Color Me Rad 5K: Race Review

The Color Me Rad 5K race was very different from what I expected. The folks who run this race get an A+ for marketing and an F for execution. I would never run this race again. Here’s why:

Registration and Race Kit Pick-Up: Online registration was easy and quick. If you were running with a team, you could register everyone at once which was great. Pick-Up was the Thursday and Friday before the race at the Sheraton Centre downtown. Race kits included a blue t-shirt, race bib,  a can of Red Bull, and a pair of sunglasses. Called “The only race shirt you’ll ever need”, the blue race shirt was indeed useless on race day. To fully experience the color bombing at the race, you had to wear white which meant you could buy another race shirt from Color Me Rad for an additional $15 or wear your own white shirt. This was clearly a money grab as they should have just made the original race shirt white.

Digital Hype: Color Me Rad has a great Facebook page, but their Twitter is definitely lacking.  There was ZERO interaction from their @colormerad5k Twitter account on race day. Very odd considering the target audience for this race is young and digital saavy. Tons of people were sharing pics on Twitter and Instagram using the #colormerad hashtag, but there was no interaction from their official account. Maybe their Twitter person took the weekend off?

Getting to the Race: Very easy. Color Me Rad offered a free shuttle bus to and from Downsview Park from Downsview subway station. I really liked this service.

Color Me RadCourse: Having run (boring) races at Downsview Park before, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular in terms of the actual layout of the course, but I was expecting big things in terms of entertainment along the course. From all the photos and videos, Color Me Rad comes off as a high-energy, exciting race with color bombs coming at you from everywhere and enthusiastic volunteers and staff cheering you on. Well, there was none of that. We must have run at least 1 and a half kilometres until we got to our first “color station” where volunteers sprayed us with something that more closely resembled urine than yellow dye. It was such a let down. I wish I had taken my phone with me so I could have filmed the action not happening at the station. After that we came across a color bombing station around 2k where you basically had to stop and stand in front of a volunteer so they could unenthusiastically throw a color bomb at you. It was not fun. Of course as you got closer to the finish line, things picked up a bit because pictures were being taken, but to be honest I have no desire to run through bombs of colored corn starch ever again.

Finish Line and Medals: After we crossed the finish line, we came across mostly empty tables of dirty water. The water tables were set up so close to the finish line that most of the water we saw was blue from the color bomb debris that had landed in it. Yuck. When we finally found some clear water, it was really thick and tasted funny, obviously due to the color bomb corn starch that was in it. Along with the dirty water, we were also offered some mini Larabars. After that, we stood in line for about 20 minutes to have our official finish line photos taken.imagejpeg_2

Would I run this race again? No. Not a chance. This race was all about the hype, and nothing about the experience. I understand that this is a “fun run”, and I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, but the actual race experience was so far from what I expected, that I felt really let down and cheated by the race organizers.

If you’re used to high-quality, well-run races, then this isn’t for you. You’ll be very disappointed and sorry that you wasted your money. If you’re looking to run through some colored corn starch thrown at you every kilometre by unenthusiastic volunteers, then go for it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Running and Resilience

 Psychological resilience is an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity.This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects. A third, more controversial form of resilience is sometimes referred to as ‘posttraumatic growth’ or ‘steeling effects’ where in the experience adversity leads to better functioning.  Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual. (Wikipedia source)

The longer you’re a runner, the more you realize that all those running cliches like “running is my drug” and “running is cheaper than therapy” are actually true. Last week I had a particularly rough time, both emotionally and physically. My anxiety was at an all-time high and the physical symptoms were becoming hard to ignore. It would have been very easy for me to cancel running for the week and sleep in everyday, but I didn’t. My Seawheeze half-marathon training continued as planned and I even got a 13km long-run in on Saturday. That run felt like a *huge victory* to me because I started out not quite sure whether I could finish it or not.

I realized something very important last week: running has made me a more resilient person. Running has given me a deep sense of purpose and direction, even in times when I feel lost. Last week I stumbled across this very poignant blog post, Defiance (Road to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon) by Ravi M. Singh. In the post, Ravi speaks about running as an act of defiance against his struggle with depression. This is my favourite quote from his blog:

“It is my own small act of defiance against my personal demons and struggles. It tells me that I am stronger than that which afflicts me and though my mind might get in the habit of telling me that I’m weak, I know that this cannot be true if I have charted 15 km up and down the hills of my neighbourhood, moreso when I’ve done it before most have gotten out of bed.”

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No  matter what challenges you face in a day or what roadblocks people may put in your way, no one can take away the sense of accomplishment, resilience, and defiance that come from a great run! Life, I have realized, is a series of small victories. Most days won’t include an extraordinary event like winning the lottery, having a baby, or buying a new pair of running shoes 😉 But all days can include small victories, if you choose to see them.

Every time you lace up your shoes, you are not only pounding the pavement, and putting in the miles, but you are taking a stand against anxiety, defying depression, refusing to live in an unhealthy body, or winning against that voice inside your head that says “you can’t do this.” Every day can be a victory if you choose to accept your mission.

How fast does your heart beat?

There’s a question that’s been plaguing me for a while and I still haven’t got a proper answer to it: “How high should my heart rate be when I am running?”

For the first two years I was running, I never wore a heart rate monitor. I just ran as fast as I could and often surprised myself with the results. My fastest 5K was 23 minutes, 8K was 43 minutes, 10K was 54 minutes and half-marathon was 2:13. I know these aren’t world-record breaking times, but I am proud of them.  I didn’t pay much attention to my heart rate and since I never felt sluggish during races or exhausted after finishing, I figured everything was fine.

In 2012 I started to wear a heart rate monitor and noticed that my heart rate was regularly reaching 190 and 200 beats per minute when I ran. Of course, as someone overly concerned with health, this scared me. I searched online for various heart rate calculators and even went for a stress test at Women’s College Hospital and the general consensus is I should only be exercising at 75% of my maximum heart rate (192) which means I shouldn’t be going over 144 beats per minute. Unfortunately, this is impossible.

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Can anybody run with their heartrate at 144, and if so, how fast? Lately, I have been trying to slooooooow down. The best I can do (and even this is tough) is keep my heart rate at 160. When I do this, I am running 7 minutes or more per kilometre. For my most recent half marathon, I couldn’t keep my heart rate lower than 180, and I finished in 2:24 – not the time I wanted.

My goals for this running year are:

1) To get some more expert opinions on my running heart rate and where it should be for me to run safely.

2) Practice running slow during longer distances to build up my endurance.

3) Do some interval training (which I vehemently avoid).

4) Find out what the average heart rates of other runners are so I can compare.

5) Read “Running With The Mind of Meditation” and try to relax more when I run.

What’ is your heart rate when you’re running hard? What’s your average heart rate? What are the zones you try to keep your heart rate in?