Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog<Running> - Electric Run

So, at the end of last year, I started looking for some fun 5k events for the new year. I wanted to give myself motivation to keep running through the cold, dark, wintry months, in preparation for the 10k that I'm doing in April.

One of those events was the Electric Run. I heard it described as equal parts running, Mardi Gras, and electronic dance party. After doing it last night, I'd say that's a pretty good description. (It was pretty family friendly though. There was alcohol at the finish line, but no bead/boob exchanges.) 

The Costume:
One of the cool parts of the event is that all the participants are encouraged to cover themselves with lights, and glowing things, and florescent clothing, and whatever else you can think of. The race started at 7PM and the darkness really makes all this stuff stand out. When I registered, I bought some glowing stuff that was being sold by the event organizers, and I figured I'd come up with some way to wear it all before the race. I got a package of "LED shoelaces", and a 3 yard light up wire... thing.

On race day, I opened my package of shoelaces and found 2 things.
  1. There was no obvious way to secure the "laces" to my bare feet. They were too short to tie around my feet, and the battery/switch part was a little too bulky (and I was afraid they would come undone and fly off my feet or something.)
  2. One of them didn't work.
Fortunately, I am somewhat experienced with electronics (I have a degree in an EE related field after all), so I disassembled the broken one and found the problem. One of the battery connectors had disconnected from the circuit board. Once I soldered the piece back on, I realized I could make some modifications that would allow me to wear it as some kind of electric finger... things. Long story short, I transformed it from this:

Works good for shoes I guess.

To this:
I've got the electric touch.
It turned out way better than I thought it would, and I think it looks pretty badass in the dark. When I got to the race, I taped the tubes to my fingers so that it looked like I had some kind of electric claws. If I had to do it again, I'd get some cheap black gloves and attach everything to them. After the run, and 2.5 hours of dancing, the tape stopped working so well.

The Race:
I got to the Cotton Bowl about an hour before the race kicked off, and I attached all my glowy things.  I made my way to the starting area and stopped for a pit stop at a row of port-a-potties. I think about half of the 6000 runners had the same idea because it took about 20 minutes to get to the front of the line.

After doing my business, I made my way to the starting line. A sea of thousands of glowing, flashing, dancing people. They split people into groups of about 1000, so I made my way into the middle of group 2. I had a few conversations about barefoot running as the people around me looked down.

At 7:05, it was group 2's turn to start. The crowd counted down from 10, and we were off! We all started off slowly. There were 1000 people of all different running abilities, and the course narrowed not to far after the starting line, so it was claustrophobic for about a third of a mile. Fortunately, no one stepped on my feet. :)

The run itself was great. The first corner had colorful umbrellas hanging from trees above and around the course. There were floating balls in the water along the running path. Everything was lit up, and there was some loud-ass EDM playing. After the first mile, we headed out into the parking lot and through some access roads around the state fair area.

Unfortunately, the second mile wasn't punctuated with as many flashing lights, glowing stuff, or loud music. The course also changed from smooth pavement to a rougher chip-seal-esque surface, where I really had to pay attention to my form. Occasionally there was some dirt and even some gravel to run through. Needless to say, mile 2 wasn't my favorite part of the night. It was split up by a water station halfway through the 3.1 mile course.

The last third had some more light/musical stuff. Spotlights projecting moving images, big screens playing video, more of those hanging umbrellas, big inflatable archways with lights that were synchronized to the music. I started to pass the people who went out too fast at the beginning. I heard a lot of "whoa, that dude's barefoot" around this point. Unfortunately, the ground never got any better. It switched from rough concrete to that mixture of pebbles and cement that you sometimes see in areas that are designed for shod pedestrians. I crossed the finish line to cheers from the volunteers and made my way to the stage.

The Dance Party
After getting some water, I put my sandals on and made my way to the stage where there was a DJ playing more EDM. I danced for a bit and then remembered to check my phone. 7:55. I can only guess that I finished the course in about 35 minutes, but I have no way of knowing (there was no timing system.) I walked over to the tents, bought a $6 miller light and walked around for a bit. I ended the night by dancing in front of the stage for the next 2 hours.

I talked to a lot of people about running barefoot. It's a pretty good conversation starter for someone who isn't great at starting them. :) I got a lot of positive reactions, a few concerns about glass, and a ton of "whoa, that's badass."

I also shot some crappy video on my phone. I apologize in advance for the shaky-cam footage. It's hard to keep your phone stable while holding it with taped fingers and running through a crowd of people.

1 comment:

  1. You ARE badass! That looks like a lot of fun,Kyle.