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!

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How I Jason Segel became my Funny Valentine (and also, homemade pizza)

I wasn’t going to post anything about Valentine’s Day.  My day was pretty uneventful.  I went to school, came home, talked to Emily M., talked to my mom, wrote a paper, made a pizza (Italian Sausage and Pepperoni), drank a portion of a glass of cheap red wine, and fell asleep to Secretariat on Netflix.  When I woke up this morning and checked all my forms of social media, I saw something too similar to be a coincidence, so at the urging of Emily M., I decided to post about my Valentine’s Day, after all.

Those of you who know me, know about my not-so-secret crush on the actor Jason Segel.  My first exposure to him was on Freaks and Geeks.  I think my friend, Savanna, and I probably were about half of the people who actually watched the show when it was on air.  We each had our own crush on the show.  Hers was Daniel Desario (played by a young James Franco).  Mine was Nick Andopolis (played by a young Jason Segel).  Nick Andopolis taught me how to approach unrequited love.   There’s one episode where he speak-sings the song “Lady” to his girlfriend, Lindsay.  It’s one of those cases where he’s way more into her than she is him, and she feels super awkward about it all.  At the time, I didn’t quite get that part of it.  I just saw it as the ultimate act of love.  I started practicing routines to different songs.  It seems like they were all to Marvin Gaye songs.  Not any of the gross ones.  Usually just “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”  You guys, for real.  I was (am) a Smooth Operator.  Luckily, I never had the guts to go through with the “ultimate act of love.”  Nick and Lindsay broke up so he wrote her a song called “Lady L” but before he could sing it for her, Ken (Seth Rogen) smashed his guitar.  I feel like the entire show kind of did for me what Ken did for Nick.  I mean that in the very best way possible.

I first saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall when my dad was having surgery in Omaha.  It was right after I had worked on a campaign, so I was living at home.  Both of my parents were gone, and I was home alone worrying the entire first day.  Then I decided to pour a glass of Johnny Walker Blue (Sorry, Dad) and order FSM on pay-per-view.  I pretty much laughed straight through from beginning to end.  Anyone who writes a Dracula puppet musical is okay in my book.  I mean, it is truly one of the most amazing things ever.  With each scene of that movie, I fell more and more for Peter Bretter.  I starts out as having an enormous amount of pity for him.  He does, after all, get dumped while he’s naked.  Then things just get hilarious.  Maybe someday I’ll just do a post on my favorite scenes from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  I have an embarrassingly large amount of that movie memorized.  According to iTunes, I have watched the digital copy of FSM 16 times.  For now, I’m just going to let you guys watch probably my favorite scene from the movie.  This is kind of what happens when I make up songs.  Except usually I’m not around my piano.  Also, I’m a lot nicer to myself.

A little over a year ago my dad was diagnosed with liver disease and it was a really hard and scary time for me.  I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions in check.  With school and stuff, I didn’t really have time to get emotional or depressed so I just kept every thing in.  At about the same time, Marshall Erickson (Jason’s character on How I Met Your Mother) was dealing with the loss of his father.  After the episode of his funeral, I just lay in bed and cried for hours until I finally fell asleep.  This was the first time I had really let myself cry, uninterrupted, since my dad’s diagnosis and it was exactly what I needed at the time.  The next day I felt like 500 tons had just been lifted off my chest and I was able to get on with life.  The acting was just absolutely amazing in this episode.  I still tear up whenever I see that episode.  It was definitely worthy of an Emmy or Golden Globe.  At least a nomination!  Jeez Louise, Hollywood.

I honestly could go through every movie or TV show on his IMDB page and give some anecdote as to why I think he’s great.  I think (or, in order to make myself feel less crazy, hope) that pretty much everyone has that kind of celebrity crush.  Obviously, nothing will come of these crushes.  If celebrity crushes were meant to be, my next birthday would be spent with my three best friends and Dr. Spencer Reid (for the sake of argument, fictional characters can be included), Rachel Bilson, and some odd breed of Leonardo diCaprio, Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, and JC Chavez (Seriously, Emily P., who exactly IS your celebrity crush?).  Any way, I have never thought in a serious way, “OMG, I’m meant to be with Jason Segel.”  Logically, that’s silly.  I’ve pretty much been able to write off any similarities between Jason’s characters and my life (with the exception of the Freaks and Geeks years, when I truly thought he was my soul mate), as coincidence.  That is until this morning when I woke up to see what had happened on all forms of social media the night before and found this from Jason Segel’s Twitter:

I’m not sure if you remember, after all the rambling.. But, you guys, that’s EXACTLY what I did on Valentine’s Day Night, minus the potato chips.  So… although he might not be my true soul mate (at least not in the romantic sense), I like to think that maybe he’s like my own comedic guardian angel sent here to make me laugh when I’m said and make me feel less pathetic about things like having a weird passion for speak-singing and watching Secretariat alone on Valentine’s Day.

