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Race Review: Firecracker 5k

Posted Oct 29 2012 7:00am

You will see that the theme for my couple of races this summer are all the same. Very little to no training and then show up for the race expecting to do well. Please take this as a do as I say and not as I do type of learning experience. Today I wanted to provide a race review of the Fourth of July Firecracker 5k race. This is my local Fourth of July favorite to do and there was no way I was going to miss it this year. 

This was the first of a couple of races where I had talked someone else into doing it and then didn’t train for it. Yes I feel awful about this but it happened. The race to my family and I is the start of the Fourth of July holiday with the UW Marching Band, sky divers and general patriotic festivities. This year the race was slightly different as the start was moved across the street to the Kaukauna middle school due to road construction. I would say 80% of the race course would be the same so I was familiar with the course an what I could do. But it is now tradition and I just couldn’t see not doing it even if I had only put in a handful of runs training wise.

I know it’s been a few months since the holiday but I hope most of you will remember how hot the summer was especially in the Northern part of the country. Here in NE Wisconsin it was a much hotter summer than I have experienced since living here. I had been seeing a lot of local and national races either canceled or cut short due to the heat. The morning of the fourth it was a steamy hot one even at 7am. So from moment one the kids and I were hot and not overly looking forward to running in the heat. It certainly was a factor and luckily no one had issues from the heat during this race. But boy was it hot and uncomfortable by the time I crossed the finish line.

The kids ran again this year and my son Lucas did well. If I remember correctly he came in third overall for the quarter mile kid’s run. I think he would have done better but the heat was affecting him even at  7 something in the morning. I do remember he out kicked another boy to end up in third place. My daughter Lian did much better this year and was not totally social during the run but actually tried to compete. Overall they learned from last year not to get boxed in and or knocked down at the start. They stayed clear of the bulk of the kids and kind of ran their own races. It seemed to work out well for both of them.

As for me I lined up towards the front because a good friend and neighbor was returning to running after years of being away. She had trained for the race, unlike me, and she I think wanted to test herself on what she could do. When the start horn went off we all took off at a good clip, faster than I should have. The first part of the race was up a steep bridge that in years past was towards the end of the race. I tried to keep up with her but by the end of that bridge and associated hill I was spent. I had burned through the little energy that  I had. I stated to get bad calf cramps as well at this point and she pretty much left me in the dust at that point. Much of the race was spent trying to work through the cramps and convince myself that I shouldn’t quit, I wondered why I was even there an what I would get out of this for just finishing. I saw a lot of people hot and struggling that day and actually tried to talk them into finishing while I was internally trying to do the same for myself. As these conversations continued I walked on towards the finish line. I finally got within the last couple of hundred yards of the finish and jogged it in. I finished somewhere in the mid 40 minute range no worse than some years when I had actually trained (not well) for the race. My friend I believe finished just a little over the 30 minute mark. 

So I survived another year at the Firecracker. I felt different this year in some way. Maybe it was the lack of training, my mood or the heat but it seemed different. I do know that the event is becoming more popular and the crowds are getting bigger. I hope that next year I will be ready of it and do a much better job keeping up with friends in the race. Besides next year my son will not be eligible for the kid’s run and will most likely do the 5k with me. What other motivation do I need than that? I can’t wait to see how badly he beats me next year.

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