Happy Fourth of July, running friends!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. I’m making the most of mine.
I’ll be honest: I’m still having a rough year. I’ve managed to keep my fitness up but I’m not making the improvements I want to. I’m basically in maintenance mode until the storm of life blows over, and that’s just the way things are right now.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Independence Day, what it means to people, and what it means to me.
Sometimes, I go for long walks late at night to clear my head and enjoy the summer breeze. A few nights ago, I passed by the local paper’s headquarters and stopped to admire its window display of veteran memorabilia. An elderly man with a walker and an oxygen tank just happened to stroll by with his little white dog at the exact same time. He said, “It’s so great to be free, isn’t it?” And I said, “It sure is,” even though I haven’t been feeling very free.
And then I realized how trivial my life’s limitations are compared to legions of kids who died fighting for our freedom. So we can light our fireworks, and have our parades, and run our 5Ks. Those things may seem trivial, too, but they mean a lot to people. That’s life: fireworks, parades, and 5Ks.
Anyway, I hadn’t run a 5K in a month, so I decided to run the Haddon Heights Firecracker 5K today. My favorite part of any holiday is a holiday-themed 5K race. I ran the Firecracker 5K last year with Hollie. The race is competitive but low-key, which is exactly how I like my races.
I was hoping to win one of the cash prizes for the top three female finishers. Based on last year’s times, I knew I was fit enough to land in at least 3rd place. This year, there were a lot of serious racers at the starting line, wearing flats and doing strides, so I kissed the cash prize goodbye and took my bulky trainers for a 15 minute warmup jog, because I’m not that serious – yet.
I started the race too fast. Again. I was keeping up with one of the superfit girls for the first 1.5 miles. We went back and forth. We were both wearing red tops. It was nice to have the competition, but it kind of killed me by the midway point. I hit my first split in 6:08. My friend Scott ran by around mile 2 (6:36) as I was hanging on for dear life.
Mile 3 (6:51) sucked. I had a lot of negative thoughts. It was humid and I was super sweaty even though I was racing in just a bra. Well, I had shorts on, too.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 20:16, which honestly isn’t a bad time. It’s 4 seconds faster than my last 5K. I went for a 15 minute cool-down and then caught up with some local runners. My friend Emelia won second woman overall and I was extremely happy for her, because she trains hard. I won my age category and picked up this patriotic medal.
Here is some exciting finish line footage!
Maybe it’s fitting I ran 20:16 today, when I’m particularly feeling the weight of this year. I’m hoping for better days. In the meantime, I’m trying to relish my freedom. Running is the best way I know how to feel free.
Questions for the Internets:
Did you run a Fourth of July-themed race? How did it go?
What are your best tips for racing in high humidity?
Do you run in red, white, and blue on July 4th?