The running of the Firecracker 5 miler is a 4th of July tradition of my in-laws family and friends. I had avoided participation for years due to chronic IT band issues. This year, however, I had no excuses and toed the line anxious to get my first road race out of the way.
I started smoothly and tried to keep my heart rate in check over the first two miles. As things started to settle down I began to think about turning up the effort. As I crested the largest hill around mile 3 I knew I had something left to finish strong. I increased the pace and starting looking for the carrot down the road. I picked off a female high school cross country runner, then I galloped past a group of middle school looking runners on the downhill (I’m starting to like running downhill) through main street. My target, Ben Snyder, was cruising about 200 yards ahead with his family cheering as he passed by and turned onto the old railroad grade.
Ashley digging in to catch the lead female.
Once I reached the old railroad grade, I paced myself up to and then drafted off of two gentlemen running side by side. They appeared to be running on the edge of their ability and I didn't want to lose ground. As we passed the last aid station with less than 1.5 to go I skipped the water and went around them, slowly starting to move reel in my quarry. I timed it perfectly, reaching Ben on the final drag up to the stadium. I quietly tucked in behind him and stayed that way as we entered the grass of the outfield. As my heart rate recovered, I knew I had enough to go around. We hit the final turn and I made my move, surprising him and crossing the line with room to spare.
Although my overall time and placing showed that I have room to improve, I was happy with how my strategy played out. I paced myself well in the heat and made up quite a few places in the last two miles.
Closing the gap to Ben.
Dave picking up the pace after assisting a passed out runner.
Brandi feeling the heat.
The race was perfect preparation for the festivities to come: food, badminton tournament, and more food. A great day with great people.