emily’s!  They both passed and made it through Jazzercise instructor training!  One of the best birthday presents is the fact that I can take their classes SOON!  (I feel the need to acknowledge that they are actually separate people.  In fact, in a lot of ways, they’re complete opposites.  It’s just easier to lump them together.  I don’t want them to ever feel like Mary Kate and Ashley did toward the end of their acting careers when they got all serious about not wanting to be ‘The Olsen Twins’ anymore.)

Now… For my reverse birthday present, I would like to share the playlist that got me through the 5k on Saturday.  And yes, it is entitled:  Sally’s Incredibly Awesome Birthday 5k Running Playlist. (Warning… if you’re lactose intolerant, you may want to stop reading.  This playlist is full of cheesy guilty pleasure songs.)

1.  Sally Is A… – Shwayze (I will admit that I listen to this song at least once a day.  You probably should, too.  It’s not great for running, but I thought it would be good to listen to while standing around waiting for it to start.  However, the gun went off way before I was ready, so there wasn’t much wait time.)
2.  American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
3.  The Story of Us – Taylor Swift (Not a great choice.  I regretted it when it came on.  I needed something more upbeat and fun at this point.)
4.  Uptown Girl – Billy Joel (This is the beat of my favorite comfortable pace to run to.  I made a playlist for my mom for when she walks and included a lot of Billy Joel and Hall & Oates.  I had to listen to it on a run one day and it was actually really amazing.)
5.  What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction (yes, One Direction may be under the delusion that teenage girls need to hear that they’re beautiful from a boy band to actually feel beautiful.  But… The song’s catchy and I LIKE it.)
6.  You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates
7.  Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen  (I put this on every playlist.  It was at this point of the race when I started dance running.  I needed it.  I’m not sick of it yet.  Why am I not sick of it yet?)
8.  Wait Til You See My Smile – Alicia Keys  (This is one of my favorite songs for that time of the run when you’ve hit your stride and are just going.  There’s a good piano part that keeps the tempo up, even though it’s a really calm and relaxing song.)
9.  The Bitch is Back – Elton John (At this point of the run, I passed a friend’s house (Thanks, Dawn!) and it gave me me kind of a second wind.  This song always makes me want to do air punches and kicks.  But let’s face it, most songs make me want to do air punches and kicks.)
10.  Brokenhearted – Karmin (next to “Call Me Maybe,” it’s my favorite guilty pleasure song.  And this chick’s from Nebraska!)
11.  Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye  (I’ve been wondering when I will become sick of this song.  I discovered it much, much later than everyone else, so it’s taken awhile.  The answer to my question, though, was exactly the same moment it started playing on my iPod, but I didn’t want to go through the pain of getting it out and changing it, so I suffered down most of 15th street.)
12.  Hey Juliet – LMNT
13.  Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel (This was playing during when I finished.)
14.  Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
15.  Part of Me – Katy Perry (next to Bulletproof, this might be my favorite routine to Jazzercise to.  I was proud I didn’t make it to this point of my playlist.)
16.  Standing Outside the Fire – Garth Brooks (I decided to put this one at the end, in case I was still running.  My mom used to bawl during this music video and my siblings and I were obsessed with it.  Youtube it.  You won’t regret it.  It still kind of gets to me!  I also thought there would be a possibility that my brother and sister would have to carry me through the finish line.  Luckily, they didn’t.)
17.  Ride Wit Me – Nelly featuring City Spud  (I figured if I reallllly went slower than I though, this would cheer me up.  I know every word.  Every.  Word.)

Tag! You’re it!

You guys, last weekend was seriously the Best Weekend Ever.  The past few days, I’ve just kept laughing at random things that people said or did, and it really made me wish I had carried around a tape recorder to catch everything.  Saturday morning was the Havelock Charity Run, so The Emily’s and Kim came to Lincoln on Friday night.  Because, you know, we wanted to get a good night’s sleep before the run.  Well… It should come as no surprise that we stayed up until about 4:00 am, talking about just completely random things.  If we made a drinking game where you had to take a shot every time someone said “Remember that one time…” or just shouted out completely random names of our preschool-high school classmates and teachers followed by a completely random story, we would all probably be dead from alcohol poisoning.  I was a little nervous about the run, so I seriously got maybe 30 minutes of sleep.  I just had all of these horrible flashbacks of running the mile in P.E. class when I’d be, like, a whole lap behind everyone so when the class would finish they’d come and run along me and cheer me on and it was AWFUL.  I just always wanted to be like, “Hey, how ’bout y’all go back inside and climb the effing rope, because we all know how good you are at that and let me finish this alone.”  It should also come as no surprise that Elementary P.E. is where Emily P. and I perfected our swearing skills.  Anyway, sorry about the rant.  My cousin Sarah met us up at the race to be the 4th person in our team.  Since we had a team of at least four people, Pinnacle Bank donated money to the charity of our choice.  I chose Lighthouse, because I think it’s an incredibly awesome and needed place for the young folks of Lincoln.  I didn’t realize just how many people would be running.  I’m not sure the exact number, but there had to be at least a thousand.  I also was not aware how many kids there would be.  Like, LITTLE kids.  When the race started, there was a little boy in front of Emily M. so she tapped him on the head and said, “Tag!  You’re it!”  He didn’t continue the game, but I think it would have eliminated any need for an iPod.  I also understand why they suggest you don’t use an iPod during the race.  They kept making announcements like, “There’s a car on the right side of the street.  Watch out.” or “Don’t run into the giant flag pole.”  I just thought, “Dude, I’m not going to run into a car.” (Those of you who really know anything about me, probably just thought to themselves, “Sally… if anyone’s going to run into a parked car, it’s going to be you.)  And, I DID almost run into pretty much everything they said not to run into.  However, I managed to make it through the race injury-free, which says a lot about someone who has actually managed to sprain her ankle in her sleep.  We ended up placing 390-393 out of 548 with a time of 24:55 AND I didn’t walk.  I didn’t warm up or stretch beforehand (I know, crazy), which I think was a big mistake.  Normally when I go for a run, I run for a song, stretch, then do my actual run.  If I don’t, after about 5 minutes into my run my body’s like, “SALLY!  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME??  WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?!?!?!?”  That’s kind of what happened on Saturday, but after we passed the mile mark, I was just like “Whatever, I’ve got this.”  It helped that the little boy in front of us (not the boy Emily M. challenged to tag, a different one) and his mom was teaching him how to spell/read all the street signs and also to say “thank you” to the traffic cops.  It didn’t help my confidence that this boy was probably, like, 6, and just running along when I’ve been training for 8 weeks to be able to run anything longer than a block.  There were actually an embarrassingly large amount of kids with ages in the single digits who beat us.  Oh well.  I’ll get them next year!  I can’t say enough how thankful I am for my running team.  They probably could have all finished the race in about half the time, but they all stayed with me and that made it so much more fun and special.

