Tuesday, February 5, 2013

They Came To Run

Three burly, hairy-legged men walked past us, poking each other with glitter wands and laughing while one tugged repeatedly to hike up his white tutu, color coordinated with the sparkly tutus of the other two.

We followed them.

A small family to the right of us wore kilts with their plaid colored running shoes. We passed another group of women wearing shock-pink Afro wigs, geometric Kiss-like designs painted on their faces. We neared the expansive parking lot that was the gathering place near the start line of our race.

A larger group of women, wearing white t-shirts emblazoned with Bridezillas on the front, adjusted flowing veils that cascaded down the back, past their blue shorts.

A DJ on a large flatbed amped up his patter, yelling into the mike, "Are you ready to RUUMMMMBLLLEE?"  as a Zumba group took the stage and danced to a wild salsa beat. Other runners massaged and stretched muscles while the color packets of vibrantly dyed corn starch, issued to each runner, were already being opened and thrown high into the air, marking runners and spectators alike with a rainbow of shades.



A group of guys, probably in their early 20's, unabashedly hopped and jumped in their white underwear, their hairless chests proclaiming in strong black letters they were the Tidy Whiteys.

A small cluster of people, some I knew, had collected in a semi-circle around a woman wearing a beautiful white wedding dress. She continued speaking as I approached, and looked to be a model for one of the sponsoring vendors. Just as I came to a stop, she pulled up the bottom of her lace and silk gown and revealed bright red running shoes.

She explained, "No, I'm running just like this. I was married for eight years, we had two kids, and then he cheated on me and left us. So I'm running in my wedding dress today!" She punched her fist into the air. Some of the color bombs had already marred the pristine whiteness of the dress, leaving it looking like a tie dyed creation from the 60's.



The 6,200 people amassed near the start line, awaiting the wave they were assigned to run in, stood in anticipation.

My group and I readied ourselves.

Once we hit our strides, our group stretched out and eventually broke off as we each had to navigate the congested running lanes. Trying to not focus too much on the sparkling ocean immediately to our left, I worked instead to keep up my pace and move around and in between those who were running slower.

The rush of adrenaline was undeniable and I checked my timer. I knew I probably should slow down a bit and settled into an easy rhythm. I could see the first color station where clouds of pink puffed up into the air like smoke from a volcano. As I got closer, the pink became deeper and obscured my vision, even as I held my breath while volunteers pelted us all with the intense fuchsia powder.





(This is not me, but this is what it looked like in the color lanes.)


We passed T-heads where boats were moored and tourists walking along the sea wall stopped and gaped as we headed towards the next color station. There we were bombed with green, and then onto a third, where yellow was the hue.

I coughed to clear my lungs from the cornstarch as we hit the halfway point and a policeman directing traffic around us dropped his jaw as two of the Tidy Whitey brigade raced past him.

My lungs worked to pull in more oxygen as we approached the two mile mark  I jumped up on a sidewalk to clear a larger group of people wearing corporate polos who laughed and joked together as they jogged.

The next color stations were manned with people armed with sprayers and liquid color striped us, first pink, then blue and a darker shade of emerald green. The sun was fully alert now and I broke a sweat. I repeatedly took off my sunglasses to clear them of the powder that permeated everything.

At the three mile mark, something long and black immediately in front of me in the road startled me. I thought perhaps it was a wounded cat, but to my great relief it was just a disacrded gorilla wig.

The finish line loomed and we all quickened our step, peals of laughter breaking out. Spectators gathered just beyond the finish line clapped and shouted as we crashed our way through and funneled to the water stations.

(Again, not me, but people everywhere enjoyed the color.)


An older woman, lean with short cropped hair, pushed through the finish line and into the arms of a stooped man with wispy white hair, holding himself upright with a cane. He embraced her, the color from her shirt staining his.

The scorned bride in the now ruined gown raised her water bottle and tapped it with others.

As I looked for my other team members and let the cool water slide down my throat, I moved back to the finish line. One woman, barely visible, walked her way around the final turn. Probably over 400 pounds, she breathed heavily, her hair plastered to her head with sweat. The crowd of spectators picked up their shouts of encouragement and she shuffled her feet faster, eventually breaking into a jog just before the finish line. Just past it and utterly spent, she dropped to her knees with her chest heaving while her friends surrounded her, but she sported a smile so large it threatened to split her face. She gasped out between breaths, "I did it I did it I did it!"

