I’m really excited to write a recap of this race, even though it happened almost 3 weeks ago! On the 4th of July I ran the Firecracker 5K in my hometown in Pennsylvania, while there visiting family and friends for the long holiday weekend.
I was nervous to run this race because I have been focusing on longer distances for over a year now. After having Kyler, I started training for the Richmond Half in November where I got a 5 minute PR, then the Myrtle Beach Marathon in March where I got a 13 minute PR. Then I took it easier for a while before getting back into marathon training again. It had been two years since I really pushed myself in a short and fast race. In fact, my previous 5K PR was set at another 4th of July race in 2014, shortly before getting pregnant again. I ran a 21:55, super fast for me, and I thought it would be a LONG time since I was able to break that – if ever!
One issue I have always had with short races (or all races, really) is going out too fast. I’ve been working hard on fixing this with progression runs, and fast finishes on some easy and long runs. This has helped train me both physically and mentally to start slower and finish fast and strong. I have found that it’s easier to do this during training though, and takes a TON of patience and discipline to do this during an actual race with adrenaline pumping!
I knew I needed to maintain a pace faster than 7:04 to get a new PR, but I wasn’t really sure if that was possible. After a pep talk from a running buddy and a trip to the port-a-potty I finally felt ready to run. My plan was to start at a 7:00 pace and try to drop it each mile. However, I knew the route well and I knew there was going to be a couple of good sized hills on the out-and-back course. I was up for the challenge!
As I waiting at the start line I got the best surprise – I saw my dad and his girlfriend on the sidelines! I had mentioned the race to him, and while he always supports my running he has only come out to a few races. I was so excited to see him and it really helped to settle my nerves.
After an amazing singing of the National Anthem we were off! I made sure to smile for my favorite race photographer, my dad 🙂
I settled nicely into a comfortable 7:00 pace. It didn’t feel like I was working hard at all and I was so tempted to push it, but tried my best to be patient. I like to imagine myself banking the energy for later in the race when I know I’ll need it. When you are used to training for longer distances, a 5K can seem deceivingly short and easy. It is NOT easy! The short and fast races hurt, but they hurt more if you go too fast at the beginning. I tried to remind myself of that during the first mile. There was also a hill here, which slowed me down some too. I told myself I had plenty of time left and not to worry about the pace quite yet. I ended up with an exact split of 7:00 for my first mile.
- Mile 1 – 7:00
During the second mile we ran downhill, then slightly uphill, then turned around to run slightly downhill, then uphill again. Whew! I started to increase my effort here and push more on the uphills, then let gravity help me back down. I passed the retirement home where I worked for 6 years in high school and on college breaks, as well as lots of spectators, including some that I recognized. That helped take my mind off of the hills and my faster pace.
- Mile 2 – 6:56
After seeing my mile 2 split, I knew I would PR if I could just maintain that pace. I ran up the last part of the big uphill and then made my way back down. The rest of the course was downhill or flat, which helped a ton, but it was getting warm and was very humid and I was feeling it! Once I crested the hill I started to increase my effort level more. I really wanted to finish strong, but that last mile in a 5K is TOUGH! It feels like it lasts forever! I kept pushing and telling myself it would be over soon. My mile 3 split popped up and I was shocked – 6:44 was my fastest mile ever in a race, and I did it at the end of a 5K!
- Mile 3 – 6:44
As I neared the finish line I saw my dad again. I also saw the time on the clock which was just over 21 minutes. I was so shocked and couldn’t believe I actually ran that fast!
- Final .10 – 6:16 pace
- Finish Time – 21:14 (6:50/mile)
I was so proud of myself for the smart race I ran. It boosted my confidence a ton and showed me that those fast finish workouts and all my training is paying off, even in shorter distances. I couldn’t believe that I beat my PR from two years before by 40 seconds!
One of things I love about races in the Philadelphia region is that they usually have amazing post-race refreshments like soft pretzels and water ice. OMG. I was in heaven.
When I was growing up here I was pretty much the most non-athletic person ever, so it felt really good to come home and run my fastest 5K ever on streets that hold so many memories for me. I ended up being the 6th woman overall but 4th in my age group. There were some super fast ladies running!
The rest of my holiday was spent relaxing by the pool, eating delicious food and drinking yummy drinks with some of my best friends in the entire world. It was definitely a day that made my mind, body, and soul happy 🙂