Race: The Glo Run
Place: Waterfront Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Date: May 25, 2013
Time: 22:16* (UNTIMED EVENT)
It occurred to me at the Run For The Berries 5K earlier in the day that I had gotten lost somewhere in this crazy world of road racing. Somewhere along the way, I just sort of expected to win my age division…or at least place. And I hadn’t realized what sort of effect that had on me until I ran one of my fastest 5Ks and didn’t place at all in my division. I was a mess of emotions over that…but mostly disappointed.
And I realized…somewhere along the way…while I still had fun…I was missing out on the fun of just simply running the races. I placed such high expectations on myself, or thought if I didn’t place, I’d let down my family and friends. I was wrong, of course, but it was a nice reality check to have. As I’ve said before, 5K races are not my forte, as speed is not my friend at all. Endurance and I get along a lot better. So, how I lost sight of that is beyond me. But my focus is back…and I have this untimed fun run to thank for it.
Novelty races are all the rage right now. Last year, I was signed up to do the first year of The Color Run when it hit Louisville. But, I tore my plantar fascia in a race just before that one and was on crutches. No running in The Color Run for me. I didn’t care that it was untimed. That was part of the joy of it. It was billed as the Happiest 5K on the planet…and there is a reason. Everyone runs…for fun. There is no stress of trying to PR or beat out the competition. It’s all about getting as much paint on you as possible and just having a blast.
I might have missed out on The Color Run, but when the opportunity came up (and a nice Groupon offer too) for The Glo Run here in Louisville, Kentucky…I knew I wanted to be a part of the novelty race experience. I registered with the Groupon discount and prepped myself for what would be a different experience indeed. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve raced in the black of night…but it was my first untimed novelty race. And that…was part of the experience.
Packet pick-up was at Fleet Feet on Friday. Cathy and I drove over there on lunch to pick everything up. I got my choice of either a pink or yellow florescent shirt for the race. I chose pink. Yellow looks awful on me. I also got two glow sticks and a pair of glow glasses. Fully stocked with glowing goodness, we departed to return to work…then to go home. I was making a homemade gluten-free pizza that night (no eating out this time, despite me having 2 races on Saturday).
After running in the Run For The Berries 5K that morning, then spending most of the afternoon on my feet finishing up grocery shopping and running errands, I knew that this would be a throw-away as it was. I changed into the brightest and craziest running clothes I could conjure up in my wardrobe…which meant my crazy-awesome running shorts with the florescent designs throughout them. My bright orange tech shirt. I chose my bright pink compression socks and, despite the chance for rain, put on my new pair of Nike’s. I got my number pinned on and grabbed a hoodie to take with me. It was currently about 67 degrees out. So it was nice, but when the sun went down…and if they rain moved in…who knew what the weather would be like. Cathy grabbed the glowing goodies and we got in the car at about 8:00 p.m. to head down to Waterfront Park, which would be where The Glo Run would begin and end.
The most difficult part was finding parking. Not only was Abbey Road On The River going on, but so was a Louisville Bats baseball game…and The Glo Run. Parking was not going to be easy. We followed another vehicle into a lot and discovered that it was full. That car had to turn around too, so we got out of the way to allow him to do so. Then we did the same. And on our way out…out of nowhere…a space appeared. We whipped into it and parked the car. SUCCESS!!
Finding the starting line was simple. We followed the masses in The Glo Run t-shirts. I mean, you can’t miss waves of people wearing bright shirts and weird costumes, right? We definitely knew we were in the right place.
The start line area had a DJ spinning tunes and a stage set up. It wasn’t near dark yet, despite us arriving only an hour before the race kicked off. There was plenty to keep us occupied, checking out costumes, looking at what people chose to wear, listening to the music. As it started to get a bit darker…the DJ got the party started, getting people toward the stage to dance, dance, dance.
So, what is the draw of The Glo Run? Well…it’s the fact that you are running a 5K race filled with blacklight stations and tents, special effects (smoke, bubbles, etc) and music. It’s a party while you run. Honestly. And, being untimed, you can really cut loose and just enjoy the experience. I was really looking forward to having just a fun little race to participate in for a change. I think it was just what I needed in the end.
So, with the DJ getting us dancing and moving and shaking, the night was creeping in. Cathy and I cracked the glowing goodies we brought with us. I wrapped the glow necklaces around my calves and wore a few glow bracelets we picked up earlier that afternoon at our novelty store. Cathy put on a red glow stick and had managed to acquire a few glow sticks along the way. Just as it was getting dark…the rain began to fall as well. Not drenching…but a light rain nonetheless. And I didn’t care. It was just fun. And with all the lasers and black lights, the rain looked like glitter in the night. It was SO cool. The professional photographer went up on the pedestrian bridge to snap pictures of the entire crowd, and then we had another dance moment before runners were told to get to the start area. Cathy gave me a hug and told me to have fun. I told her I would definitely do so. They said that all the fast runners needed to line up closer to the front. I went ahead and moved up a bit in the corral, figuring I’d be fast enough, without forgetting to just live in the moment and enjoy this race for what it was. A Glo-ing good time.
