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!