It’s like the words were meant for my ears only. I heard: “Goddess, take your mark.” And so began the day when I put my best foot forward as a participant in The Color Run, complete with a pink tutu and a new outlook on life. Always serious, and never without purpose, running for the fun of it on a cold November morning was the antithesis of the self I’d cultivated for 60+ years. The time had come to create a different persona, and I’ve got the tutu to prove that I did it.
The Color Run was started so people could discover how much fun outdoor exercise is, minus competition. As participants run or walk along a leisurely 5K route, they are periodically doused with colored corn starch, lest they take the activity too seriously. Laughingly evolving into what could be mistaken for a box of colorful Crayola crayons, they make their way around the course, many for the first time ever, vowing that this is the first step that will change their lives.
As a runner already, my Color Run foray was to practice the purity of fun its own sake, a concept far removed from my lifelong dogged pursuit of competence and responsibility.
I have always loved to run, but, since society did not support women as athletes during my youth, I did not pursue it. When my sons ran track throughout high school and college, I jokingly took credit, claiming that it was my feet that had spawned them as sprinters. The jokes ended when my daughter-in-law suggested that we run together at the Miami Half-marathon. Ten grueling weeks of training and 13.1 racing miles later, I crossed the finish line on a balmy Miami morning in February 2013, feeling a sense of accomplishment as never before. I was 60 years old.
Five days a week you will find me outside, re-experiencing the joy, challenge and exhilaration of running. It is simply my freedom, triumph and joy. Oh, and exercise and fresh air.
So, don’t ask why anyone would roust themselves from a warm bed at 5AM on another chilly November morning to participate in the inaugural Bay Bridge Race. 20,000 registrants from 50 states and me were proud to be committed, excited and thrilled as part of this event certain to improve us in so many ways.
Days later, I relive the shimmering views of the Chesapeake Bay, the chatter of fellow runners surrounding me as I made my way over the bridge. The brilliant sunshine and the glorious glow of achievement lit my way. Completion was my goal; energy was my power. The community of racers around me, my tribe.
Oh, and by the way, the oldest male runner to finish the Across the Bay 10K was 89; the oldest female was 85. Who needs sleep when there’s a race to run?