I love holiday races despite not loving most holidays. 4th of July is a holiday that I love though. I’m not expected to be anywhere and my buddy and I can spend the day doing whatever we want. For quite a few years now we have started the day with a 5k. This year it was the =PR= Firecracker 5k. We’ve done this one a few times and it’s always well organized and I typically have friends running it.
I insisted on getting up early and heading over even though parking is relatively easy and we had already picked up our race packets. I wanted to warm up. I’m learning that this really helps for short races. I agreed to meet my buddy at 7:30 so he could sleep in the car while I warmed up. I did a short warm up of 1.5 miles and then met my buddy and found my friends as they arrived. People were mostly standing around talking but I tried to keep moving and ran a few strides before we headed over to the start line.
The start line was pretty packed but we started near the front based on the paces we intended to run.
After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem we were off. The start was reasonably fast. I had to make sure that I didn’t get carried away. I wanted to run hard though. I wanted to take a shot at my PR even though I knew I wasn’t really in shape for that and hadn’t done enough speed training. I watched my pace but moved as fast as I could and tried to find a pace that I thought was sustainable.
After the first mile I saw Kim cheering for runners and told her that I was hurting already. She reminded me that it was supposed to hurt and I needed to hear that. I kept reminding myself to enjoy the pain and to keep pushing. Over and over in my head I said, “don’t quit.”
I came around the turn that had the water stop and decided not to waste time and distance moving very far away from it but to run through. I was in a group that was moving pretty fast and most people bypassed the water. It worked out for the most part…I only bumped arms with one person.
The middle section of the course doesn’t have any spectators and not many volunteers. I tried to enjoy the quiet and just keep moving forward. I was pushing myself and ended up only 6 seconds slower than my first mile. I knew the 3rd mile was going to be tough. I had been running fast and wasn’t sure if I could continue that pace. I also had to fight two hills.
When I got to the first hill I wanted so badly to walk but I was afraid that I would lose everything if I walked and I knew I didn’t have far to go so I just pushed through. I quickly reached the flat and then downhill section before the last hill. That last hill killed me but I didn’t think about walking because I was just so close to the finish. I looked at my time on the last hill and knew it wasn’t going to be PR but knew I could get a new course record and was running a great time compared to recent races. I continued to push.
On the last street when I could see the finish line I pushed as much as I could. The people cheering on the side of the road were a blur. I didn’t want to waste energy to look around and I was focused on just finishing strong. I heard Kim cheer but didn’t really process it until it was too late to wave.
I ran through the finish line and checked my time. I knew it was a new course record but wasn’t sure how much until I checked my data later – 35 seconds! I’m really happy with that. I guess training for long distances helped my short stuff too. Also, the weather was good. It was in the mid 60s and cloudy (spitting rain at times). Overall I’m thrilled with the race. I’m glad I dug deep and pushed hard. AND, I’m glad I didn’t quit.