- This was printed in February of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 40th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.
“I hated you at about the second mile and then I loved you at the end.”
Those were Elsa Mejía’s sentiments when I asked her how her first 5K went over the
weekend. I had convinced her — and bribed her with a free race entry — to try the 3.1-
mile Run Or Dye “color run” held Saturday in Woodward Park.
Her reaction brought a huge smile to my face. “Would you do it again?” I asked.
“Yeah, if I train for it. I’d do a real race,” she said. “At first I didn’t want to do it again,
but now, yeah. It was motivating when I was beating a lot of people. It made me want to
pass more people; I guess I’m a little competitive.”
Could my smile get any bigger? Probably not.
Mejía and three Tribune readers who won free race entries to Run Or Dye formed team
Run With A Reporter for the untimed run in which volunteers throw colored cornstarch
on participants to “dye” their clothes, hair — and pretty much everything else.
“I wish there had been at least one water station,” said Tera Napier, principal of Sherman
Thomas school in Madera and one of the entry winners. “That dye, you’re inhaling it. It’s
in your teeth and in your nose. I thought, ‘water would be good right about now.’”
Napier, who runs with a group of Maderans called the Finishers, said Run Or Dye was
actually her first official 5K.
“We’ve set up a couple of 5Ks here and there for the Finishers, but I’m usually
organizing them and not running them,” she said. “I actually just went straight to training
for a half marathon so I haven’t done shorter races.”
Napier has run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland twice and ran the California
Classic Half Marathon in Fresno last year. She was a bit disappointed that the Run Or
Dye 5K wasn’t timed, but said she loved seeing groups of friends and families outdoors
“It’s definitely a run to do with your girlfriends or to take your kids to. It’s great to
introduce them to this sport and have them do something fun that’s healthy,” she said. “I
would definitely have my daughter go with me next time, she’s 11 and she’s a runner.”
Fun events like Run Or Dye help expose kids to healthy activity that people of all ages,
sizes and fitness levels can join in.
“Running is so great because you can run for the rest of your life,” said Napier, who
played volleyball for Fresno State in her college years. “You don’t need a team. You can
just go out there by yourself and run and sign up for all of these events.”
Yesenia Valdez, another Tribune reader, is an example of that. Now 25, she has been
running on and off since she was 12.
“I’ve run so many 5Ks I couldn’t even count and tell you how many,” she said. “I’ve also
run two half marathons and one full marathon.”
Valdez met up with four other friends at the race and enjoyed the colorful dance party in
the park afterward.
“We loved getting hit with the dye. We jogged the course and walked at some parts
because we wanted it to last longer,” she said. “They even gave out cool prizes like
sunglasses, hats and headbands.”
Another free entry winner was Irvin Mejía, Elsa’s 16-year-old brother.
“He was supportive but then like halfway through he was like, ‘I’m not even sweating,’”
it made me mad,” Elsa Mejía said, laughing. “It was so easy for him. I was running, but
then I’d stop and walk for a bit and then keep running.”
My fellow reporter said she runs inconsistently, maybe a few times a month, and only
about a mile to a mile and a half. But participating in Run Or Dye made her think about
training harder so she can feel and do better in her next event.
“It was really hard getting through it, but it felt good at the end,” she said.
Hold on to that good feeling, Elsa. And welcome to the running community!