I am not an athlete by any means. I picked clovers in the soccer field when I was eight, won the “Enthusiasm Award” from my summer camp volleyball team and was picked last for every team in high school gym, ever.
I hated running the most. This fear was probably created when I hit a home run while playing softball when I was eleven and my teammate’s mother yelled at me to “run like my vagina was on fire.” As if overcoming this mortifying event wasn’t enough, my teammates lovingly nicknamed me “Turtle” for the rest of the season. Seriously, I never understood how anyone could subject themselves to the pain and agony of willingly busting their knees out, or why the Presidential Fitness test was so important (seriously, didn’t George Bush have bigger fish to fry than how fast seventh graders could run a mile?).
Luckily, I escaped the first eighteen years of my life (relatively) unscathed, though mentally scarred enough by running that I was confident I would never, ever, choose running as my preferred method of exercise.
That is, until I arrived at Hopkins. It seemed like everyone at Hopkins (yes, I’m looking at you, Ron Daniels) ran, and I was intrigued. Why do all of my friends enjoy putting themselves through intense physical strain on a regular basis? Are they so brilliant, or simply crazy, or am I just missing out on something? I had to try it for myself at least once in order to prove to myself that everyone else at this university is, in fact, insane.
Since I have little to no motivation to do anything physical, I signed up for the Color Run in Washington, D.C. this summer when spots went on sale — I knew that if I didn’t have an event to train for, I wouldn’t actually ever start running. With that being said, I had no idea what I was doing. (In retrospect, there’s really nothing to know: you kind of just keep running until you can’t run anymore). I got hurt. A lot. I tripped over branches, sidewalks, my own two feet. I didn’t stretch and felt like my legs were actually going to fall off. On the plus side, I was excited to learn that Cynthia Rowley makes designer Band-Aids, so you can look stylish and chic while injured.
What surprised me the most in the process of hurting myself on an almost daily basis was that I was actually beginning to enjoy running. It’s so rewarding to find that you can go further and faster with every run. And it’s super therapeutic — after a long day at my internship (or a long conversation with my parents about my life after Hopkins), there’s no better way to cool down than by going for a run. I even got my dad into running too, and it’s meant so much to me to have a running buddy to push me to be the best I can be.
Yet when I came back to school for the semester, I had dramatically less time to spend running; between working on The News-Letter, serving as Vice President of my sorority and balancing schoolwork, there was no way I had time to fit in daily runs too. After a month of being back to the grind, I realized that there was no way I would be able to run the Color Run at the rate I was going, so I started practicing again. News flash: running is not the kind of sport that you can just “pick back up again.” If you approach it that way, you will come home after a run and crawl into your bed and whimper in pain — take it from me. When it was time to drive down to D.C., I doubted I could ever make it to the halfway mark, let alone the finish line.
First of all, getting my number was a disaster. Since I arrived late, I couldn’t pick it up, so my dad and cousin snuck on the course with me. It was so great to have running buddies with me! By the time the race was about to start, I was so pumped; everyone else was so excited to be there, and if they could do it, I could too.
When my wave started, we jogged all the way to the first kilometer, easy, and were covered in orange paint. (If you have to do a 5k, getting rewarded along the track for every kilometer you run in paint is a pretty cool way to do it). But the second kilometer took us up a steep hill, and when my dad started having an asthma attack, we took a rest and walked for a bit. We were in this together, and we were going to finish together.
When we made it to the third kilometer, my cousin got paint in his eye, and we flushed it out with water from the water station. Let’s just say that at this point, our goal got real: we still had a long two kilometers, and my cousin’s eyeball was yellow until we could wash it out more. We decided to run as much as we could for the last part of the race, and it was so worth it. The course took us around the beautiful National Harbor, and there’s no better way to spend a Sunday than running on the beach. Less than 500 yards from the finish line, however, my dad’s knees gave out, and we freaked out: I wasn’t going to run through to the finish myself. We jogged at a slow pace and it felt good to make it through together. What made it even better? An awesome dance party at the end, complete with tons of giveaways, free food and in true Color Run fashion, an explosion of color.
All in all, I’m still not an athlete, nor do I consider myself a runner. But finishing the Color Run helped me prove to myself that I can, in fact, do anything I set my mind to. Watch out Washington, D.C.: I’ll be back next year!