Whether we came to exercise or exorcise, to fit in or stand out, to prove something to others or just to ourselves, we all came to run.


(This is me after I'd already shaken myself off and wiped my face a few times.)

108 comments:

  1. Hanging out with some strange people, there.
    (I saw a newsclip of the event... didn't realize you were one of the "painted people.")

    Well played. (Both the run and the report.)

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    1. vanilla: Ah, it was such a fun time! Very messy, but truly a blast.

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  2. What a fun race! I was cracking up reading about those two guys in the beginning. What a sight that must've been!

    So glad that lady finished the race. She's right to be proud of herself!

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    1. Sherry: That's the most fun I've had in a race. The costumes...I didn't even scratch the surface of what people wore.

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  3. I admire runners so much. Every time I see someone run, I want to get out there and do it myself. I just don't seem to have the endurance (or discipline). Way to go!

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    1. Say What: You would surprise yourself! I've lost over 150 lbs. and never thought I could ever be a runner again, but sure enough, here I am. You can do it!

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  4. Wow, Shelly, I never witnessed an event of this kind. The closest I can come is Tampa Bay's recently completed Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade. (The cast of characters also reminds me of a few frat parties I attended!) Another memory recalled by your story was that of the York Halloween parade, a spectacle I never missed in my youth. The highlight of the event was the members of the local American Legion post braving temperatures in the 30s dressed only in diapers and baby bonnets, some with "binkies" (pacifiers) in their mouths and others sucking on bottles of "formula"! (LOL) My mother used to howl with laughter when those men marched by.

    I am very proud of you for taking part in the run, which I gather was a fund raiser for a worthy cause, and for crossing the finish line. Happy Tuesday to you, dear friend!

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    1. Shady: Yes, it was for a very good cause- the Ronald McDonald House. It was amazing fun, too! Gosh the ones you describe sound like a hoot! I would have been right there with your, mom- howling!

      Thank you for stopping by, my friend, and a very Happy Tuesday to you!

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  5. I've never run a color-me race. They look so fun! I loved your description of everything and everyone. And I saw your picture on fb. You looked great! :)

    Thanks for your email. That is very exciting and flattering as well! Thanks again for doing that.

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    1. Felt Family: Oh, it was a blast! Thank you for your kind words- I was a mess that day!

      And congratulations. That post you wrote is so inspiring, so moving, that I wish I had a way to get it to a bigger audience.

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  6. What an inspirational account! It's amazing what people can do when they work together.

    Congratulations on your equally inspirational weight loss, Shelly. May I ask how long it took? I am at the beginning of my battle against fifty pounds of extra weight, but that is on a small frame (4'11").

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    1. jenny_o: It really was an amazing time, seeing all those different people working towards the same thing. And thank you- it took me about 3 years or so, and I would still like to lose a little more, but if it doesn't happen, it's OK. I am healthy and fit, and that's what matters.

      You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!

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  7. Oh I loved this I felt like I was running with you surrounded by the colourful characters all determined to finish a goal.
    I must admit the last person who made it made me tear up as I could actually feel the emotions flowing as she crossed the finish line knowing she accomplished something she probably never believed possible.
    Good job on this story and crossing that finish line. Hugs B

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    1. Buttons: I was so very proud of her, and now I so wish I had made my way over to her to tell her so. It was truly an amazing day- and thank you!

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  8. What a fun time! I haven't run a race in a long time, and never have I run one so colorful! In one race I ran, a young woman wore a "running wedding dress" and her man, a tux above his running shorts. They married after the race:).

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    1. Maria: Now that sounds like a fun wedding, and certainly on a happier note that the bride I saw. This was my first color race, and I plan to do many more!

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  9. Replies
    1. Nas: It was an utter slop-fest, but oh, so fun!

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  10. I think that is great that everyone did it for their own reason. Where are the photos????

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    1. Sandie: I put one up on my Facebook page and I've tried to move it over to here, but haven't been able to yet. Look on my FB wall and you can see how messy I got!

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  11. I have never heard of a color me race before. I read this twice. Wow! You lost 150 pounds. Kudos to you for that. That is an amazing feat!

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    1. Nonnie: Thank you! I put a post up a while back about it here:
      http://www.blogger.com/blogger.gblogID=249763712759401212#editor/target=post;postID=42005439788082590
      if you'd like to see a before and after picture.