After the race, the only thing we really wanted to do was drink a Bloody Mary.  (Wouldn’t you?)  By the time we were done talking to people and taking pictures (Thank you, Emily P., for being such a great photographer and cheerleader!), it was about 8:30 and we really didn’t know any place that would serve alcohol that early.  HOWEVER, we decided to just start walking down Havelock and discovered that Arnold’s opened up early just for the occasion.  So we sat around drinking Bloody Mary’s and, again, telling amusing stories.  I suppose I should also disclose that my friends also got me a 2-week-early birthday shot of tequila as my punishment for making them run in celebration of my birthday.  In case you’re wondering, there were not other customers doing shots of tequila before 10:00 am in Arnold’s.  After that, we headed to The Isles since Emily M. and I had been CRAVING their cream cheese pepperoni pizza.  Then we got pedicures done.  The Emily’s had to go back to Aurora, but Kim and I took a three hour nap and got ready to go out and meet our friend, Savanna.  I won’t bore you with the details of that, but I will just give you the advice that if you’re going out and decide it’s a good idea to “party like it’s 2007,” it’s not… Especially if the last time you partied like it was 2007 was in 2008.

I feel like it goes without saying, that my weigh-in this week was not great.  Running less than two miles on Saturday does not cancel out pizza and drinking.  I gained about a pound, but I’m confident I can take it back off soon.  Since I started WW, I haven’t ever had the mentality of “ohhhh, since I worked out today, I can have pizza tonight.” Or really, ever rewarding myself with food.  Most weeks I earn at least 100 activity points and very very rarely use them or the extra 39 “flex points” we’re given every week.  So when my friends were in town to celebrate my birthday, I decided it was okay to indulge a little.  Sure, it might lead to me needing to kick my butt in working out this week, but that’s okay.  I worked really hard and actually finished my running plan (YAY!  I think this means I’m actually a Runner), so I’m not going to beat myself up over it.  I just have to be careful not to have that mentality all the time.  I also have to be careful not to sink back into old habits.  So, this week I’m going to try super hard to track EVERYTHING.  It’s really embarrassing, but last week I’m pretty sure I only tracked on Wednesday, and the rest of the days in my WW journal were empty.  Maybe I’ll post my journal every day.  That won’t be annoying at all…

Lessons learned this week, or things to keep in mind for the A’Ror’n Days 5K:

– I need new shoes.  BAD.  I got my shoes at least 5 years ago.  Granted, I haven’t done a WHOLE lot of physical activity in those 5 years, but I have had to replace the insoles and the back is wearing down so that it rubs against my Achilles tendon.  And, I may be developing a case of Runner’s Knee in my right knee (according to Google). It doesn’t hurt that bad, but I think I need to fix the situation soon.

– Warm up and stretch!  I can’t be sure, because no one knows what happens behind her vanity/closet, but I bet even Barbara Gordon/Batgirl has to stretch before she runs off to save Gothem.

– Sleep well the night before a run!  It was a special occasion since my friends were in town, but I will be getting a full 8 hours of sleep next Friday before my 5k.

– Dri-fit may be the best invention ever.  Today I wore a regular cotton t-shirt on my run, and it was awful.  I have no problem admitting that it’s probably the main reason I didn’t add an extra mile onto my run.

– I feel like I need to stop being afraid of picking up the speed.  I was just worried I wouldn’t have enough endurance to make it without walking.  However, I had plenty of energy left to “sprint” the last couple blocks, so I need to figure out a pace that pushes me a little more.

I can’t really think of anything else.  I am a sleepy goose today, and I have to head into town to go to Jazzercise.  But I’ll leave you with a few pictures from Saturday…

Kim, Me, and Emily M. before the race

Kim, Em, Me, and Sarah after the race.

Cousins! Me with Kate and Sarah. Kate ran the 10K like a boss.

This is how your friends repay you when you make them wake up early on a Saturday morning to go run. But really… Does it look like I’m complaining?

Also… I just realized it’s been an extremely large amount of time since I posted an actual recipe — and this is supposed to be a food blog! — but I promise I’ll post one soon.  I may just have to pull one out of the archives.

UPDATE: I decided to post my daily tracking, if anyone is interested.  I’m not going to be posting links on Facebook every day.  Don’t worry!