Sunday, July 4, 2010

Firecracker 5K: Age Group Award

Continuing on with my summer racing frenzy was the Firecracker 5K in Reston, VA this morning. I was debating between running this race and the Independence Day 5000 on Friday night. I ultimately opted for this race because Reston seemed like it would be flatter than Fairfax and I prefer running in the morning. It also gave me the opportunity to volunteer at the Independence Day 5000 race on Friday night.

Before the race started today, one of my runner friends, Sarah, informed me that this course would be hillier than the Independence 5000. And unfortunately, it was hotter. The 8:00am sun seemed much stronger than the 7:30pm sun at the other race. But oh well. I had made my choice and I was going to still try my best.

Greg and I warmed up for 1.5 miles and then headed to the start line. For hot races, I don't like to warm up for much longer than that. For a colder 5K, I think that a 3-mile warmup would be ideal. My goal for this race was not to PR, but to beat my previous PR. In other words, I wanted this race to be my second-fastest ever 5K. Sounds like a tall order for a hot and hilly race, but considering that I recently smashed my 5K PR by over a minute, I thought my increased fitness would still allow me to do better than I used to do at hot 5Ks. My previous "hot 5K PR" was 24:17.

I didn't start as close to the front as I typically do, so there ended up being a lot of weaving during the first mile. The course was narrow, and I didn't want to add too much extra distance by weaving, but I also didn't want to go slower than my desired pace because of the crowds. The first mile included a large hill, and I ended up logging a 7:30.

The second mile just blew by. Almost the entire mile was downhill. Parts of it were shaded by the buildings in Reston Town Center, but other parts were really hot and sunny. I knew that the last half mile would be uphill, so I really pushed hard to take advantage of the downhill. I passed a lot of people. My pace was 7:06.

I knew I was going to have to dig deep for the last mile. Sarah had told me that the last half mile was all uphill and I had done that hill during the warmup. It wasn't very steep, but I knew that I would certainly feel it at the end. I pushed pass a bunch of runners, and was happy that I was passing more people than were passing me. I was closely monitoring my Garmin and was in the 7:20 pace range for the first half of the mile, but after that hill at the end, my pace slowed, so my time for mile three was 7:43.

I pushed hard during the last 0.1, even though that hill had taken it out of me. Average pace was 7:23.

My overall time was 23:21, which is exactly 1:00 slower than my PR. However, it is exactly 0:01 faster than my previous PR, making it my second-fastest ever 5K. Goal attained by the skin of my teeth! And. . . I blew my "hot" 5K PR out of the water. According to my Garmin, my average race pace was 7:26 for 3.14 miles. Greg's Garmin read 3.2 miles. He ran a 22:14. The course may have been a bit long, and we also did some weaving at the beginning.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and I found out that I got third place in my age group! I was called up on stage and awarded a gift certificate to a running store. It felt great! In terms of all women, I placed 29 out of 358, putting me in the top 8%.

I'm pleased with this race, but I do wish I had pushed harder on that final hill. I wasn't as winded and incoherent as I normally am at the 5K finish line, which makes me think I had more in me to give. My HR also didn't get as high as I think it could have. But it was a nice race with much lower humidity than what we've been having for the past month.

For the fun of it, I plugged my time into the Runworks calculator, based on Daniels Running Formula. My time today equates to a 48:25 10K. My previous two 10Ks were a 49:50 and 50:13-- and I think that's because they were much more humid.


  1. Way to go on beating your "hot" PR. Also, congrats on the AG placing! You had a super day! Holy speedy, though, what happened in Mile 2? Wowzers...

  2. Congratulations on the AG award!