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    2. Somehow I missed both, so I am going to check these out. Thanks. I came back over here to ask about pics. ;-)

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    3. Nonnie: I just added one here from after the race- very messy!

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    4. I think it's pretty cute!!! :-))

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  12. I've had other friends who have entered those color runs, and they sound like so much fun. Good for you and all of those who joined you!!

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    1. Karen: If you ever have the chance to enter one, do! You will have a blast!

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  13. What a wonderfully written, beautiful, story! I love it! And GOOD ON YOU!!!!

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    1. That Janie Girl: Thank you!!! It was truly SO much fun~

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  14. Oh this sounds like such a cool race. I am not a good runner. I ruined my legs in my thirties by not thinking stretching was not really a necessity before a three mile run. It is. I can't run half way down the block now without experiencing tremendous pain in my shins....always stretch!

    Still, if I could, I would love to do this. I have never heard of these races. Thanks for writing about it. As always I completely enjoyed your story. And, wow, wtg for the girl a tad on the heavy side! That's determination and WTG for the bride. I would have loved to have seen the policeman's face when the Tidy Whiteys passed by.

    I am definitely going to try my best to go and see one of these races. I hope you are having a great week. I have been snowed under trying to get back into the swing of things. My break was nice but coming back may kill me!

    Happy evening to ya'll on the ranch!
    Hugs to! ♥

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    1. Jackie: Oh, I'm so sorry about your shins- what a shame! I was so proud of that lady at the end, and I so wish I had found her and told her so. These races are like none other- weird, wacky, and colorful! Hugs to you from the wild, wild Texas range!

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  15. Wow, I got so wrapped up in your story that I missed your picture. You look great. I hope that stuff washed off easily!

    I tweeted and Googled this for you...great story!

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    1. Jackie: It took a long shower to finally get it off and I had to really scrape and scrub at the tattoo on my face to get it come off. Thank you so much!!!

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  16. Love your smile Shelly!! WTG for all that did and completed the race!! I missed it, was it for a special cause? Good for you though being a runner!

    betty

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    1. Betty: Thank you! It was to benefit the Ronald McDonald house, which made it so worthwhile. The bonus was that it was such fun~

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    2. I'm even more excited about this knowing that it benefits the Ronald McDonald house. That cause is super close to my heart.

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    3. Jenny: It is such a terrific organization and that was the cincher for me~

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  17. How fun! I'm glad you posted a picture of yourself. In my head you were wearing a hot pink afro AND a tutu. Seriously inspiring, Shelly. I love the way you set the scene, but brought it back to your individual journey.

    -Amy

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    1. Amy: Next time I run in one of these color runs, I am going to come dressed to the nines. No more boring white shirts and black shorts for me! And thank you, my friend~

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  18. OK, that last paragraph made me cry. What a wonderful photographic memory you have, I love it! I should have known you'd write about your run--and am so happy you did! I love the wedding dress story lady. And I love you of course.

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    1. Jamie: I admit I got teary seeing her. It was so inspiring! And the wedding dress lady seems like she is heading in the right direction, I hope. So many colorful people (no pun intended)! And I love you, too, my friend- you know I do!

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  19. Fun, fun, FUN!!! I swear with your style of writing expertise, and your wonderful descriptive words, I was coughing while I breathed in the colored cornstarch. You did it!!! But, I couldn't get past the dude in the tutu. I'd still be rollin' on the pavement.

    Congratulations on a run complete.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Oh, it was such terrific fun- I can't wait to do another color run! It makes all the others seem a little boring in comparison. I didn't even scratch the surface of the weird costumes people wore to run 3.1 miles in. Goodness, I thought I was pretty snazzy in my white shirt and black shorts...

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  20. Dearest Shelly,
    Wow, "we all came to run" ☆☆☆
    Let me honest with you; when I tried to skim this post at fist, I could not figure out what the each paragraph described. Haha, as I do when I find your beautiful literal expressions beyond my English capacity, I read some of your friends comments and your replies first.
    "color run"!!! Is this event actually a race? I wondered if you got the result with numbers or people all just participate for fun with individual styles without getting how you came in.

    Oh, so sorry for my question, dear friend. I don't think we have these kind of "run or race" in Japan. You may know I am not a spots type, but for this one I might be able to join with you (^^;) "Haha, I guess"
    I think I need to come back and enjoy more to visualize your expression well again.

