Happy holiday weekend!
I like to celebrate the 4th of July the way I celebrate most holidays: with a 5K race. Each year, I like to try a new 4th of July-themed race. The Haddon Heights Firecracker 5K is a popular race I’d never run before. Since it’s close by and my friend Hollie signed up, I decided to sign up too.
Spoiler: There were no actual firecrackers at this race.
I’m usually most excited about running my next 5K race in the hours following my previous 5K race. All the pain has subsided and only endorphins remain. As my next race approaches, however, my legs start to feel heavy and I preemptively start to formulate excuses for why I might possibly not race well.
Oh, the humidity forecast looks terrible!
I’ve run one extra training mile this week! Clearly my legs will be tired.
I PR-ed last weekend so obviously this weekend I’ll need to take it easy.
I only race to “work out,” anyway.
All of the aforementioned excuses have some basis in reality. It has been insufferably muggy. I have slightly increased my mileage. You can’t run your best race every weekend and, at the end of the day, all that really counts is getting your butt out of bed at 6:30 on a [Saturday] morning and giving it your best shot.
This morning, I met Hollie at Hoff’s park around 7:20. We picked up our bibs and went for an easy 1.5 mile warm-up. I really like getting in a good warm-up before I race. I don’t think it actually helps me run faster, but it does help me feel more relaxed before the gun goes off.
At this race, there were a lot of fast runners battling it out for the top three male/female cash prizes. I was just hoping to stay in age category award contention because I hate not winning a prize of some sort. (I’m such a big baby.)
My first mile was a struggle. I actually felt fast (maybe a little too fast) but it was nearly impossible to move past a wall of high school runners in front of me. They literally took up the entire street. Hollie and I were trying to dart around them to no avail. So we just creeped behind them until the pack broke up. I hit my first mile in 6:13.
At this point, the (90%) humidity started to affect me. I seriously regretted wearing a shirt. I spent 3 or 4 minutes going back and forth with two other female runners who ended up pulling ahead of me. It always sucks to get left in other runners’ dust. I know I slow down considerably whenever this happens. Instead of speeding up, I succumb to a (mild, temporary) feeling of defeat. I hit my second mile in 6:45.
My last mile was a suffer fest. I was running with a bunch of dudes in their thirties and forties. There weren’t any other female runners around so I wasn’t incentivized to push. A dog (and his owner) passed me in the final quarter mile stretch. It was ruff.
I finished with a time of 21:18, which isn’t great or terrible. As I run more back-to-back 5Ks, I find my first mile is getting faster while my third mile is still tough to sustain. I think it’s mostly a psychological issue. I can feel myself “give up” little by little throughout a 5K, because 5Ks hurt and it’s so tempting to take your foot off the gas.
Here is finish line footage from the race!
Unbeknownst to me, my grandparents came out to watch the race and cheered for me at the finish line. I didn’t hear them and didn’t realize they’d been spectating until my mother texted me afterwards. #worstgranddaughterever
Hollie and I went for a cool-down run back through the course as the rest of the race ensued. Some of the spectators and police marshals chided us for “getting lost” and “going the wrong way.”
I won first place in my age category, which, oddly enough, earned me a silver medal.
After the awards ceremony, I hung out with my grandparents at their house for an hour or so. My grandfather just went through his third open heart surgery in the last two years, so it meant a lot that he came out to see me run. When I was a kid, he used to travel to all my skating competitions too. Here we are at the South Atlantic regional championships back in 1994!
Questions for the Internets:
What are you doing to celebrate the 4th of July?
Did you race this weekend? How did it go?
What’s your favorite 4th of July BBQ food?