Thursday, July 5, 2012

Race Recap: Firecracker 5000

Me & hubby pre-race
For the second year in a row, I kicked off America's birthday with the local Firecracker 5000 that runs along Peoria's riverfront.  I'm not a big fan of short races, but really enjoy this festive run. The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays, and I love to start it off with a run! The local Jaycees put on this event, and it benefits some great charities like the Boys & Girls Club. With that in mind, we forgive some of the organizational snafus, right?

Early July lived up to its reputation as hot, still and steamy in the Midwest.  The sun was blazing early which made the 5k hard to sprint. The first two miles of the course were in the open sun, but thankfully there was a little shade along the riverfront trail in the early parts of mile three.

The best part of the race is the pre and post game action. The participants are heavily local, making it a fun social event. Before the race, the Sole Sisters met up for a group picture.  This group of women are so much fun and always make me smile.
Peoria Sole Sisters
Now I haven't raced a 5k in nearly 15 months, so I was expecting to blow away my old 5k PR. (Last year I ran it as a recovery run after an 18 miler the previous day.) But with the hot weather conditions, I wasn't sure where to put my goal. I decided to just run how I felt and go from there...

The race started in a flash. Literally. We're standing there chatting away and all of sudden, BANG! The gun went off. What? No National Anthem on the 4th of July? A little congestion as we made our way out of the starting chute, but I quickly found my groove - using Kim and Julie as my rabbits.  Julie blazed ahead after a mile, but I hung on to Kim throughout the race, finishing just 1 second behind her.

I hit the first mile marker and my watch clocked a 7:52 split. Um, no way. At first I was shocked and delighted... and then a little bit later, I heard all the Garmins beeping.  Mile marker was in the wrong spot.  I was sweating profusely at this point. It was so uncomfortable, and all I could think was, "Thank goodness this is only 3 miles..."

I cruised through the water stop at the midway point, but couldn't help but notice the confusion. Looked to me like the volunteers weren't quite ready as they were still trying to fill cups. Empty cups were falling off the table everywhere.  I heard later in the race that runners just stopped to fill up their own cups.

All sweaty, but still smiling after the race!
I hit the riverfront trail on the way back and relished in the shade for a good 1/2 mile. When I hit the mile 2 marker, my watch showed a 9:55 split.  Again, no way. I had no idea what pace I was running, but it didn't feel good. I continued to push despite boiling in the sun. Lots of runners started taking walk breaks here in the third mile. At one point, I slowed my pace to collect myself... and then pushed onward to the finish.

Coming down the final stretch, I saw 26 something on the clock and sprinted it in.  As soon as I stopped, my stomach lurched.  I quickly covered my mouth and dashed to the side. I choked a couple times, but managed to keep my breakfast down. Wow - first time I ever came that close to puking!  My stopwatch clocked 26:39 (8:35 pace) from the start to finish line. The official race results only have gun time, so my official time was 26:49 (took me 10 seconds to get to the starting line once the gun went off).  I'll take it - it's a PR over my previous 5k race time by over a minute!
#245 out of 971 overall
#10 out of 79 in my age group

This was just the start of the best Independence Days I've ever had. My family cooled down with a movie after the race, cookout for lunch, and we all took a 2 hour nap (I needed it! Heat headaches are miserable.) We wrapped up the holiday at the waterpark, out for pizza and caught fireworks at the park. We haven't had to carry my kids to bed in a long time, but they were completely exhausted after this action-packed Fourth!  Hope yours was grand too!


  1. Congrats! I raced in Southeast Iowa (Grandview, actually) and we had people taking off their shirts partway through the 5k. The guy who won actually had just gotten off work yesterday morning, and then showed up to race.

  2. It was a tough run with that heat on Wed.
    Great job on the PR, I didn't even get close to mine. I totally crapped out in mile 3.

    Again GREAT JOB!!!

  3. Sounds like a fantastic race! Glad your stomach held until the end. Congratulations the PR!! Those are the best. :)

    I just raced my 1st 10k and I loved it. Also a 4th of July event. I plan to break the 1 hour mark next time.

  4. Looks like one awesome way to celebrate the holiday! Love the group shot!!

  5. I would LOVE to have a running group like the sole sisters near me!

  6. Awesome job! Congrats on the PR! Love your red skirt!

  7. What a fun race! Looks like too much fun!

  8. Congrats on a new pr!! That's awesome... although it's always a bit frustrating when mile markers are off and you have no idea if your watch is correct or not. :) We had a local 5k too, but I skipped it- Texas in July is miserably hot.

  9. We ran the same time on the 4th! I finished our local 5k in 26:39, too! Must have been the awesome Run Free shirts.

  10. Great race. Looks like fun :)

  11. I just noticed you're running Air Force Half in September? I'm running the Full marathon. Good luck! :)

  12. Wow, you kicked butt! Congrats! Running that fast in the heat is HARD; I bet if you had run that 5K in cooler weather your time would have been even faster. Also, your race outfit was adorable--love the skirt!

  13. Congrats on a 5k PR! Just imagine how fast you would be in cooler conditions! I agree, 5k's are the toughest distance, they are painful! :)

  14. Thats a great time in the heat! Way to go Jess! I have puked a few times after races, so know the feeling.

  15. Great job on your 5k! The heat can be so brutal to run in ! I puked at mile 22 in my marathon this weekend. 4 times. Glad you had a great 4th!

  16. Wow!!! You are fast girlie! Congratulations on a great race, and glad that you and your family celebrated the 4th in a great way. It just ain't the 4th of July without firecrackers! LOL!!


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