    I really LOVED your sweet smile one can get after accomplished something♡♡♡ I DO admire you and even for my ability; your last phrase touched me so much and perfect closing phrase☆☆☆

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan to my writer friend in America, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Miyako: I'm so sorry, my dear friend Miyako, for the confusion in my post! Sometimes I get carried away with thinking about the event and don't pay enough attention to what I am writing! Yes, it was a 3.1 mile, or 5 kilometer race. It is meant for fun, and so people wear strange costumes and runners get different colors thrown on them while they run, so they end up looking very messy and sweaty, as I did! No prizes on contests for the costumes, just people who enjoy looking strange.

      The colored powder they use to throw on us is dyed cornstarch, and it really gets everywhere. They also sprayed us with liquid color, too.

      It was to benefit a charity that helps families who have children with cancer and serious illnesses, so it was for a good cause.

      I would love to join you someday in a race, my friend, and I know we would have the best time!

      Thank you, my friend, for your always kind words, and I'm sending that love and those hugs right back to you!

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    2. It is really wonderful to know that this one is also for the good cause. Thank you very much for the explanation; Oh, dyed cornstarch and etc. Would fun to see the race if I could♬♬♬

      PS> forgot to mention that I learned the phrase "hit one's stride". Happy for it, hehe.

      Take Care of Yourself and Love you always, xoxo Miyako*

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    3. Miyako: You are one of those rarae people who loves to learn! You inspire me!

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    4. Oh, I loved to see the photos you added♡♡♡ So many colors and peoples enjoyment♬♬♬ Thank you very much for making me feel your run visually(*^_^*) I admire your determination☆☆☆

      PS>I had had a dog when I was a girl which was a white 'spitz'. I member I cried a lot when we lost her(^^;) Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.
      Love you always from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    5. Miyako: Thank you! The new pics I added were taken by the photographers for the race, and they became available online, so I was happy to add them.

      Oh, white spitzs are beautiful dogs- just gorgeous, my friend. I'm so sorry you had to lose her, but I am so happy you did get to have her as part of your life at least for a time. Love to you from Texas!

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  21. Shelly, it was so good to read of such a great and fun event! A healthy event, too! I loved your photo with your brilliant smile and I smiled myself when I saw it. You looked great in it. I would have fun coming up with an outlandish outfit if I were to ever run in such an event. The Ronald McDonald House is such a worthy and important cause. Thanks for sharing such a positive and happy story.

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    1. Cindy: It was HUGE fun! I've never seen quite the array of outfits in a run as there were in this one, so I'm going to start thinking of one for next time. If there's ever a color run in your area, I think you'd love it~

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  22. Talk about fun! I love the support from one another too. That picture is great and says to much about your love of life!

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    1. Bossy Betty: I was really taken with the camaraderie all the people showed, even though most of us didn't know each other. Thank you!

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  23. So much fun to read! Oh, would that there were more posts with such tangible kaleidoscopic joy contained! I was grinning...

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    1. Chantel: Oh, it was such an indescribably joyous day- I would wish this kind of day for every person!

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  24. Oh hon, that is AMAZING! I ran a 5K once and thought I was going to die and I'm a fit person. That's so exciting!

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    1. Julie: It was such fun, and my next one is going to be a 10K. I hope I don't die!

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  25. Hi Shelly. What a happy, smiley photo at the end of this post. Well done you for completing the run, and congratulations to you and all the participants for running in aid of such a worthy cause. We have lots of such runs over here for charity, including one which is run every year for Breast Cancer. All the ladies wear pink, and run at midnight, with their bra's worn outside their tee shirts!

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    1. thisisme:I would love to run in something like that, even with bra on the outside of the shirt! And for such a good cause. That makes these things all worthwhile, doesn't it? It's a double blessing when one can have fun and be helpful at the same time. I hope you are still enjoying sunshine, my friend!

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  26. You look so happy. I never look that happy after running!

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    1. Missed Periods: It was such fun, and when you look that messy, what can you do but smile!

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  27. I love it! Color is my passion, and congratulations on your accomplishment! What fun that must have been Shelly. :D

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    1. Cathy: It was the most fun I've ever had running!

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  28. I hate running, but I would run in a fun race like that one! You look happy and lovely as you always are.

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    1. Belle: You are so sweet! I wasn't going to put that picture up because I am so filthy and sweaty, so I appreciate your kind words~

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  29. What a cool race. Sound so much fun!

