The Fast Firecracker 5K is a race that is very true to its name. For the last few years I’ve heard it was fast but on Thursday I was able to experience it for myself. And it was awesome.
I’ve been gearing up for this race as my “A Race” ever since Boston. I knew if there was ever a time to PR and/ or possibly break 18 minutes it would be with this one. All last week I had been nervous and had a 17:xx finish time as my big (somewhat) secret goal. Of course John knew and some close running friends but I didn’t know if I was quite ready yet. I knew I needed to average a 5:46 and I didn’t even run one 5:46 split in my last 5K. My runs all week were easy and my legs had plenty of time to rest. I was extremely nervous but also very excited to put it all out there and give it my best shot.
Fortunately, all the kids spent the night at my in-laws so John and I were able to leave the house by 5:45 without much fuss. I wanted to be in Little Rock by 6:45 to pick up my packet. The race started at 7:30 so this would give me a little time to warm-up and use the restroom too. The weather was 71 and humidity was 69%- SO much better than it usually is in July around here.
John stayed around for a few minutes but then he headed to the finish. This race is point to point so he wanted to be sure to be at the finish line when I got there. I jogged a slow 2 mile warm-up by myself. I had only eaten a half of banana and my stomach was making weird noises. I knew it was nerves. I just reminded myself that once the race started I would be fine and would feel much faster than I did during my warm-up (9 min pace). I did some strides and headed to the start.
There were over 1300 runners for this 5K so it was pretty packed. I spotted a few runners I knew got a good spot in the front. After the National Anthem it was time to RUN!
Mile 1- 5:39. It was a fast start which I expected. Within the first minute I knew I was third female. There were a few rolling hills in the first mile but it definitely had more downhill than uphill. I felt good and relaxed.
Mile 2- 5:38. Best mile in a race- ever. I felt like I was floating on air- although it was more like gliding downhill! I had been warned that this mile had a lot of downhill and they were right. I was loving every second of this mile and knew that if I didn’t blow it during mile 3 I could break 18. It was during this mile I felt pure running bliss. It’s hard to describe this feeling but it’s when everything comes together at the right time, in the right race and I feel on top of the world. This does not happen very often in a race (in fact, sometimes it’s the opposite!) but when it does happen I thank God for the gift of running and for allowing me to be enjoying it in the moment.
Mile 3- 6:00. As good as mile 2 was I knew this mile would be tough- and it was. There was some downhill but more elevation gain on this mile. I saw my overall average quickly move from a 5:38 to a 5:46! I knew when my watch beeped at mile 3 that I could make it if I kept my average UNDER a 5:45 for the last .1. I did NOT want to blow it in the last minute after training so hard for a sub 18 the past few months.
Mile 3.11- 0:33 (5:26 avg.)
Official Time: 17:52.99 (5:46 avg.) 3rd Overall Female/ 27th Overall (1364 Total Runners)
Official results can be found here.
I ran an easy 2 mile cool-down and we stayed for the awards. This race was extremely organized and we were back home by 9:30! Once we picked up the kids I had to quickly switch back into mom gear and finalize a few things for our 4th of July cook-out at my in-laws. This was our third year in a row to make an American Flag Tart.
Honestly, I am still very much in shock. I’ve never considered myself to be a 17:something 5K runner. That might be other runners but not me. Before the race I thought the chances of going sub 18 were very slim. I wanted to but I just didn’t have a lot of confidence that I could pull it off. I know it was all God. (And the course was pretty awesome too!)
If you live in Arkansas or happen to be passing through the state during the first part of July you should definitely look into this one. I know I’ll be back!