The lead vehicle was a guy on a bike carrying a load of glow sticks. We were counted down…and then…we were off.
As I passed under the black light start line, I gave a wave to Cathy and headed out in the front of the pack. I eased into this run, feeling no pressure, and I was smiling. Here I was, wearing glow sticks and bracelets, clothing meant to be bright in the black light stations…and just enjoying every step I was taking. It had been a long time since I ran for the joy of it. This entire race was set to run around Waterfront Park. On the first straight out, I had to hop down off the curb and then jump back up, over-calculating a turn. It was fine though…I was fine. My ankle was feeling this a bit, mostly from me jumping around during the dance party pre-race. Lesson learned. Still…fun was happening and I was enjoying it.
Volunteers were stationed throughout the course holding light-up wands to direct us where we needed to go. And as we ran through Waterfront Park, they were definitely doing their job, keeping us on course and heading in the right direction. I was smiling so big when I hit that first black light station. After all…this tent not only lit up my clothing like a Christmas tree…but it also had bubbles blowing at us. BUBBLES!! I put out my arms and just enjoyed running through, seeing the DJ at the end, pumping the music and encouraging us on. Out of the tent and back onto the path. Oh, this was a complete blast.
I was already anticipating the next station I would get to run through. I had passed a couple of people along the way, and saw the glow of another station ahead. The volunteers directed runners that way. This time…the glowing tent of black light goodness had a smoke machine going. The haze was awesome to run through, and I had to watch it at the end because I almost didn’t see the DJ table there. But I was dancing and pumping my hands and giving time to just dance under the lights and enjoy the moment. I was having a complete blast.
Back to the course, the halfway point was approaching. Cathy and I had spotted this near the start line…and we thought it might be the finish. Nope. But, she had been over there and while I didn’t hear her…she managed to snap a picture of me running through that station. Awesome. Then, I think…we hit the hardest part of the course. Not because it was hilly or anything. Nope. It was because the DJs and music were gone. And we were dashing through this quiet area of the park. Just me and the runners ahead of me and the ones behind me. I passed up a woman I had been behind for awhile…not even trying. It was just…so quiet over in this part, all I could really do was run.
But then, the sound of that finish line DJ came into earshot. I was close. I was very close. The woman I passed kicked it into high gear, as though she were trying to win the Boston Marathon here at The Glo Run. She was missing the entire point of this run. But, then again, she was also wearing her iPod and had her head flooded with whatever tunes were playing over her earbuds. I was taking in every possible moment and just remembering this was to have fun. And I was having a blast.
I crossed the finish line and paused my Garmin. Yes…I decided to time myself for the hell of it. And I rocked out a great 22:16 time on this fun run, even with the dancing and boogie time under the black lights. That’s awesome. I was laughing and just smiling the entire time…and even at the finish that didn’t stop.
Cathy told me I was the third female to finish. Of course, no awards are given at these races…and that’s fine. We walked around the finish area for a few minutes and decided we would slowly start making our way back to the car. This race had a finish line party afterwards, but it was late and I had a 9 mile run to do on Sunday morning. So…it was best if we headed back home.
Of course, the parking lot we managed to find a spot in was actually part of the course. So, we ended up standing around, cheering on runners, watching the variety of costumes go by. My favorite was this group of guys walking through and some girl jogged by and said, “Why are you walking boys?” And one of the men shouted back, “I pulled my gluteus muscle!” It made me laugh. A lot.
With it still sprinkling lightly, we decided to at least go sit in the car until we could leave. This probably took about 20 minutes. But soon there were enough gaps in the runners and walkers that the police officer directing traffic was beginning to let some vehicles out. We managed to get backed up and in line to head home. And after about another 5 minutes, we were on our way.
Novelty runs are a great way to break up the monotony of racing. Seriously. Sometimes we, as runners, get so focused on besting ourselves and others that the fun gets sucked out of each race. This race was just what I needed that night…because I needed to remember what it felt like to just run for the fun of it. Now I remember. And I hope to never forget again.
If The Glo Run or The Color Run make it to your area, I encourage you to join it and just take a spin around the course. Bring friends or make new ones while you’re there. Leave your Garmin at home. Just run because you can. Run and enjoy every bit of the experience. Forget about personal bests and setting new records on the course or of yourself. Sometimes…that’s the best way to improve…because it really does put the life back into your running, without even making it seem like work.
Just make sure you sign up for one of the official novelty runs. These are often imitated, but they are never quite as amazing as the ones that started them all. Do your research. Sign up. And go have a fun run. Cross that finish line without the heavy weight of expectations weighing you down. Get covered in paint or lit up by black lights. Dance to the music. Forget about time. Just soak it all up, drink it all in, and have fun.
Just have fun.