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  30. Brilliant account of what sounds like a fun day.....except for the running part! I'd be hopeless at that! Well done :-)

    xx Jazzy

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    1. jazzygal: It was a spectacular day- one that I wish everyone could experience. And you'd probably not be as hopeless as you might think in running~ I've found it to be more fun than I ever thought it would be!

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  31. Shelly, I'm late to your post, and I don't know how I missed it! You write of the experience so well that I felt as though I was there watching the event. What a BLAST!!!! I want to do this!!!!!

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    1. Jenny: We need to make plans to do one of these together- somewhere, somehow! It was a day I will remember for the rest of my life, I think, because it was such utter FUN!!!

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    2. You name the place and time, and I will be there! Thank you for posting the extra photos. Wow, what colorful clouds! Would you wear a dusk mask the second time around?

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    3. Wow, I just found that it's making its way to my city!!!!

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    4. Jenny: I'm so excited it's coming to you! Wow- I can't wait to hear your account. I think for anyone who has asthma or breathing problems, a mask wouldn't be a bad idea, and I did see some people wearing one. I just pretty much held my breath all the way through each color station. What FUN you are going to have!!!

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    5. Jenny: Meant to add that sometimes just pulling the collar of your shirt over your mouth and nose does the trick, as a couple of folks on my team did~

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  32. Shelly,
    Me thinks you find some "utter fun" wherever you go. And that is a compliment. :)
    What a great event. Good for you!!!

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    1. Marsha: Thank you, my friend! There's great fun to be had if we are looking for it~

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  33. good for you!!! and congrats too. a fun , inspiring post!!

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    1. Annmarie: I really didn't expect it to be as much fun as it was!

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  34. It sounds like a lot of fun not the type of fun I am into since I don't run hell I can barely walk let alone run............lol

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    1. Jo-Anne: Oh, you crack me up, my friend!

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  35. Well everybody certainly had fun judging by what I've read.

    Super post Shelly.

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    1. Romance Reader: Truly, everyone I saw at the end had huge smiles. Thank you!

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  36. Dear Shelly, now this posting is a tribute not only to racing/running but to diversity!!!!! of spirit and mind and body. I loved it. Peace.

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    1. Dee: I love that we are all so uniquely created, and the differences that make each of us so wondrous!

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  37. You are my hero. I don't like running but it would've been great walking. The pictures were great. I am proud of you for running for such a worthy cause. Loved the after picture.

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    1. Simone: It was such a beautiful day that doing anything outdoors would have made just about anyone feel great. Thank you! It was quite a fun mess~

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  38. I loved this! Especially how it was also about diversity.

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    1. Optimistic Existentialist: So many different types of people were there that I never got tired of looking!

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  39. What a scream. I bet that was fun.

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  40. You ran, all right! Congratulations, to everyone!

    Kelley~

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    1. Kelley: Thank you- it was a wonderful time!

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  41. Wow, what colorful fun! I love the wedding dress transformation story. Though I must say breathing in cornstarch while running seems like a BAD idea.

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    1. Theresa: It was such great fun! The wedding dress lady seemed pretty happy at the end, so I guess it was cathartic for her. The corn starch lingered for a few days in my sinuses~

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  42. It looks like it was a lot of fun. I can't believe the woman running in her wedding dress, I bet that was hard, but I can see why she did it.

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    1. Words of Deliciousness: I don't think I would have wanted to ruin the gown, but it was something she felt good about, so more power to her!

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  43. That looks like so much fun! But I probably would have worn a gas mask, LOL

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    1. Lydia: A gas mask might not have been a bad idea!

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  44. What a fun event. Colorful and crazy...
    Based on your face it looks like you had a great time!

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    1. Pat: It was a hoot, through and through!

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  45. Good on you...a fun run, how I wish I still could. There is nothing like that wonderful free feeling, as if you are the only one in the world.
    Just love it. Well done. Much love Crystal xx

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    1. Crystal Mary: You are so right- nothing like that feeling of complete freedom, and since it was immediately next to the bayfront, that made it ever more special!

      Good to hear from you, my friend!
      xo

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  46. That is a real riot of colours.
    I wonder if all those colour powders don't get into the system.

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    1. Haddock: Honestly, I felt it in my sinuses for a few days afterwards, but it is all supposed to be made of natural products, so I'm trusting that it is OK- thank you for stopping by!

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    2. Like you said.... trusting that it is OK :-)

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