The Firecracker Fast 5k is truly a race that lives up to its name! The first time I ran it in 2013 I had no idea what to expect and it did not disappoint. It’s a fast point to point race with a lot of downhill in the first 2 miles. I love downhill racing but unfortunately there are not many races like this around here. The first time I ran this course I finished in 17:52- my first sub 18! Since that time I’ve run in dozens of 5k’s but never came close to that time… Until this year.
Firecracker Fast 5k (Little Rock, AR)
Thursday, July 4, 2019
John dropped me off near the start a little after 6:30. I had plenty of time for my pre-race routine. I was feeling ready and fit. My plan was to run a sub 5:50 pace if possible. I really hoped 5:40’s would feel good and doable. I ran a mile with my friend Chelsea and then ran into my sister Tara who was also racing. It was great seeing her before the start!
Last year I got caught up behind 2 people who jumped in front of me aon the starting line and after the gun went off they almost immediately started walking. It really threw off my start so I didn’t want that to happen again. I stood right next to Chelsea in the front and stayed focused. From the beginning I was 3rd female. I concentrated on finding the right pace and pushing forward.
Mile 1- 5:41. Right on pace. Around mile 1.5 I moved up to second female.
Mile 2- 5:35. Fastest split I’ve ever run at Firecracker and I knew it was a little risky but I was feeling good. I just needed one more fast mile and I could make it! I’ve never run a sub 6 split in the last mile at Firecracker because of the hill around mile 2.5. I focused on keeping my pace fast so when I reached the hill I would have some time banked up. It worked.
Mile 3- 5:54. I made it! All I had to do was sprint it in! When I saw the clock I was so happy! I heard John cheering and I gave it all I had.
Mile 3.10- 5:15 pace
Official Time- 17:46 and a NEW 5k PR!! (2nd female OA)/ 1st Masters
This race truly exceeded all expectations!!! I honestly never thought I’d see another 5k PR! I was genuinely hoping that low 18’s would feel doable. My friend Chelsea won and also set a 5k PR! Such a fun morning for racing!
Post Race Thoughts
I’ve really enjoyed the break from marathon training. I know it’s helped me set some new short race distance PR’s. For years I’ve thrown in short races in the middle of marathon training and wondered why I had no kick. I’d encourage anyone who is wanting to improve their speed to change things up by having a shorter race as a goal. It doesn’t always have to be about marathons! It can be fun to mix things up and try something different!
The Arkansas State Masters record from an out of state runner who ran a 17:52 in 1991. The in-state resident record is 18:15. This course is USATF certified but it’s also point to point net downhill so I’m not sure if it will count towards record or not. I don’t know why but this never occurred to me until after the race but to me it doesn’t take away from the morning at all. I gave this race everything I had and executed a smart, focused race which resulted in a new PR at the age of 40. What more can I ask of myself? Having run this gives me confidence that I can push myself in this distance. I’m going to run a few more 5k’s this year (on flat, USATF certified courses) and I’m anxious to see how my time will compare. Temps were in the mid 70’s/ 72 DP for this one. I was so focused on pace during the race that I actually never thought about the weather one time! Maybe on a flat course in cooler temps I could get close to this time again?! I’m going to try! If I’ve learned anything this year from running it’s that I can still push myself and dream big.