Wednesday, May 30, 2012

color runner: my tips.

On Saturday (May 26), I did the Color Run in Denver. It was great fun, and since I know so many people looking to do one, especially the one in Michigan at the end of July, I wanted to give you guys some first-hand tips and advice I wish I would have known going into it! If you've done a Color Run and want to add, please put your tips in the comments.

Yes, you will get an email the week of your run with information and tips to clean off afterward from the race directly, but I just wanted to share my perspective.

My friend Lauren and me
First of all, this is a million times more fun with a friend. I am no stranger to doing races alone (of the 12 or so races I have done in the last 14 months, only half of them have been with another person) so usually I don't have a problem with going alone, but this one would be incredibly different without someone to run with. I did it with a friend from work, and we had a great time.

Expect to be colorful for a while. You might not think that I am loaded up with color like in the pictures from the race's website. Well, maybe not. But that blue on my shirt? Soaked all the way through my shirt, my sports bras and right on to my skin. There was color stains in the creases of my elbows, and I had blue in my ears for at least two days. Oh yeah, and my feet got blue, too, through my shoes. Moral of this story: if you have someplace important to be later in the day (say, you're in a wedding), I would consider skipping the Color Run. Obviously do what you want, but this is my warning.

Also, you'll probably get more colorful if you roll around on the ground at a color station, or buy more color packets. I actually wish we had bought more (someone said they were 4 for $5) so we had some diversity. We are so blue because at the post-race "party" at the stage, they were only tossing out blue bags of color. 

Don't expect it to be like a normal 5k running race. This is for those of you considering doing this and trying to get an accurate read on a 5k time for your first run. To be honest, we weren't set on running the entire thing, and it was more fun that way. This run isn't timed anyway (unless you do it yourself) so it's a great way to get a feel for the distance without worrying about a time. If you want to run to see how fast you are, a different race might be better for that. People are stopping to take photos, to get color thrown on them and just generally having a good time, so you don't have a clear path to run as fast as you can.

Plus, the guy doing the announcements said before the start that this was in fact, a giant party with this little 5k in the middle. Basically this is true. Loosen up, have fun and enjoy it!

Don't wear anything you want to save for later use. This might not be true for everyone, but when I run, I sweat. I know - what a revelation! Anyway, when things get wet and then get touched by this color, the color tends to stick. This is how parts of my face and my elbow creases and things were stained with color afterward. So if you sweat, and then you throw your arms up in the air as you run through a color station, the color will probably stick to your armpits. This might be awkward later if you want to wear that shirt again. Plus, definitely wash your clothes separate afterward. If I had washed other things with my shirt, those things would have gotten ruined.

Protect your phone. You really probably won't need much when you do your Color Run but man, I was so glad to have my phone with me. I was able to text friends I knew were there and more importantly, I could take photos. Hint - if you have an iPhone, you can put it inside a plastic baggie and it will STILL WORK. I was amazed. If you have another kind of phone, I can't really speak to that, but you will want to protect it somehow. That dust gets everywhere. And on that note...

Protect your lungs. The color is just dyed cornstarch, which you can ingest because cornstarch is in food. But if you can find a bandana to take with you and cover your mouth a little, you might want it. When I got in my car after the race, I could suddenly taste all this dust in my throat, and it was not pleasant. At least make sure you have water for the ride home. You still might see color when you blow your nose later (sorry, but it's true), but the fun is worth it!

And most importantly:

Have fun! This is a unique race day situation - grab a few friends and sign up! You get a sweet sweatband, a t-shirt and a great time, and then you have some really sweet running pictures (or walking, if that's your thing - still worthwhile) with color all over your face. This was a great time, and even though the color got EVERYWHERE (my seatbelt, my bathroom sink, etc.) after I was done and I had (still have!) some color in my ears and and face and feet, it was worth it.

How many of you are color runners? Would you do the run again if it visited your city?

Friday, May 25, 2012

body image.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
When you look in the mirror, how do you feel?

Body image is a weird thing. It has the ability to drag you down, even if things are going well otherwise. The way you look has such an impact on how you feel, and it's not even just because of your own opinion of yourself.

This website says, "Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman's happiness and wellness."

This is obviously not always easy, and it's mostly because of what others tell us about our appearance.

For example, just this week in the news there was a story about Jessica Ennis, a track star in the U.K. who is heading to the Olympic Games in July, who was called fat by a senior official with U.K. Athletics. If that's fat (click the link to see her photo), what are the rest of us supposed to think?

Another Olympic-caliber athlete (in triathlon) in the U.K. retired this week and admitted that she has had issues with food and eating disorders over her career. Even though she was a stellar triathlete, she knew to be truly healthy, both physically AND mentally, she needed to stop competing.

Even celebrities like Ashley Judd are judged for appearance, something she fought back against when the media said her face was too puffy and she must have had work done.

I've kind of talked about this kind of thing before, with disordered eating, but I still think we need to talk about it.

I am not a size four. I am not even sure my body is capable of being a size four, given my bone structure. I am not concerned with being a size four. What I am concerned with is feeling healthy, being active and having fun.

