Friday, July 5, 2013

Race Recap: Fairport Firecracker 5 Mile

New logo this year!

I have a love/hate relationship with this annual race. There I said it. I love this race because it is in my stomping grounds and it has become a family tradition. Plus, it was my first race beyond the 5k distance. In addition to my Dad and myself, I knew I would wind up running with tons of familiar faces and that is always a perk. Part of the course switches back so I always look for friends and running peeps to cheer on when we cross paths.  I hate this race because of the sun & heat and challenging, hilly course.

Lucky number! 

This year the race started at 8am so I picked up Evan at 7am and headed over to meet up with my parents, Molly and Katie. Evan hadn't picked up his packet so we went to the tent to get his stuff. This would be Evan's farthest distance to date so he may have been a bit nervous, but didn't show it at all! My first year I was a nervous wreck and lucked out when my Dad had surprised me and signed up to race as well. It was our second 3-peat race and since last year I wore the previous years race shirt, I decided to continue the tradition this year.

Near the start line
Dad, Evan and I began the walk over to the start line and I hit the power button on my Garmin to get it going and connected to satellites. Not too long after I hit the button it beeped to let me know that I had a low battery. WHAT?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?! In 3 years of running I have never not had my Garmin for a race. Not too long after it beeped it shut itself off. Holy cow, what was I going to do. The kicker is that I haven't even been running that much lately. How did this happen? Ugh. Add another point to the "hate" column. Luckily Dad had his Garmin, but it just isn't the same. So while we were walking over Katie caught up to us but there was still no sign of Molly. Evan found a friend and ran off to join her and Dad and I greeted other runners. Apparently we were having our photo taken too...

Borrowed from the FF FB page, thanks!
In blue and green on the right. 

Overall I felt pretty good but wondered if the hour spin class and strength training the day before would come back to bite me during those hills. The weather was really humid but it was cloudy so we didn't have to deal with the sun that normally beats down on your for the first half of the race. Before we knew it the race started and I just gave my Garmin a dirty look as we crossed the start line. I settled into a comfortable pace, exactly what that pace was I did not know. Overall it felt a little faster then what I have been running lately. Not long into the race you hit a long uphill battle. I just settled into it and set the goal to run the whole thing and take a brief walk break at the top. Along the way I had some great help from Anita to keep me focused on forward motion. Thanks! After the first major hill there is a water station at one of the fire stations. I gladly took water and walked through the water stop. After that I kept trudging along and turned on to Turk Hill Road where large hill number two is located. I set the same goal to run to the top of it and walk through the intersection. I cheered along some FF team members along the way and they repaid the favor when they passed me at the top. Love that runner camaraderie. It was here, about mile 1.77 according to my Dad whose Garmin was working fantastically, that I realized that my legs felt like I was carrying two cement blocks. There is a nice down hill after the intersection so I tried to let gravity help a little.

In my opinion the race can be broken into three sections: hills, Cobb's lane and main street. I was about to enter the second, an out and back along the canal that on a sunny day can make you think your never going to get to the turn around and your never going to make it back. The two perks are that since it is an out and back you get to pass other runners & see your friends and that there is a water stop in the middle, so you get to pass it twice. However as we were approaching the water station they were announcing that they had just run out of water. Now I realize I was slower then the average runner, but there were still a lot of runners to come through. I don't think I have ever done a FF race and have them run out of water. Also, not that it mattered, but the water stop was not in the middle, it was only on the side of the road for the runners on their way back through. During this section I had a proud mama bear moment when I saw a young female runner coming towards me and realized it was one of my former girls on the run. She came in second in her age group in a five mile race! So proud. We passed Evan and Katie, who both appeared to be doing quite well, but still no sign of Molly. I was hoping after we made the turn around we would see if she was able to make it in time.

I finally felt like I had warmed up and now that the big hills were behind me I was running longer consistent chunks. We did spot Molly and even though she got a bit of a late start she was plugging right along. Dad and I mostly stuck together and before we knew it we were approaching the last chunk which is our favorite part of the race. Fairport has their 4th of July parade following the race and the course goes along the parade route, so the last mile and change has a decent amount of spectators who are out cheering for the runners. It is also tree lined so there is a lot of shade. There was one more water spot at the other fire station and I was happy to see they had water and also a hose spraying water on the runners as well. Not too far after that was Mom cheering and photographing. Dad grabbed an extra Gatorade from her as we ran by and I was happy to guzzle some down. I was feeling pretty good during this stretch and I continued to thank spectators and volunteers and chat with Dad and Molly. With a little under a mile left it started raining and it felt really good. We turned into the park and saw Thea and her daughter cheering and began to hear music and Ellen's voice announcing runners at the finish line. Dad and I ran in together and heard both of our names announced and Molly came in not too long after. I knew my time would be the slowest out of my 3 Firecracker races, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was about 7 minutes faster then my run the previous week, running the same distance and an easier course.

We met up with Evan and Katie at the finish, got some fruit and drinks and swapped finishing times. Katie got a new PR, Evan did fantastic for his first 5 mile race, beating all of my times, and I was just happy to be done. Evan, Dad and I began our walk back down the course to join my Mom to watch the parade. I grabbed a drink and salty snack from the gas station and welcomed my sister and her family to our spot.

We stayed and watched the parade and as it was close to finishing the cloudy sky opened up on us again, but this time it poured heavily. We all gathered our items and fled as quickly as possible to our car. Overall it was a good morning and even though I have a love/hate relationship with this race, I am sure I'll sign up again next year and then wonder why during mile 2-3. But it's tradition!

Ever done a 4th of July race?

Have any love/hate running moments?

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