I suppose after all of that, I should share information about the food.  This is a food blog, after all.

I use my mom’s recipe for pizza dough.  She usually make a big batch of the mix to keep in the freezer and it’s super handy.

Donelle’s Pizza Dough Mix (makes about 22 cups)

5 pounds wheat flour (for those of you who live in Aurora, the Grain Place sells whole wheat flour at Espressions Coffee Shop.  I think that’s what my mom usually uses.  You can also buy it at pretty much any grocery store in Lincoln)

3/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoon salt

1 cup instant nonfat dry milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Put in a large airtight container.  Label.  Store in a cool, dry place.  Use within 8 months.

I lost the actual recipe for the dough, but this is what I’ve been doing:

3 cups Pizza Dough Mix

1 cup (maybe a little more) water

1 package quick rise yeast

1/4 cup (maybe a little more) oil (really any kind.  I usually use vegetable.  My mom uses peanut oil.  Last night I used olive oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Put three cups of pizza mix in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, dissolve a package of yeast in a cup of warm water.  Stir together mix, water/yeast, and oil.  Sprinkle a flat surface with pizza mix and knead the dough until it forms a ball.  Put ball of dough back in large bowl and cover with a dish towel for about 20 minutes.  On a greased, sprayed, or oiled pan, roll out the dough and let sit for 5 minutes.  Spread pizza sauce and your choice of toppings. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes.

When I started making the pizza last night, I had every intention of posting about it.  I have been trying SO hard to create a good pizza and it just never works out for me.  The main problem is that I have just a truly awful oven.  It’s really small and overheats anywhere from 50 to 150 degrees which causes inconsistency as far as times and burning goes.  I should just ask for a new oven, but my landlord bought a new one before I moved in.  It’s never worked properly, but I feel weird asking for a new one.  Any way, things were going my way last night and I was ready for the perfect pizza.  The dough had risen properly, my oven was within 50 degrees of the desired temperature, and to make things even better – I had fresh mozzarella left over from when I made lasagna not too long ago.  I browned the sausage (I used ground sweet Italian sausage.  I think next time I will try the hot instead of mild), layered the pepperonis over the sauce, sprinkled the sausage over the pepperoni, and cut the cheese to arrange over the sausage. [note: As I was doing a quick proofread of this I realized I had actually used the term “cut the cheese.”  I was going to change this, but then realized everybody who loves me also loves a fart joke, so I kept it in.  Also, before handling fresh mozzarella, I put it in the freezer for maybe 10 minutes.  This makes it easier to cut, grate, or slice.]  It never occured to me that I should check to see if there was anything different I needed to do to make a pizza with fresh mozzarella instead of grated mozzarella.  That was a big mistake.  When I went to rotate my pizza (if you have a regularly functioning oven, you don’t need to do this) at the halfway mark, i noticed the pan was filled with liquid.  After a quick Google, I realized that since fresh mozzarella is wet, when you put it on a pizza the water gets released.  So I poured the liquid into the sink and put the pizza back in the oven.  The dough was a little soggy, and there were places that the liquid had burned onto the pan, but I have to admit the pizza was amazing.  It really was the best pizza I’ve ever made in my apartment.  The sausage and pepperoni worked great together.  The dough was perfect.  It just all turned out amazing.  Next time I’ll probably try to follow instructions on how to do the cheese.  Google sent me here:  http://www.ehow.com/how_8288916_put-fresh-whole-mozzarella-pizza.html.  Also, I sprinkled Italian seasoning and parsley on top of the cheese and chopped up a few cloves of garlic to cook with the sausage.

Please excuse the old bananas... I'm making banana bread tomorrow!

 

Admit it, your Valentine's Day would've been more fun had you consumed boxed wine from a TMNT glass.

I’m going to try to be more consistent with my posting.  So far, it’s been pretty random.  I’m also going to try to make my posts more polished.  I’ve noticed I use a lot of parenthesis and ramblings and I KNOW my sentence/paragraph/grammatical structure is not always proper.  Hopefully if I get on a more regular schedule and my posts aren’t so sporadic (Thank you, Cher Horowitz), I can be the blogger I’ve always dreamed of being.  Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Everyone!  Also, I might try to steal my parent’s digital camera back so I can have slightly better than iPod quality pictures.