Me, swimming fast (for me).
However, this doesn't mean that people see that. People can't tell by looking at me that I love to write and sing and run. People can't tell by looking at me that I have finished a half marathon, and I can swim pretty darn fast if I am trained for it. People can't tell by looking at me that I am a good person with a good heart, and that I am honest and loyal to my friends.

People likely don't see me how I see myself, because people are very quick to make assumptions about other people simply based on appearance. Especially when that person is overweight.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know being overweight or obese is not healthy. We have a growing obesity problem in our country, which is really a problem for more reasons than just a person's individual health. But does making pointed remarks or jokes about a person's appearance help them? More often than not, the comments you make to someone are things they are already self-conscious of. Even a person who is thin (at least, thinner than me!) can have body image issues.

Part of this is that we are so focused on image and looks in our society. Models are stick-thin, and actresses are so svelte and so many actors have six-packs. Everyone is so glamorous, at least that's how it seems. And most times, clothing never, ever looks bad on a famous person (which, if you read this fantastic post you will see why that is and why I want a sewing machine or a tailor). People go on crash diets and cleanses and subscribe to other unhealthy ideas of nutrition, just to look like these "beautiful people."

Are our looks really more important than our feelings? Should someone be considered a bad person because of how their jeans fit, or the size they wear? It just doesn't seem right. I want my other accomplishments to mean something more than what you think of how my shirt fits.

Instead of making remarks about how someone looks, why don't we ask how people are feeling? Instead of telling someone "You look great" or "You look so thin!" maybe we should consider asking them how they are feeling and how they have been. Maybe we should be proud of people for accomplishing all their goals, from weight loss to fitness to professional to others, and not just the goals related to what they look like.

Sure, it makes me feel good when you tell me I look nice. It can definitely be a confidence boost. But I also want you to know about this great story I wrote, and the trips I earned for working hard, and the master's degree I plan on starting in the fall. I want you to know that I like to write poems and draw pictures and cook new, interesting things.

I want my interests and my abilities to be just as important as what you see, if not more so, and I'm 100 percent sure I am not the only one to feel this way. Especially on those days when we look in the mirror and don't necessarily like what we see. Even when I have those days, I still know I have a lot more going on for me that makes me a good person.

I'm never going to be a size four, but I'm always going to be LindsAy. And I'm okay with that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

get moving.

This has felt like the longest week ever. Someone please tell me this has been a long week for you, too, so I don't feel like I'm alone in this? Although, this is probably what happens when you spend the last two weeks traveling, working over the weekend, and only spending three days each week actually in the office. Somehow going from three days in the office to five seems cruel, even though I was working even when I wasn't here.


I don't know about you, but when I travel I usually get tired. Like, really tired. I said in my last post that I needed a nap. Which might be an understatement. I need lots of naps, and a Saturday to myself.

They are calling to you to SIT DOWN. Don't listen.
But the thing is, when I am traveling and when I am tired, I don't feel as motivated to workout. I know I should go running, or biking, or whatever, but usually I get home and see my chair and think "Oh you cushy so-and-so! I have missed sitting here. I will sit here all night and not accomplish anything." And then I do and then I haven't worked out and I haven't cleaned up things and it's just a disaster.

This week I have been better about it.

Maybe it was because I didn't run at all last week, and I missed it (usually my legs let me know when they want to go running). Maybe it was because I got a new pair of shoes. Or because I signed up for a half marathon in October (since the original half I signed up for is right smack in the middle of my trip to New Zealand). I even ran at lunch on Tuesday, which is not a normality for me because I hate feeling gross when I'm sitting at my desk. You know that feeling.

I even just restarted my membership at 24 Hour Fitness, because I want to go swimming so badly I think my body is feeling antsy about it. Even though I hate the water there and sometimes it is busy and there are cranky old ladies there who are mad that lap swimmers are taking up their space to walk back and forth with a pool noodle. I want to swim, so I will.

The thing is, my little steps are important. Sitting in my chair sounds all great until I realize it's not helping me to be a healthier person (except when I'm so tired I can't see straight, in which case it's better to sit down). I might not be able to run all that far right now, and it has been at least four months since I've been in the pool. That's just stupid on my part. And there's really no excuse.

See, there are people out there more active than you. There are Paralympians who are missing limbs or missing the ability to move the limbs they have. There are people who are on a weight loss journey, who are bigger than you (or at least at one point they were) who are out there doing these things. There are people waking up at hours you consider way too early so they can get their workout in before their kids get up. And there are people like the guy in this video, who are in their 80s and still doing Ironman triathlons.


The thing is, these people are challenged. They spend time doing something that makes their bodies feel good. They are being active. They are getting fit and staying healthy. 

And to me, for me, there is no excuse. 

I might not ever be thin. I might never fit into anything smaller than a size 12 pair of pants. Some people might be critical of me and how I look. It's fine. Because they are not me, and I'm the one that has to be happy with it. If I'm healthy, that's what matters. And you know? Some of those people making judgements and being critical of what people weigh and what people look like? They aren't doing anything but sitting at home on their couches.

Get moving, guys. It will make your body feel better, and it might even make you be a little more understanding of what it takes to accomplish a goal, even if it's a little one.